An eclectic couple of days in London

Last Sunday nb Ferndale set out from Paddington Basin to head to Limehouse for a trip up the Thames. We were just outside the basin on a booked mooring but decided to do the ‘London Shuffle’ with them at 6.30am as it would give us a further seven days mooring. London is busy and moorings can be difficult to find so this kind of swapping of spots, early in the morning or late at night, is a common sight. Ferndale came out, we went in – perfect!

When we’d got the boat sorted out we went out again for the day for a walk along the Embankment from Tower Bridge to Blackfriars passing this guy who was providing an original service. Fascinating but we didn’t indulge.


We were heading for The Blackfriar – a wonderful little pub which sits on the site of the long since demolished Benedictine Abbey.

To quote from the blurb on the pub menu “Our historic Art Nouveau Grade II masterpiece of a pub was built in 1905 on the site of a Dominican friary. The building was designed by architect H. Fuller-Clark and artist Henry Poole, both committed to the free-thinking of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Jolly friars appear everywhere in the pub in sculptures, mosaics and reliefs. We are lucky to still be here as our wonderful pub was saved from demolition by a campaign led by Sir John Betjeman”

It is an absolute gem of a building

The following morning we headed back to London Bridge to wait for nb Ferndale to come up the Thames and hopefully catch a photograph or two of her as she passed the Houses of Parliament.  We managed to spot her as she was coming up to Westminster Bridge. Seeing how small she looks makes you realise exactly how big the river is and the size of the venture you undertake when you brave the tidal Thames.


We did manage to catch a few photographs as she passed in front of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.


I really enjoyed coming out of Limehouse and travelling up the tidal Thames a couple of years ago. It is truly one of the most exhilarating trips you can undertake in a canal boat.

Our next adventure was to head across to Notting Hill for Carnival. I was a bit nervous about how crowded it would be and I was spot on about that!



We shimmied our way through the crowds and found a fairly clear spot to watch some of the floats go past. Our first spectacle turned out to be a parade of coppers carrying riot gear – and packed lunches!


The three floats we watched definitely lived up to expectations. Colour, noise, wonderful costumes – that’s what I’d imagined Carnival to be all about.

That was enough for us though, as the crowds were increasing and we were feeling more than a little claustrophobic. We wandered back towards Paddington, stopping at a pub close to Bayswater tube station. Crowds of colourfully dressed people of all ages and ethnicities were flooding past the pub heading for Notting Hill and we were very glad that we’d made the decision to leave. In many ways watching the crowds passing from the comfort of the window seat in a bar was better than actually being in the midst of things – the best session of people watching we’ve ever experienced.


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