Saturday, April 30, 2016

Paddington and Maida Vale (cruise retrospective)

It's windy in Paddington Basin. Very windy. It seems as if it's being channelled down the length of the basin between the tall buildings which overlook it. When we arrived yesterday, Grace was able to wind Kantara with relative ease, but getting her alongside the floating pontoon with the wind pounding down on her starboard side was another matter, only ultimately achieved by two strong men on ropes fore and aft.

It was no different when we went for a walk to nearby Maida Vale this morning. We have a friend Elaine, who lived in the Vale for some years about 40 years ago, and Grace promised to visit the street where she'd shared a flat, and take photos for her. It's a really lovely, tree-lined street, though I'm certain these flats would be well out of her price range now. Originally huge mansion-like dwellings, each is now two apartments on each of five floors.

(On a very sad note, Elaine lost her battle against cancer just 18 days after Grace emailed her these photos.)

It was a fascinating walk. We returned along the canal from Ha'penny Bridge, stopping for dozens of photos on the way, and had lunch in the Waterside Câfé in Little Venice.

Waterside Cafe

I love this whole area. It's noisy. The air's not good. But most of the architecture is superb. Towering office buildings and apartment blocks, sweeping curves, acres of glass, and imaginative open spaces between and amongst them. Old and new rubbing shoulders. I could wax lyrical about it all.

Oh! I am!


NB Frogmore is here in the basin. The last time we saw her was at the foot of the Marsworth flight days ago. They were in a bit of a dash then, so they could have been here for some time. We wondered about NB Renaissance, too. We shared locks with them out of Berkhamsted ages ago (so it seems). They'd hoped to moor up close to a church in St Pancras to attend a wedding. Mr Renaissance had bought a dress suit from a charity shop in Berkhamsted, and was dead chuffed about it. Excellent! But had they arrived on time? Did they get their convenient mooring? Did he remember to take the price label off his suit?

There aren't many water birds in the Basin. Gulls swoop for the opportune lunch. Pigeons strut, and peck about, as anywhere in London. Ducks, geese, swans, coots - these are rare. But those that are here are special. They are of a different class, and I think they know it. Not for them the white crust or the dry cheese sarnie. Oh no. These birds dine on croissants, pains au chocolat, brioches and paninis. These are sophisticated birds.

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