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Tag: Canals

1 Trip, 2 Bays, 3 Waterfalls

1 Trip, 2 Bays, 3 Waterfalls

We had to go to Swansea recently and decided to add a couple of extra days for amusing ourselves. We had rented a flat for this stay overlooking Swansea Bay and this was the view from our balcony. It’s a pity it was cloudy.

The weather on the third (last) day was better.

The morning of the second day was when our trip began to get interesting. We drove to Rhossili Bay at the end of the Gower Peninsula. The weather was cloudy but dry which was not good for photography but there was little we could do about it.

Having parked the car we walked to the cliff top and we couldn’t really miss seeing Rhossili Bay could we?

We started walking roughly west along the cliff top (that’s left out of the picture above) but not too near the edge you understand. These cliffs are fairly high and the rocks are steeply bedded. It is very unlikely that one of those figures in the picture below is likely to be me.

As we walked along, on our left away from the sea, there were some meadows which were covered in Dog Daisies but, looking a little closer, one could see that there were a variety of wild flowers growing in among the daisies. Lovely!

A little further along we had our first sighting of Worms Head which is accessible only at low tide and for a limited time so if you get it wrong you’ll be spending the night there.

There were a lot of wild flowers around, which attracted butterflies, and I managed to sneak up on this Painted Lady without frightening it away.

When we reached the coastguard lookout station overlooking Worms Head there was a path which wound down to beach level so, of course, we had to follow it. We did end up on the shore and had a different view of Worms Head. I suppose I should call it the shore rather than the beach as it is all rock here – not a sign of sand.

We huffed and puffed our way back up the path and thence back to our car. We arrived back at our flat in the late afternoon and, being so near the beach, we decided to go and have a look at the sea.

As you can see we had to fight our way through the holidaymakers packed onto the beach but we did manage to make our way down the beach towards the sea. On the way we passed a number of bands of shells which included Oyster shells and I thought that they looked rather attractive so I picked some up. We finally arrived at the waters edge and I found myself carrying about 12 Oyster shells. Those shells are now at home and all I need is to think of something to do with them. The following photograph is a sample.

Just to prove that we finally reached the sea.

That tower is the Meridian Tower and we had dinner there in the evening in the Grape and Olive restaurant on the top, 29th, floor. This is supposed to be the highest building in wales.

The following morning dawned fine and sunny – well it would wouldn’t it because today is the day we go home. However we may be going home but we are planning a few visits on the way and our first stop was Neath a short 15 minute drive from Swansea.

Here we are by the Tennant Canal in Neath. But, wait, what is that peeking over the trees at us? It’s Neath Abbey of course; yet another ruined abbey, one of many that litter this country, under the stewardship of CADW.

Founded in 1130 this is not a small place and along with Llanthony Priory and Tintern Abbey, the ruins of Neath Abbey are the most important and impressive monastic remains in south-east Wales.

There was some restoration in progress when we were there and a large part of the abbey was covered in scaffolding so I didn’t photograph any of that.

Just as we were about to leave Amanda spotted a swarm of bees on one of the walls.

Having had a good look around we set off for our next destination which, again, was only a short drive away.

This is Aberdulais Falls owned by the National Trust and, although the falls are very picturesque, it is more that just a waterfall.

This narrow gorge at the mouth of the Dulais River outside Neath has been at the heart of the Welsh industrial story, thanks to its bountiful supplies of coal, timber and, of course, water.

It all started with copper-smelting which gave way to ironworking, the milling of textiles and grain and, most significant of all, the manufacture of 19th century tinplate. It is a truly picturesque scene now and it is difficult to imagine the heat, dust, noise and dirt that must have dominated the scene back then.

There is a very large waterwheel which can often be seen running but they had had to stop it before we got there, naturally, because a blackbird had decided to set up its nest in the wheel.

The waterwheel can be seen in context with the remains of some of the old furnaces and the smoke stack.

This is the highest (up river) of the falls and was quite spectacular even though it hasn’t been particularly wet lately and just below it are the next waterfalls.

There is a tea room and toilets here which is rather handy so we made use of both and left for our next destination which, you may have guessed, was just a short drive away. This was the village of Melincourt and we parked in the sign-posted car park (free) and followed the sign-posted path for about 15 minutes. This is what we came to see.

The path up follows the stream valley and makes a pleasant walk to the falls but, having seen the falls, it was time to walk back to the car and proceed to our final destination. This time it was more than a short drive so lets get on with it.

After driving along a narrow lane, one cars width, for what seemed like forever we finally spotted the National Trust car park. Although this is owned by the National Trust entry is not controlled and one can come and go as one pleases. We parked and started off down the path which turned out to be nowhere as near straight-forward as the previous destination.

The path was steep and one eventually arrives a a point where it seems to level off and gives one hope that this must be near the bottom – but no. We had to climb a bit and then descend again and the route included these steps and a bridge.

That’s Amanda down there on the bridge – wait for me!

We did get there in the end.

This is Henrhyd Waterfall and that tiny figure on the ledge behind the water is Amanda.

This was our last call of the day so it was time to go home but first we have to go back UP that path. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it might be and we arrived at the car without having to crawl the last few yards.

We were still south of Brecon so we still had an hour and fifteen minutes to drive home. We got there. Until next time.

The Saggar Maker’s Bottom Knocker

The Saggar Maker’s Bottom Knocker

We had been waiting for a sunny day and were beginning to think that it would never happen and then, suddenly, today it was sunny. Time for a trip methinks.

We set off for Ironbridge which is just over an hour by car from us going via St. Milburga's Well in the village of Stoke St Milborough. The well is actually a spring which was first mentioned in 1321 and is said to be unfailing and good for sore eyes. Our eyes weren't sore so we are unable to verify that. cool Villagers would rinse their clothes in the well and beat them on a flat stone nearby. It has been going for over 700 years and it hasn't stopped yet.

You can see from the picture that the flow of water is very strong.

Onward to Ironbridge.

Ironbridge has nine museums not counting the Iron Bridge itself and we drove to Blists Hill first which is set up as a Victorian town. This is a typical Victorian street.

There was a Fish & Chip Shop in this street where we bought a single portion of fish and chips, wrapped in paper, to share as our lunch and there was more than enough for the two of us. I can also tell you that it was very tasty indeed having been cooked in the Victorian way i.e fried in beef dripping (fat). The chips were crisp on the outside and soft inside – perfect.

There are a lot of Victorian buildings here including industrial, commercial and domestic together with lots of machines. The view below shows an old mining area with headgear above the shaft and the small brick building on the right houses the steam winding engine which hauls the cage up the shaft. The second picture below shows the actual steam winding engine which was running when we were there.

Nearby was the replica of Trevithick's Locomotive which is in steam often on a Saturday (check before you go). This was the world's first steam locomotive to run on rails.

We walked alongside the canal to the far end where we saw the Inclined Plane. This is a VERY steep hill with railway tracks on it which would be far too steep for a locomotive to be used so there was a steam winding engine at the top which was used to raise and lower barges from the canal at the bottom to the canal at the top and vice versa. That must have been a sight when it was working.

We then walked down by the side of the tracks to the lower level but if you are not capable of that you could walk back along the canal to the Funicular Railway or Inclined Lift which connects the upper and lower levels. This is completely automatic so just press the button to call the lift and then ride up or down to the other level.

There is a LOT to see here and you could easily spend a day in this museum alone.

Our next port of call was the Jackfield Tile Museum a short drive away. One point worth mentioning is that parking is chargeable but the ticket will allow you to park in any of the other museum car parks at no extra cost.

You don't drive through this entrance arch, the car park is off to the right, but you do walk through and the museum entrance is along on the left and is fairly obvious.

This was on Amanda's 'must see' list but I did wonder if I'd find it a bit boring. I needn't have worried; it is amazing.

There were some rooms, like this one, which display various, mostly individual, tiles but there are also many tile exhibits like this one.

Many of the exhibits and the individual tiles are astonishing.

After looking around the tile museum we moved on to the Coalport China Museum. There are two brick kilns here and the photographs below are taken from the same spot looking in both directions.

Parts of the internal structure of the kiln in the top photograph have been removed to give an idea of what goes on inside during firing.

There are also workshops where one can watch pottery being made and hand painted.

Which, of course, brings us to the Saggar Maker. This is him in his workshop and in the past he would have had two assistants including a Bottom Knocker. The Bottom Knocker would have been a young, unskilled lad who would have sat in a corner producing clay pads, using a shaped iron band, which would be combined,by the skilled Saggar Maker, with the sides to make the final Saggar. 

A Saggar is a large container made of fireclay which would hold pottery during firing to protect it and the next picture shows the cut-away view into a kiln with Saggars piled high.

There are also a number of display rooms where individual items can be seen.

As the pottery museum is only a short walk along the canal from the Tar Tunnel we went to have a brief look. I say a brief look because, at one time, visitors were able to walk along the tunnel but now one can look into the tunnel from the entrance but not walk along it. I'm hoping that sometime in the future it will, once again, be possible to walk along it but that may be months or even years.

The tunnel is about 1100 yards in length and it was originally designed to be an underground canal connecting some of the mine shafts to the Shropshire Canal. However whilst it was being dug the workmen hit a source of black, sticky tar which was discovered to be natural bitumen. The bitumen originally flowed in prodigous amounts at about 1000 gallons a week although it reduced some years later.

That was the end of our little trip so we went home. There are more museums that we haven't seen so we'll probably be back.

For more information on these museums see the Ironbridge pages on the main web site.

Castle to Canal

Castle to Canal

Who's a silly boy then? We did this trip at the end of July and I duly wrote it up and I thought that I had posted it on the Blog – but no, I had forgotten that important bit. As you can see I have rectified that mistake and here it is in all its glory! (Well it's only 3 months late).

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Monday 24th July 2017

The weather was borderline and unsettled but we decided to risk it. Approximately 25 miles from home is the town of Montgomery which, although the county town of Mongomeryshire, is really quite small but thoroughly delightful.

This is the town centre; virtually all of it. The view is from the churchyard and where the building on the left stops is the main road. On the other side of the main road is Broad Street, where the cars are parked, and the brick building at the back is the Town Hall

The church is quite imposing and sitting on a knoll makes it more so.

Up near the top of Broad Street is the Dragon Hotel a rather striking 17th century former coaching inn. 

There are some interesting ancient buildings in Arthur Street which runs north from the top of Broad Street.

There is a little lane running steeply uphill from near the Dragon Hotel and when you have puffed your way to the top end you will arrive at Montgomery Castle or, at least, what's left of it. There is not a lot left but what there is remaining is impressive.

The views from the castle are also impressive and it shows what a good defensive position it was.

We left Montgomery and headed further north to Welshpool. We have been here before, once for Powis Castle and another visit to ride on the little Welshpool narrow gauge railway but we hadn't actually looked round the town itself. However, before we do that, we had to have another quick look at the railway and discovered a locomotive that we hadn't seen before waitng in the station. This locomotive looked slightly smaller than the one we'd seen here previously.

We then went on to the Montgomery Canal on the otherside of Welshpool. If you look at the following link it will show a map of Welshpool that gives an idea of where these various places are. Powis Castle in the bottom left corner, Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway middle left and the Montgomery Canal roughly in the middle. Don't confuse it with the river further right which is very wiggley; the canal runs further left.

http://www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=322510&Y=307508&A=Y&Z=120

We walked across the bridge and came down to the canal at this point.

There was a further bridge or two before we arrived at the lock outside the Powysland Museum (second picture).

We went across the canal to the Powysland Museum. Next to the canal you may be able to make out the two metal sculptures of Herons on the bank with a close-up in the second picture.

I took the picture above from on the bridge shown in the picture below.

Inside the museum are a variety of interesting artifacts ranging from a stash of ancient roman coins to old kitchen equipment.

A final view of the Town Hall in High Street and we decided to call it a day.

 

Return from Rotherhithe

Return from Rotherhithe

It all started so well too. We arrived, as usual, at Liverpool Street Station after an uneventful journey and walked down to Aldgate where, by chance, we discovered something that we weren't anticipating.

This is a modern wooden monument which is standing on the site of one of the old London gates, namely, Aldgate. It is thought that there was a gate already spanning the road to Colchester in the Roman period, when the City wall itself was constructed and it was always an obstacle to traffic. It was rebuilt between 1108-47, again in 1215, reconstructed completely between 1607-09 and finally removed in 1761.

Geoffrey Chaucer occupied appartments above the gate in the late 1300s when he was employed as a customs official.

It's amazing what can be found just wandering around London. However we set off once again along Minories and soon arrived at our first intended destination – the Tower of London. This is where things started to go pear-shaped or, to be precise, people-shaped.

We have been to this area many times but have never seen so many people and, so it turned out, they were all around the Tower. One of the factors was probably that it was half-term and children were on holiday this week and also that it was a beautifully sunny day and not at all cold.

The other factor which may explain the numbers of people was this:

You have probably heard about these ceramic poppies. There is supposed to be one for every British life lost in the first world war but I'm not going to count them. They are around all four sides of the Tower and so are the people trying to view them. The crowds were so dense that one could only shuffle along and, consequently, it took a long time to get round.

We did, eventually, get all the way around the Tower and here are a few of the photographs that I took to prove it.





When we decided to leave we went along the pavement on the north side of the Tower and even that was shuffle, shuffle, shuffle as far as Tower Bridge Road. Walking along Tower Bridge Road to cross Tower Bridge wasn't easy. We wouldn't really want to experience that again and we probably won't because the poppies are to be removed in the early part of November.

I managed to get a quite nice photograph of the Tower, once we had reached the other side, and a nice picture of Tower Bridge.


We turned round and headed east along Shad Thames. As it was now 12:15 we decided to stop in Peapod for an early lunch. Although it's small and the range of offererings is also small the soup, whatever the flavour, is alway delicious.

After lunch we headed further along Shad Thames until we could access the riverside walk. Staying close to the riverside we had some interesting views of the Thames, one of the old docks and some of the converted old warehouses.




Then the riverside path diverts inland to the narrow streets of Bermondsey. We found that here, as we found in Wapping on the north side, a lot of the old warehouses have been converted to expensive accomodation some with rather splendid river views.

We followed Bermondsey Wall (that's a road not a wall) and again, as in Aldgate, we came across something totally unexpected.

This is all that remains of King Edward III's manor house, built over 650 years ago, on what was then a small island surrouned by marshland.

These remains are in Bermondsey Wall East near the Angel Pub which dates from around 1830 and the pub is therefore Victorian.

Just a short way on we found King's Stairs Gardens which leads to Southwark Park. We did expect to find this and it was an attractive garden but we didn't have time to explore the relatively large park.

Along more narrow streets to St. Mary's Church, Rotherhithe.


The present church replaces the previous 12th century building and was completed in 1716. It was designed by John James, an associate of Sir Christopher Wren.

Shortly after this we passed the Mayflower pub.

The original pub was built in the 16th century but was substantially rebuilt in the 18th century and has associations with the Mayflower which took the settlers to America. Christopher Jones was Master of the Mayflower and he lived in Rotherhithe and is buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Mary's Church. The Mayflower (ship) , apparently, was moored nearby before it left on its journey to America via Portsmouth and Plymouth.

Just past the Mayflower pub was what I can only describe as a 'garden gantry'.

This view is looking back after we had passed under it. You should be able to see the Mayflower pub on the right and, a little further back, St. Mary's Churchyard on the left.

We were now at our next planned point of interest.

This was the pumping house built for pumping excess water from Brunel's tunnel under the Thames which was started in 1825 and opened in 1843. This was the world's first tunnel to pass under a river and if I were to say that it was an arduous project it would be an understatement particularly when one realises that the Thames was like an open sewer at the time. I should also mention that it was Marc Brunel, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's father, who oversaw this project although Isambard did join the project much later.

The chimney which carried the steam engine exhaust is rather obvious.

The pumping house is now a small museum and to one side is the original shaft from where the tunnels were started. It is possible to access the shaft on guided tours which take place only on some days. Check the web site if you're interested. The chairs on the floor of the shaft are for visitors when they are listening to the guide.


We walked on a little further staying close to the river until we reached Surrey Water where we turned towards the river along the very short canal to see an old obsolete bascule bridge similar to that which we saw at Shadwell.

That's a chunky bit of machinery and so back to Surrey Water with a view towards Canary Wharf.

Walking to the far end of Surrey Water we found the entrance to the canal, with its little bridge, easily enough and followed the canal which heads for Canada Water. It reminded us very much of the canal we followed from Wapping to Shadwell Basin on a previous trip.


The canal is old but the housing alongside is relatively new. An attractive environment.

We finally arrived at Canada Water which we found to be rather boring. A small lake surrounded by shops. However we could get a number 47 bus which dropped us outside Liverpoool Street Station for the train back home.

We haven't, however, finished with the Rotherhithe peninsula yet. We intend to go again but possibly not until next year. You can come again next time if you like. smilies

 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugley

The Good, the Bad and the Ugley

Yesterday we were thinking of going on a day trip but in the end we decided not to. Why did we not go? Because we had worn ourselves out the day before on another day trip.

We had decided to go shopping. We wanted a mower lift, a coiled hose that stretches to 100 feet and a drill bit sharpener plus some other items. Those every day items that everyone needs. smilies

These were to be purchased from a shop in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire. It was only 33 miles from us so it didn't take long to get there and we duly purchased our items and stuffed them in the car.

We walked off into Bishop's Stortford to have a look around. As we were walking away from the shop we noticed the unusual roof.

Shops don't normally have what appear to be strange tapering chimney pots. The reason for those is that the building used to be used for malting. Malting is a process that converts the starch in cereal grain, usually barley, to alternative forms of sugar used in brewing. The conical chimneys of these distinctive buildings emitted a rich aroma of roasted malt, a smell not unlike that of roasting coffee, that permeated the air for miles around.

Those days have long gone but the buildings remain and this one has now been converted to a shop.

We were now in Bridge Street with the 16th century Black Lion Inn just ahead and to our left. This looked to be a fine timber-framed building. There were other nice old buildings in this street.


After walking up Bridge Street we found ourselves in the Market Square with the Corn Exchange on the right and the church tower and steeple showing above the buildings in the distance.


 We wanted to see more of the church so headed in that direction. The continuation of Bridge Street westward is High Street and we spotted a very nice timber-framed building.

This local tailors was one of the oldest businesses in the world until 2013 when it closed. Part of the building dates from about 1360, with modern additions around 1545.

A little way up from here, near to where High Street changes to Windhill, we found the church. A rather large, impressive building in a rather small churchyard making photography difficult. It is unusually long at 170 feet with a spire 180 feet high.

Although there was probably a Saxon, and later, a Norman church on the site, the only surviving fragment of those times is the font. The church seems to have been completely rebuilt in the early fifteenth century and it was altered and restored in both the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries.

Immediately opposite the church is the Boars Head Inn dating from around 1420 (Tudor).

Samuel Pepys frequented this inn and is recorded as having dined here on 26 May 1668.

Just above this point High Street changes to Windhill a wide and attractive street tree-lined on one side.

You can see evidence of the malting industry again in the form of that tapering chimney and the fact that the house is called 'Oast House'.

So, back down Windhill then High Street to this junction where we turned left into Basbow Lane.

We had spotted some colour-washed houses at the far end when we were on our way up the hill and decided to investigate on the way back. This is what we found.

A nice group of old, pretty houses. At the end of the lane there were some steps down to Hadham Road and an interesting building at the bottom of the steps. The building is, apparently, timber-framed covered in plaster and dates from the 17th century with alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

We went back down Bridge Street and crossed the road into Castle Gardens where we saw all that's left of Waytemore Castle – the mound on which it was built.

The River Stort runs through the park and the southern part is navigable.

We followed the riverside path for a while and saw yet more evidence of malting in the form of those tapered chimneys.

We had had enough walking by now so headed back to the car having seen most of the interesting parts of Bishop's Stortford and it wasn't until we were headed out of town that we realised we had missed a bit. A group of old buildings on the junction of Dunmow Road and Stansted Road. Oh well, next time perhaps. That was the 'good'.

We headed north into Essex, through Stansted Mountfitchet, and this is when our situation turned Ugley. In fact it was precisely at this point.

Ugley is a very small village just a few miles south of Widdington. It has a lovely little church which unfortunately was locked.

The road to the church was narrow and they don't come much narrower than this. No hope of seeing out to the sides either.

There was a group of attractive thatched cottages and a few modern houses round about and that was 'Ugley'.

We decided to travel the few miles to Widdington. Remember Widdington? We visited that village in July 2010 and wrote a blog report. We saw a medieval barn there but were unable to see inside because it wasn't open but today it was open.

Now is that impressive or is that impressive?

We had come to the end of our day out and so headed home. Most of the journey back is on the A120, a fast dual carrigeway that is rarely busy, but suddenly we found ourselves being diverted off the road near Braintree with no signs to offer an explanation. We had to make our way through Braintree town centre and eventually to home. That was the 'bad'.

The other day trip I mentioned at the top of this post will happen another time. Wait and see. smilies

 

 

It’s Friday – so it must be Paddington to St. Pancras

It’s Friday – so it must be Paddington to St. Pancras

Just over 4 weeks ago Amanda and I were planning a day trip to London as the weather forecast was good. However one evening about 5 days before that planned trip Amanda started to feel nauseous and then spent most of the night vomiting into a bucket by the bed followed by a bad cough the next day.

Nice! smilies

A day or so later we realised that Amanda wasn't going to be well enough for the day trip and discussed the idea of me going on my own.

However (yes, another 'however') a few days later I suddenly developed a bad cough too but without the vomiting. It was now patently obvious that neither of us would be well enough for the trip so it was postponed until another time. smilies

We both spent the next four weeks doing very little except sitting around feeling unwell which is why there has been nothing posted on the Blog. I still have a cough but am slowly beginning to feel better so I planned to meet Marie who had been staying on the Isle of Wight and was spending her last day in London before flying home the next day. I say 'I was' because Amanda still wasn't feeling well enough to tackle the trip to London. smilies

Marie and I were going to walk, along the Regents Canal, from Paddington Basin next to Paddington Station to St. Pancras Station.

I did manage to get myself out of bed at 6:15 AM and was on the train 3 hours later heading for Liverpool Street Station. Thirty minutes after arriving at Liverpool Street Station I was at Paddington and walked to Sussex Gardens, in the rain I might add, where Marie's hotel was.

Luckily the rain didn't last very long and we set off for Paddington Basin along Sussex Gardens and turned left into Sale Place. At the end of that was the entrance to Paddington Basin. We went in only to find that part of it had been drained for building works but a short walk along the basin soon left the building works behind and we were beside the water.

Out of the far end of Paddington Basin onto the canal and it's only a short walk to Little Venice. Having been here before on a sunny day I must say that it looks far more attractive in the sun than it did today under cloud.

If you want to see pictures of Little Venice then you can see that Blog post here or the web site pictures here.

We made our way through Little Venice onto the arm of the Regents Canal which took us, believe it or not, through Regents Park to Camden Lock and the markets with another rain shower on the way. In our blog post about our previous trip I wondered whether the market was alway seething or whether it was because it was a Saturday. This time it was a Friday and it was still seething.

One useful fact we discovered this time is that there are public toilets in the Market Hall building.

We had lunch here leaning on a rail overlooking the little canal basin in the market. Our choice was from a stall selling Caribbean food but the range of food here from different countries is nothing short of astonishing. We wandered past Camden Lock and down the canal path which went past the eastern arm of the market with yet more food stalls.

We were now on the home stretch from Camden to St. Pancras and as you can see the weather was slowly improving.

Marie was fascinated by the canal locks and stopped to take a photograph of this one.

Although this part of the canal wasn't especially picturesque it was interesting, just the same, with many different features along the way.

That path on the left is the one we are following and this photograph was taken from that path which should give you an idea of how it changed direction.

The final lock that we passed was St. Pancras Lock shown here with a narrowboat emerging.

Shortly after this we left the canal where York Way goes over it and found our way to Battlesbridge Basin.

This where you will find the London Canal Museum. That's the building between the two bow-ended buildings in the left half of the picture. It has a blue board with lettering in white.

From here we walked along York Way to Kings Cross with St. Pancras next to it. We were both pretty tired now, me especially, and Marie wanted to go to Seven Dials to do some shopping so we parted company in the Undergound at St. Pancras until our next meeting.

I need more exercise. smilies

A narrow perspective

A narrow perspective

I often see prospective visitors to this country asking what the weather will be like at such and such a time of year. The simple answer is that nobody knows. Even our weather forecasters often get it wrong.

Let me give you an example. On Friday the forecast for Saturday was clear skies all day and on Saturday we did have some sun but there were clouds all across the sky and they were moving slowly which meant that when a cloud covered the sun it was often ten minutes before it shone again. This meant that at just the point I wanted to take a photograph the sun went in and I was twiddling my thumbs for 10 minutes waiting for it to come back out.

Remember, this forecast was only 24 hours in advance.

So what was I photographing?

Well, it started at Liverpool Street Station where we normally come in to London, or did it? We went from there by Underground to Paddington so did it really start from Paddington? You decide.

Having arrived at Paddington we went into the Mainline Terminus to have a quick look at Brunel's handiwork.

This station served as the London terminus of the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the current station dates from 1854, and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. That glazed roof is supported by wrought iron arches in three spans, respectively spanning 68 feet, 102 feet and 70 feet. The roof is 699 feet long, and the original roof spans had two transepts connecting the three spans. This shows just one of the roof spans.

One has to admit that the roof does look impressive.

Paddington Station wasn't part of our original plan but as we were passing through we thought that we'd have a look. So where were we headed? Paddington Basin of course, where else!

Paddington Basin is the terminus for the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal and is on the eastern edge of Paddington Station. But back to the picture above first. Notice at the far end of the station there is a grey horizontal band running over the train – that is a footbridge and that is where we are going. Up to the footbridge and over the tracks we follow signs and suddenly emerge on the edge of Paddington basin. There are other ways to get there but that was most convenient for us.

We turn right towards the end of the basin and very soon passed a very modern looking footbridge to the opposite side of the basin which we ignored and continued to the next footbridge from which I took this picture.

In its heyday it was a very busy goods transhipment facility but like a lot of London's docks it fell into disuse when the traffic dwindled. The basin is now the centre of a major redevelopment as part of the wider Paddington Waterside scheme and is surrounded by modern buildings as you can see (The Canary Wharf treatment). Towards the far end is this unusual bridge, which you can just see in the picture above if you look carefully, but it's not what we mean when we talk about 'travelling by tube'.

You may notice that all of the boats are canal narrowboats. This is to become today's theme.

After having a leisurely look round we started off along the canal-side path in the opposite direction towards the main part of the Grand Union Canal. I was going to refer to the path as the 'towpath' which is what they are generally called but that didn't seem to really do it justice as it looked like this.

Although it looks pleasant enough those two bridges in the distance are carrying road traffic and consequently it isn't quiet here. Nice place for a cup of tea or coffee in the canal-side cafe perhaps?

A little further on we have our first sight of Little Venice. This is where the Paddington arm joins the main Grand Union Canal forming this large basin. To continue on our planned route we need to be on the far side and, at first, I thought that Amanda would have to wade across carrying me on her back.

But having continued around the bend we spotted a nice little bridge.

That narrowboat is a floating cafe, you may notice some tables and chairs on the path beside the boat, which would have been an interesting experience for a meal but it was only mid-morning so we passed on that one. That bridge carries a road and so gives access to the local area should you so desire – we didn't.

The part of the canal that you can see beyond the bridge is not the part that we wanted so we crossed the bridge and turned right. Just as we left the Little Venice basin we came across numerous narrowboats moored along the canal on both sides. A lot of these, possibly all of them, appear to be 'permanent' moorings i.e houseboats where people live. We had to leave the towpath soon after this point, because the path was 'residents' only, and walk along the road for a short way.

You may notice in the far distance a boat in the middle of the canal and just behind it a dark rectangle which is the entrance to a tunnel. There is no path through the tunnel so we followed the road slightly uphill until we were at the same height as the top of the tunnel then followed the road opposite, Aberdeen Place, until it bent sharp left. Opposite us, on the bend, was a footpath which lead back to the side of the canal.

You can see the exit from the tunnel and the steps we came down to reach the canal-side path and we certainly weren't alone on this walk.

The surroundings started getting green and leafy so we guessed that by this time we were entering Regents Park and then we came across this house.

We couldn't decide whether it would make a nice weekend cottage or not so we decided not to buy. A mistake perhaps?

When we reached a bridge that gave us the opportunity to leave the canal we went up to ground level but don't worry because we will be returning to the canal later. This was our last veiw of the canal for the time being.

Crossing the canal we found ourselves in the green oasis of Regents Park with the BT Tower showing in the distance.

Regents Park is big! It covers 410 acres and it was just over a mile from the canal to where we were heading – Queen Mary's Gardens. The canal crosses the northern edge of the park and Queen Mary's gardens are, of course, near the southern edge. This involved crossing the 'Inner Circle', one of the few roads in the park, which surrounds Queen Mary's Gardens.

On the other side of the road we found the Garden Cafe and it now being lunch time what could we do but try it? There are two separate areas; the waitress service part and the part for the Hoi Poloi. I was going to suggest the waitress service part as I'd spotted something on the menu which sounded nice but then Amanda saw that they had a 'Stew of the day' in the other part which she liked the sound of – so we joined the Hoi Poloi. Today it was Chicken Stew and it really was very nice. I thoroughly enjoyed it, well we both did but we didn't enjoy the paper plates and plastic utensils. The waitress service next time perhaps.

After lunch we went to look at the gardens. They are mostly roses and, being roses, they won't bloom until about mid-june and there are 30,000 roses of 400 varieties. Amanda wants to come back after they bloom. I wonder if she'll count them?

We found an area including a pond, a nice little bridge and a cascade which looked rather picturesque that didn't involve roses.

We finally started back north towards the canal but when we reached it we first crossed over onto Primrose Hill. A bit like a continuation of Regents park with grassland liberally dotted with trees but also a hill! We had a really good view from the highest point and, as you can see from the photograph, it's really popular with visitors.

What we could see from right to left was the London Eye, the BT Tower, the Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral and Canary Wharf. Certainly worth the not very arduous climb of 256 feet.

So, back to St. Mark's Bridge on the canal at the bottom of Primrose Hill where we go back down to the canal-side path and yet more narrowboats – some moored some moving. Do you see a theme here?. After an interesting little walk along the canal it is not long before we reach our final destination.

Camden Lock and Camden Lock Market. You may notice that there were a lot of people – it was seething! This was a Saturday afternoon, remember, on a sunny day. I wonder what it's like during the week?

After turning off the canal-side path into the market at West Yard our nostrils were assailed with the very tempting smell of hot food. It smelled really delicious and appetising but, as we'd had lunch only a short while ago we had no appetite – bummer!

One thing we quickly discovered is that this place is a warren which made it even more interesting. Going through the stalls to the back we found a short passage into another large area of stalls, Camden Lock Place, and then there are all the stalls inside the surrounding buildings.

They seem to sell everything here – hot food, clothing, fabrics, jewellery, fancy goods, geological specimens, antiques – you name it they seem to have it.

Then there were the stalls inside the Market Hall building over two levels.

This market is interesting, amazing, stupendous! If you like markets you cannot afford to miss this one. We finally dragged ourselves away from all the stalls and emerged back onto the canal-side.

That boat in the foreground is one of the water buses which carry fare-paying passengers from Little Venice to Camden Lock (and back if so required). Then we crossed that bridge in the distance from which we had a good view of Camden Lock.

From here we set off towards the nearest underground station, Camden Town, along Chalk Farm Road and realised that there were also lots of small shops which were almost as interesting as the market. An amazing place indeed.

I took a lot more photographs than I have shown here many of which will appear on the main site in due course. Time to go home to rest our weary legs.