I was in London for a conference on Friday morning, but it finished at 1pm, and so James (since he was still on half term) decided to join me afterwards for a lovely long walk around London. When I lived in the city, we used to spend evenings just wandering about the Thames and the Regents' canal, dreaming of living afloat. So it is fun to come and follow the same routes as bona-fide live-aboards.
We started in Lambeth, at the IWM where my conference had been held. Then we headed West, to the river, and began our walk along the Thames just oppsite Westminster, where we saw laden tugs Resource and Redoubt pulling barges full of rubbish containers. With their dirty industrial aesthetic, they formed a stark contrast to the elegant buildings they passed. We also saw one of the London Ducks, the amphibious vehicles designed for the D-day landings, and now used as tour vehicles. First we saw it pass under Wesminster Bridge, then later on it crossed Blackfriars bridge on the road!
We walked along the South Bank, which is quieter, passing the Royal Festival Hall (one of my favourite concrete buildings!) and the little urban beach at Gabriel's Wharf. Our desitination on the Thames, however was my friend Priscilla's benches at Fish Wharf, on the North Bank, just near The Monument and in sight of Tower Bridge. She won a design competition run by the City of London and the Worshipful Company of Stonemasons. They are lovely: carved by apprentice stonemasons, and inspired by the flowers she saw while researching for the project and walking along the river. I went to their unveiling last year.
We then took the tube up to Camden, to go the market and sit on the lock beams eating a picnic. Dusk was falling so we didn't expect to see any boats, but one narrowboat did come up throught the locks, and we were able to help them, as they were a bit inexperienced. I love the vibrancy of Camden Lock market, it's just so much fun to wander around, even if you don't buy anything.
We had to get the slow Liverpool line home but got there eventually. Thankfully we weren't on the train which was held at Royston for 4 hours!
Tomorrow, I will post a blog about our fantastic weekend cruising out to our old mooring and catching up with our friends out there!