Thursday, 19 March 2015

You Can't Go "Home" Again: My Afternoon at Portobello Road

You know how you can have a memory of a place or event that is so epic in your mind but if and when you get to go back and experience it again, it just isn't the same. 
Colours not as vivid,
smells not as sweet,
tastes not as tasty,
coolness not as cool.

When I did a semester abroad program in my undergrad days, one of the first places we hit up was Portobello Road market. Notting Hill (the film) was only 5 years old and this Royal Borough was quintessentially English in my group's North American minds.
Having only ever experienced farmer's markets in Canada, this street full of antiques, bric-a-brac, vintage, and flea market like items was wholly new encounter. I remember being excited by the colourful buildings and the general sights as I weaved my way through the Saturday mobs. We revisited time and again during my semester (crazy to think how limiting we were with so many other markets to choose from); eating falafel from the Falafel King, buying my 'Audrey Hepburn' sunnies, trying on scarves and vintage clothes, and admiring the collections of antique items I had no need for or money to buy, but oh aren't they pretty!

Last spring I had made my way back to the Notting Hill street. By this point I had visited many other markets that were new to me or with a limited availability and was particularly drawn to a new love of food markets. Although Portobello Road was on my list, it kept getting pushed down. I think I might have been unintentionally 'saving' Portobello Road, in a sort of 'best for last' kind of manner.

The market was just the same, still cool, still colourful, still very English, but just not as epic as it had been living in my memory. Despite that, the sun was shining, spring was in the air and I had a lovely afternoon followed by a gin evening. And all was right with the world once again.

I took this picture in 2004 during my semester abroad, probably September, on one of our first trips to this market. It's one of my favourite photos of not only London, but all-time.

Have you ever tried to relive a moment from your past only to be let down by the memory?

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