Monday, 5 May 2014

London, day two: West and East, canals, river boats, city foxes and spring

plants in the sun Our second full day in London was a Sunday, and we woke up very early again – but no complaints, it meant we could get out there sooner! We were out nice and early and were treated to the most gloriously sunny morning, with blue skies and crisp air, and a romantic mist that slowly rose to reveal a beautiful city on its day off. (So that romantic mist turned out to be dust from the Sahara and was in fact some terrible air quality, but it looked great.)

planties light russell square dafodils First we went for a walk through Russell Square, which was right next to out hotel. It looked magical in the morning light. It's so amazing seeing these beautiful squares right in the middle of a big city. russell square morning mist russell square cafe Other people were already up and about, too, having a coffee or going for a run. Good place for it, too. velvet trees russell square Turn 90 degrees and snap – another amazing view. russell square and buses traffic ligts red man and red phone boxeslondon light trees And then we went in search for some wifi. It was so frustrating that the hotel's just didn't work. We were relying on it to plan everything, but it was easy enough to find. fancy bonnington Although all walks were slowed down by photo taking. The buildings here are non stop beautiful. sicilian avenue valerie We found our wifi at a chain cafe, and paid for it with more enormous yuck coffees – but the wifi was fast, so, you know, swings and roundabouts. We decided that our first call would be at Portobello Market. It's only open on Sunday (I think?) and it was on the list of places to go as we hadn't been together before, and I hadn't been for years, even before I left London. So, we were off on another quick walk past more incredible buildings to Holborn Station, and a zoom westwards on the red line to Notting Hill Gate. We still couldn't get over how fast and pleasant the tube was. portobello market Finding the market is easy – you just follow the crowd and before you know it, there you are. I hadn't been since I was in my teens, when I didn't like it very much. I remember going to Notting Hill a few times when I was 7 or 8, with a friend and her family. Back then it was Not That Posh, unlike now. I remember the big tall houses with the columns and the stairs to the front doors, but their white paints was dirty and crumbling, and me and my friend were far more interested in the curbs, which were sometimes two or three steps up from the road, instead of the usual single one. They are still there, of course! portobello market street portobello trees skies portobello window portobello front yard Something that really struck me, as we walked past the brightly painted cottages in that soft English sunshine, was how nice Spring actually is. I hear all about it here, of course, as we are having our Autumn, but when our turn for Spring comes it's never that good. Well, it's never really anything at all. For almost as long as I can remember – there was one exception when I first moved here, maybe my second Spring time here – it just stays as cold as winter, we grumble about it, and then bam! it's hot. We don't have the amazing blooming of plants and trees and flowers, as we saw in London. (Our Autumn feels more like Spring, as everything that died in summer starts to come back). I was so chuffed to see it, as I'd all but forgotten that it ever existed! And isn't it lovely! portobello colurful houses a portobello market blossoms portobello bluest sky blossoms portobello market teapot The market was quite busy and we were happy to just wander north. portobello ladders portobello admiral vernon cat We liked Admiral Vernon, who supervised our journey from a comfy spot with an excellent view. portobello colurful houses b portobello magnolias green Some houses are pastel, and some are brighter. portobello corner pub And the big impressive pubs on the corners are always familiar. little venice blue bridge Next up, as we were having a West London day, was Little Venice. I'd never even heard of it, never mind been, until a few years ago. The amazing thing abut London is you can go to more than one place in the same day, or even the same morning/afternoon, using public transport. (You can't really do that in Melbourne.) We walked up through Portobello Market, and found Westbourne Park (or was it Ladbroke Grove? I already can't remember!) tube. From there it was just minutes to Paddington, and then one stop back west on the brown line (yes I know their names, but I like – no, LOVE – the efficient colour coding, so indulge me!) to Warwick Avenue. We guessed our way to the canal and got it right first go – and one short walk later we were looking at something very beautiful, right in the middle of the city I'd grown up in. little venice weeping willow little venice canal boats little venice up to house railing little venice viewlittle venice boat planties little venice blue view We wondered up the shaded side, past the houseboats, almost disturbing the gents having some sneaky beers behind a bush, and then picked a bridge to cross over. little venice boingy dog little venice bridge view And the views were pretty spesh. little venice grand houses We were happily lost at this point, so just enjoyed the walk back through the streets, with the flats on one side and the grand houses on the other. flats-little-venice little venice red This street was especially post card London, with the street lamps, railings, and red phone box and pillar box. little venice street little venice warwick avenue tube station And we'd managed to walk back to where we needed to be, too – the tube! hackney marshes house boats We went back to the hotel for a quick nap, and then Paul picked us up (thank you!) and whisked us off to East London, where he lives. We met his lovely partner L and his adorable daughter J, and walked past more houseboats, this time along Hackney Marshes – again, somewhere I'd never been. I think I remember the name but I had no idea anything like this was here. It's surprisingly busy, with lots of other walkers, runners, and the people who live on the house boats that line both sides of the skinny river. Sun sets are soft and slow in London, and we had plenty of twilight to stroll along the river banks, while J explored and played with plants she picked and we took it all in, this huge expanse of grass and wetlands, cut across once by a dark steel bridge for the trains flashing their way through north up to Walthamstow. It managed to feel lonely and alive at the same time. We crossed over later on, walking past the lush green hills that are covered in snow in the winter and tobogganed down by locals. Oh, for snow, a hill and a tray! I haven't even seen snow for over 10 years. Our first stop was the Anchor and Hope, an old pub surrounded by newer flats, still holding on to its turf (good), and I put my camera away for the night. Then it was another walk past terraced Victorian houses to the Crooked Billet in Clapton, another old pub filled with a new crowd. And then we were off again, past more rows of classic East End houses, and a city fox – who casually trotted past us, clearly having more important business elsewhere – stopping in at Testi, a Turkish restaurant in Stoke Newington, for amazingly good food – hooray for local knowledge. I admit, at this point my jetlag was kicking in, and I was at that horrible tired stage where it takes ages – and a lot of concentration – to build up to talking, and then it takes almost as long to stop, but we had an amazing time, and were so, SO chuffed to catch up with long lost friends, and meet new ones, and all in awesome local-approved places. BIG THANK YOUS!!! anchor and hope pub

16 comments:

Kizzy Von Doll said...

So lovely...I adore the colourful buildings, I want to live in one of those. Such a splendid day you had :)) xx

Synne said...

These photos are magical! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. I always miss London, but now after a few of your posts I'm really aching to go back!

Ladan Ladanu said...

Hi, very cool pictures, I love that cat! and the ladders. And getting up so early you see a totally different London.

Sophie Jane said...

These photos are pretty spectacular. That park and canal are gorgeous! You've captured that dust from the sahara desert (which in itself sounds kind of magical) in a lovely light :3

Georgiana said...

That huge red teapot is classy! So English <3

Shell KittyAndBuck said...

Ahhh! I am relating to your London posts so much - I LOVE Russell Square, I'll have to find out which hotel you stayed in! (If I ever get back and DON'T couch surf) -- I used to live on the Hackney Canal, it was just starting to become less desolate and scary when we lived there, I imagine it's quite posh now. And Venice Canal √ Thanks for sharing.

Mélodie Nicolle said...

Gorgeous photos of such a gorgeous city! I miss Portobello Road, I want to go back!
xoxo
Melodie
http://www.sevenlivesandmore.com/

epicureaddict said...

LOVE your posts! Oh how I miss London and the other side of the world after coming to live in Melbourne. All the pics seem like memories from dreams! Looking forward to all the next ones!

Sarah said...

Oooh Marianne!
Such wonderful pictures!
I haven't had a reliable computer for a while, so I've mostly been following along via Instagram. But today my laptop played nice, so I got a chance to catch up a bit.
First: love the new hair!
Second: you make me miss London, even though I've never been!

I am so close (the Netherlands) so I do feel a bit ashamed I have never been.. It's definitely moved up a few places on the wish list just by reading your posts!

looks like you had great weather as well. That makes such a difference!

How are you feeling now?
I would imagine you might have felt a bit bitter-sweet after leaving London.
When you wrote those six days were the happiest you've had in a long time it kind of struck a cord. (or maybe I'm projection (I used to live in Canada and still miss it, every day), and I am totally off! In that case: sorry)
I don't know, it made me want to give you a great big ol' hug ^^!

Hold on to that lovely holiday bubble for as long as you can! It always fades so quickly...
For that reason I have homesick-meals every once in a while, where I buy or cook something that specificity reminds me of a specific place/trip, in an effort to transport me back, even if just a little bit..

Lots of love!
Sarah
(aka OldeSarah)




Rebecca said...

Wow! I have to laugh sometimes at the similarities between us (you are from the UK transplanted to Australia, I'm from the US transplanted to NZ). AND we were totally both in London at the exact same time. Admittedly, my partner and I spent our entire 3 weeks in the UK, but still. Literally, we could have walked past each other on the street!

Beautiful photos, absolutely captures how beautiful London is in the springtime (especially if the weather is amazing - which it was!).

-Rebecca
mn2nz.wordpress.com

esme and the laneway said...

Kizzy Von Doll : it would be pretty nice to live in one of them, wouldn't it! :D They're so lovely.

Kizzy Von Doll : well I hope it's in a good way! Just looking at the photos feels kind of strange now :)

Ladan Ladanu : yes, and it was a London I liked!

Sophie Jane: thanks! I know the dust was obviously a bad thing but it did look amazing...

Georgiana: haha and kind of Melbourne-y too, like the big things on Brunswick St!

Shell KittyAndBuck : my pleasure! We stayed at the Royal National, and the only good thing about it was the location – I'm sure you can find better! Oh, it had a kettle, too. And that was about it lol! The canal must have been interesting to live on back then, it's still not v posh but it is lively! I would jog there on my own though, lots of people were doing that which is always a good sign :)

Mélodie Nicolle : thank you!

OpenID epicureaddict : thanks – they're already feeling like dreams to me, too!!!


Sarah: thanks so much for these kind words! I do recommend London, especially as you're so close – but I know it is hard even when you aren't as far away – ie I never went to Scotland, Spain etc! You're spot on, I am a bit sad (v sad, really) to be back and have dreaded bursting the bubble, even though I know I have too. I like this idea of cooking something to remind you of home, I should try it – I guess food here in Aus is similar-ish, but never quite the same. I really should do a proper Xmas dinner in winter here! Thanks again xxx

Rebecca : haha too funny, imagine if we actually did! :D Am quite jealous of your 3 weeks in the UK, I hope you enjoyed them and the weather stayed good – a bit of sunshine does make a difference :) xxx

Aloysia Adinda Nareswari said...

These photos are really beautiful <3


http://dindaloysia.blogspot.com

Vickie said...

So gorgeous, especially those first few

Sarah said...

Dear Marianne,
Darn, I hoped I was wrong :-(
It can be tricky to find that balance, between the good-vacation-bubble (like a lovely after-glow), and the blues-bubble (like that whole-in-your-hart-feeling). It will get better, I swear!
And if it doesn't then you'll just have to drag your lovely husband to the UK!
HA!

Once we finally sell our old apartment (you're not looking for a nice apartment in the Netherlands, by any chance? :p) and we only have one mortgage again, we will definitely do a lot more travelling!
My sister in law moved to the UK about a year ago and is now engaged, so I think we will be flying out there some time in the future..!

If I can do anything to help lift the blues, just let me know.
Or if you just need to rant, that's fine too.

Big hug!!
Lots of love,
Sarah
(aka OldeSarah)



Miss Marie said...

Oo, the building in the sixth photo from the top is Senate House, by Charles Holden, famous for his work on the Underground. It's one of my favourites - I'm such a sucker for big, towering 1920/30s things. Fun fact is that the Ministry of Truth in Orwell's 1984 was inspired by that building. Just so you know. (Am I showing off now? Well, inter-war architecture is my thing... And it IS a fun fact, I think.)

Kate-Em said...

Gorgeous photos. Lovely to have a West London tour.

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