Earlier this week, I went up to London to see my friend Mary. Inspired by her brother’s previous exploit, and hoping to have better weather than he did, I decided to walk from Paddington Station towards Camden Town. Mary met me off the train, which was five minutes early. I was pleased to have her guidance to get me to Paddington Basin, the start of the walk.
I did not realise it at the time, but we must have been very near to St Mary’s Hospital, where I had a couple of minor operations in my childhood.
We stopped for a coffee in a café in one of the many luxurious buildings in the recent grand redevelopment around the basin. We sat looking out over the canal, which at this point is the very end of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. (On just looking this up, I now realise that the canal we used to visits as kids in West London/Middlesex was on this same Paddington Arm.) We thought we might hang on for the few minutes before the expected Fan Bridge opening, but fortunately checked our facts. We thought that two days and seven minutes was too long to wait.
For much of the time, because of private moorings, works, or the canal disappearing into a tunnel, we could not walk on the towpath itself. Here we passed alongside the Blomfield Road private moorings, and can see the Apostolic Catholic Church on Maida Avenue. It is (or was in 2014) the only remaining congregation of that movement in the world, and that with limited liturgy, as the last priest died in 1971. There were 200,000 followers in 1000 congregations worldwide in 1900.
I was particularly glad to have Mary with me at this point, as works sent us away from the canal for a short while, but she knew where to go. It was particularly pleasing, for more than one reason, to see this as we approached Lisson Grove and the Lisson Green estate.
As we crossed back over the canal. we saw the boat we had not caught earlier on, returning to Little Venice.
We continued to the most beautiful section of our walk, including six Italianate villas, built, amazingly, between 1988 and 2004, as this fascinating article reveals.
We made our way back a few yards, and went up a short flight of steps to cross the road to Primrose Hill This plan informed me that, whereas all my life I have referred to ‘Regent’s Park’, I should have been calling it ‘The Regent’s Park’ – which makes sense.
We crossed the grass beside Primrose Hill, resisting the temptation to go up.
So this was the best view overlooking London that I could manage.
I enjoyed the effect of the thinning foliage on the elegant houses as we neared our exit from the park.
A delicious Greek meal was taken at ‘Lemonia‘ in Primrose Hill, but we had arrived too late for the chocolate fudge cake. Perhaps it’s as well.
In the early evening, Mary went off to a talk on Troy, a prelude to an exhibition to come soon, and I went to a Guardian Live ‘conversation’ at King’s Place, between someone who no doubt thought she was too well-known to introduce herself, and Trevor McDonald, held to promote the latter’s recently published autobiography.
A bowl of home-made lentil soup and an exchange on our cultural experiences rounded off a very pleasant day.