I really wanted to title this one, Notting Hill: A Photo Series From One Of My Favorite Neighborhoods In London That We Almost Moved To But Didn’t, but I figured that might exceed the post title character limit by just a few letters. But just so you know, that’s the real title.
I’m not going to pretend like my initial fascination with this particular area of London didn’t have something to do with one particularly popular 90’s movie featuring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, because it had almost everything to do with that. I mean, really, who didn’t watch that movie and immediately wish they lived in a charming neighborhood with old bookstores and flower markets and pretty parks just steps from their colorful front door? I certainly did, so when we found out we were moving to London, I already had it in my head that Notting Hill was where we were going to live.
However, upon our arrival, it took less than a week for me to realize all of the things I found so attractive about the movie edition of Notting Hill existed in practically every neighborhood in London. Even still, despite the abundance of desirable London neighborhoods we had to choose from, there was something about Notting Hill that continued to appeal to me, and so it was no surprise that when we narrowed our list down to our two top places, Notting Hill was one of them.
If you’re a regular reader, you probably already know we ultimately chose to settle down in Chiswick, and I have loved every minute of living here, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me from hopping over to Notting Hill’s colorful, quirky streets at every available opportunity. So when my friend Lisa from The Wandering Lens suggested we meet up there for a bite to eat and a photo walk, I didn’t need a lot of convincing.
First stop of the day was Jamie Oliver’s Recipease for a cup (or three) of tea. I had never been inside a Jamie Oliver restaurant before, which is difficult to do seeing as they are everywhere and you pretty much have to intentionally avoid them to accomplish something like this. Nevertheless, this was my first and I loved it. The cafe is spread out over two floors, the bottom of which is a store and take-away area. The upper floor is where we were seated along a wall of windows, perfect for watching the activity along the busy Notting Hill Gate road below.
*Update: I just discovered Jamie Oliver’s Recipease is now closed. I’ve become accustomed to the rapid pace with which restaurants open and close in London, but this one still surprised me. Sad to hear it’s gone, but there’s sure to be something else just as trendy popping up in its place before too long.
After tea we hit the streets with the solitary goal of finding charming photo ops. Easiest goal ever. Everything about Notting Hill is charming – the houses, the shops, the things sold in the shops, the classic (and not-so-classic) cars, the sidewalks, the bicycles on the sidewalks…I bet even the trash in Notting Hill looks better than it does everywhere else. Every time I come here I’m reminded again why this neighborhood ranked so highly on our house hunt. If we ever end up back here again, I have a feeling this is where we’ll settle.
Besides the annual Notting Hill Carnival that draws in crowds in the millions-range every August, Notting Hill is also famous for Portobello Market, which attracts only slightly less people every Saturday. (I’m exaggerating, but definitely be prepared for crowds!) My favorite time to visit, though, is during the week when the streets are quiet and no one gets annoyed at me for stopping abruptly on the sidewalk because I found something photo-worthy. (This happens a lot, and apparently I’m completely oblivious to it.)
If it wasn’t obvious before, I’m sure it is now – all of these photos were taken months ago at the beginning of autumn last year. And where better to go for perfect early autumn photos, but a royal palace with gardens blanketed in multi-colored leaves? Kensington Palace is just a short walk away from Portobello Road, and while I’ve never actually gone inside, I can attest to the the fact that the gardens are gorgeous and worth a visit in any season.
FYI to my non-London readers – Kensington Palace is actually Will & Kate’s place. I’ve never caught sight of them in the windows, but it’s not for lack of trying! (Kidding!!)
In other news, we leave London in just under three weeks. I seriously can’t believe how quickly the past few weeks have gone by. Scratch that, the last three years. It’s safe to say I am equal parts excited to move on and sad to be leaving. If you missed my last post, I miserably failed at properly summing up just how much this expat experience has meant to us, but you’re welcome to read it anyway – Three Years In London: Our Europe Adventure Comes To An End.
Not that I’ve been around very much lately as it is, but my posts will probably be even more infrequent over the next month or so as we pack up our lives in London, spend a week and a half in the US, and then land in Singapore somewhere around July 6th. If you’re not already, follow along on Instagram – @thewanderblogger – for (hopefully) more consistent updates. :)