Our mooring was just up from a tunnel and hidden from any streets so it was hard to believe we were in the heart of London. We had a taste of the hustle and bustle of the city as we went for a Friday night meal out on the main street. We plumped for Vietnamese and were very happy with our choice.The mooring was in a quiet zone though and perfectly peaceful and leafy.
I also checked out a design gallery which was a collection of items from around the world. There were some things for sale, including a Scottish themed horse brass, a very international set of curiosities.
In the morning the tow path was busy with runners. I had found out that there was actually a wool shop (voted best in London) very near indeed, in Camden Passage which we had seen the night before but not yet explored. Shane and I set off. We found an antique market there too and the wool shop was right opposite Kristy’s bridalwear shop. The wool shop was not yet open but the cafes were in full swing. Not far away was a food market, so it was a pity it was too early for lunch. We needed to walk a bit more to build up an appetite.
I saw a life sized statue of a cat in a park and went to check it out. I wondered about the cat named Bob, which I had heard about in a book by someone who was homeless and befriended a cat. It’s a book I should read some time. Shane had already bought a Big Issue from an animated seller on Islington High Street. It was indeed Bob and some benches around were dedicated to people who were homeless. Another chapter in their lives might be very different. We know ourselves to be very fortunate to have the choice to live on a boat, rather than being one of the many who are on boats because they cannot afford a house. London is expensive as Elena, our neighbour had commented.
We went back to Camden passage for a coffee in a cafe that was a social enterprise. The convenience being out of order, we nipped back to the boat, via some little gardens. I took another garden stroll while Shane took the quicker route.
I knew when to return to the wool shop. Shane had not much of a plan for the day and waited outside. That was just as well as the shop was quite busy but I found what I wanted. There were some very high end wools there but I just needed plain complementary wools to go with the multicoloured birthday skeins and have enough for a bigger knit. I had brought the skeins with me but made sure to engage staff before I got them out of my bag to compare with their colours. I didn’t want them seeing me pop a skein back in my bag and think I was shop lifting.
When I came out I found Shane on the phone and he had now been in touch with two people we might meet up with tomorrow. We set off on a wider explore and to take up Elena’s suggestion of Novelty Automation. She had said it was quirky and within walking distance and we were not disappointed. Everyone in the small space was enjoying themselves. It is free to go in but you buy tokens to activate the coin operated automatic devices. Some had active participation like handles to turn or cycles to pedal. I found the mini break in a lounge chair amusing and relaxing. Shane tested his nerve in the cage with the panting growling drooling dog. I underwent a frisking, we checked out the Air BnB and the divorce, Shane won the house and his glasses case is art apparently.
If you fancy a change from the usual tourist haunts, we can recommend it. Spend as much time and money on it as you want. From there we walked to more traditional attractions along the South Bank, ending in the Tate modern before getting the tube back to Angel.
The Golden Hinde was a boat I had been in before, with Nye. It was surprisingly small for the size of crew and the length of its journeys. I couldn’t imagine being for months unable to leave the boat and tossed in the sea on a voyage into the unknown. Our adventure is fun with lots of unknowns but on considerably safer and more easily navigated waters.
The next day was an on boat affair but we needed to be on our way by midday as that was the end time of our booking. Kirsty had said she could be along in the morning to travel with us. I headed for bread thinking one of the bakery places on Camden passage would come up trumps and if not I had seen a supermarket at the end of it but nowhere there selling bread was open yet. But luckily I had seen a poster for a farmers market and was able to go there and stock up. I got back minutes before Kirsty and Adam arrived. We hadn’t met Adam before so it was a baptism of fire for him to meet strangers and be whisked off on a boat and put through his paces in a brief locking apprenticeship in a busy stretch of canal. Kirsty has been on boating holidays herself before and was straight back in the swing of it and demonstrated to Adam how it was done. She did the first lock with him watching and by the last lock she was able to have a well deserved cup of tea and let Adam try the last lock without her.
We went as far as Victoria Park where Kirsty had worked out that they could easily get back home. We look forward to seeing them shortly at their wedding, amazed they had time to fit us in but very glad they did. Also here was Paul, Shane’s uni friend from Birmingham, who was in London for a few days. They crossed places with him, with a brief hi and goodbye and we were away again through a couple more locks with a new passenger, though he has been here before. There was still the new experience of the overtipping lock for him. I had to sit astride the lock arm to wind, as there was a puddle where I should be standing.
We arrived at Three Mills where mooring was possible but access to the bank was tricky. Paul had ascertained what train line was running over the bridge ahead of us and said farewell as we already had a third guest along in a few minutes. We had come to this mooring as it was the nearest to where Roy, Shane’s brother lives. Roy appeared and got a tour of the boat, checking the home made and original design cupboards and drawers. He had seen a few of the spaces in video chats. He led us back to his place, where Mandy had cooked a stupendous meal for us and cracked open champagne! We have never been there before so a tour of rooms and artful storage was in order once again, but this took a lot longer and more walking with three floors to cover and what a beautifully designed and furnished place it is, as one might expect with two artists in residence.
Greycat tried to join us at the table but skulked off for a sulk as he didn’t quite achieve his landing. To be fair it was a bigger leap than getting on and off at our mooring. Greycat is another real life meeting that was previously only ever seen in videochats, and indeed a key(board) player in those. He’s larger than he looked on screen and definitely larger than Bob. Even better, I didn’t seem to be allergic to him! What a lovely relaxing end to an action packed day of socialising and seeing new parts of London.