or: What To Expect If Your Familiarity With This Event Is Basically Nonexistent, As Written By An Oblivious Expat
As I mentioned in my pre-carnival post on Friday, I’d never heard of the Notting Hill Carnival before — June, May? Of this year. I’ve been to carnivals and I’ve heard of festivals and I wasn’t sure if it would be more along the lines of quirky pier-like colorful carnival or more along the lines of loud, crowded music festival.
So if you are wondering the same thing, it is the latter. It is a loud crowded festival, and it does have music, and a lot — a lot — of food stalls, and there’s a parade but if you get there after 6 PM, it’s nowhere to be seen. I kind of thought it would just go on all day. Apparently it doesn’t.
I also thought I’d get lost, but it’s impossible. The area is cordoned off properly, no traffic, lots of police, actual fences, the whole nine yards — and the buses that serve the area all go right up to the place the traffic is no longer allowed, so you don’t have to worry about getting off a stop early and having to walk, or going past it. Because your bus will keep going and join five other buses, some of which announce they go to and from the Notting Hill Carnival (wow, apparently that big of a deal? Would we put it up there with like, the Berlin love festival or something? Look, all I know about festivals I learned from movies. Chasing Liberty was great), and then you’ll see the crowds of people coming and going, and then it’s just an issue of picking a path and walking it.
Approaching the carnival from Elgin Avenue. I remember getting off a bus here when I was living in Ladbroke Grove/on one of the number avenues off Harrow Road. Flat viewing in West Hampstead, I think? But yes, the area was familiar from the get-go. I think I even saw the bridge I walked down to get to the big Sainsbury’s, somewhere around there.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I picked a few paths and walked them, taking pictures on my snazzy new LG G3 all the while.
The canal (which canal? I’m pretty sure it has a proper name. Google Maps won’t bring it up, what the) and Meanwhile Gardens. Those were entirely new to me. There’s a skating bowl. There were mostly kids there.
People and ice cream trucks. Lots of both those things around. It sometimes reminded me of the little carnival (with rides) back in my town in Spain. Only more crowded. And without rides. And more litter. And not overwhelmingly white.
Seriously so much litter. There were basically additional curbs made out of litter along the sidewalks.
It did dawn on me while I was there though that I had more trouble taking pictures of people of color than white people. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to intrude? I felt a little bit like I’d be using them (the people), especially since it was random strangers and not people in the actual parade. Which is probably super dumb, but there you go. Thoughts of a wannabe intersectional feminist.
Meanwhile Gardens and a lady with balloons. Colors! There wasn’t a lot of color around when I got there, between the gray weather and the smoke and the parade being over.
The bridge I recognized would be somewhere behind the people in the right hand photo.
Some areas of the park(s) were kind of blissfully empty. And pretty. So I took a couple of pictures of them.
Family fun! If I were a kid I’d run away screaming, but then that’s pretty much what I did as an adult. It was great to check out the thing and see what it was and what a big deal it was, and now I know it is Not My Scene in the extreme. I just. Crowds? Noise? Shudder. I could barely get my camera out for street style photos like I’d intended, I felt so stifled. Maybe if I’d gone with somebody it would have been easier.
That said, I did get these:
How delightfully Grease-like are these pictures? Seriously.
And if the above pics are delightfully Grease-like, then the one on the right above is just plain old delightful. I got it and I was like, okay, I’ve done my job here, I can go home. And so I did.
There were two (two!) buses of the one I had to take parked near (but not at) a bus stop on Elgin Avenue. Nice contrast to the fact that I got off at Swiss Cottage on my ride there and there was a lady there saying she hadn’t seen a single one in fifteen minutes. I nearly ended up asking the tube people, but I decided to hold out because I’d only mapped out directions by taking this particular bus, and you guys know how I am about getting lost. (If you don’t, the short version is I excel at it and I don’t like it.)
I hadn’t noticed the warning posters on the bus stops until I took a picture of them. The carnival is that big of a deal. Who knew?
Well, I guess LG did, and that’s why they ran this whole campaign to promote the LG G3.
This phone is actually – we’re already just short of surgically attached, which I never, ever thought I’d say about a phone. It works so smoothly, and the photos it takes are really decent quality — we’re talking 13 megapixels, 3-5MB original files — and the ‘make a fist’ selfie feature, where you show the camera your palm, wait for recognition and make a fist to set off a 3-second self-timer, is so much fun. I may or may not have spent the whole bus ride home playing with it.
Okay, I did. You should see the selfie explosion from Saturday, and that was before I even knew about the make a fist feature. It works so smoothly. I’m obsessed with tech working smoothly, I’m sorry.
The battery also lasted a whole lot longer than I expected — it drains pretty fast when you muck around the phone for ages at night, but the camera doesn’t make as big of a dent on it, which was a relief. I can’t compare much of it to other smartphones, but I can tell you that it’s a whole lot smoother than my Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (also Android).
It’s actually entirely my thing. Unlike the Notting Hill Carnival. But I’m glad I got to check out both of them!
Disclaimer: This post was made in collaboration with LG UK. I received a phone in exchange for coverage of the carnival, and all the pictures in this post were taken with it.