Regent’s Canal Walk

It was the last Friday in July and  hadn’t done much during the day and so I decided to go for a walk. Many years ago I bought two books about walking in London, I grabbed one entitled ‘Walking London,’ looked through it and decided to go on the Regent’s Canal walk. This involved catching the tube to Warwick Avenue and walking along the canal to Islington. I looked up the station and realised I would have to catch the Bakerloo line from Harrow Weald.
I was wearing shorts, T-shirt, socks and plimsolls and headed off to the bus stop where I saw a friend of mine seated on the bench, I sat next to him and said, “Hi Brian.”
“I’ve just had a drink with Mick.” He replied.
We chatted for a while and eventually I caught the bus to Harrow Weald tube station where I began my journey.
Arriving at Warwick Avenue tube station I emerged once again into daylight and referred to my book, which mentioned a church. I looked about me and the church; I discovered is a modern one with a very pointed steeple. I followed the route which passed the Warwick Castle pub and being a sunny evening there were quite a few people both inside and outside quaffing beer.
Oddly enough I wandered along the pavement not the canal towpath; this was because further along the book informed me that the towpath is closed to the public. This part of the canal is known as Little Venice, which was built at the junction of Regent’s Canal and the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal.
I came across a quaint looking house which I presumed was at one time the canal gate keeper’s house oddly enough I recalled being there on a previous day with the RSM, it was one of his days out and something to do with a canal boat festival. Further along I walked up a slope where many years ago horses were unharnessed and walked up whilst the canal bargees would have to move the boat along by using their feet along the walls and roof of the canal tunnel. Arriving at the junction of Edgware Road there was a delightful restaurant, from the bus on the Edgware Road, it looks nothing, but approaching it from the canal it has the back open and looked like an ideal place to eat on a summers day. I looked at the menu and it didn’t appear to be too expensive, but I shall leave that for another day.
Crossing over the Edgware Road I entered Aberdeen Place at the end of which, prior to descending down steps onto the canal towpath I saw a magnificent looking pub called Crockers Folly, it used to be called the Crown Tavern and was rebuilt at around 1900, it was renamed Crockers Folly after an early landlord called Frank Crocker. It closed in 2004 but has now been restored to its Victorian splendour with the upper floors converted to residential use and reopened on 25th October 2014, still retaining the former name of the Crockers Folly though now it is largely a Lebanese restaurant and cocktail bar.
I was at last walking on the canal towpath where the canal had emerged from a tunnel I would add here that Regent’s Canal is approximately 180 years old. The canal water was covered in some green stuff, sorry no idea what it is, but some ducks were eating it.
At Lisson Grove I had to walk up to the road and go onto a path which was on the opposite side of the canal and high above it. Previously I’d only seen canal boats moored alongside the towpath but at this point they were moored next to each other with their bows being tied to the towpath and their sterns pointing towards the opposite side of the canal. Along this part it looked as if factories may have at one time been there but they have probably now been converted into living accommodation.
At another bridge I crossed back to the other side of the canal as there are houses backing onto the other bank. I was almost on familiar ground as I’ve previously walked from Park Road along the canal towpath past London Zoo and on to Camden Town.
Several of the bridges I walked under were railway bridges but as the canal forked left there is a Chinese restaurant moored in what can only be described as a cul-de-sac, because at one time the canal was going to go through Regent’s Park but that route was stopped.
One of the bridges I walked under carries the River Tyburn, one of London’s many hidden rivers and emerges near to Vauxhall Bridge. Further along was Macclesfield Bridge also known as Blow-up Bridge, this is because in October 1874 a barge laden with gunpowder blew up under the bridge. When the bridge was rebuilt the iron columns were turned round hence from the towpath deep grooves can be seen, these were caused by constant rubbing of taut ropes. There is a plaque on the side explaining this but unfortunately like most things today it has been vandalised by paint being sprayed over it, but at least what happened to the bridge can still be read.
Going past the London Zoo aviary some birds were pecking at the ground whilst others where perched above standing on one leg with their heads under their wings, presumably they were asleep.
Further along houses back onto the canal and some even have boats moored at the bottom of their garden.
The canal then took a sharp left turn this was because once again the initial route of the canal was changed. There is a bridge that is built in the style of a medieval castle which is known as Pirate Castle and on the opposite bank is a youth club known as the Pirate Club.
Farther along, the towpath is raised over a subterranean basin which was part of the Gilbey’s Gin warehouse. (Where incidentally my grandfather worked.)
I then veered off the towpath and looked around the market stalls which were closing down, but on the far side was a small shop making gin. I entered the shop and told the young man in attendance about Gilbey’s Gin and my grandfather.
He replied, “Yes we are making the gin as a tribute to Gilbey’s, would you like to try some?”
I had a very small sample and from my limited experience of gin, it seemed fine, but I declined to purchase a bottle.
I then continued my canal walk by crossing via an old iron bridge and also there can be once again be seen grooves which were caused many years ago by tow ropes. On the other side of the canal I passed a small house which now houses a coffee shop and discovered that this had once been the lock keepers house.
I then had to cross over the road bridge and walk back down to the towpath where two young black guys were stood, one said to me, “How you going?”
“Yeh fine thanks.”
I was now about halfway on my walk and on familiar territory. Walking under the road along the familiar towpath there were a few people dotted about the locks, some were sat down eating, others were just standing around chatting. On the other side of the road bridge, there was a pub and café but here there was nothing, just the locks.
The water in the locks was now getting lower and I was about to enter a tunnel so I looked back and the sun was glowing yellow about to disappear behind clouds which had a yellow mauve tinge to them.
Emerging on the other side of the bridge there was a metal door which from the writing on it was some sort of night club but it was closed. Above it were people seated and I then noticed that it was a pub. Further along there were more canal boats moored and on top of one were two guys playing chess and drinking beer
I carried on and went under a few bridges, past them on the other side was a really posh looking pub or was it a cafe, but either way it looked very expensive and beyond it was another bay where once again boats were moored.
Coming towards me on the canal was a huge canal boat it was almost as wide as the canal. I wondered where it was going to? I also noticed a woman on board one of the boats which I hasten to add was moored, as she was scrubbing a wooden table. Ah yes forget the life aboard for me, I think I’ll stay in an hotel.
There was on the other side of the canal a delightful building which had once again been the lock keepers house but who uses it now? I have no idea about.
I think by now I’d reached a posher area as there were people sat out enjoying the weather but there was a green baize placed upon the steps for them to sit upon. On the left was what had once been a gasometer but all that remains of it now are the metal poles.
I could see the end of my walk was in sight as the towpath ended and the canal disappeared into a tunnel. I have to admit that as I’d walked along the canal the properties had changed, first of all there were some very posh houses, then more houses at Camden followed by flats and hotels at Camden Town, then more flats, most of which had a balcony to sit upon and watch the life on the canal.
I now walked up a sloping path, found my route through a housing estate and as it was getting dark, I walked briskly through it. I emerged into Islington but some of the landmarks in the book are no longer there, I found my way to Chapel Market which is open from Tuesday to Sunday, at that late hour when I arrived it was closed.
Walking down the street there were a few restaurants one of which had a man spinning what I can only presume was a pizza. Oh well its one form of entertainment I will pass on. Finally I emerged into the Islington I knew but had to end my walk as the rest of the route looks as if it has been built upon by a shopping mall, plus it was nine o’clock and dark. It was not a problem as I’ve ventured along to Islington many times. Mind you my book did state that if I so wished I would be able to continue my canal walk to the River Thames. I thought I’d leave that for another day.
I walked down to the bus stop but could not ascertain where my bus stop was and so I went down to the tube and whilst looking at the posters on the wall, I noticed that one was a constantly changing advert. I looked up and above it was a projector and further along the platform I saw another one projecting the adverts. Eventually I boarded the tube and wondered, if I should go to Camden Town and get a bite to eat, or go home?

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Only Sixteen

Being sixteen for me was so long ago. I’d left school and had a scooter and hence I became a MOD. I had an apprenticehip and leaving school was for me anyway, just great. I used to ride my scooter and go down to a cafe play the jukebox, meet girls and generally loon about.

When asked by my parents “Where are you going?”

I replied, “When I’m out, I’m out, when I’m in, I’m in!”

Not a very nice person, how my parents put up with me, goodness only knows. It was probably the era, mods, rockers, girls, music and being very anti being told what to do.

As for a name I was called Smiler, it was a name which was given to me in school and seemed appropriate as I was very happy go lucky.

A Sunny Day Out

 

It was Wednesday the 10th January 2015 and looking out of my window the sky was blue with hardly a cloud in sight and yet I’d decided to go and see an exhibition of paintings by Rembrandt. I’d seen them once but thought I’d see them again before they were returned to their owners.

My thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of some letters one of which I was pleased about as it was about my Freedom pass. I’d written to inform them that I’d moved and so I promptly did what the letter asked registered my details with Harrow Council, and made up my mind to go forgo the Rembrandt exhibition and have a day at the seaside.

I grabbed my senior railcard noting that it ended in a week or so and headed off to Fenchurch Street station. Prior to boarding the train I purchased a roll and coffee made my way to the train and found a seat with half a table and I was ready for my journey to Southend on sea.

A few stops on a young girl boarded the train; she wore a black furry hat over her shoulder length auburn hair, black leather jacket, grey jogging pants and trainers. Even though it was a ‘Quiet Zone’ carriage she was chatting on her mobile and said, “No I am going to bed when I get to Essex and sleep until tomorrow, I’m two stops away. We went to a place called ‘The Keys’.

How odd I thought doesn’t she go to work or college or doesn’t that count anymore? At Laindon, she left the train.

Travelling on the train was now in the country and perched up in the naked branches of the trees were pigeons which looked larger than normal, presumably they’d fluffed up their feathers to keep themselves warm.

Further along I saw mud exposed glistening in the sun where the sea should be and so it appeared that the tide was out but the odd strips of water glimmered in the sunlight.

Finally I arrived at Southend departed from the train and station and walked down to the sea front, I paused at Greggs because they had black and white pictures of Southend on the walls, I made a note to return and look at the pictures.

Further on down the street I saw a sign for a shop selling used records and buying and repairing record players so out of curiosity I walked into the alley and passed a building that had its windows blacked out, one of which on the upper floor was broken. I turned right and found the record shop, a man stood inside behind racks of records and outside there were even more records. Then turning right once more I could see the high street but I was by a place that had blacked out windows called ‘The Basement,’ and next to it was a place called ‘Shades.’ The memories flooded back was this the same place which had once been along the seafront where I saw the Paramounts? (They later became Procul Harem) I decided to look it up when I got home. Having done that I discovered that it is a club which has DJs and live bands, but there is nothing about where the name came from.

At the end of the street I noticed the large hotel was now closed, I crossed the road and walked down to the pier, stopped at the box and said to the lady, “Are the trains running today?”

“Yes.”

“I wondered as there seems to be something going on in this building.” I pointed to the building behind me.

“They’re building an amusement place.”

“If I remember correctly there used to be a pub at the end of the pier, before they had the fire. Right, I’ll walk there and train back please.”

“That’ll be two pounds.”

“Thanks,” I said taking my ticket and walked onto the wooden pier. Looking down I could see the sea beneath the wooden decking and noticed that some of the decking had been replaced and it appeared that the old bolts were somewhat superior to the new ones. The old ones had been countersunk, whereas the new ones looked less sturdy and some were even protruding from the decking.

Some way along the pier there was an old type of television aerial and about halfway along there was the usual seating shelter but in this one was housed a coca cola machine and another had chocolate bars plus there were a few bars of Aero in the machine but, I walked on.

Just before the 2/3 marker there was another old type of television aerial and a short distance from it was a ladder leading to below the pier and being cordoned off I wondered if anyone lived below the pier. Ok so every now and again the train would rumble along but at night there would be no noisy neighbours, no smelly food being cooked, just the gentle lapping of the sea upon the pier. Not bad and of course a good view, yes could possibly be a nice place to live.

A few people passed me along the pier going back to the seafront and they were well wrapped up against the cold. Towards the end of the pier I could see toilets which had the door open, it was the ladies and so I went into the other end for gents and oh how warm it was. I emerged and could see over Kent large clouds looming and yet over Southend it was still sunny. I passed a small cafe which was closed and supposedly belongs to Jamie Oliver but it is hardly ever open and he apparently uses it merely for filming. Arriving at the end of the pier I walked round the cafe and noticed a colourful bird walking along on its own, the sign I’d passed back along the pier told me that it was a turnstone.

Looking back towards the land I could see the train approaching and so I thought I’d go back on it. I boarded the train and watched as another train arrived this was a small red single train with 1835 written upon its side and had an iron bar hanging out of the rear window. I presumed this small train is used by the workers because when the pier was first built it was made of wood and was not as long as it is now.

The train departed and near to the shore I could see two fishing boats which earlier had been leaning out to sea, but now they were upright, therefore I deduced that the tide was coming in. Prior to entering the terminus I caught site of a dinghy moored by a jetty, perhaps the fishermen used this to ferry themselves to and from their boats.

Departing from the train I handed my ticket to the lady, left the building crossed the road and walked along the seafront, it was desolate. A lot of the amusement arcades and cafes were closed and the few cafes that were open weren’t doing much trade. Just before arriving at the Kursaal I noticed there was work being carried out on an amusement arcade.

I went in and said to a man “Excuse me, but what is being done here?”

He turned to me and replied, “We’re building a Baskin Robbins also a Subway,” He mentioned a few other food outlets so I thanked him and he went back to work. I passed a gap where there had once stood a pub I believe was called The New Ship but then next to it still stood the forlorn looking Foresters pub and round the corner and across the road, was the Kursaal and low and behold in the rear of it, is a Tescos.

I walked back along the seafront looking into the windows of the pubs and there were only a few people in them. I ambled up the slope into town thinking I’d get a bite to eat and headed for Greggs as I wanted to have a look at the black and white pictures hanging on the walls. Entering the shop I looked at the photographs of Southend in probably a bygone era.

I noticed that Greggs was doing a deal in that I could buy a pie and coffee for £2. I said to the lady when she arrived, “I’d like a pie and medium latte please,” and pointed to the pie.

She replied, “That’ll be £2 and it’s a very good deal.”

“Thanks, may I eat in?”

“That’ll be another 20p and it’s still a good deal.”

“I know,” I said handing over the money. I sat down and took my time eating the pie and swilling the coffee which although it was described as medium, was plenty for me and warmed me up.

It was getting dark and having finished I left Greggs and headed off for the station where I didn’t have to wait long for a train to Fenchurch Street. Approaching the station I could see Docklands and there was a green searchlight circling the sky above a building, then I caught site of a building which resembled a dog’s phallus. Walking round to the underground I realised the phallus looking building was, the Shard.

I caught the tube and was amused at what people were wearing. Two young men boarded the tube and I looked at the feet of one of them thinking, ‘Wow, he’s actually tied up his shoelaces,’ but smiled as I saw the zip up the side of his boots. As for his colleague he wore jeans which had a few buttons undone, I wondered if I should tell him, but thought better of it as he was engrossed in conversion with his friend about work.

Then I espied seated across the carriage a man reading a thick book wearing dark trousers, black socks and oh dear, brown shoes! Even those had the laces undone, perhaps he should’ve worn a pair of slippers?

I alighted from the tube at Wembley Park and boarded the tube for Stanmore thinking doesn’t anybody care how they dress these days? At Stanmore I emerged from the station into rain and thought it had been an interesting day.

The Show Must Go on

I think in this case I would like to be the lead performer. I suppose because I like to do role plays which is like acting anyway. Ok I’d have to learn the script but so what. We all need to do something. Mind you I was thinking I suppose the role we choose must say something about us.

Something I’d like to do to change in my life (101 Challenge)

I drink too much but recently I was barred from my local pub which believe was a very good thing as I now drink less. I was barred because I’d had too much to drink, well I had been there a long time and I do not recall what happened, all I remember was a friend of mine inviting me to his place (as he is in the airforce and being posted abroad), but I declined as I’d had too much to drink.
The next thing I recall was being shown out of the pub by the bouncer.
In the end I had to call the manager and find out what I’d done to her. I apologised and was told that I’d touched her up and thrown her drink away.
I spent about a month being barred and a friend of mine got me back into the pub, so now I’m only attempting to pop in for a coffee and trying to find other things to do.
Hence I’m on this blog and carrying on with my walks around London.
As for drinking it is as someone once said, ‘Everything in moderation.’

Greek Moussaka

INGREDIENTS
• 3-4 eggplants, about 4 lbs. total
• 1 lb. potatoes
• 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or lamb)
• 2 large onions, finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 glass red wine
• 50g 1.5 oz chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
• 1 can chopped tomatoes
• 2 tbsp. tomato paste
• 1 tsp. sugar
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 225g 8oz plain breadcrumbs
• 8 egg whites, lightly beaten (reserve yolks for bechamel)
• 225g 8oz Parmesan cheese
• Bechamel Sauce:
• 225g 80z salted butter (2 sticks)
• 140g 5oz flour
• 900ml 32 fl oz milk, hot
• 8 egg yolks, lightly beaten

• Pinch of ground nutmeg
• Prep Time: 120 minutes
• Cook Time: 45 minutes
• Total Time: 165 minutes

PREPARATION
Prep the Vegetables:
Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably an hour.
The salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.
Peel the potatoes and boil them whole until they are just done. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Drain, cool and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 200c/fan180c/gas mark 6.
Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Add a splash of water to the egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork. Add breadcrumbs to a flat plate.
Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Place breaded eggplant slices on baking sheets and bake at 200c/fan180c/gas mark 6, for 1/2 an hour, turning them over once during cooking.
When eggplant is finished cooking, lower the oven temperature to 180c/fan160c/gas mark 4.
Make the Meat Filling:
In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef (or lamb) until the pink color disappears. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add wine to pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier, tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Make the Béchamel Sauce:
Melt butter over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour to melted butter whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Allow the flour to cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown.
Add hot milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously, ensure that flour is mixed into the sauce. It may be easier to mix warm/hot milk with flour than add butter.
Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.
Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg. Return to heat and stir until sauce thickens.
Assemble the Moussaka:
Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (lasagna pan). Sprinkle the bottom of pan with breadcrumbs. Leaving a 1/4 inch space around the edges of the pan, place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Top with a layer of eggplant slices.
Add meat sauce on top of eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.
Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
You can make this dish ahead up until the béchamel sauce and refrigerate. Make the béchamel sauce right before you intend to bake it.

Regent’s Canal

It was the last Friday in July and I hadn’t done much during the day and so I decided to go for a walk. Many years ago I bought two books about walking in London, I grabbed one entitled ‘Walking London,’ looked through it and decided to go on the Regent’s Canal walk. This involved catching the tube to Warwick Avenue and walking along the canal to Islington. I looked up the station and realised I would have to catch the Bakerloo line from Harrow Weald.
I was wearing shorts, T-shirt, socks and plimsolls and headed off to the bus stop where I saw a friend of mine seated on the bench, I sat next to him and said, “Hi Brian.”
“I’ve just had a drink with Mick.” He replied.
We chatted for a while and eventually I caught the bus to Harrow Weald tube station where I began my journey.
Arriving at Warwick Avenue tube station I emerged once again into daylight and referred to my book, which mentioned a church. I looked about me and the church; I discovered is a modern one with a very pointed steeple. I followed the route which passed the Warwick Castle pub and being a sunny evening there were quite a few people both inside and outside quaffing beer.
Oddly enough I wandered along the pavement not the canal towpath; this was because further along the book informed me that the towpath is closed to the public. This part of the canal is known as Little Venice, which was built at the junction of Regent’s Canal and the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal.
I came across a quaint looking house which I presumed was at one time the canal gate keeper’s house oddly enough I recalled being there on a previous day with the RSM, it was one of his days out and something to do with a canal boat festival. Further along I walked up a slope where many years ago horses were unharnessed and walked up whilst the canal bargees would have to move the boat along by using their feet along the walls and roof of the canal tunnel. Arriving at the junction of Edgware Road there was a delightful restaurant, from the bus on the Edgware Road, it looks nothing, but approaching it from the canal it has the back open and looked like an ideal place to eat on a summers day. I looked at the menu and it didn’t appear to be too expensive, but I shall leave that for another day.
Crossing over the Edgware Road I entered Aberdeen Place at the end of which, prior to descending down steps onto the canal towpath I saw a magnificent looking pub called Crockers Folly, it used to be called the Crown Tavern and was rebuilt at around 1900, it was renamed Crockers Folly after an early landlord called Frank Crocker. It closed in 2004 but has now been restored to its Victorian splendour with the upper floors converted to residential use and reopened on 25th October 2014, still retaining the former name of the Crockers Folly though now it is largely a Lebanese restaurant and cocktail bar.
I was at last walking on the canal towpath where the canal had emerged from a tunnel I would add here that Regent’s Canal is approximately 180 years old. The canal water was covered in some green stuff, sorry no idea what it is, but some ducks were eating it.
At Lisson Grove I had to walk up to the road and go onto a path which was on the opposite side of the canal and high above it. Previously I’d only seen canal boats moored alongside the towpath but at this point they were moored next to each other with their bows being tied to the towpath and their sterns pointing towards the opposite side of the canal. Along this part it looked as if factories may have at one time been there but they have probably now been converted into living accommodation.
At another bridge I crossed back to the other side of the canal as there are houses backing onto the other bank. I was almost on familiar ground as I’ve previously walked from Park Road along the canal towpath past London Zoo and on to Camden Town.
Several of the bridges I walked under were railway bridges but as the canal forked left there is a Chinese restaurant moored in what can only be described as a cul-de-sac, because at one time the canal was going to go through Regent’s Park but that route was stopped.
One of the bridges I walked under carries the River Tyburn, one of London’s many hidden rivers and emerges near to Vauxhall Bridge. Further along was Macclesfield Bridge also known as Blow-up Bridge, this is because in October 1874 a barge laden with gunpowder blew up under the bridge. When the bridge was rebuilt the iron columns were turned round hence from the towpath deep grooves came be seen, these were caused by constant rubbing of taut ropes. There is a plaque on the side explaining this but unfortunately like most things today it has been vandalised by paint being sprayed over it, but at least what happened to the bridge can still be read.
Going past the London Zoo aviary some birds were pecking at the ground whilst others where perched above standing on one leg with their heads under their wings, presumably they were asleep.
Further along houses back onto the canal and some even have boats moored at the bottom of their garden.
The canal then took a sharp left turn this was because once again the initial route of the canal was changed. There is a bridge that is built in the style of a medieval castle which is known as Pirate Castle and on the opposite bank is a youth club known as the Pirate Club.
Farther along, the towpath is raised over a subterranean basin which was part of the Gilbey’s Gin warehouse. (Where incidentally my grandfather worked.)
I then veered off the towpath and looked around the market stalls which were closing down, but on the far side was a small shop making gin. I entered the shop and told the young man in attendance about Gilbey’s Gin and my grandfather.
He replied, “Yes we are making the gin as a tribute to Gilbey’s, would you like to try some?”
I had a very small sample and from my limited experience of gin, it seemed fine, but I declined to purchase a bottle.
I then continued my canal walk by crossing via an old iron bridge and also there can be seen grooves which were caused many years ago by tow ropes. On the other side of the canal I passed a small house which now houses a coffee shop and discovered that this had once been the lock keepers house.
I then had to cross over the road bridge and walk back down to the towpath where two young black guys were stood, one said to me, “How you going?”
“Yeh fine thanks.”
I was now about halfway on my walk and on familiar territory. Walking under the road along the familiar towpath there were a few people dotted about the locks, some were sat down eating, others were just standing around chatting. On the other side of the road bridge, there was a pub and café but here there was nothing, just the locks.
The water in the locks was now getting lower and I was about to enter a tunnel so I looked back and the sun was glowing yellow about to disappear behind clouds which had a yellow mauve tinge to them.
Emerging on the other side of the bridge there was a metal door which from the writing on it was some sort of night club but it was closed. Above it were people seated and I then noticed that it was a pub. Further along there were more canal boats moored and on top of one were two guys playing chess and drinking beer
I carried on and went under a few bridges. Past them on the other side was a really posh looking pub or was it a cafe, but either way it looked very expensive and beyond it was another bay where once again boats were moored.
Coming towards me on the canal was a huge canal boat it was almost as wide as the canal. I wondered where it was going to? I also noticed a woman on board one of the boats which I hasten to add was moored, as she was scrubbing a wooden table. Ah yes forget the life aboard for me, I think I’ll stay in an hotel.
There was once again on the other side of the canal a delightful building which had once again been the lock keepers house but who uses it now? I have no idea about.
I think by now I’d reached a posher area as there were people sat out enjoying the weather but there was a green baize placed upon the steps for them to sit upon. On the left was what had once been a gasometer but all that remains of it now are the metal poles.
I could see the end of my walk was in sight as the towpath ended and the canal disappeared into a tunnel. I have to admit that as I’d walked along the canal the properties had changed, first of all there were some very posh houses, then more houses at Camden followed by flats and hotels at Camden Town, then more flats, most of which had a balcony to sit upon and watch the life on the canal.
I now walked up a sloping path, found my route through a housing estate and as it was getting dark, I walked briskly through it. I emerged into Islington but some of the landmarks in the book are no longer there, I found my way to Chapel Market which is open from Tuesday to Sunday, at that late hour when I arrived it was closed.
Walking down the street there were a few restaurants one of which had a man spinning what I can only presume was a pizza. Oh well its one form of entertainment I will pass on. Finally I emerged into the Islington I knew but had to end my walk as the rest of the route looks as if it has been built upon by a shopping mall, plus it was nine o’clock and dark. It was not a problem as I’ve ventured along to Islington many times. Mind you my book did state that if I so wished I would be able to continue my canal walk to the River Thames. I thought I’d leave that for another day.
I walked down to the bus stop but could not ascertain where my bus stop was and so I went down to the tube and whilst looking at the posters on the wall, I noticed that one was a constantly changing advert. I looked up and above it was a projector and further along the platform I saw another one projecting the adverts. Eventually I boarded the tube and wondered, if I should go to Camden Town and get a bite to eat, or go home?