Saying this makes me cringe like there’s no tomorrow, but as I write this I’m living my best Sunday evening life. I’m all showered and feeling damn right cosy. I have the option of watching whatever I want (this does not happen enough) and I’m pretty sure it’s raining outside – as much as I hate rain I gotta admit it totally pumps up the comfort factor when one’s feeling cosy. I’ve also hit 20,000 steps today (because I count my steps now, oh god who am I) and feel like I 100% deserve to put my feet up and relax. And the best bit? There are no Monday blues because I’m not working tomorrow – I think I may have hit the hygge spot!
It’s about to be the last bank holiday during the month August in the UK, which not only provides a lot of people with a Monday off, but is also a witness to the Notting Hill Carnival. One of the world’s most iconic street parties takes place every last bank holiday in August – I’ve lost track of number of times I’ve been and have absolutely come to love its chaotic and wonderful nature. The carnival goes on for two days – on Sunday it’s supposed to be the family day, and on Monday it’s supposed to be the ‘adult’ day. And as bad at adulting as I may be, I am more than happy to go on Sunday rather than Monday to avoid any feelings of roughness at work (also, the Sunday can and usually is just as boisterous). This year has been no different – in fact the main reason as to why I’m having such an idyllic Sunday evening is because I had a pretty tough but fantastic day at Notting Hill Carnival 2018. It rained from the moment we got there and stopped when the street performances officially ended, which is ridiculous but typical, right?
As a rain hater it wouldn’t be surprising if I was completely turned off by this situation – but I powered through and had a great time. I danced, spotted some amazing street art and kept dancing. So yeah, I do feel like patting myself on the back.
A few days ago I was, in my head, semi-prepping for the carnival when all of a sudden I thought “Why don’t I do a blog post on this?” It’s random and I will probably publish it once the carnival has ended, but while it won’t be helpful for 2018’s carnival maybe it will inspire someone for future ones? So here goes my short yet concise survival kit list for the Notting Hill Carnival:
1. Map routes, research and/or the app
I’ve actually heard the Notting Hill Carnival app isn’t that great, but if you want to be strategic about the parade and different performances on the various streets within the Notting Hill neighbourhood, do your research beforehand. This could save you a lot of aimless wandering.
2. A ‘safe’ rucksack.
Sadly at any sort of big street party event people should be careful with their belongings – and personally I think certain rucksacks can keep one’s belongings safe and sound. However, if you disagree, just make sure you carry a bag that you feel is pick-pocket ready.
If you’re planning to eat there (or buy a few random things here and there) I’d say a lot of places still don’t take card. I’m now a typical Londoner that never carries cash, but made the exception Notting Hill Carnival and didn’t miss out on any delicious chicken patties or jerk chicken wraps.
4. Plastic cups (if you are planning to drink and bring your own alcohol).
Personally if you’re a drinker I don’t see why you wouldn’t take this chance to bring your own alcohol to the party – it’s just so much more economical. So while you’re at it, why not bring plastic cups too?
5. Plastic containers with ice.
I know I’m sounding insane right now but this is for the drinking pros who want to keep their drinks cool for as long as possible. Just make sure you put the plastic containers in a thermal bag and make a few incisions to the ice itself before you bounce for the carnival.
4. Plastic bags.
This really depends on whether it rains or not, but having a plastic bag for e.g. a super wet umbrella or poncho is pretty handy.
Let’s talk toilets – I’m not exactly great at having to use any sort of public toilet because I do get repulsed very easily and like my creature comforts. Having said that, I’m also ready to just deal with things, and I don’t know if it was going to Glastonbury festival in 2016 that made me switch but let’s just say I can handle crappy bathrooms a lot better than I used to. Also, the portable toilets at Notting Hill Carnival are generally not that terrible. But never count on toilet paper – shit happens (meant that metaphorically) and people do stupid things. So yes, better to be safe than sorry.
6. Hand sanitiser.
Ditto, really. Although this year I noticed the portable toilets did have hand sanitiser. Portable toilets are no longer what they use to be – phew.
7. Toilet paper.
OK, this might be just a little excessive (and useless if it rains heavily like it did today), but if you have room…
8. Comfortable shoes that you’re not precious about.
Because your shoes will suffer and your feet should be ready to dance.
I don’t think I’ve missed anything, and I know a lot of this might seem crazy and/or obvious, but it’s what works for me and other people close to me. As for fashion, I really can’t give any advice because it all depends on the weather and what people can personally handle. This year the weather has been sh*t, which is especially annoying because of the heatwave London experienced only a few weeks ago. I decided to wear a beanie in August – a joke, I know, but I’m pretty sure it helped me stay warm. I also reluctantly wore a rain poncho for what felt like the first time in my life – awful but useful. But everyone is different and luckily the weather is too!
I mean it when I say I love the Notting Hill Carnival – I love the positive energy you can feel in the air and what it stands for. Last year and this year’s editions have been extra emotional because of the Grenfell tragedy, but it is reassuring to see that people care and want justice. The world is messed up, so let’s make the most of those moments when we truly act as a united community!
Picture taken in Notting Hill during the Carnival on August 26th, 2018 – check out this Instagram post to see more pictures.