London Markets – Portobello

The problem with travelling a lot is that it becomes easy to forget what’s on our doorstep. Recently, I’ve been re-visiting some of London’s markets so on Saturday, I put on my Fit Flops and walked to Portobello Road.

If you’ve seen Notting Hill, you’ll know all about the Portobello Road area. There are market days on Saturday each week, where (once you’ve adjusted to the sardine can conditions) you can buy everything from fresh courgettes to a second-hand fur coat. And yes, they even sell the furs in the London summer. (PETA supporters, please look away now.)

Apart from the crush of people, Portobello Market is great entertainment, even if you don’t want to buy anything. People walk around wafting vinegar as they munch on a cone of hot chips, or dribbling chocolate sauce from a street vendor’s crêpe. There’s always someone slightly mad, muttering weirdness under their breath as they wibble-wobble along the road, not to mention those who amaze with an eclectic dress sense.

I love checking out the stalls with their varied goods, or popping down to the fresh produce zone where the fruit and veg look so much more appetising than they do on a Tesco’s shelf.

If you want to get a jazzy new set of clothes and don’t mind the lack of changing rooms, you can pick up retro items or burgeoning labels,

or perhaps some original accessories,

or if it’s Bling that you’re after, there’s always the trusty ‘ALL ITEMS £5″ second-hand costume jewellery stall.

Being a huge fan of notebooks, this was my favourite:

So, if you find yourself in London and want to visit Portobello Road on a Saturday, bear the following in mind:

  • it’s crowded. Bring a sense of humour because you can expect to be pushed and shoved and cursed at in the heaving throng of visitors to the area,
  • bring cash – there are ATMs but they tend to have queues 10 deep and have been known to run out of cash mid-afternoon,
  • but be careful with your valuables. In the Saturday crush, pickpockets have a field day.
  • do bring your camera. There are so many wonderful and colourful things to see at Portobello,
  • and wear decent walking shoes – you will be going up and down a long road on an incline.
  • If you work up an appetite, yet find that all the eateries in the immediate area are full, walk down to Westbourne Grove, where there are more options to make your mouth water, but without the Portobello mayhem.
  • Above all, this is a market that can be enjoyed just as much in mid-winter as it can on a warm summer’s day, and if it should rain when you visit, there are plenty of shops and covered market stalls to keep you interested.
  • Nearest tube stops: Notting Hill Gate or Westbourne Park. Be warned that Notting Hill Gate will spew forth tourists like a rush of lava on Saturdays, so if you want to avoid this uncomfortable scene, grab an A to Z and head for somewhere like Westbourne Grove or Ladbroke Grove, then walk.

Next on the list: Borough Market


2 Comments Add yours

  1. william says:

    I got a chance to go many years ago. The images are still vividly with me. I bought some odd stuff–an old compass, a whale’s tooth, a brass, pocket telescope–because I didn’t have the money nor the desire to carry all the big leather and wood stuff back to the States. One other thing–there are some great bakeries there.


  2. My first recollection of Portobello Road Market is from the 70s. For some reason I seem to remember a zither on one of the stalls, but I suspect my brain may have invented that after the fact.

    Nowadays I always marvel at the ease with which I can walk from one end to the other, spend £35 and not be entirely sure what I spent it on.


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