Monday, June 20, 2022

Day 12 – Notting Hill

Friday was a free day but it was again very hot so I tried to think of something leisurely to do – Notting Hill and Portobello Road! Notting Hill is interesting because of the movie and also because Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James in Deborah Crombie’s mystery series live there (I wished I had checked my books for the street before I left Boston).
Although Notting Hill was fairly diverse in the middle of the 20th century, since then like other parts of London, it has become gentrified, which has forced out previous residents. Duncan and Gemma would not be able to live there on police detective salaries except they are renting from someone who is giving them a deal. I found a bus that would take me there and after some zig-zagging I was strolling around the neighborhood. It was a little too touristy and crowded to be as enjoyable as I had hoped. I’d had several cafes recommended to me but the first two told me there was a 90-minute wait, so I finally picked one that had plenty of room and got lemonade and quiche.
Portobello Road
The really famous Portobello Road Market is on Saturdays but there were plenty of tables set up today.  A lot of it looked junky to me although I was tempted by one stein that had antique hot air balloon pictures on it. I stopped at the Oxfam Bookstore and found a book for one of my nieces, then was eager to visit the famous Books for Cooks store, where the staff test recipes from the newest cookbooks every day and customers are eager guinea pigs. I think you have to be there very early for that and are doubtless out of luck if the menu is something you don’t like but it might still be fun. I saw some appealing books but nothing I wanted to carry home. Next, I went across the street to see the Notting Hill Book Shop that inspired the one in Notting Hill, which is on Blenheim Crescent in the area where the filming took place. Scenes were also shot at the Ritz and Savoy Hotels, and Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath (which I visited a few days later).
I had dallied too long and had to rush to the nearby Ladbroke Grove tube station and ask an attendant how to get to Tottenham Court Road quickly. When he told me I had to switch lines three times I doubted I would get to the Shaftsbury Theatre by 2:30 but miraculously I made good connections and was early. Even better, when I walked in, they upgraded my ticket at the very back to a great location in the stalls. & Juliet is a saucy 2019 musical that imagines that Juliet did not die with Romeo but instead takes off for Paris with some friends to take control of her life. It’s told as a play within a play as Anne Hathaway challenges William Shakespeare to let her improve his tragedy. It was pretty entertaining although I was a bit mystified as to the musical premise because I knew some but not all of the songs. I had to read some of the reviews to understand that a Swedish songwriter named Max Martin was responsible for (or at least co-wrote) all these songs except one. There is even a description for this – a jukebox musical.  The audience was extremely enthusiastic.
Miles walked: 4.5 miles
Books acquired: 1 (The Naughtiest Girl in the School)


Cath said...

Yes, we visited Notting Hill back in the 90s and I was quite surprised at the lack of atmosphere. Not sure what I was expecting but it just felt like any other part of London.

CLM said...

Yes, and way too touristy! I wasn't there on a Saturday when I gather the real market is in full swing but after reading Deborah Crombie's books which I think are set nearby I expected more charm.

JaneGS said...

Books for Cooks sound marvelous! Made a note for future visit. &Juliet sounds interesting and fun. Just when I think nothing fresh can be done with Shakespeare, I hear about something like this.