I receive an email…
“Hi George, just let me know when we can book you into the Rose and Crown and I’ll set up a bar tab for £67”.
…I do like emails with a positive spin!
We’re on a mini-break! The Pilgrim needed to drop some pressies off to relatives in the south and I needed to fit in my Christmas present from last year so we stay at The Pilgrim’s sister’s pad in Balham and make ourselves known at the quiz. We didn’t win the main bit coming somewhere in the middle but got lucky with the special bonus “Golden” question and shared £200 so we’re smiling.
Monday, Bernadette has a walk planned from Little Venice along the Regents Canal to one of my favourite markets in London, Camden Lock. The weather is wonderful for walking with no wind, hazy sunshine and a forecast that says it’ll stay that way until evening time.
The beginning of the walk is a little confusing and after a couple of false starts we’re heading along the canal with the surreal experience of semi-exotic plants being grown in tubs near what look like permanently moored boats. We had a holiday in a narrow boat many years ago and it hoovered up all nine of us with ease. These mooring would be a treat for a couple and presumably significantly cheaper than a flat with service charges or eye watering rental costs for some of the tiny wardrobes that are referred to as studio apartment in the Capital.
There’s a fair amount of graffiti on the walls and if I’m generous, it’s not half bad although Banksy would challenge it for intellectual content. The colourful graffiti is complemented by oases of sitting areas that the occupants of the barges and narrow boats have established stamping their individuality on the moorings. They’ve added chairs and the odd table with flowering plants and an occasional climbing vine although there’s no evidence of fruit. Bizarrely, there is the odd bath and shower standing alone with no apparent plumbing yet they’re filled with what looks like clean water. Surrounding these areas are palm-type shrubs and rubber plants none of which would survive a winter in the North.
There’re cyclists, joggers and walkers sharing the tow path and all pass with a smile. Regent’s Park Zoo is to our right confirmed with a pack of wolf type creatures prowling back and forth along the fenced off bank of the canal. It crosses my mind they’re there to discourage non-paying guests making their way into the zoo by unauthorised means.
We pass an aviary that is on the opposite bank to the main zoo and does not seem to be governed by turnstiles or paid access so I can only surmise it is a freeby to tempt you in. It’s undergoing some refurbishment anyway so perhaps all of that is academic.
We turn left and follow the canal at the Feng Shang Princess, a floating Chinese Restaurant that would be quite at home in a James Bond film. The reviews vary a bit with the worst from the Spectator although they do fare better on Tripadvisor. I’m not big on random reviews but I do take note of all negatives and take all positives with a pinch of salt (if you’ll pardon the cuisine fuelled pun) so it’ll stay on the list for a future visit.
We’re under the bridge now and heading for a railway bridge where we make a left up some steps onto the road with a view to finding a cafe as caffeine deficiency begins to bite.
We’re in luck, barely fifty yards down the street we’re looking at Melrose and Morgan and we’re about to experience some divine cake with spectacularly good coffee and teas all coupled with some excellent service from our server, an Italian called Zak. He’s clearly proud of where he works and tells us about all of the products, how they’re produced overnight and brought here, still warm, from the kitchen which is only a very short distance away.
Three quarters of an hour later and time well spent, we head back to the tow path to resume the walk for only a short distance to Camden Market at the Lock.
I’d really encourage anyone to go to this lovely area. It’s diverse with fabulous food from Lebanon, Vietnam, Bangladesh as well as many European cities and not bad on the price front either. The product stalls are equally diverse with hand made jewellery, an extraordinary number of clothes stalls with all styles and even an old camera venue. Everything is made even more colourful with lights flashing from anything that will support them.
We spend an excellent couple of hours that culminates in a purchase from Gandys with a little bit of banter followed by some discount from an exasperated Will who is manager of the shop and worried about having enough money for their evening out with Chris, happy Christmas to both of them and I hope the night goes well.
Bernadette is heading back to Balham now and we’re getting ready for the evening show at the Gillian Lynne Theatre to watch School of Rock and decide on eating nearer the venue which is on Drury Lane. We rise at Leicester Square and make our way to the Moon Under the Water where we know there’ll be ‘value meals’ where we meet more than our fair share of ‘odd’ characters; a lady that is clearly trying to protect a group of four chairs so that no-one can sit near her and a young man who lacked empathy to the extent that he didn’t understand that if he moved from the central seat to the end then a whole family could sit together – he didn’t move!
The School of Rock is excellent. There are no empty seats and there are a fair number of kids in the audience and we soon see why. The cast consists of about a dozen adults and the same number of ten to twelve year old children who are talented beyond description. There’s an announcement at the beginning informing us that, “Yes, the children are all actually playing their instruments” and they’re astonishing. We leave the show buzzing and the Pilgrim wonders how they bring the children down at the end of the show. They’ve just had a couple of ovations and the end of the show is already frenetic so they must be buzzing too – you don’t need dodgy sugar drinks when you’re fuelled with this much adrenaline.
The lights are fantastic as we make our way to the tube. An excellent day and we’ve got another one tomorrow.
Enjoy the snaps…G..x