April 21, 2013

A Study of Spring

             Yesterday in London was a positively beautiful day. We are slowly creeping into what I like to call “cardigan weather,” where there’s still a chill in the air, but it’s not quite cold enough to bundle up in a bulky coat. I should have probably been studying for my upcoming final exams at university, but naturally, the sun would have only taunted me from my window. Instead, my friend and I decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and see what the day would bring our way.
             Portobello Road was our first stop, home to the largest antiques market in the world. The main Portobello Market is open on Saturdays from around 9:00 in the morning until 19:00. The antiques and knick-knack stalls are only open on Saturdays, but otherwise the market is open every day of the week. Just be sure to check here for opening and closing times.

             When you arrive at Ladbroke Grove tube station, all you need to do is follow the crowds of people, and when you reach the market, you’ll know. Pastel-colored homes overlook the jauntily pointed vendors’ stalls. The all-consuming smells start to invade your nostrils and you are presented with the dilemma of choosing to either turn left or right. The Portobello Market is an expansive assortment of novelties and food. Take your pick from frozen yogurt or crepes, fur coats or leather jackets, turquoise or gold, paintings or posters. Mixed in amongst vintage finds are the obligatory touristic stalls. Now that we are nearing the end of April and encroaching on tourist season, I have no doubt that “Mind the Gap” t-shirts and Big Ben key chains will be hot sellers. Flurries of accents surround the market and the array of vibrant fresh foods are nothing compared to the colorful blend of people dominating the streets.

             After thoroughly scouring old and new trinkets at this flea market of sorts, my friend and I wanted to explore the rest of the area. Portobello Road is relatively close to Paddington and Notting Hill. After further inspection of a map, we realized that Kensington was also within walking distance. Greedy for the sun to soak into our skin as much as possible, we people watched and lay out in the grass at Kensington Gardens.

             Kensington Gardens, one of London’s eight Royal Parks, was originally part of Hyde Park and stretches across 260 acres. Kensington Palace, the Italian Gardens, Albert Memorial, Peter Pan Statue, and the Serpentine Gallery are all located within the same vicinity. In its tranquility, Kensington Gardens provides a great backdrop to relax in and is a welcomed change from the fast-paced life of London. Round Pond is scattered with swans and the little tots attempting to feed them. There are plentiful sitting benches and the Diana Memorial Playground offers entertainment for children. I wish I had brought my picnic basket! Although, Kensington Gardens has its own refreshment points and café that certainly make up for forgetting to pack your own sandwiches and drinks. The park is open from 6:00 in the morning until 20:15, so go work on your tan!

             To learn more about Kensington Gardens, have a look here

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