Massive sound systems. Check.
Jerk chicken. Check.
Rice and peas. Check.
Jamaican patties. Check.
Rum punch. Check.
Party people. Check.
It’s got to be carnival time, and this time it was time to initiate my daughter in the world of this bank holiday classic.
I decided to play it safe as I was taking my daughter on my own, so we were going early doors on Family Day (not that we saw very many families) so we wouldn’t encounter too many crowds/drunkards/other potential carnival hazards!
We set off at 1pm with an easy journey to Westbourne Grove. Here the exit was rather congested (next year I’ll disembark at Latimer Road as this station was much more relaxed as we found out on our return) but once out of the station we were generally able to wander around quite freely.
We ambled around for a couple of hours aimlessly watching the action – and there was something different to catch our eye at every corner. We came across loads of excellent sound systems – a couple of which were very popular so rather than struggle through we decided to do an about turn and check out a neighbouring street. We sampled delicious jerk chicken with rice and peas, which we devoured in a cute park just behind Portobello Road. Then we watched the floats and dancers on the parade route, and they did not disappoint. They were noisy, vibrant, exciting and colourful – great fun to watch and even better fun to participate in.
Then before we knew it it was 3.30pm and time to go home (we only had a two hour window at the Carnival as we had to be elsewhere for the later part of the afternoon). We went to Latimer Road station to catch the train home (an easy station as previously mentioned) although be mindful of the fact that none of the police seemed to have a clue how to get to the various stations or indeed the parade route in one case – so google maps and Time Out’s carnival guide were indispensable! Once we had found the station we headed back home just as the real party people were starting to come out to play.
It was a most successful introduction to the Notting Hill Carnival – definitely the right time of day for Carnival with children and probably about the right duration – we were both in need of the toilet by the end and the thought of paying £2-£3 to pee in someone’s house was a little galling!