Little Venice review
It always feels like a slothful Sunday morning in Little Venice: sunny, slow and easy. I can see one guy shuffling along the towpath with his paper and a giant mug of tea -- he's still got his pyjamas on. I'm being serious! He's just popped his head out the door to listen to the songbirds. That is Little Venice for you.
Little Venice consists of three different sections separated by two blue bridges. The prettiest stretch is definitely up the far end of Blomfield Road and Maida Avenue (which run either side of the same canal). This is the picture postcard place that everyone comes to see. Obviously I prefer the other two sections -- the 'lived in' bits -- because there are more tales to tell over there. But let's start with Maida Avenue.
There are two kinds of houseboat in the world. Some are covered in green crust and bird sh*t and have peeling panels flaking away like dandruff. Whilst the pretty ones (the ones down Maida Avenue) have got a chimney on top and bright red gypsy-style lettering -- like a poster from Billy Smart's circus. Let me describe it to you. You probably won't believe it's as twee as this, but I promise you I'm seeing all these things this morning: chopped logs and fairy lights wrapped around the railings; empty bird feeders dangling from the spindly winter trees; rusty coloured water-cans and ornamental benches. One houseboat owner has put fifty plant pots on top and tied some ribbons to a tree. Another one has put a carpet of artificial grass and a deckchair on his roof. I've just had a quick little look inside a porthole and seen a collection of china teapots and pottery frogs -- that is a perfect example of what this place is all about. It's the kind of place where old grandmas and grandpas and robin redbreasts might live.
But then you cross over the bridge and everything turns into concrete (I'm talking about the junction between Warwick Avenue and Westbourne Terrace, where the two canals meet.) It has a few ugly ducklings in the water -- the kind of ducks that never turn into swans -- and some stooping, drooping trees trailing their wooden fingers in the water, but it's mainly a place to catch a canal bus up to Camden. The most popular one is Jason's Canal Trip (check out my separate review -- it's well worth a try), but there's also a cheapo waterbus on the opposite side. Or you can grab a cup of tea from the little houseboat cafe.
Don't bother going any further into Delamere Terrace. The ornate blue bridge might look tempting, but it's actually an iron curtain hiding a waterway of doom. The overgrown towpaths don't have fallen twigs and flower petals over there -- they have old Coke cans and cigarette ends. They have weeds instead of flowers. A punctured football instead of a swan.
The boat owners down Maida Avenue arrange a parade of country stuff on top of their homes, like candle lanterns and bags of wood chippings, whereas these ones dump their empty Calor Gas bottles, blue tarpaulins and giant plastic sheets.
Guest – Hello, I want to thank you for your reviews. We used them (from this blog and your book) on our recent trip to London. We visited Little Venice and went on Jason's Trip based on your reviews -- spot on! When we alighted from the #46 bus at Blomfield Road, there was the lovely Rembrandt Gardens. We headed down the steps into this cool and quiet space along the canal, on what was very hot and sticky day, and had a picnic lunch before went went on the boat trip. There are very nice and clean toilets, too.
Admin – cheers for buying my book... if i sell another 50,000 of them i can finally retire to the bahamas like i've been dreaming about. when you went on jason's trip did you get that same lady called sarah? i think she's my favourite tour guide in London.
I’ve been here before…
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