Hackney loop, Lee River and canals

canal by Hackney Marsh

An 8 mile walk we did a couple of weeks ago, on a glorious Sunday morning. We headed across Hackney Downs and Clapton to Hackney Marsh, along Lee River towards the Olympics bit, then crossed to Hertford Union Canal, passing Victoria Park and back along Regent’s Canal. Canals full of boats – I don’t think I’ve seen this many boats around in the height of summer, people everywhere, glad to be out of winter coats. Lee River sparkling in the sun, magnolias out, a lovely spring morning.

canal by Hackney Wick

Hackney Lee loop magnolias 14

Victoria Park was positively heaving with people, we looked for quieter paths. Tourists claimed Regent’s Canal path, to the annoyance of cyclists and joggers and you could tell Broadway Market would have been packed. We stopped at Duke’s Brew and Que for sustenance and a pint instead before heading home.

Victoria park Hackney loop

Regent's canal by Queensbridge Road

 

So good to have this practically at our doorstep.

Thames path Kew to Victoria

First walk in ages and a fantastic day for it on Saturday. We met Beloved’s Pater familias at Kew, where we looked at fabulous orchids, then walked the Thames path to Barnes. Pater familias and M left us here while Beloved and I continued along the path to Victoria. 12 miles in total – a good length considering we haven’t walked for a very long time.

kew gardens

 

We were at Kew as the gardens opened to public in glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. Spring in the air (finally!) and snowdrops on the ground (yay!)

snowdrops

 

Also crocus carpets, I do love a carpet of flowers!

crocus carpet

 

Mindful of holding everyone up, I resisted the urge to throw myself on the ground and take lots and lots of crocus close up photos, besides the grass was wet. We were also about to go see the orchids – there’s currently an orchid festival at Kew until 9 March and I was about to take a lot more photos.

orchids

orchids1

orchid display

orchid3

 

Pater familias said that Kew relies on volunteers to help bring the annual festival about, sounds like a marvellous thing to be involved in. There is also a new hybrid orchid Kew created for this year, a speckly fuchsia and white, which you can buy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t carry one with me but wouldn’t mind going back to get it now that I’ve finally learned how to look after orchids. I’d recommend visiting Kew while the orchid displays are still on, although best to do this early in the morning, it was already getting busier as we left.

Leaving Kew Gardens, we walked along the Thames path to Barnes, this stretch of river is lovely and quiet.

tree by thames

 

Barnes itself was busier, we stopped for coffee and at the farmers market where I picked up a couple of apples for sustenance and then continued, on our own towards Hammersmith. We used to live in Hammersmith years ago and haven’t been back to the area much, the riverside in particular has been built up a lot since we moved.

birds on old barge

 

Still, nice to see that not everything has been gentrified. In particular, the stretch around Putney and going into Battersea, the Imperial Wharf on the other side with all the new and newish builds is still completely characterless. Property developers eager to attract custom cover the empty retail units with posters of cappuccino drinkers, romantic looking couples and people with laptops – see, all so multipurpose! They seem very keen on cappuccino drinkers and also on ‘zen’ gardens – every newish development had tiny green spaces that had obviously been landscaped but not in a good way. Nothing nice to look at and even the pint of ale we stopped for at a pub in Putney lacked character. This old power station on the other side was the only interesting building for miles.

old power station

 

We thought about finishing the walk at Battersea bridge and getting the bus back home but decided against this, the last few miles had been fairly depressing looks wise so we thought going past Battersea Park and towards Victoria would at least give us nicer things to look at.

v&a bridge ahead

 

Beloved later said we should have continued onto Vauxhall as Victoria was very busy, as usual with travellers of all sorts. All in all, Saturday was a walk of two halves, from the beauty of Kew Gardens, a quiet and peaceful Thames path to Hammersmith and then the visual assault and the soullessness of the built up stretch of the river. Still, the weather was pretty glorious throughout and we got some much needed exercise.

Thames Path, Greenwich Peninsula to London Bridge

What I really wanted to do yesterday was a long coastal walk only the weather wasn’t that good for a coastal walk and it would have taken us ages to get there and back so in the end, we decided to walk much closer to home and do a part of the Thames Path we didn’t know. We started at Royal Victoria Dock DLR, took the cable car across Thames to Greenwich Peninsula and then walked just over 9 miles to London Bridge. The cable car was fascinating, on a cloudy morning it offered views of an underdeveloped and unloved (it seemed) parts of greater London and it also quietly paved the way for what will soon be happening with underground stations – naming them after corporate brands that sponsored them.

from cable car

The view from the cable car. Also fascinating, the people who were on it – Italian tourists shared our cabin, there was a family with a lot of suitcases (just landed at City Airport nearby?), families without suitcases, groups of girls, single men with cameras and I was wandering if people used it regularly or just came to experience it once, like us.

cable car supports

 

I think these were the supports. The video inside didn’t really give any information. Perhaps waiting for further sponsorship?

city beyond dome

 

View from the car’s descent across the river to Docklands. We rounded the O2 and the peninsula, which is still being developed (didn’t look that different from my last visit here, 6-7 years ago when it was first being developed). A bit of a no man’s land. Walk into Greenwich was a bit of a trudge – narrow footpaths and nothing much to see so we were happy to reach the Cutty Sark pub for a break. The weather started to look a little more promising too.

city across

 

An inkling of a blue sky above Canary Wharf. Greenwich itself was pretty busy so we didn’t stop and continued on through Deptford, the Thames Path leaves the river here for a while. Back on the path and we’re still seeing Canary Wharf. The bends in the river make you think you haven’t walked very far.

docklands still visible

 

I love the Docklands architecture and this need to make a tower block look ‘interesting’. The brown and glass building next to the red crane on the left of the picture looked like it had a Grecian temple on its top. As you would. On our side of the river, the Surrey Docks Farm was much more interesting but we still had quite a way to go and were keeping a good pace so we continued onto Rotherhithe. A quick break at The Mayflower pub, which we liked the look of, turned into a quick lunch. The pub, named after the pilgrim ship that sailed from the spot (I thought the pilgrims originally sailed from the United Provinces/ Dutch Republic and pretty much only waited for a passage in London but never mind), was packed but I’d say the beer selection was better than the food. Shortly after, we had our first view of Tower Bridge and central London beyond.

tower bridge ahead

 

From here on, the path got progressively busier. As we neared the Tower Bridge, it became decidedly chaotic with hordes of tourists, especially outside the Tower. We crossed the river here, meandering through groups of tourists, deciding to walk to London Bridge on the City side of the river as we have never done that before and then caught the bus home. I do wander what ten more years could bring to the eastern area we walked, I guess it will never become as chaotic and attract tourists but I do hope it becomes a bit more loved.

Homemade fresh mint truffles and The Hobbit

So marvellous to finally be on holiday! Took a couple of days to get into it, to remember I don’t have to check emails or do anything other than what I fancy, to be lazy and indulgent. These Homemade fresh mint truffles from Dan Lepard in The Guardian (second recipe down) are a proper indulgent treat:

IMG_0480Dan suggested them as a Christmas gift and, in a sense I made them as a gift, only a gift for Beloved and me. Obviously, mine are very messy – shaping was tricky and I thought I’d be clever and use a rubber ice cube tray to freeze some but then they wouldn’t come out so that really wasn’t very clever. The rest I just shaped with a couple of teaspoons and froze on greaseproof paper as suggested so they ended up being all sorts of different shapes and sizes. I finished them yesterday afternoon with a good coating of melted dark chocolate, only the chocolate was cooling too quickly to give each one a second ‘smooth’ coating so I just made them look even more messy. Now I think they look quite cute and they definitely taste way, way better than anything shop bought. They contain a huge amount of chocolate (400g white and 200g dark) beautifully balanced with both fresh mint and essence. More fiddly to do than Dan’s other edible Christmas gifts I’ve made over the past few weeks but so very good.

We braved the outside world – or rather the West End yesterday morning for a special screening of The Hobbit at Empire on Leicester Square and this was the queue:

IMG_4857┬áRather, this was the back of the queue, it went on and on. Amazingly all these people bothered to get up and turn up on a miserable and wet Saturday morning and even more amazingly, they all fitted in. I thought the film was just about OK, too much technical gimmickry, thought 3D was unnecessary, didn’t particularly add anything and the high speed frame rate (or whatever the technical term for this is) kind of worked OK in some bits but made others jerky. I’m very, very fond of Lord of The Rings (books more than films but I do like the films too) and I guess this was a bit of a disappointment. There isn’t a huge amount of character development, a lot of the scenery seems identical to what’s been used for various Lord of The Rings films and, most annoyingly, you just see the group running in the same or a very similar way to what they did in mines of Moria, plains of Rohan and so on. Still, I enjoyed the film, just not as much as the others. Am glad we saw it in a good cinema and now definitely want to re-read the book, very much looking forward to it.

First though, I’ve a brioche to make, lovely for Christmas Day breakfast, no?

Cranes and blue sky

There is definitely something about cranes and building sites set against a clear blue sky, this was taken late morning near work,

 

Have put a tiny little filter on it but otherwise not messed with. Love a good building site, not so much finished new buildings most of the time. Need to take more photos when out and about, pity that all recent ‘out and about’ has been very rushed as work’s very busy so I don’t even notice much around me. Glad I did today. Also glad for having been able to get out of the office for a good little lunch at St. John (bar), crab on toast, salad with dried pig’s liver and a rather large slice of chocolate cake. Lovely

I had the best intentions

I love how I got a bit of lighting rig in this shot – reminds me of ‘Singing in The Rain’ when they are making their ‘talkie picture’ and they keep getting the microphone in the shot. Quite fitting that I was at this award/party type thing last night which took place in the London Film Museum. Didn’t see any movie type exhibits anywhere until we took a funny exit to escape the crowds in the auditorium and came across this:

Don’t think we were supposed to be there but you don’t see a penny-farthing every day so I paused to take a quick photo then ran after the people I was with. By the time I caught up, they’d luckily found the bar. Didn’t see any information about it but must have been used in an old movie.

I actually planned to take lots of pictures of London last night because that part of London (South Bank and London Eye and bits around it) is always so fabulously lit at night that a good view from any bridge or bank makes you very happy to be living here. Thought the Eye would make particularly good photos but never got a chance to take them as by the time I left all I wanted was to be in bed. Next time must do better!