Big day in Little Venice

Our exploration of this crowded city continued yesterday and took us to an area in the west of the city, known as Little Venice. In glorious late summer sunshine, we walked along the edge of this junction of two canals and marvelled again at a hidden treasure presented to us by the Big Smoke.

Little Venice, the junction of Regent's Canal and the Grand Union Canal

We travelled along the Bakerloo line as far as Warwick Avenue – yes, the very title of a song by Welsh singer, Duffy – and followed the finger boards to Little Venice in south Maida Vale. According to Wikipedia, the area is believed to have been so named by the English poet, Robert Browning, who lived in the area from 1862 to 1887. Browning’s Pool (pictured above), the junction of Regent’s Canal and the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal, bears further testimony to the influence of the poet in this area.

Many lovely houseboats line the length of the canal

We walked along the perimeter of the junction’s triangle, originally known as Paddington Broadwater when the junction was created in the 1810s, and enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch in Rembrandt Gardens. Artists’ studios on the east side of Browning’s Pool were demolished and replaced by this small park in 1975, so named to commemorate the 700thanniversary of the founding of Amsterdam, the ‘Venice of the North’.

These two older gentlemen enjoyed the late summer sunshine so much they had a little snooze in it!

Apart from having been home to Browning, Little Venice has been home to short-story writer Katherine Mansfield, playwright Christopher Fry, novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard and Icelandic singer Bjork.  It is also home to the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge and the Waterside Cafe.

The Waterside Cafe - we had an ice-cream here!

After our picnic lunch, we took the waterbus – a long boat – from Little Venice, eastwards around Regent’s Park, and on to our final destination of Camden Town. A delightful crew of a Scotsman and an Englishman instructed us in the health and safety guidelines for climbing safely into the boat, and then assured us that any marriages officiated by the captain on the 50 minute journey would only last for the duration of the journey. Just as well; the narrow seats were well uncomfortable.

Our boat ride along the canal took us through the Maida Vale tunnel, a 250 metre long tunnel built in 1812. Architecture that ranged from the majestic to the common lined the canal as we wove our way past the London Zoo through to the heaving market town of Camden.

Waterbuses go up and down the canal at regular intervals. A great idea for special occasions, as this 'hen do' indicates!

Another outstanding day in this beautiful city of surprises.

Sunshine signing off for today!

All the leaves are brown and London is beautiful

This weekend time stood still. For an hour anyway. We turned our clocks back yesterday to end official UK summer time. I think I’m over the jet lag now, but all of yesterday I kept thinking, “This time yesterday, it was an hour later.” Confusing times indeed, for a Saffa in London.

The sun now sets earlier on these beautiful autumn days, and it feels like winter is truly calling.

We decided to continue our “exploring London” adventure over the weekend and went into east London to Victoria Park. Affectionately known as Vicky Park, it is described by LondonTown.com as follows:

“One of London’s best kept secrets, Victoria Park is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. The city’s first public park, it was opened in the East End in 1845 after a local MP presented Queen Victoria with a petition of 30,000 signatures. The aim was to make it a kind of Regent’s Park for the east and it originally had its own Speakers’ Corner. The landscape has changed little over the years, with countless varieties of trees adorning the skyline: oaks, horse chestnuts, cherries, hawthorns and even Kentucky coffee trees.”

We took the overground train to Shadwell and a bus to Bethnal Green and then we walked along a section of Regent’s Canal that lines Victoria Park’s western border. Regent’s Canal was built in 1812 to link the Grand Junction Canal’s Paddington arm with the Thames at Limehouse. It is eight miles long and it passes through Camden Town, King’s Cross and Mile End. It features three tunnels through which it runs underground, and is the only canal in London to pass underground. We thoroughly enjoyed the section of the Canal we walked along before going into the Park, and we will certainly make a day of walking the length of it.

These boats line the edge of the canal.
I loved this emergency kit on top of a boat on Regent's Canal.
A bridge over the River.
Water or wheels, whatever takes your fancy
I loved this boat's front door and welcome mat

We did, however, walk the length and breadth of Vicky Park, stopping for lunch at a cafe next to a beautiful little lake. The sun came and went, we got rained on but mostly we soaked in the rich autumn colours and the sights and sounds of a chilly autumn day in London.

A riot of colours in Autumn
Sunshine in the autumn rain
Coffee with a view
Outrageous autumn

The weekend started with a crazy, energetic session of Bollywood aerobics! Our latin aerobics instructor has left London, and that fun class has been replaced by another one led by a fabulous eastern European instructor. She led us through an hour of high-intensity cardio with Bollywood expression … head flicks to give you whiplash, eastern hands that could chop bricks and the Bollywood neck movement that is so hard to master. Our instructor gave us Bollywood homework – to brush our teeth by holding the toothbrush steady and not moving our hands! That way we can get used to the sideways and forwards/backwards movements with our necks! How funny is that? I will practise – you never know when Bollywood will call.

Sunshine signing off for today!