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.


Alex Schneideman

On another oppressively humid overcast day Jackie drove me to Southampton whence I had an uneventful journey to Waterloo. Golden Jubilee Bridge From there, along, it seemed, with the rest of the world, I walked across Golden Jubilee Bridge which runs parallel with an older railway one;Golden Jubilee Bridge and older railway one past Charing Cross; through Trafalgar Square; along Pall Mall; up Haymarket to Piccadilly Circus; along Oxford Street to Marble Arch; through to Bayswater Road, where the throng thinned a little; right into Leinster Terrace; then via Craven Hill Gardens and Porchester and Queensborough Terraces, weaved my way to the top end of Queensway; along Westbourne Grove, and finally into Sutherland Place.

A little early for my appointment to make the inventory of my belongings soon to be removed from number 29, I sat for a while in Shrewsbury Gardens at the end of the road, watching dogs crapping on the grass, and listening to gleeful children in the Catholic primary school playground alongside.

An American gentleman, seeking former residences of Marconi, on whom he was doing some research, sought St. Stephen’s Square.  Neither I nor a 67 year old woman who had lived in the area all her life, knew of this.  We came to the conclusion that it may have been bombed during the war, built over, and renamed.

Greenery figuresA couple more greenery figures (see post of 5th June) are chatting over their garden fence in front of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

Trafalgar Square fountainNational Gallery stepsThe coping surrounding the fountains in Trafalgar Square and the steps of the National Gallery provided perches from the young of the globe. Trafalgar Square A boy on a rocking horse attempted to leap over one of the lions which Matthew had scaled with such trepidation in September 1976.  Matthew climbing lion, Tafalgar Square, 9.76(If you haven’t already twigged this, clicking on the images enlarges them.  This is sometimes necessary to see the detail of the pictures and possibly the points of my jokes.)

Turkey plea

A chalked plea for the people of Turkey was inscribed on some paving stones.

In Haymarket a group of portly businessmen tottered out of a wine bar promising each other e-mails in the morning.  It is to be hoped that at least one of them remembered.

As I walked down Regent Street I thought of Simon (see post of 10th June) who had sought a memento of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and speculated that he would have liked the pennants strung across the road.  I ignored the ‘crossing not in use sign’.Regent Street

Returning my smile, a young woman in Oxford Street distributing leaflets advertising a waxing service refrained from offering me one.

Halepi restaurant

The Halepi and Zorbas (no apostrophe) restaurants featured in ‘Feng Shui’,  posted on 9th January, are situated in Leinster Terrace.

Zorbas restaurant Contrary to expectations, Zorbas seems still to be in business.

After the planning of the final move from Sutherland Place, I walked down to Notting Hill Gate, took the Central Line to Bond Street, and changed to the Jubilee Line which carried me back to Waterloo.  I read more of John S. Morrill’s ‘The Stuarts’ on the train, and Jackie drove me back home and fed me on chili con carne (recipe) with which I finished the Maipo merlot and she her Hoegaarden.

In 2009, whilst living in Sutherland Place and preparing the photographs for ‘The Magnificent Seven’ (see 7th April post), I realised I needed some training in how to get the best results from Photoshop.  The first tutor was one of those awful teachers who has to do it all for you, too speedily to follow, let alone make coherent notes.  He also messed up my scanner settings, making it impossible to scan anything at all without channeling it through Photoshop.  I could no longer save a picture in jpg format, and he didn’t know how to put it right.  I didn’t ask him back.

Wandering up Portobello Road one day I came across the stunning window display of a professional photographer which carried a card advertising Photoshop tuition.  If the man could produce the images on show he probably had something to teach me.  I rang the number on the card, and the photographer soon visited me at home.  He was a completely different kettle of fish.  A sensitive and artistic young man, he had all the patience needed to guide me through the processes and enable me to take notes.  He never tried to pack too much into a session.  This was Alex Schneideman who has since become a good friend and incidentally told me how to start a blog on WordPress.

After the second of our three two hour tutorials Alex asked me if he could photograph me.  This he did in the sitting room of 29 Sutherland Place, and placed a set on his website.  He also made me a present of number 21 in the ‘through the ages’ series. Derrick 2010 Another was number 20, which I reproduce here, and which demonstrates the photographer’s skill in relaxing his subjects. The photograph on the windowsill is of Michael and Heidi on their wedding day. I don’t think my portraits still adorn the website, but for anyone interested in imaginative, intuitive, photography www.alexschneideman.net  is well worth a visit.  Or, better still, pop along to Portobello Road and meet the man himself and also view the beautiful second-hand illustrated books in which his equally engaging wife deals.