We had ventured south on the waterways to enjoy London again by boat, rather than our many hurried trips by train to attend to health or other appointments. This trip did not disappoint as we got to visit new places and revisit familiar and much-loved ones.
It was late in September when we turned off the main Grand Union Canal at Bull’s Bridge onto the Paddington Arm and we were excited to get through suburbia and into the moorings at Paddington Basin. There is currently a mixture of both pre-booked and casual moorings here and we took advantage of using both to enjoy our time in the middle of London beside the famous Paddington Railway Station.
By the beginning of October we were back off the Paddington Arm and heading north along the Grand Union Canal to reach our moorings in Dunchurch Pools Marina in late November. We were in no rush and had a number of social events and other matters to attend to along the way.
Sight-seeing and Culture
Whilst moored in Paddington Basin we took advantage of our close proximity via public transport and on foot to visit a number of venues including two visits to the theatre.
Along with Jim and Chris, and their friend Marian, we went to see The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. It certainly had me mesmerised from the very beginning and soon I could only see the animals rather than the puppets and operators. Stunning performance and very well recommended.
We also took the opportunity to see the longest-running show in the world, The Mousetrap, at St Martin’s Theatre. Although this was written and published by Agatha Christie in 1952, and has been running in London continuously for over 67 years, it still entertains and engages the audience with all the twists and turns. Of course, I’m not allowed to tell you whodunnit!!!!
Bob and I decided to take a walk through the beautiful Hyde Park to visit and take a tour through the stunning Royal Albert Hall. The Hall was opened in 1871 following many years of planning and fundraising and named by Queen Victoria for her husband Prince Albert who died before his idea of a permanent series of facilities that could be enjoyed by the public was realised. He wanted this built on the site of the Great Exhibition which was held in 1851 in Hyde Park. The Albert Memorial commissioned by Queen Victoria stands across the road from Royal Albert Hall. The tour inside was magnificent as we got to see the interior in all its splendor including the Royal Box and the acoustic diffusing discs (also known as mushrooms or flying saucers) which were installed in 1969 to rectify the previously appalling acoustics. We were also present to witness the tuning of the massive pipe organ and the light and sound check for a concert to be held that night by George Ezra – unfortunately, tickets were sold-out!!!!
Our other major excursion was to revisit Kew Gardens and the amazing Dale Chihuly glass exhibition there. I had gone there in June with our cousin Denise and absolutely loved it. This return visit was shared with Bob, Jim, and Chris and did not disappoint. Despite it now being Autumn rather than the height of summer the displays were breathtaking and inspiring. Kew Gardens remains one of my favorite places.
In October we were blessed to be invited to join our good friends to celebrate Christopher’s 70th birthday at Baldock. It was very much a family affair with his sister Jan, and brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Kendra, coming from the USA to share with him. Along with Christopher and Sue’s children – Richard and Sam – and very good friends, Jeff and Diana, we had a lovely few days culminating in an intimate dinner at The George at Baldock. During the visit we also went to explore the nearby Shuttleworth Museum – home to a range of vintage aircraft and vehicles and the very charming Swiss Garden. Despite the weather, we all very much enjoyed the few hours spent there. We also ventured to Cambridge for the day enjoying a relaxed walk around this historic University city.
We also had a few days moored near to our friends Jonathon, Mija and their gorgeous son, Leo. Its always a pleasure to be in their company and we consider them friends who are family. I enjoy my temporary role of Bronma to Leo and his unique way of observing the world is a delight.
As Jim and Chris were still in London, their daughter Cassie and her son, Dylan came from Devon for a visit and we were invited to join them for a day. We got the Underground into Paddington where we met them and walked to Camden for lunch in a vegan restaurant and a walk around the famous markets there. Lunch was amazing and the walk back along the Regents Canal invigorating. Despite getting drenched in the rain we had a great time with this friendly family, as we always do.
Another of Bob’s cousins, Mick and Cheryl came to visit us at Harefield where they stayed in their Cathargo Motorhome in a nearby campground. We were fascinated to be learning lots about this aspect of life as we were considering purchasing one to see more of Europe. We had such a good time in their company and I know it won’t be the last of our catchups.
A little further up the Grand Union Canal we arrange to spend a day with Mick’s brother Stephen and his wife Maggie at Wroughton on the Green. This has been our first opportunity to meet up with them since we came to the UK due to the very busy nature of all our lives. However, we hope that now they have both retired we may just be able to sneak in some more time with them.
Well….. that would be telling, wouldn’t it?!?!