Thursday, October 18, 2012

Many Stops Along the Way

This will be a quick update on yesterday's activities, while my clothes are spinning around in the dryer. I need to be out the door by 9:30 a.m. to meet my friend Judy at Tate Modern. It's another day that's starting out much better than predicted. I'm not taking credit or anything, but I do seem to have a way of making the rain hold off when I'm visiting.

Yesterday, I filled in a missing bit of the Regent's Canal with a walk from Camden Town to the start of the Islington Tunnel. I've now walked the towpath from Ladbroke Grove to Limehouse, which I think totals about 20 miles. My friend Malcolm joined me for this segment -- we met up at the Spanish School in the Portobello Road for a quick look at the new wall installation (large photos on a coffee theme) and then hopped the No. 31 bus to Chalk Farm and got on the towpath at Hampstead Road Lock.  Not a lot to see along this stretch -- some new and converted housing on the opposite side from the towpath (I saw one sweet converted warehouse where I'd love to live), and the remains of the wall on which Banksy and Team Robbo carried out their graffiti feud. The most interesting part is at King's Cross, where there's been an amazing amount of development since I last poked around there about four years ago. The gasometers are now all gone (mothballed somewhere, with at least one to come back at some point and put to some unknown purpose), Central St Martin's College of Art has moved into a renovated warehouse, there are new steps from the towpath to a large square, and a bridge over the canal leading straight into King's Cross Station. There are various food vans and stalls between the bridge and the station that change every day, which made a great opportunity for us to get a bite to eat and have a sit-down. I had a Scotch egg (my first!), with a 3-bean crust instead of the usual sausage, from a stall called Eat My Pies. It was made by the mum of a Brit named Andy Bates who has a show on the Food Network in America (I've not seen it, but will check it out when I get back home). Good cooking must run in the family, because Andy's mum's Scotch egg was delish.

The leg of the towpath from there to Islington was easy and uneventful. If it had been raining, I would probably have stopped at the Canal Museum just past King's Cross, but that can wait for another trip. After leaving the towpath and walking through Chapel Market, Malcolm and I went our separate ways, he to Jessup's to look at camera gear, and me to get on the No. 73 bus to Euston.

It was still sunny when I got off the bus and started to wander though Bloomsbury, but clouds began to roll in. My first stop was the crypt gallery at St Pancras Parish Church, where I saw a fab exhibition by women artists called Dare to Wear. It was by far the most colorful and fun thing I'd ever seen in the creepy crypt. By then I was in need of tea and another sit-down, so I wandered down Marchmont Street. Rain drops started falling when I reached the Brunswick Centre, and soon turned into a downpour. I took shelter in the caff at the Foundling Museum, a site which has a long history of providing refuge. When the rain let up, I pushed on to St Giles High Street, and looked in at the exhibition of Crossrail archaeology -- bits ranging from bison bones to Victorian pottery that's been dug up in the massive excavation for the new Crossrail system. This is really fascinating stuff, and well worth a look-see if you're in Tottenham Court Road (but hurry because it ends soon!). 

Back on the Euston Road, my next stop was the British Library, where I looked at the permanent exhibition (Treasures of the British Library) -- a good way to kill the remaining hour before meeting Roger in front of the St Pancras Hotel at 6 pm. We wandered around King's Cross looking for a pub to grab a quick dinner, and ended up at Central Station on what clearly was drag night at the pub. The last destination was King's Place, where we heard Scottish contemporary folk/rock from a bloke called Roddy Woomble and band called Rura. Lovely venue, and Roddy and company made some nice sounds, but I thought his songs needed work (except for a very nice cover of John Prine's Speed of the Sound of Loneliness). We did not stop in the foyer to buy the CD.

28,170 steps (11.11 miles)
£10 to top up my Oyster card
£2 for exhibition catalogue from Dare to Wear
£2.70 bevvies and nibbles along the way
£8.85 veg burger and half pint of bitter at the pub
£5 glass of wine at the concert

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