“Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are sold”
~ Bedknobs & Broomsticks
Not realizing Porotobello Market was anything more than a scene from Bedknobs & Broomsticks with a song that will stay in your head ALL DAY, I was more than willing to spend the morning of our last day in London exploring the largest antiques market in the world. Humming the tune, as I had been doing continuously for the last hour since I’d learned there really was a Portobello Market, we stepped off the bus into… masses and masses of people. SO many people that it was nearly impossible to move. Market goers pushed and shoved their way along the crowded street and abruptly stopped in front of us to view the wares on carts. While I had been looking forward to the bustle of the city, this was overwhelming. (How is it that EVERYWHERE in London is this crowded all at the same time? Above ground and under?) Carts lining the street held silver dishes, china tea cups, obsolete cameras, clothes, hats, and every other kind of antique or tourist trinket you could imagine.
While Micah and I perused the indoor antique vendors slowly, to accommodate his sprained ankle, Mom took an official market walking tour. The market is about 2 miles long with several different sections, and newer markets, full of vendors denied spots on the famous Portobello street, branch off on other streets. We stayed in the antiques section of the market until lunch time when Mom reappeared. She informed us to watch our belongings because she’d been told pickpockets thrive at Portobello Market. I had no doubt. Having had enough of the crowd, we found refuge and lunch at The Castle pub. Unfortunately, after Dorset’s culinary delights, no food can compare, but the burgers were satisfactory. (Almost all the restaurants in Britain seemed to be begging for online reviews, so there you are Castle pub, good but not as fresh as Dorset.)
After lunch we spent the afternoon at the IMAX watching the Avengers in order to rest the sprained ankle, but after that it was back to the market! This time Covent Garden Market. The ghost walk we had done earlier in the week had taken us through the Covent Garden piazza and one store had caught my eye. The Moomin Shop. One last literary related sight to see before we left! My family used to read the Moomin books out loud when I was younger. If you’re not familiar with the Moomins, they are white hippo looking aliens that have adventures.
|The Moomin Shop at Covent Garden Market|
The shops at Covent Garden are tiny, but full of bright colored wonders. The ground floor shops have larger basement shop spaces. In a tea shop called Whittards I found an entire line of dishes, tea, and shortbread cookies with images from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
|Alice in Wonderland tea and dishes in Whittards, Covent Garden Market|
Give me books and tea and I am a happy librarian. I wish I could have stayed longer in Britain. There’s so much more to see, but for now I was content. I had finally gotten to visit sights related to the books my dad read aloud to me as a child. Seeing statues and museums come out of the pages that are like old friends, and seeing places that had been morphed into the settings in the pages I turn to again and again, was unforgettable. Now with a new favorite tea, I am ready to pick up another book, and perhaps it will lead me to another wonderful adventure!