First you HEAR it....
I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!!!
THEN you SMELL it....and the chicken wasn't the only thing smoking.
AND THEN you see it!!!!! THE NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
An estimated 2 million people descended for two days for The Notting Hill Carnival, one of the largest Caribbean festivals in Europe. With thousands of dancers, performers and some of the biggest and (loudest) sound systems you can carry on the back of a truck, I had to go and let my inner "island girl" out.
Notting Hill was almost unrecognizable. Every store, cafe or restaurant had their windows boarded up like they were expecting a storm...and a storm they got.
This free 51 year old street festival celebrating the Caribbean community had music, dancing, plenty of street food (jerk chicken is a favourite), spectacular costumes and parade processions.
THE PARADE, THE PEOPLE, THE POLICE
Who was the idiot who thought to park this car here? A mistake you will only make once.
One of the parts of the carnival I found most interesting was the artwork or graffiti that decorated all the boarded up shops and restaurants. Notting Hill was always known for its colourful houses and now the streets were ablaze with their own colour and urban style.
HOW SAFE WAS IT?
Scotland Yard estimated 8,000 officers were on duty over the two days of the Carnival. A heavy police presence marked the carnival route with steel barriers and concrete blocks to prevent a Barcelona-style terror incident.
Police said overall there had been 313 arrests across the two-day event. Arrests down from last year but police presence up.
The festival did not seemed dampened by the stepped up police presence or any potential thought to a threat of a terrorist attack. It did however take a minute of silence to honour the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. The charred building remains looming in the background.
GOTTA CUT LOOSE...
As the sound systems pumped out heavy bass and gyrating beat it was impossible to not move and groove.
Whether it was the thousands of professional dancers taking part in the parade or just the people on the streets, everyone was dancing. A video of a police officer "busting a move" went viral.
There was some very interesting "dancing". I think it must have been where the title of the movie Dirty Dancing got its inspiration. WARNING, sex may lead to dancing.
WINDING DOWN AND CLEANING UP
After the last steel drum had been packed away, overnight more than 200 people, 30 garbage trucks and a large motorway vehicle to wash down the roads helped put the neighbourhood of Notting Hill back together again. By daybreak on Tuesday, an estimated 300 tonnes of rubbish - the weight of 25 London buses - will have been swept from the area.
So that is it from this island girl. You have a choice. Either stand back and watch the parade go by or get in there and dance.