Regents Canal Towpath


Where to go...

Darren and I recently took advantage of a sunny day to head over to the Regents Canal Towpath and Little Venice (where Regent’s Canal meets the Grand Union canal)  for a bit of a walk.

The map covers our route once we arrived at the path and just the bit that we followed. In its entirety, it runs from Limehouse  to Paddington. You can walk along the route, or you can take a boat.

Built in the early 19th century and whose design was guided by the architect, John Nash of Brighton Pavillion fame, the canal paths were used heavily to transport goods until the 1960’s.

Some pictures! (and evidence that my camera has been neglected for a while!)

You can visit the London Zoo from the path and see the warthogs!

View of the path heading West

Someone's shack along the path.

One of the Canal Boats available for rides.

There are many houseboats moored along the walk as you get closer to Little Venice.

A view of Maida Vale's Little Venice

Things to See When Visiting London, Part II


View from South Bank

Part II has taken me a bit longer than planned. It seems January isn’t really inspiring me to leave the house or encourage guests much!

1. Starting off at Trafalgar Square, you can head into St. Martin in the Fields, where you can do brass rubbings in the crypt.

2. Next up, it’s England, so you have to have tea. While many of the hotels serve high tea, it’s very pricey, so if you’re willing to embrace something a bit less formal while still sconetacular, here are a few suggestions for a casual tea:

Treats in the Window at Bea's

Tea isn’t just about tea. It’s also about scones, clotted cream, jam, and if you’re a tea overachiever, it may mean finger sandwiches and pastries too. Tea overachievement should be reserved for when you don’t have dinner plans.

Liberty

3. Liberty of London: Founded in 1975, this very traditional, yet trendy department store is housed in a Tudor building constructed from timber which had previously constructed two ships, the HMS Impregnable and the HMS Hindustan. (Needless to say, I was surprised to learn this from a sales associate last time I was there!). Liberty is filled with tiny rooms of beautiful things, and it has a mighty haberdashery section, which may be why I consider it a place I would have liked very much to take my grandmaman, but at the same time, it would please my trendiest friend.

4. Ride a London Bus – First seats, Upper deck:  One really can’t come to London without riding a double decker bus. Even if you don’t want to listen to the Smiths the whole time, it’s the most cost efficient way to see London at £2.20 cash or around a pound on your Oyster Card. If sightseeing is your goal, try to board where the route starts, as this will make snagging one of the front seats on the upper desk much easier.

View of Oxford Circus from the 55 bus

My vote for choicest routes and the sights you’ll see:

1. The number 11: picks up behind Liverpool Street Station:

  • Bank of England
  • St. Pauls
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Big Ben
  • Parliament
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Victoria Station Area
  • King’s Road, Chelsea

Alternatively, you can take the 9 or the 15, both of which have “heritage routes” on which the old Routemaster buses run. The heritage routes are abbreviated routes, focused in central London

2. The 15 starts at Tower Hill, next to the Tower of London:

  • St. Pauls
  • Trafalgar Square

3. The 9 goes from High Street Kensington to Trafalgar Square:

  • Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Harrods: The food hall is dreamy, and the customer service throughout is fantastic.
  • Hyde Park
  • Green Park
  • Picadilly, and Picadilly Circus
  • Trafalgar Square

5. A walk around Hyde Park’s Serpentine:

The Serpentine in Summer

My love of walking around the token, big grassy space in a city may be due to living in major cities for the last 16 years, but I really do enjoy it.

If it’s Christmas time, the Hyde Park Christmas Fair runs through the month of December, and is worth a visit as well. This picture was taken in the summer which is probably the best time to go, weatherwise. There’s a nice little cafe at the eastern end where you can sit outside and have a drink, or there are plenty of folding lawn chairs for rent all around the lake.

*Special thanks to my friend Elisabeth, during whose recent visit a number of these pictures were taken.

Things to See When Visiting London, Part I


The London Eye, Southbank, Big Ben, & Parliament

Each time we have visitors, I tend to draw a blank as to what we should go and visit. It seems that nearly three years of living here has made me completely take the place for granted.

So, in the interests of not doing that, here’s the first of what I expect will be several posts on a few must sees, all under the London Tourism category. You can view all of these places on a google map here.

St. Bartholomew's

1. The Priory Church of St. Bartholomew: This church may look familiar to movie buffs, having appeared in a number of films, but the really interesting bit about this church is its  history. This 12th century church was founded by Rahere, a courtier, after he had a vision in which St. Bartholomew told him to build this church in London. Rahere traveled to London from Rome, and asked the King for the land on which to build his church. The request was granted, and Rahere then recruited volunteers to build this church, completing it in 1123.

2. The Postman’s Park: This tiny park around the corner from St. Paul’s was named for the Post Office that once occupied the land. Its most interesting bit is the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. Created in 1900, it contains ceramic tiles recognizing those who lost their lives while saving another. Watts tried to obtain funding to support his

Tiles in Postman's Park

project, but unable to do so, the memorial is largely self-funded. The tiles are beautifully painted, and the stories expressed are at times, matter of fact, other times, seemingly poetic. Watts died in 1904, and his wife, Mary, carried it out after his death. The latest addition was in 2007.

St. Paul's

3. St Paul’s Cathedral: St. Paul’s has a varied history. To those of my generation, the most familiar memory may be the wedding of Diana and Charles. This Wren designed cathedral was the 5th to occupy the location under the same name, and opened in 1697. Wren’s models alone cost £32,000 in today’s terms, according to Wikipedia. To view the entire cathedral and crypt, there is an admission charge, but one can also just have a peek from the back for free. The restaurant in the crypt is new, and while I’m sure the food is lovely, I’d advise saving your appetite for Mary le Bow (next).

4. Lunch  in the  Crypt of St Mary le Bow Church: While there are a number of catherdral and church crypt restaurants, Cafe Below (formerly, “The Place Below”) remains a favorite.  This restaurant’s locally sourced menu of comfort food is an excellent escape on a cold day,  one can dine in the crypt itself or outdoors (summer only). I believe the restaurant has been there for a while, as it never smells crypt-y. This Wren-designed church is famous for its bells, and the term, “Cockney” was historically used to describe a person born within the audible radius of the Bow Bells.

Leadenhall Market

5. Whitecross Street Market: If you have any room left, is also worth a wander. Thursdays and Fridays are home to the Specialty Food Market.

6.  Leadenhall Market: Harry Potter fans will recognize Leadenhall as the entryway to Daigon Alley, but for the rest of us muggles, it offers some excellent lunch venues and spots for shopping that are filled with City workers, taking a break. After wandering through the market, you might as well go look at the adjacent Lloyds Building, which looks nothing like anything in Leadenhall. You can visit the interior of Lloyds during September’s Open House week.

Borough Market

7. The Tower of London: It goes without saying, really. After wandering through the tower and through the Crown Jewels, have a pint at the Hung, Drawn, and Quartered, around the courer.

6. Borough Market: head across London Bridge to visit this mighty food market, which supports retail sales Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. In addition to the many stalls selling vegetables, fruits, cheeses, breads, etc, there’s also a cooked food section which is great fun to graze through. As regular readers may recall, I’m very fond of the grilled cheese from the raclette stall behind Southwark Cathedral.

7. Wander along the Southbank: It’s pretty. Often there are fairs on.

8. The London Eye: see London in half an hour! The views are beautiful, and the slowly moving capsules/pods are fixed, so it’s not scary. It’s pricey, but you can get a better deal by advance booking your tickets on Last Minute.

The View North from Hungerford Bridge

9. Walk across the Hungerford Bridge and check out Gordon’s, London’s oldest wine bar. While there is outdoor seating in the summer, there’s only seating in the 17th century cellars when the weather turns cold. Ladies, this is not a place to wear complicated shoes, as the cellars are low-ceilinged and dark, and if you have accessibility requirements, the venue provides these notes to aid in an advance decision as to whether this venue will be suitable for you.

10. Heading West down the Strand, the Courtald Gallery is always a favorite of mine, offering a small but excellent collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.


Top Secret Evil Lair Selected


 

I'd ride this escalator all day whilst cackling madly.

 

I’ve often considered what sort of top secret lair I’d have if I were a supervillian, doesn’t everyone?

Today, Central Park’s Belvedere Castle was usurped by this… escalator to Earth’s core, discovered at London’s Museum of Natural History.

It’s all part of the Visions of Earth Exhibit. Feel free to check it out, but I called first dibs! It’s an ideal lair. I could easily see the enemy approaching, via the escalator, of course, and it’s conveniently located next to the snack bar. Happiness!

Snow comes to London


It began with a few flurries, and 19 hours later, the snow is still falling, with occasional breaks.

I haven’t actually been outside in the snow yet; although, the news reports leave me to believe that London may only have one plow, as many things are closed.

There are no trains. When I called my dentist’s to cancel my appointment, there was no answer. I hear my office is empty. The mail never arrived, and while the grocery delivery I scheduled for tonight hasn’t been cancelled yet, I’m not expecting it to make it.

It’s a bit boggling to see a city shut down by 6-8 inches of snow. Then again, it hasn’t snowed this much in 18 years.