Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd July
Forgot to say yesterday that we went for a meal in the People's Park Tavern the other side of Victoria Park. Our table was near the window into the brewery – the photo’s not too brilliant unfortunately as it was on my phone and the flash reflected in the glass.
Tuesday dawned hot and dry after last night’s rain, and after walking Meg in the park we set off at 9. As we passed the last of the Victoria Park moorings there was a plaintive cry asking for a tow – Poppadom had broken down and needed a tow as far as the Broadway Market/London Fields moorings. Happy to oblige! Boats are three-deep on these moorings.
Below Acton’s lock at Haggerston is a small row of little coffee shops where it would be nice to stop and watch the world go by – if we weren't going by ourselves. Apparently this area is being rebranded the ‘Haggerston Riviera’! Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? This article popped up on the Guardian Online a couple of days after we went through - http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/jul/03/haggerston-riviera-regents-canal-hipster-rebrand --Interesting if you have passed through this area recently!
There were two volunteers at the first lock, then the locks were in our favour all the way to St Pancras, where a boat was waiting for us. We had seen Large Marge a few times on the Lee Navigation. She is owned by Laura and Alison, who have lived aboard since selling their house earlier this year. We are both hoping to find a space at Paddington, but as we had to stop for water and cassettes, we waved goodbye to them and set to as quickly as we could. I made some sandwiches while the water tank filled and we lunched on the move. Camden locks were against us until we got to the top where the volunteers were. We commented how pleased we were to be back where people closed up after leaving locks (thanks Large Marge!), and one of the volunteers said the middle lock leaks so badly that even with all gates closed the pound above still drains overnight.
On the way along the Regent's Canal, we saw some warthogs at the zoo – and the penguins!
To our delight, not only were there several spaces in the Basin but we could also get in on the shady side under the hospital buildings. We went over to St Mary’s Churchyard to give Meg a good run in the park. On the way back we watched this giant auger drilling holes in the building site at the end of the Basin. Once the hole is drilled, they insert metal reinforcing rods then fill the hole with concrete.
After tea and cake outside the cafe at the M&S HQ, we stopped to chat to Alison and Laura on Large Marge (and Jaffa, their gorgeous little caique - a small South American parrot). Then Chance came in, so we had a quick chat to James and Doug too.
Liz arrived from work in the evening and we went to Zizzi’s for a lovely meal.
(8 locks, 8 miles)
On Wednesday we woke up late, surprised it wasn’t earlier with the noise from the building works further down. Dave did some research as we need to get the bottom blacked this year, while I got on with some washing, deciding half way through it would have been easier to go to the launderette round the corner!
Then we walked down to Kensington Gardens with Meg, checking out the works at the end of the basin where the contractors are building another footbridge – this one unfortunately will not allow ordinary boaters through to the end. Then, keeping in the shade as much as we could, we went for a stroll under the trees in the park. We saw Henry Moore’s Arch (if you look through from the other side you can see right up to Kensington Palace).
As we left we were amused by this old couple happily feeding the pigeons just a few feet from the sign – to the left of the bin - requesting them not to! I’ve cropped their heads to preserve their anonymity!
On the way back I detoured to Waitrose for some much-needed supplies. After lunch we were about to leave for Tate Britain when the water-pump failed! So a delay of an hour while Dave checked what was going on. It seemed to be the pump itself. Luckily we had a spare – the original was leaking quite badly last year, and after replacing it with a new one Dave managed to fix the leak, so we had a spare. So he refitted the spare, which worked fine (phew). The new one is luckily still under guarantee .
We enjoyed having our prejudices confirmed at Tate Britain! There was a free exhibition of of ‘sculptural installations,’ the work of Phyllida Barlow. We thought it looked like the kind of stuff you see floating around Stoke Bottom Lock, all nailed together and hung from the ceiling. The visitor in the picture shows the scale.
But we did like the Henry Moore, Turner and Constable. The Constable painting The Lock, painted at Flatford Lock on the Stour, gave us pause for thought (picture from BBC website after the picture’s sale in 2012 for £22.4 million).
The description tells us that the workman ‘levers open the gates’. Clearly not, as the lock is full. Our best guess is that the metal bar he is holding must be located in a hole at the top of the paddle gear – you can see one on the other gate – and he must be winding or winching up the paddle on its chain. The chap in the barge has his rope round a post as the lock empties, while the horse grazes in the field. Does it belong to the barge? no idea. We thought the tail of the lock looked a bit battered.
In the evening we walked down the Edgware Road to eat in a Lebanese restaurant, the Manoush Express, just down from where we ate last trip at the Abu Zaad. Busy, and the food was plentiful and tasty.
The basin has now filled right up, but we will be leaving later on tomorrow.