Monday, 17 August 2015

What a girl wants

Being Sunday, yesterday I decided to do one of my ‘London recommendeds’ from locals I’ve met in my travels and visit Camden Town, the canal and market. My goodness, was it crowded! Tourists simply everywhere - and probably some locals in there too, if you could find them! Camden Market itself was actually quite small, nothing on Queen Vic Market in Melbourne or Paddy’s Market in Sydney, so after a quick browse I simply wandered up the street to see what was there – and that is how I came upon Camden Lock. To be truthful it was the Hampstead Road Lock on the Camden Canal, but I had no idea that London even had a canal. I watched for maybe half an hour as three boats came downstream and two went upstream in a little hand-operated lock that looked too old to still be working, and the boats themselves were fascinating too – no more than 1.5 metres wide, up to about 10 metres long, and by the looks of several of them, houseboats!

After a street lunch, once I tired of walking around in amongst the crowds and shopping for the perfect rucksack  (which I finally found, after two weeks of searching), I hopped on a bus back to central London and pretty quickly fell asleep on the upper floor! Someone woke me when we reached Trafalgar Square, and after looking around for a little bit I settled down at a cafe for a high tea – scones, jam, cream, cakes and a pot of Earl Grey.

Later, replete, I was hoping to catch a route 15 bus towards Westminster, as they still use some of the old-style buses on that route, but the vintage buses didn’t seem forthcoming, so I took the Underground instead to Westminster station and from there I walked to the London Eye. Since I had pre-purchased my ticket, I only had to redeem it for a pass and walk through into the 4D promo movie before queuing up for the Eye. It wasn’t that much later that I stepped into a pod with a dozen or so strangers for the journey up above London.

I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t see Tower Bridge, and I had to fight my way through a wall of unmoving people to get a view from the good side of the pod, but it was still fun being so high above London and seeing some of the places that I’ve been over the past few days.

Today I slept in quite late – quite late – so once I was finally up and dressed I took the  bus into the city and began my day at Leicester Square. From there I endeavoured to walk to Piccadilly Circus, getting quite turned around at the start, but eventually finding my way up Haymarket and thence to the Circus. It was there that I realised something more – since the Underground station was called Piccadilly Circus, I hadn’t clicked that it was named for its cross street, Piccadilly. So I began to stroll down Piccadilly, and when I saw a Fortum & Mason I ducked in and bought a white lily, and then I walked down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in my mediaeval hand (it’s a nerdy obscure Gilbert & Sullivan reference, and I was chuffed with myself for making it happen).

From there I took the tube to St Pancras Kings Cross Station to go in search of Platform 9¾...well, I found it, but there was a long queue to get a professional photo taken. No thanks! Instead I wandered into the Harry Potter shop at Platform 9¾ and had a look around. Nerd paradise – and me with full luggage and little spare cash! From there I headed home and had a night in – though that’s not to say an early night!

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