Thursday, 30 May 2013

Star struck and a court appearance

Yesterday we decided to have a mooch along the South Bank so we got the tube to Piccadilly then crossed the river……….


…….. by the Golden Jubilee Footbridge to the south bank.


There were a number of strange and unusual sights as we walked along Queens Walk.  For a start there was this rhubarb growing upside down!


Then this perfectly preserved 1950’s ice cream van.


Then a man building sand sculptures on the “beach”. 


Yes, there’s quite a good beach when the tide is out.  As we walked on we came to the ITV studios were we decided to pop round to the entrance near Gabriel’s Wharf and see what might be happening.  Well, James won first prise in serendipity!……….


…… and we met Joe McElderry just as he’d finished an interview on “This Morning”.  If there was anyone James would wish to meet it would be Joe – a great voice and a credit to his generation.  He was so friendly and polite and quite happy to spend a few minutes with us before he got into his car.


Walking on down Bankside we passed the very busy Shakespeare Globe Theatre on our way to the Old Clink Museum.  The historical story of “The Clink” was quite interesting but the experience of the museum in general was a bit tacky.


After a nice lunch in The Anchor in Clink Street, we crossed back over the river via Southwark Bridge and then hopped on an old Route Master Double decker bus.  This was a treat for Doug this time as he’d not ridden on one for many years.  The conductor told us there are only eight still in service. 


We took the Route Master to Ludgate Circus and then walked up to The Old Bailey where we spent a couple of hours in the public gallery of Court 15.  We were lucky to see the start of a murder case – the swearing in of the jury, the judge’s opening address and the start of the prosecution case.  Two people were in the dock and they were obviously guilty!

In the evening, after getting back to ‘Chance’ for a refresh, we went to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace theatre.  James thought it was sensational and a very powerful performance.  Doug’s not so sure!  Whatever the opinion, the lad that played Billy was fantastic, as were all the performers.  We ended the evening by popping over to Vauxhall for a drink, getting back early this time by 1:30am!

This morning we reluctantly left Paddington Basin as our time was up. We made the trip down the Regents Canal……


…… here we are approaching the Maida Vale tunnel having just passed through Little Venice.


We passed some very grand residences along the way…………


…….. passing through Regent’s Park Zoo with the Snowdon Aviary on our left.


We soon arrived at Camden Locks – the last time we were here was only days ago when we met up with Richard and Sue on nb ‘Indigo Dream’.

We have booked into the London Canal Museum moorings, just a bit further on from Camden for tonight and, getting there at midday, we temporarily tethered outside until we could get in at 3 o’ clock. 


We arranged with Adam (nb ‘Briar Rose) to have lunch with us as he’s working in London today.  He kindly brought some oil and air filters, which he got for us from Beta Marine at the Crick Show last weekend.  It was great to catch up with him as we haven’t seen him for quite some time.


We got onto the museum moorings at 3:45 so here we are, at Kings Cross, sitting quietly in the dramatically named Battlebridge Basin with the luxury of shore power and water.  We’ve had an absolute ball in London for the last few days and our time here hasn’t finished yet!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Two Towers and a Theatre

Today, after an early visit to the local Paddington laundrette, we made our way to see the Tower of London.  We chose a wet walk along the Embankment to get there and it got even wetter during our visit to the Tower.


The White Tower, which rather reminded us of an Ikea superstore – once you are in you have to go round the whole blooming lot before you get to the exit!


A grand view of Tower Bridge from the Tower of London – with Traitors Gate in the foreground.


There was some very impressive graffiti on the walls of the towers which held some of the early prisoners of ‘high breading’.  Sadly, for some it was their last mark on life.


There's quite a lot of very attractive housing within the walls of the Tower – mostly lived in by staff and “the privileged few”. 

As the rain fell relentlessly, we queued for half an hour to see the Crown Jewells.  They have been ‘re-presented’ to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee and awesome and stunning are not enough to describe them.  Having not seen them before we were amazed and they are really worth seeing.  However, we think the rest of the Tower “experience” is a bit lacking for one of the top tourist attractions.

After the Tower of London we went for a tour of Tower Bridge which is most definitely worth it.


We went up to the top walkways spanning the two towers and enjoyed terrific views across the city – Canary Wharf is left of centre.


Looking up river, City Hall in the foreground, with The Shard and Guys Hospital (being enlarged) to its’ left.


HMS Belfast permanently moored in the river and dome of St. Pauls’ Cathedral just left of centre.


We also went down into the Engine House where the old, and now retired, steam engines are kept in perfect condition.


Leaving Tower Bridge we took the short walk to Shad Thames where we got a very atmospheric view of the bridge with the ever-changing London skyline behind.


After our very interesting day in the two Towers it was a very quick dinner at Zizzi in Shad Thames, with excellent service, before a rapid dash back to ‘Chance’ for a wash and brush up.  Then it was back onto the tube to the West End to see Felicity Kendal and Kara Tointon in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Relatively Speaking” at The Wyndham Theatre, which we managed to get tickets for earlier in the day. 

We enjoyed the performance very much, Felicity Kendal was hilarious, and in the interval we got chatting to a lovely couple Roz and Wayne from Australia, after which we toddled off to Soho for a drink before heading back to Chance (by 11:30 this time!!).  Another good day.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Oh, not again!

On Saturday evening we went out to Soho – met up with a couple of lads, Nigel and Phillip, in a bar and then all went on to a club.  We got back to the boat at 4:30 in the morning (again !!!!) just as it was starting to get light.  Needless to say Sunday morning was lost to us! But we had a great night, thanks guys for your company.


We thought we ought to show the canal basin here in Paddington.  Very clean and tidy with security staff keeping an eye on us all.  ‘Chance’  is second row on the left – luckily in a position which gets the sunshine all day.


We went out for dinner at “Ask” in Paddington on Sunday evening.  Good food (as expected) but the service was poor.

Today we took the tube to Kings Cross and located the London Canal Museum close by.  Then walked along the canal to Camden.  It was crazily busy with a great atmosphere, as Camden always is.


The High Street was full of stalls selling tourist tat –sadly, most of the interesting shops have gone.  Talking to one longstanding retailer we learnt that most of the good shops have gone as “tourists only want something for under a fiver these days”.  Shame.


Getting back to the canal we met with fellow bloggers Sue and Richard on nb ‘ Indigo Dream’ who we knew were making their way back to Limehouse Basin. 


We helped them through the locks at Camden and they kindly invited us to travel with them for a while.  We ended up going all the way to Limehouse with them which helped us keep our hand in with operating locks!  This is ‘Indigo Dream’ about to enter the Islington Tunnel.


Doug and Sue (with ‘Cassie’, a friends dog they are looking after for a few days).


A very rare Tudor narrow boat!


A great view of Canary Wharf from the Regents Canal.


James, with Richard steering ‘Indigo Dream’ into their berth in Limehouse Marina.

We’ve had a great day in glorious sunshine with Sue and Richard – it was really nice to catch up with you both and thanks for your hospitality.  Getting back to Paddington we’ve had a quick KFC and looking forward to an earlier night.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Enjoying London.

Yesterday evening we took a chance and queued for return tickets for “The Audience” with Helen Mirren at The Gielgud Theatre.


It was a cold one hour wait (5th and 6th in the queue) but we finally got offered a couple of tickets.  We were very lucky and got two of the best seats in the house (unfortunately they were the most expensive as well!).  The wait was very well worth it as the performance was everything, and more, that it promised to be.


After the performance a small group of us we were lucky enough to get our programs signed and have a brief chat with Helen Mirren at the stage door.  All in all it was a spectacular and rather surreal evening.   Its a must to see if you can get tickets!

Today we’ve had a great wander around the city using buses and the tube.  We bought weekly travel passes when we arrived in London (£30 each) and they’ve paid for themselves already.


We took a look inside the fabulous St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  What a stunning building both inside and out.


Part of the amazing staircase in the hotel.


We then travelled on to Docklands – took a look inside the O2 Arena (guess it’s better if you’re attending a performance!) and then took a ride on the Emirates Air Line cable car across the Thames to The Excel Centre.  The views are very good across the city and we were able to get a good look at the Thames Barrier.


All smiles at nearly three hundred feet in the air!


Great views of the city.


Giant barges look like dinky toys.


After getting the Docklands Light Railway to Limehouse Basin we walked back along the Embankment.


We stopped off at The Prospect of Whitby – the oldest waterside pub in London.  Very atmospheric with lovely terraces on the riverfront.


It was in this pub that the first Fuchsia plant, brought in from The New World in 1696, was traded for a noggin of rum.


Walking further along the Embankment we got to St Catherine’s Dock where we found “The Gloriana” moored up.  This was one of the craft built for the Queens’ Jubilee Pageant.


We were soon into the ‘major tourism’ area.  There were large crowds of tourist enjoying the sunshine today.


There are some very iconic scenes to be had in this lovely city – HMS Belfast with Tower Bridge in the background, what could be better!


Another short walk along the south bank of the river and we were at The Shard.  We intended to go up today but time was running out so we’ll do it another day.  It’s a terrific building on an incredibly small site.  We look forward to the views from the top on another day.

Tonight we are off out into town again to enjoy the nightlife!