A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

Notting Hill Carnival

sunny 22 °C

Hi All

Yesterday Stephen and I headed down to Notting Hill for the annual Notting Hill Carnival which has been held every August Bank Holiday Weekend since 1966, and is the largest celebration of its kind in Europe.

It originally started as a local festival set up by the West Indian immigrants of the area and has now become a full-blooded Caribbean carnival, attracting millions of visitors from around the world. With scores of massive sound systems, many spectacular floats and, of course, the traditional steel drum bands, plus hundreds of stalls lining the streets. Music is at the heart of Notting Hill Carnival - Historically steel bands, Soca & Calypso Music have been at the heart of Carnival but in recent years these the website reports that these have been overtaken by the static sound systems playing anything from Reggae to R&B, Funk, House, and Dub.

Stephen and I arrived and were met with some awesome sounds as soon as we got off the tube - the music was coming from the nearby church and there were people everywhere of every nationality headed down towards Portobello Road. There was the smells of awesome Caribbean food in the air, Curried Goat, Rice & Peas, Jerk Chicken and Red Beans and Rice everywhere and the soungs of whistles coming from every second person (Its tradition to blow whistles when the parade goes past).

We made our way down to the parade (Mas) area just in time to see them start to come past - and loved the spectacular costumes, headpieces, dancing and music that came from each of the floats.

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As you can see - so much effort goes into the costumes for Mas and people really get into it, both in the parade and those watching from the sidelines. We stayed for a few hours and soaked it all in but did not feel game to go into any of the venues that had live music, as they were so jam packed that we would have had to fight and push our way in - people were spilling out of every doorway....

Loved the Carnival and will definitely go again next yeat if we are still around London (we have new hopes of winning the Euro-Millions Lotto and buying a house on Portobello Road with a Balcony so we have prime position next year but we will have to see how that pans out.... )

Lots of love to all at home and scattered across the planet....

Jen & Stephen x

Posted by StephenJen 03:09 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged events Comments (1)

Le Tour - part one

From London to Dover.

sunny -17 °C

Hi folks,
after a long period of recovery we are finally ready to start our blog of Le Tour. We have been sleeping at every opportunity and struggling with being back at work. We hope you enjoy reading this. It was an amazing trip and will take a few entries to describe.

Our adventure started here in London with a Friday night presentation of the teams in Trafalgar Square. It gave us a chance to get a look at the team colours and also got me a Stuart O'Grady autograph. A huge crowd turned out and the scene was set for an exciting time trial on the following day.

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Crowd at Trafalgar Square

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Team AG2R

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Crowd at Trafalgar Square

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Team Caisse Depargne

On the Saturday we headed down to Hyde Park. We settled in beside Serpentine Rd, where we usually rollerblade, and positioned ourselves in front of the big screen to enjoy the event.

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Big Screen at Hyde Park

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CSC Time Trial

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Hyde Park Crowd

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Liquigas Time Trial

The first bit of bad luck for the Australians was Stuart O'Grady taking a corner too wide and enjoying a short flight over the handles and onto the road, he lost a lot of time but was able to get back on the bike and finish the stage. Bradley Wiggins was the local boy and when he went past our position a huge roar went up and the air was filled with excitement. It was all very enjoyable but over such a short distance (about 5 km) each ride was over very quickly. We were eager for the first proper road stage to begin and for our own road trip to commence also.

The van was filled with all the provisions and we were finally on the road. It was nice to see the city slowly give way to more open expanses as we headed south east toward the coast. We decided to have our first look at the race at a little place in the country called Sellinge Common. We parked the van and walked up to the route. We found a good position on a bend just before the end of one of the "King of the mountain" climbs. It was a good photo oportunity and we had the added drama of riders getting tangled up right in front of us. We got a taste of the despair a rider experiences when losing time due to an accident. One of the riders had to have his bike repaired and was almost in tears as he stood watching the peleton disappear up the hill in front of him. We all gave him heaps of applause and encouragement as he recommenced his climb. He looked broken.

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Walking up to Sellinge Common

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Our spot at Sellinge Common

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The Peleton zipping by at Sellinge Common

We ended the day at a caravan park a few miles inland from Dover. It was a nice quiet spot with lush green grass and was crawling with rabbits.

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Rabbit

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First Tent Set Up

We bought some fish and chips and sat atop the famous white cliffs to consume them.

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White Cliffs of Dover

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White Cliffs of Dover

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Jen on a Fence atop the Cliffs

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Stephen at Dover

As we gazed across the water toward Calais I wondered what the next 22 days held for us.

I could only imagine what this amazing race would bring us. And the best was definately yet to come!

Posted by StephenJen 05:47 Archived in England Tagged events Comments (0)

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