3 SECONDS OF FAME AT THE NOTTINGHILL CARNIVAL – WHAT A PALAVA!

I was very excited when Cait told me about the Nottinghill Carnival and that we should go.  It’s a carnival which happens every year in August on the long Bank Holiday weekend.  They close the roads and have lots of Caribbean, mardi-gra type action in the streets.  Because Cait had also booked for us to go to Cahoots the same day (more about that later) we decided to go early so that we wouldn’t miss a thing.  Well, we almost missed the whole thing because for about an hour and a half we were in the wrong road!  Luckily, when we felt it just wasn’t ramping up enough for our liking we asked a policeman (of which there were many) and he directed us to where we needed to be!  Which was also good because we were the ONLY people who were dressed up and when I say dressed up – I could mean dressed down.  Cait was wearing her nighty because it went with her new pink eye-lashes and she pulled it off marvellously and I was dressed as a hippie which, as my daughter said, was no great surprise.

Here’s a snap chat pic of us all filtery and looking great.

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Here’s the same pic with no filter.

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Here’s me at the toilet.  I’ve been to A LOT of outdoor festivals and have never ever felt the need to take a photo of the toilets.  These were impressive, inside and out, and therefore deserved this photo opportunity very much, in my opinion.

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Anyway, it did not take long before I found beer and then everything got even better.  Coupled with the fact that we found the action.  And boy did we see some action.  Apparently not as much as the people who went later and either were or were not involved in the 17 stabbings, 144 arrests and general mayhem that ensued.  I’ve read some articles on the aftermath … apparently this is the second biggest carnival in the world.  To be honest, being in it, it didn’t seem THAT massive but we did go early and leave around 2pm.  But already the streets were teeming with people.  It was very vibey and festive but I never felt overcrowded or overwhelmed or worried for my safety.  There were loads of policeman and the whole thing seemed very well organised.  A lot of people seemed VERY fucked but not in a bad way.  That probably came far later.  We were offered drugs once – but only once – and the only person who accosted us was a cameraman to ask us if we would dance in front of his camera.  Luckily I was three beers in so happily acquiesced.  It turns out we ‘made the cut’ and our 3 seconds of dancing fame appeared on the official Time Out magazine video of the carnival.  Next year I want to do it all again and stay for longer.  I feel we left just as the party was just getting started and while I don’t think I would want to stay late into the night – I definitely feel like there was a lot more to explore and see.

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We did see the house where the movie Notting Hill was filmed – that was very cool – and I am sure it will still be there next year! 😉

Next we were on our way to Cahoots.  Cahoots is an underground bar in two ways.  First of all it’s a bar on a tube underground.  And secondly, even though is existence is made available on the internet, it is not the easiest place to find, on purpose.  Cait and I found it when we were googling places to go for a drink in Soho – during our Cait, Tate and Bi-bim-bap day.  An address was given which we found, but we just could not find the actual place.  We were most confused because we found the signboard that showed all the shops and bars in that building but no Cahoots!  After walking around in circles for a bit we saw a sign that said ‘To the Trains’ which we thought a bit weird because we were nowhere near the train station and even if we were, it was pointing the wrong way! We made our way to this little alley and little door from which suddenly popped a very enthusiastic gentleman who looked like he had come back from 1943.  Then he asked us if we were expected on the platform!??  By this stage I was starting to question my sanity.  This was directly after the Tate experience, so thought that maybe, after all, someone had in fact slipped something into my drink which was making the entire day seem awfully trippy.  Said gentleman then proceeded to phone someone from a really old phone – you know the one where you had to put the little knob thing to your ear and generally shout really loudly.  Well, apparently we were not expected on the platform and because they were so busy we were turned away.

Which is what brought us there that Sunday night after the Carnival.  We booked in advance and were proud to say that yes, indeed, we most certainly WERE expected on the platform.  Once it had been ascertained by a few people that we were who we said we were, we were allowed to go down.  Down a flight of stairs that did indeed look like an underground station, through a passage and then into a quaint little area that really did make one feel that you had stepped back in time.  The waiters and waitresses were all dressed circa 1946 and everything about the experience continued to make it feel that way.  From the waiters who poured water from flasks to the waitresses with bright red lips and 1940s hairstyles. For me the funniest were the real adverts in the bathrooms advertising syphilis. Cait was amused by the Cockney lessons being drilled into us should you stay in the bathroom too long.  Apples and pears, is all I got.  There was far too much to see out there.  So that was just the eye candy, we still had to order our drinks!  After a very parched while and literally 150 choices I chose What a Palava which was basically a Bloody Mary with a vegetable garden on top.  Bloody marvellous and delicious.  Neither Cait nor I can remember what she had but we can both attest to it being a masterpiece of sorts!

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Each party gets a 2-hour stint before having to leave and let the next group ‘on the train’.  Whether you are a big group or a couple or a couple of gals like Cait and I just wanting to enjoy each other’s company, it’s a must do place to go in London.  If you can find it!

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