My boys are hardened party animals by now but I must admit, this Babe mama did think twice about carting them to the million man mash-up that is Notting Hill Carnival.
Maybe it was a little too close to the London riots for comfort?
It’s been 2 years sans bebes and 5 years since I took my first baby to Carnival – now that was interesting.
I did have a cunning plan this time i.e. crash at an out-of-town friend’s flat right off Portobello Rd, so no travel worries and we could skedaddle at the first hint of hoodies gone wild.
When we arrived in Ladbroke Grove on Carnival eve, I was slightly put off by the heavy presence of police, the group of sullen yoot spraying graffiti tags on the wall as we passed by and the number of businesses boarding up their storefronts (apparently they do this every year any way).
But waking to the distant boom of speakers, I got that familiar buzz and by 11am, we hit the streets.
Coming out early meant no stress moving around with the pushchair and there were loads of kids and families out to play. The atmosphere built quickly with local shops and diners getting busy with their own stereos or in-house DJs.
Jed soon got the hang of his mini horn (thank God I didn’t buy the vuvuzela) and we made our way up to Great Western Rd for a prime spot to watch the floats. As usual the outfits ranged from dazzling to outrageous and the kids in costume were super cute. Ezra wasn’t impressed by one troupe who doused us in chocolate as they went by. Naughty!
Best part for me is always the food – we got our chops round curry goat, coconut rice, jerk chicken, roast corn, plantain, rice and peas and dumpling. Then we danced it off at Different Strokes sound system, where mama got her moneymaker’s worth but the babes stole the show.
As we threw our hands to the sky for one more classic tune, there was a true sense of joy and togetherness, so far from the madness that captured this city a few weeks back.
I heart London and Carnival is still the best party in town.
More snapshots from our day (I think Jed below is eyeing me because I still have chocolate on my chin):
Notting Hill Carnival runs every year on the August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday. Visit the official site at www.nottinghill-carnival.co.uk