This post was published in partnership with Rennie, but all opinions on jerk chicken and joyful carnivals remain truly my own. For more information on Rennie, antacids and managing bloating or trapped wind, do check out the Rennie website.
For my first few years in London I went home every bank holiday weekend. I was unsettled and I missed my friends, and I took every opportunity to immerse myself in my culture, the one I missed. Still a displaced immigrant even though it was my choice to come, I wanted to live in London but I had yet to find my slice of home here. Of course, I have it now, 15 years in, although I still miss Ireland, the laughter and the nonsense, the fun. But I want to live here.
Who wouldn’t want to live in London? It is a city for all people, with all things, you just need to find your bit of it. That takes time for most, and London is expensive. Most of us make compromises to live here, and this is something that you can be ok with for a while. Expensive rented accommodation (the dream of a tiny home of ones own is still there but not feasible right now), commutes, and what are savings? But we love it here, the opportunities that it brings, be they work or fun or the many cultural things. For me, that is all three.
Community is important in London. In a city so vast you need to know your space and be brave enough to occupy it. I love that London celebrates it’s many communities. So many, to start, for me, Chinese New Year, Eid, (my own) St Patrick’s Day, and Notting Hill Carnival, a joyful 2 day celebration of carnival and British Caribbean culture. Always over the bank holiday weekend at the end of August, the end of summer, a burst of colour and energy to scare away Autumn, but it always comes despite our efforts. We forgive it for it brings pumpkins and apples and kale and other lovely things. Long evenings that nurture intentions of cinema and fires, mulled wine and gin. I love the seasons, as much as I sometimes resent them when they come and when they leave.
When in town, I always love to join the celebrations. If you have never been to Notting Hill Carnival, you should know that it is packed, over one million visitors over 2 days in a small part of London. Don’t let that put you off, it is fun and friendly. There is the carnival itself a parade of smiles and feathers and bright colour. Music booms from the parade, and in the streets in between there are 37 sound stages. In between all of these are food stalls, most of which sell Caribbean food. Which I love, I have been lucky to visit the Caribbean a few times in recent years. Always jerk chicken for me, some curry goat, fried plantain and rice and peas.
Today, carnival recognised Grenfell Tower in an emotional silence on both days at 3pm. It was very emotive, the all consuming largeness of carnival all became suddenly very small and everything sombre. What a tragedy Grenfell was. It isn’t over until there is justice for the victims and we ensure it doesn’t happen again.
If you are not in London, I would pencil Notting Hill Carnival in for next year or as soon as you can manage it. It is a great festival, Europe’s biggest carnival, all fun and free. In one of the worlds best cities.
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