Monday, April 18, 2011

Little Venice, Abbey Road, Primrose Hill

We started the day slowly again after our big night out, but with big plans for the day we eventually set out for Bethnal Green station and then Warwick Avenue on the Bakerloo line - in Maida Vale, just North of Paddington.

Robert Browning coined the term Little Venice, where the Paddington arm of London's Grand Union Canal meets the Regent's Canal. It's where we wanted to start our walk to Primrose Hill. We quickly realised upon stepping out of Warwick Avenue underground that we were in a very posh part of London. These are pretty typical of the villas in the area around Little Venice.

As chief navigator it is a big responsibility to work out a point of reference when the map shows the canals radiating out in 5 different directions!

But I do eventually get it sorted and we are on our way.

We eventually took our first detour away from Regent's Canal, up Grove End road towards St John's Wood, home to some of the most expensive properties in the world (wikipedia says). Paul McCartney has owned a property in the area since the 1960s but we didn't see it on this walk. Kate Moss also lives here (in the home of Clarissa Dickson Wright's family).

We eventually came to the iconic Abbey Road Studios (on Abbey Road of course). Much smaller and more modern looking than I expected.

There was a clutch of tourists around the studios today taking photos and just gazing with reverence - it's over 40 years since the Beatles recorded their Abbey Road album. There is a black steel security fence (very tasteful) mounted on a white painted masonry wall keeping the studios safe from the tourists. People have left messages and grafitti art all over the wall and the fence. They still want some connection with the Beatles after all this time and the music created here!

Rob was not happy about me taking this photo of him on the crossing - but he has inadvertently struck exactly the same pose (and is even dressed similarly) as George Harrison on the Abbey Road album cover.

The tourists create some traffic disruption at this crossing , which must be a bit annoying for the locals, however it was given grade 11 listed status for its cultural and historical importance in December 2010. The Abbey Road studios had been given similar status earlier in 2010.

As we were heading towards Wellington Road and back to the canal we found the little St John's Wood village centre and stopped for a lovely pub lunch and pint of ale (half for me) at The Duke of York on Circus Road. Rob was able to find dessert afterwards at the very posh pattissier across the road, which made him very happy.

We stopped to admire the gardens of St John's Wood Church. These gardens were built on the grounds of a cemetery that was closed in the 1850s. It is on consecrated ground! We're thinking hmmmm maybe this is a solution eventually for the eyesore that is Waverly Cemetery near Clovelly Beach.

We find a section of the canal again, adjacent to Regent's Park (on the right). It looks like a scene out of Wind in the Willows.

We veer off the canal walk again, into Primrose Hill Park, a gorgeous expanse of parkland, being enjoyed by kids on bikes, scooters and skateboards and expensive dogs running after balls. We make it to the summit of Primrose Hill and realise we are at the top of one of the very few hills in London. There is a great view of the city skyline to the South.

From here we walk through the very genteel streets of Primrose Hill, noting along the way number 122 Regent's Park Road which was the home of the communist philosopher Friedrich Engels for 24 years. Apparently his fried Karl Marx was a frequent visitor.

I am very happy to find at number 69 Gloucestor Avenue the Primrose Bakery. Their book started my craze for making cupcakes a year or so ago and I love their philosophy about using the best, most natural ingredients and their retro aesthetic (not too many spangles and tizz on their cupcakes).

I have tea and a rose cupcake, and Rob has tea and a violet cupcake. Luverly!

We walk the short distance to the Camden Loch and are rather horrified by the predominance of the markets surrounding the canal at this point. They are truly hideous, hugely extensive, very tacky, awful food and enough crappy stuff to adorn a city full of chavs for the next decade or so.

I have been learning all about this new word "chavs". We have been hearing it quite a lot, especially eavesdropping on young peoples' conversations on the buses. It seems that the more young people talk about other people being chavs the more that young person is likely to be "chavvy" themselves. I think it is roughly equivalent to the Australian "bogan" but with a lot more bling attached to it. Anyway I think there may be many chavs being catered for at the Camden Markets.

We find we've run out of steam after our day's walking and decide to fore go our planned late afternoon visit to The British Museum. Instead we catch the tube at Camden Town Station, heading for Liverpool Street Station, via Bank and then catch our favourite number 26 bus back to Mare St and our cosy flat at London Fields.

1 comment:

Maxine said...

Congratulations on some more wonderful blogs Judy. (I caught up with two this morning!) What a delight they are to read.