On our first day in the basin it rained. If this wasn’t a big enough hint, our diary informed us that it was also National Museum Day. So we spent the day in the Natural History Museum which was just as fascinating as we knew it would be, despite being full of kids whose sole intent seemed to be banging as many buttons as they could find as often and as hard as possible.
It was, in fact, so interesting that we returned the following day to go round the bits we missed. After that we had a short venture into the equally amazing V&A and Science Museums.
This is made from hundreds of different materials
including metals, ceramics and textiles.
Each layer is slightly smaller than the one on top
and each has one lobe.
It's about 2' deep.
The materials are cataloged on the adjacent wall.
In the morning Anne dropped in to pick up her diary that she’d carelessly abandoned outside Maida Vale station, and a very kind lady had found, and we’d collected. She was on her way across London, so at about 8 am she just popped out of the pinstripe swarm and stepped onto our boat for a couple of minutes. We handed over the diary, had a quick hug and then she was gone, swept up in the Armani river while Dave went back to watering the plants in his dressing gown. (Go for it, Groucho.) It was rather surreal - for her and us.
A little while later Diane arrived, and after a brew we went for a walk along the Regent’s Canal to Camden and had a good shuffty round the market and a bite to eat from the various food stalls. That was followed by a wander along Camden High Street and a walk up Primrose Hill.
Around tea time Sarah and Grace turned up with Cake, Strawberries and Cream so we had a lovely evening sat in the front deck with Ann-Marie’s delicious lasagne and an equally delicious pudding.
In the morning Kim, Luke and George arrived...
...so after we’d said goodbye to Diane we packed up a picnic and headed off to Kensington Gardens. This time we’d come prepared with sunflower seeds and apples for the parakeets which worked a treat.
After our picnic and some lovely ice-creams from the palace tea rooms...
We’re sure we spotted Will and Kate in the kitchen.
...we walked around to the Princess Diana Adventure Playground. Wow! What a fabulous place! George was in his element.
You need a kid to get in, but it’s worth borrowing one just to go and have a look at it.
Back at the boat, Kat & Steve (friends from 2cv land) turned up and we had a curry. Yum!
That night George tried out the new pole bunk. Verdict – zzzzz.
The next day was Sunday so, after a lazy breakfast and a bargain hunt in the local Sainsbury’s, we cast off and went to the absolute end of the Paddington arm in Merchant Square where we winded before heading off down the Regent’s Canal.
The towpath, predictably, was crammed with people, and Camden even more so.
Now we know how the rich and famous feel.
Steve stepped off the train and re-joined the crew at the middle lock then we carried on to St Pancras lock where we had lunch while we filled up with water and killed some time.
That evening we had a booked mooring in Battlebridge Basin outside the London Canal Museum, but not until 4:30 when they shut. We’d thought, with all the onlookers and the waterbuses, it would take longer to get through Camden, but all three locks were in our favour and there was no queueing, so we found ourselves hanging about a bit.
We still got into Battlebridge a bit early...
...and had to moor end-on until the trip boat had done its last visit. After that we were alongside the museum entrance and behind a locked gate.
Very safe and secure for £10. Kat joined us after work and we invaded the nearest pub followed by dinner on board.
The next day, on our own again, we walked round the corner to King’s Cross Station.
We got there quite early so the queue for photos at Platform 9¾ was very short.
Back on board we swivelled the boat round and carried on down to Victoria Park. We slowly cruised past the moored boats looking for a single one that was about the right length. Nb Lady Hypatia fitted the bill; Dave knocked on the roof as we got close, but there was no answer so we tied up, adjusted our fendering, had lunch and went out.
We didn't expect to see this in a London canal.
We walked through the lovely “Vicky Park”, found out a bit about its very interesting history, post war decline and recent re-generation and also discovered that it is the site of the drinking fountain built by Baroness Angela Burdett Coutts so that the poor of East London had access to clean water. Which we didn’t know. Click Here to find out more about this remarkable woman.
We’d planned a visit to the Docklands Museum the next morning followed by an afternoon crossing the Thames, so we made a packed lunch and walked down Burdett Road and through Mile End Park towards Canary Wharf.
That evening we walked the other way to the Hackney Empire where we had tickets to see Friday Night is Music Night. Compered by Ken Bruce, the BBC concert orchestra performed “Twang” a collection of ‘70s and ‘80s instrumentals. It was brilliant and we had a terrific time. We thought it would be aired in the next couple of weeks or so, but we’ve got to wait till September to hear it on the radio.
The following day was a carefully planned logistical exercise to move our car from one side of London to the other. We went by tube from Bethnal Green to Uxbridge and walked up the GU to Springwell lock where we’d left it three weeks earlier. Happily it was still there and still in one piece, unhappily, however, it was covered in twigs and pigeon poo. We cleared off what we could, then set off down to Mytchett to pick up Dave’s prescription and our post, before heading over to Fleet for a flying visit with Mum and Dad and to borrow a sponge and bucket. Then we were back on the motorways to Enfield Lock where we abandoned our much cleaner car once more - this time not under a tree, got the Overground from Turkey Street to Hackney Downs and walked back to the boat for dinner. It was a long day and we didn’t stop moving, but it all went more or less to schedule.
Spending all day in the Docklands Museum meant that we’d not done the river crossing day that we’d had planned. Today we rectified that. We started with a walk down to Limehouse Basin to have a look and recce the moorings for when we come back in September.
From the Cutty Sark we followed the Thames Path to the O2...
A bit of beachcombing.
The Blackwall Tunnel approach. We didn't do that one.
Spooky reflections under the Thames.
By the time we’d walked back up the canal to Vicky Park we were knackered, but what a fabulous day!
The next day at lunchtime, we had some more BBC tickets to see a pre-recording of Radio 4’s comedy show, “The Pin”. It was being performed downstairs at The Albany on Great Portland Street, so we decided to walk. Our route took us through Duncan Terrace Gardens, where there was a bird box city in a tree, then along Pentonville road to King’s Cross, where there was a Cadburys promotion and free chocolate. We arrived a bit early at the Albany, so we went for a sit in Regent’s park before going into the pub to share a pint. The venue was in the cellar and was really funny. They performed two episodes and we were hurting with laughter at the end.
Afterwards we walked through Regent’s Park for another visit to Camden Market. We’d decided to get a souvenir from London for Legend. We picked a Turkish style hanging lamp to go over the dining room table. Converting it to 12 volts and adding a fitting switch will cost almost as much as the light but we think it’ll be worth it.
On the way home we searched out the Camley St Nature Reserve which is a little haven of peace and tranquility tightly squeezed in between railway lines, canal and gasometers. It is really worth a visit if you find yourself in King’s Cross or St Pancras with an hour or two to kill.
Before we’d left that morning, Mike on the boat we were moored against, told us he was moving at some time during the day, so when we returned we weren’t sure where our boat was going to be. However everything was just the way it had been. Lauren came to visit in the evening. (She was staying in a hotel in Bethnal Green while visiting Comicon at Excel) She stopped just long enough for a chat and a game of Harry Potter Scene It (which she won. Obvs.) before going out clubbing.
In the morning, as we prepared to set off, Mike told us that he hadn’t been able to get away the day before which was why he hadn’t moved. He also told us about a couple of good moorings on the Lee, which gave us somewhere to aim at. Our first stop was the water point at Old Ford; the next lock. As we were putting the hose away Nb Badger arrived single handed so we shared that lock and the three on the Hertford Union with him.
At the end of the Hertford Union we tuned onto the wide water of the River Lea and said goodbye (for a while) to the canals.
Our last Regent's Canal lock for a while.
Lining up for the Hertford Union Canal entrance.
In we go.
Some very talented artists creating a new wall.