A Portobello Ramble


Wooden binI am sure everyone would agree that a painted wooden owl should not be left out in the rain. It was because of this that The Head Gardener was delighted, when we took two more large bags of green waste to the dump, to find a wooden bin she thought was just the job for Winnie the Pooh’s friend, Wol.

Owl in bin 1Owl in bin 2

Back home she nailed the container to the top of one of the dead stumps along the back drive, and, with the promise of easy morsels within, persuaded the owl to take up residence. The rose surrounding our new friend is Félicité Perpetué, which we rescued from the undergrowth last year. It will soon be in bloom.

I scanned another dozen colour slides from the Streets of London series. These were taken on one walk in May 2004.

Lancaster Road W11

The Market Bar stands on the corner of Lancaster Road and Portobello Road, W11. The name derives from the world famous antiques market in which it is situated. It is one of the many London Pubs that hosts a Thai restaurant. Note the ubiquitous pigeons perched to the right of the cherubic sculpture. A couple of miles away in Marylebone is the Seashell seafood restaurant. I think the artwork would suit that establishment rather better.

Alba Place, W11

Portobello Road W11 1

At the NW end of Portobello Road the food market, with some general stalls, is a daily event. When, a few years later, I took up residence in Sutherland Place, I would shop there regularly,

Portobello Road W11 2

and enjoy many a plentiful fry-up in the delightful Eve’s Market Café.

Lonsdale Road W11

A little more in keeping with most of the modern public conveniences in London, this one in Lonsdale Road, seeming more substantial, makes the user less afraid that the door will open while he or she is enthroned, or, worse still, not open at all until the automatic cleansing operation has done its job. Twelve years on, it is a rare London street that does not contain pedestrians engaged in mobile phone conversations.

Denbigh Close W11

I took this photo of Alice’s antique shop on the corner of Denbigh Close at the Bayswater end of Portobello Road, for my eponymous granddaughter, then aged four.

Simon Close W11

Simon Close lies off the Notting Hill Gate end of Portobello. This shop marks the end of the market. Further on are rows of delightful cottages.

Palace Gardens Terrace W8

On into Bayswater, this gentleman took a rest in Palace Gardens Terrace, W8.

Garden Mews W2

Garden Mews, W2 is just one of the many enticingly elegant enclaves to be found in many parts of the capital. They tend, of necessity, to guard their privacy.

Queensway W2

This woman, leaving Queensway so purposefully is probably making her way into Kensington Gardens, referred to in the Terrace above. Once we had gentlemen walking around the city carting sandwich boards. Now we see single boards on the end of a pole clutched by a stationary guardian, unless he has found a usual place to prop his ward. Whiteley’s is a world famous store at the far end of Queensway.


I well remember Stanley Green, seen here, in 1977 (commons.wikimedia.org), who tramped up and down Oxford Street for years, toting his own idiosyncratic message.

Porchester Road W2 1

Many squares of grand terraced housing surround enclosed gardens, like this one alongside Porchester Road.

Porchester Road/Celbridge Mews W2

Much to the bemusement of the woman taking a cigarette break beside Celbridge Mews, the car in the foreground of this picture seems intent on forcing its way into the line of traffic coming off Lord Hills Bridge at the Westway End of Porchester Road. Beneath the bridge runs the underground railway leading to Royal Oak station, unseen, to the right of the distant pedestrians.

This evening we enjoyed Mr Pink’s fish and chips served with pickled onions and gherkins. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the fleurie.



    1. What I meant to reply to yours was that I thought the sculpture looked vaguely Holocaust-/Bosch’s-Hell- related. Not sure how THAT would apply to a cuisine of any culture!

      1. I hadn’t blown it up, but the top cherub looked as if it was blowing into a gigantic instrument, rather in the manner of (my recall of) some demons in the Bosch piece. The tumbling (cast aside?) figures at the bottom didn’t, at first blush, look as if they were enjoying themselves.
        Having had a closer look, the ‘blowing’ cherub is clearly tipping out the beach-sandy/pebbly/(even pineapple-y: what’s THAT doing there???) contents of a bucket containing the other figures. Highly bizarre. I wonder if it’s referential?

        1. That’s a good, close, study, Paul. If there is a reference I don’t know it. Google tells me that, later, the cherubs were gone and substituted by the name Shannons. It closed in 2013.

  1. First of all I must say that Wol has a splendid house – Milne would approve, I think. Secondly I must thank you for the lovely trip round Notting Hill and Bayswater. I lived at the end of the Portobello Road when God was barely a boy and worked in Pembridge Road – I’m heartened to see so much of what I remember still intact.

  2. I was intrigued to see that Subway had reached London by May 2004. That April, I was in upstate New York, staying with a friend who had lived in England until 1997. I sampled my first ‘sub’ there (and prob. my last) and she said she thought they were about to launch over here fairly soon. She may have been a bit behind the times, even then, though I doubt they had spread very far beyond the metropolis in 2004. 10 years on, there was one in the suburb where she used to live.

  3. That’s the perfect house for Wol. He’ll stay dry, but he’ll still keep a bird’s eye view on things…brilliant!
    Thanks for taking us to the streets, Derrick. I so enjoy the tour.

  4. Strange sign…that lust/protein connection. And I’m sorry to see that Subway made its way there. As someone who grew up in the Philadelphia area, home of Italian hoagies (subs), what they offer is a bit offensive. Ninety percent bread and condiments. ☺

  5. Thank you for the tour. Great photos! I really like the angles of many of them.
    I did have to enlarge the cherubs after reading the comments above. I suppose they’re supposed to be frolicking, but they do see a bit bizarre. 🙂

  6. I like the whimsy of the owl’s perch. And the Alice shop made me think that there might be an Alice’s Restaurant in the U.K. Alas, not so, but it still brought a smile.

  7. I had to visit a physiotherapist a few time when I was in London for a month; he was near Portobello Road so I would also visit the markets afterwards. Bought myself a pair of earrings from kaka me – alas not antique. 🙂 Love that sweet owl in its new home. Good thinking.

  8. I like to see your markets. What does that mean, Garden Mews?–That is a neighborhood, I think, a rather pricey area. But “mews” meaning…? Educate me, please. The cherubs would seem to be dizzy, but the owl very steady at his new post. Fun share, Derrick.

    1. Thank you, Cynthia. A mews is a row of houses converted from former stables. The name of this one is probably misleading, because they don’t have gardens.

  9. What a lovely tour. I was thinking of getting a bird home installed in my backyard. Your pictures provide the perfect suggestion

  10. It’s just my own personal memory, but I’d forgotten those street sellers with their magazines and newspapers all displayed together. And they invariably seemed to have a slight coating of dust or tiny grit on them when you pulled them out to buy. Nothing like that in Nottingham any more.

  11. Love your London photos Derrick – so full of life! Also very pleased the owl will now not get wet – ah, a heavenly perch/home! 🙂

  12. I love the bright red corner businesses, Alice’s and the Market Bar, but all the street scenes were fascinating.
    I enjoyed seeing Jackie’s creative and ingenious solution to protect her Owl. I always like the Owl and Pooh stories, Tigger was my children’s favorite! 🙂

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