It was May and the sun was shining on the pleasant Saturday morning my boyfriend and I decided to head towards Regent’s Park. Our purpose? To make our way through the canals and to find Little Venice.
Little Venice is where the Regent’s and Grand Union Canals meet, and promises to be the home of a number of waterside cafes, pubs and a prime spot for boatspotters, which was really my goal as it sounded like a great opportunity to take some nice pictures.
As we walked through the leafy road that leads to one of Regent’s Park’s entrances, we spotted a Boris’ Bikes (now Santander Cycles) station and we made the amazing decision of hiring two and riding them through the park where we’d find an entrance to the canal.
However, our plan was not as awe-inspiring as we had thought. As we cycled through looking for an entrance to the actual park, we were disappointed to find that bicycles are actually not allowed inside. Turning round, we decided to reach our destination via the roads, which was a bit daunting.
Alive and panting, we abandoned our bikes at another station and headed down the path that leads to the canals. The pavement is narrow and you have to compete with joggers, cyclists and dog walkers as you walk by backgardens that you would kill to spend a sunny afternoon in with ice cold drinks being handed out to you by a well-dressed waiter.
When you look down into the murky green waters of the canal, your fantasy changes into a horror story where a radioactive-mutated creature from the deep jumps onto your lawn and devours you whole as your former-servant runs for his life without a second thought.
As yet another cyclist angrily zigzaged by us and I struggled to keep my balance and not fall into the irky waters below, I finally spotted the first houseboat in the canal.
Houseboats are wonderful things. They’re narrow constructions that often have a garden on the roof and are usually handpainted. Most only have their names beautifully printed on each side, but some include traditional flowers in a myriad of colours.
The walk we were following led us out of the canals for a short while, where we sat in a nice cafe amidst brick houses and tree-lined streets.
As we continued our journey and joined the canal once more, we found an area full of houseboats and even walked through some wonderful patios that the boats’ inhabitants had decorated with red-faced garden gnomes and multicoloured crystal windchimes.
The canal started to widen and we finally reached our destination: Little Venice!
Needless to say it was a bit anti-climatic. Mostly because I thought it would be more picturesque, but it turns out it’s only a wider part of the canal where tour boats stop to drop and pick up passengers. There’s a boat/cafe parked next to the bridge and a stationed puppet theatre.
Disappointed, we decided not to give up and followed the other canal towards Portobello road, and I’m glad we did. We walked past dozens of houseboats and took pictures of adorable cats and dogs who seemed completely at ease with living on a floating home.
Reaching Portobello Road, we checked out the different food vendors, where we tried delicious pretzels and I bought a whole bag of ripe dark red cherries. We went by Whittards in order to take advantage of their free samples and bought a big of their posh Chelsea blend of tea.
All in all, it was a great day. I’d recommend walking down the canals as the houseboats are beautiful, just don’t expect much from Little Venice, as it has nothing to do with Venice, beside being a place where canals meet.
Until next time,