Sunday, August 26, 2012

Portobello Road

IMG_2727For our last Wednesday field trip into London I took Hazel and Charlie (sans Peter who my friend took all day and Emmeline who was in school) into the Portobello Road Market.  Portobello Road is a huge open air market with everything from really cool (and probably overpriced) antiques to yummy produce to awesome street food to vintage clothing.  I know it’s a little touristy, but it’s one of my favorite places in London.  I’m just kind of a sucker for old stuff, I’m pretty sure I can blame my dad for that one.   He took us there (and all other kids of antique shops) as kids, he bought me two silver candlesticks there for my 12th birthday, he bought an old English Letter Box and mounted it by our front door growing up, he is gaw gaw over old books, and clocks and furniture and hourglasses.  You can pretty much guarantee that he’ll be tempted to buy anything proceeded with the word “antique” --- or anything that is featured on an infomercial (but that’s a topic for a different post – a post on how totally adorably idiosyncratic my dad is).

Anyway, I digress. During our time in London I went to Portobello Road a few times.   Once with Amy, once with just Hazel and I had wanted to take the big kids in so that they could buy some kind of meaningful treasure from London to store with all their totally cheesy gift shop souvenirs that they’ve been way too obsessed with. 

So we went.  I was curious about how they would respond to it.  I wasn’t sure Charlie was going to be so into looking at all the delicate, old stuff.  But, they LOVED it.  Every bit of it.  I had to drag them home. 

IMG_2721Of course Charlie was delighted to see that there was a cafĂ© named after him.  IMG_2722And they were delighted by this little tiny car. 

And I was delighted by the Sicilian Pizza shop we stopped in for lunch, the yummiest little risotto balls I’ve ever tasted.

IMG_2725But most of all the kids were excited about all that old stuff around them.  They loved looking at the old watches and clocks and art and silver spoons and real leather soccer balls. And most splendidly surprising to me?  They LOVED the old books.  They couldn’t get enough of them, especially the children's ones.  I’ve always had something for old books, their smell, the former owners’ names written on the first page, their worn leather bindings.  So, I was delighted to find that they were also enamored by them.  Hazel picked out a book from the 20’s of old children’s poems.  Charlie picked a absolutely beautiful Victorian children's’ book with a green leather binding called, “A Child’s Companion.”  It is filled with poems and pictures and all kinds of instructions about lots of interesting things, how to build a boat, how to draw a horse, how to make decisions, how to behave.  It has really funny stories about children who made bad choices and had to suffer the consequences.  The illustrations are beautiful.  It was pretty expensive so I tried to talk him out of buying it (they were using their own hard earned money) but instead, because he’s so darn cute he bargained the man down and only paid 6 pounds for it.  I told him that it was the kind of book that little boys used to carry around with them to keep them entertained before the days of iPads and PSP’s.  That hooked him (since he’s never had one of those) and he carried that book around with him for a few days.  His little companion. 

Before heading home Charlie bough himself an old leather wallet (you can see it in the picture of him by the car) and Hazel got a spyglass (not old, but it looks it) and a silver teaspoon for Emmeline (she’s always looking out for Emmeline).  I got an old silver tea kettle and a ships bell to use for a dinner bell.  I was sorely tempted by all the things my dad bought but realized that I probably couldn’t get a letter box home without spending another fortune. 

On the way home I tried to capture a few things that I’m not sure we’ve captured, like the tower of london and the tower bridge, which we visited 5 times, thanks to the awesome pass my in-laws gave us:IMG_2728IMG_2729We tried to soak in our last rides through the city.  IMG_2730IMG_2732We met up with Jeff who brought in the little guys and did a little handoff so that Jeff could go and see the HMS Belfast with Charlie.  IMG_2735IMG_2739

On the way home I was thinking about how happy I was that I have that little quirky love handed down from my dad, and I’m glad that my kids have somehow absorbed it. 

I thought about it for a few weeks and finally for father’s day I wrote my dad this poem describing my feelings that day:

(I’m not a poet, but my dad BEEEEGS for poems on Father’s Day so I try my hardest)


Portobello Road

I walk down portobello road,

Little hands clenched tight in mine.

I find myself drawn, without thinking to

hour glasses and aslan knockers

and old books,

their pages fragrant with stories

of fairies and odysseys

and of real lives that have poured over them

and written their names in a list on the front pages.


We walk, hand in hand,

navigating the crowd,

and I see it,

the glimmer starting in their souls,

faint but steady,

growing as they

handle old pieces of life,

turn pages.


And I see it,

Small pieces of You,

Budding up inside them,

taking hold.


On Fathers Day we climb up box hill.

The day is bright spotted with billowed clouds.

Little hands clenched in mine.

Little eyes breath taking,

breathing in all the beauty and

spilling out glee and wonder

and love for the green world around them.


Flashes of my childhood days there swarm,

covered in crystally green

blanketed by the huge presence

of dad,

his is love for that green land

and all that grows and glories.


And the wind blew, gusty and fragrant,

blending our discoveries all together.

Three generations of

Joy blossomed by beauty.

And I see it again.

Small pieces of You,

Budding up inside them,

taking hold.


The love of truth and all that is lovely

has grounded us.

Not just a love for old things, and green things but

a craving for life,

to wrap our hands around all of the intricacies

and gulp in all that is real and beautiful and true.


You’ve sown perennial seeds,

shooting through new soil with each generation.

Soil rich in your DNA, soaked with genetic memory.

In me they have flowered and flourished,

carving depths into my life.


In me they have flowered and flourished,

carving depths into my life.

Now are they seeping from my soul seams,

landing in new, young tender soil.


Pieces of Grandfather

taking hold.


building strength.

carving us deep.

helping us to see.

really see,

and grasp and hold on and fly.


  1. sayd, that poem is seriously awesome. what the heck, how come you didn't send it out to everyone? it is fantastic. we are so sisters. love you

  2. Absolutely beautiful poem, Saydi.

    Wow, your dad must have been thrilled. And touched. You are incredibly talented!

  3. Oh my gosh Saydi, this is the second time I've read this and this time more deeply. What an astonishing poem! It captures both the magic of Porobello Road and the deep relationship with generations on each side! Have I ever told you that you should be a writer?

  4. I love Saydi Joy. I am so happy that charlie got his companion and that hazel is in to spyglasses.

  5. Oh Sayds, that poem is SO amazingly perfect. Thank you so much for sharing describe Dad in such a perfect way. So glad those kids got to love those antiques. Love you!



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