Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Sweater and a Souk

Score! When I was packing for my trip, as I folded my 25+ year old cashmere cardigan that always comes with me to London, I realized that it was no longer fit for travel. A small hole had developed in one of the sleeves, and the seams were beginning to come apart under both arms. Regretfully, I left it home, thinking I might be able to find a substitute at a charity shop in an upscale neighborhood. Since our plan for Saturday was to be in Notting Hill, I had jotted down the address of Mary Portas' (Queen of Shops) charity shop for Save the Children, called Living and Giving, in Westbourne Grove. Our route through Notting Hill took us down the Portobello Road (after a stop at Lisboa Cafe in Golborne Road and the newly-renovated public toilets in Bevington Road), through the Saturday market. I passed half a dozen stalls in the stretch by the Spanish School that had a rack each of sweaters, many cashmere, but saw nothing that seemed right. Then, just before the Westway, was a stall of nothing but cashmere sweaters. On the rack of cardigans, I found one that was just a shade darker than the oatmeal color of mine. It fit and it was a good deal at £20. As the vendor explained, and as I knew, it's quality English cashmere, not the cheap Chinese variety that they sell at M&S. Success, and before noon on day 2!

We picked up some food items, looked at some bits of street art, and then got out of the market by turning right on Lancaster Road. From there, we walked up Ladbroke Grove to the top of Notting Hill where the hippodrome was located in the 1830s, and then down the west side of the hill into the old Piggeries and Potteries area, which was, in the mid-19th century, one of the most fetid slums in all of London. The clay soil here, which was responsible for the close of the hippodrome some 6 or 7 years after it opened because the jockeys refused to risk any more injuries to horse or man on the track, was used in making bricks and ceramics. And pigs apparently wallowed in it. Along the way, we saw a 19th century kiln used for firing bricks. Some history of the area during that time is here.

Carrying on, and after crossing Holland Park Avenue, we took a small detour into Aubrey Walk to see the new blue plaque for Dusty Springfield. Next stop was the cafe in Holland Park for some lunch before pushing on to Leighton House. Because there was a Souk Nour being held in the studio of Leighton House, entrance was free. As Spooner examined the books and other goods for sale in the souk, I roamed around the house to look at the jaw-dropping gorgeous tiled walls, ceilings and floors, as well as the silk wallpapers and various paintings.

On the way home to Maida Hill, we stopped at the London West Bank Gallery in Westbourne Grove to see an exhibition (a few interesting paintings). We also stopped at Living and Giving, where I didn't see anything I liked nearly as much as the sweater I bought in Portobello Road. Back to Spooner's for a quick meal and then on to the Shaw Theatre to see Far from Kansas, an offshoot of the London Gay Men's Chorus, perform their popular double-bill of We Could Have Danced All Night and Little Shop of Homos. Good, campy fun.

£2.50 walnut bread (eaten immediately) and custard tart for later from Lisboa
£3.80 veggie pie from the Portobello Road (for when I'm on my own for dinner)
£20 for cashmere sweater
£3 lunch at Holland Park
£4 glass of wine at the Shaw

18756 steps
7.42 miles


  1. Eureka! Sounds like a fine day.

  2. Still have my cash set from Windsor. Barely worn. I might have to break it out this winter!