If not. Why not? You’re missing out. Café Zest coming to Kensal Rise has Karen Proctor overjoyed – fabulous breakfasts, delicious lunches, first-class breads and pastries and take-home dinners to suit every taste or mood. Friendly and efficient service, warm atmosphere and reasonable prices – it’s cheery in decor, and uplifting with its menu…

Zest 2The vibrant food and drinks are healthy and of the highest quality: from the just-baked bread, delicious pancakes with fresh fruit to the inspired flavoursome salads and aubergine stuffed with lamb we had for dinner the other night, it’s a cut above anywhere else.

Any of my friends who I’ve gone there with have been blown away too – I notice that the customer base is very diverse and is coming in from way beyond Kensal, thanks to them already having such a strong reputation. I have found myself eating at  Zest about 10 times a fortnight (sometimes I can’t resist popping in just for a pecan slice). How can you not when you know that you’ll get the consistency and the quality in food in terms of locally sourced produce and organic meat when you’re too busy to cook? Even my daughter has given it the seal of approval.

ZestRaj Rathod has over 20 years of experience in some of the top café, bakeries, and delis as well high-end restaurants which is probably why Zest delivers on so many levels in terms of tastes, atmosphere and service. He is also a local Queens Park resident, an avid fan of yoga and health food and someone not prepared to compromise on what he believes in. I wish Zest every success and I am just hoping I’ll still be able to get a table in a few months – but at least if you can’t, you can always take the food home… Cheesecake brownie, anyone? (pictured)

Café Zest, 59 Chamberlayne Rd, Kensal Rise, London NW10 3ND (020 8968 8321)



Portobello Road’s history stretches back to the creation of Smithfield Market in the Middle Ages; here is an extract from Galleries, Palaces & Tea: An Illustrated Guide To London (£9.99; author, David Backhouse) by Curll Press which can be ordered from all good bookstores…

PORTOBELLOROAD - BITMAPOne of the great pleasures of London life is moseying through her street markets. Those whom you pass may be fashion industry trend spotters, dressed-down gazillionaires, or frugally minded souls who suspect that parsnips may be 5p cheaper a kilo at that veg stall along the way. Portobello Road and her North London counterpart Camden Market are both integral parts of metropolitan life as well as being must-see attractions for visitors from across the globe. The stallholders of both have prompted books – Caitlin Davies’s Camden Lock and The Market and Blanche Girouard’s Portobello Voices. However, this does not mean that the two souks are of one hue. Almost all of Camden is controlled by a single privately owned company. It is located in a borough that has been run by the political left for decades. By contrast, Portobello is a publicly owned market that is run by the most staunchly Tory council in Britain.

  • In 1739 Admiral Edward Vernon defeated a Spanish force at Puerto Bello in the Caribbean.[1] To mark the victory, a farmstead, in what is now Notting Hill, was named after it. Portobello Road derived its appellation from the property.
  • A local market existed in the late 1830s. This was dominated by Gypsy horse-traders who had been drawn to the area by the nearby Notting Hill Hippodrome racecourse. In 1841 the track was closed. The repository faded away.
  • In the 1880s an informal street market grew up. Following the First World War many of the stallholders were ex-servicemen. This factor prompted the authorities to hold back from suppressing it. The London County Council finally licensed the mart in 1927. During the 1930s antiques dealers began to do business in it. After the Second World War the general market of the Caledonian Market in Islington was closed down. Portobello Road received many of the traders who had been working there.
  • There is a daily street market. On Saturdays the northern section of the road becomes geared to the young and international visitors, while the southern portion tends to be more weighted towards the antiques trade. During the market’s first couple of hours, the dealers sell items to one another. At around breakfast time antique collectors begin to appear and as the morning progresses so the ordinary public come to predominate.


Further reading: Blanche Girouard’s Portobello Voices (2013).

[1] ‘Old Grog’s’ participation in the major British setback at Cartagena de las Indias, on the northern coast of South America, two years later is not commemorated. Indeed, to most Britons it is completely unknown. The admiral’s popularity survived the débâcle untarnished. (There had been other British naval successes at Portobello in 1707 and 1726. These too are little known.)

London Stories, London Lives (£9.99) is the latest in the series. Currently downloadable is the mini-guide Galleries, Palaces & Tea: An Illustrated E-Guide To London (£1.29 e-book). Future titles in the London series include: Beans, Bears & Piracy and Art, Guns & Snuff.



‘The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt.’ – Henri Cartier-Bresson


Kensal Rise’s Rowan Williams loves her family’s photos: ‘I’ve collected portraits of family through the generations. The oldest one dates back to just before 1900. It’s lovely looking through them and scrutinising those faces for family resemblances, but it’s only from my mother that I know that my great grandfather was really funny and great with children, or that my great grandmother was eccentric and a real character – those old photos don’t tell me what kind of people they were. Without the stories handed down to me, I can’t get a sense of their characters.’

Meanwhile, we also love family photos, but we’re just not the kind to go in for posed studio portraits – we wanted a picture of us together that was also a snapshot of our personalities…

‘Thankfully we live in a time where photography is so accessible that we have the equipment and digital opportunity to experiment and capture true personalities. That’s is what I love to do with my photos. Experiment, create and capture characters,’ says Ro.

Being a family-portrait photographer requires Rowan to create a relaxed atmosphere and put people at ease; so she thought it would be great to really have some fun and tell stories for future generations…

Rowan Williams Photographer

‘The little quirks and differences within any family are what make it work. I loved taking this photo; setting up the shot with Kitty and spreading the pens around and discussing what to draw, while Simon got ready to pose on the stairs with the brush and vacuum cleaner (and genuinely started to clean the stairs while he was there) while Juliet was Instagramming a photo of me taking the picture. It was truly a real family portrait.’

And so there you have it: the first #RealFamilyPortrait was born.

Cost: £100 for an hour-and-a-half session. Chat to Ro on the phone or over a coffee about how your photo might look. On the shoot day she’ll come to your home and you’ll create the ‘real life’ scene together. Rowan edits and supplies a selection of 10 images for you to pick one from to be printed, plus you get the digital file to keep. ‘Oh, and I’m not averse to helping out with the tidying up after!’ 

Get in touch at ro@rophotographs.com


Who is Born & Bred Studio?

January 23, 2015

Lisa started Born & Bred Studio as she felt there was a gap in the service industry for lived-in ‘homey’ design inspired by London living… Why the name? ‘Our name was inspired by the amount of friends who are genuinely shocked when they meet a genuine born-and-bred Londoner. The saying also resonates with a feeling of home [...]

More life in the park

Personal trainer – Maciej Gross from Locomotive

January 17, 2015

It’s still only January – you have plenty of time to action that new year resolution to get fit. But if you really want to be the best version of you, sometimes you need to invest in time and professional help of a personal trainer. All the better if they’re someone you enjoy hanging out [...]

More life in the park

Golborne Road’s got it going ON

December 23, 2014

Jam packed with potential and well loved by locals for its village vibe and distinct atmosphere, the Golborne Road is experiencing a new lease of life and a shot at London-wide fame with the arrival of no less than four fabulous restaurants in only a few months – here Jodie Tice tells all… Already a [...]

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Open sesame

October 17, 2014

Pop-up brunch restaurant Tahini opens this weekend at The Shop, 75 Chamberlayne Rd, NW10 3ND and will be in residence until the end of October… Local boy, Josh Talmud, will be debuting his travel-inspired food business with a two-week pop-up at The Shop. After eight years of managing high-end foodie heaven Melrose & Morgan in Primrose Hill, [...]

More life in the park

Reiki: touched by the hand of Katie Light

October 7, 2014

We have a very special health-improving retreat right in our midst that many of you probably don’t even know about. Wakeman Road was opened by Emma Sinclair and Richard Lamballe in 2013 with the mission of making us all healthier. As autumn is upon us, it’s the most important time of year to invest in [...]

More life in the park

The storytellers

September 19, 2014

Wondering if you should be capturing and documenting your family’s life stories from ageing loved ones, before it’s too late? It’s hard to know where to start or how to do it. A locally launched innovative new service is here to help immortalise those tales… Love Your Stories, a Kensal Rise-based start-up, has assembled a crack [...]

More life in the park

Charlotte Packe lights up our lives

September 16, 2014

In Queen’s Park Design District during London Design Festival, Charlotte will be showing her lights at 9 Lonsdale Road NW6… Lighting designer Charlotte Packe lives in Queens Park and and runs her lighting studio here. Her long-term collaborations are with our favourite stylish places to stay, Firmdale Hotels has seen her designing and fabricating custom lights [...]

More life in the park