Europe 2012 travel blog

Holts boot makers: Doc Martins creators

Arlington House for homeless men

Estate Agents office

london to liverpool by canal

wooden carvings made to measarue in India

not quite draft horses?

one of many showing men at work with horses

cast iron horses and wooden carvings

Bevan with blacksmith

An early morning start from Paris on the 16th with others heading for their business class lounge and me heading to London. It was pouring rain, and my case and I were both soaked by the time I'd got from bus stop to the hotel.

Fortunately my cheap hotel in Earl's Court let me leave my bags while I walked to get something to eat. Decided I would like a hearty soup and crunchy bread. And there it was; a choice "Heinz Chicken soup" or "Heinz Tomato soup" Guess they were at least honest! As no one else seemed to have soup, and I didn't want to get any wetter, that was it!

16th morning

Saturday was fine, and it was a great day to round off the holiday. Met Bevan at the Camden Town station, and did another guided walk. Camden town was one of those poor parts of London, inhabited mainly by the Irish navvies and their families as canals and railways were being built. No one cared much about it not then or even much later.

When part of the station was bombed, unlike in other parts of London, here they repaired the essential bit and put a barricade up in front of the rest, which is still there covered with advertising.

However one person cared enough to build this amazing place for 1000 homeless men. They got a meal and slept there and were then kicked out for the day. Now it houses around 500 with a bit more of a helping hand.

Camden Town became trendy when Paul McCartney held a big concert there. Then everyone wanted a bit of the action.

One of the newcomers noticed the boots in the local working mans boot makers. They bought a pair of DOC MARTINS. You know the rest of that story! The shop is still the same now as then. But there were lots of other shops cashing in, advertising and selling Doc Martins.

A real Estate agent took up temporary abode in a double decker red bus. It created so much interest he applied to council to have it as a permanent office. Our guide was most unimpressed by their council, but eventually permission did come through and it's now a legit office. If you look carefully you can see a person at work inside. It would be a bit of a distracting place to work!!

After looking at various other landmarks and buildings we were at the canal. This was the same canal I had seen on the little Venice walk with Jennie. Here we learned about a James Brindley who had been asked to build canals like those in Europe, to connect some Dukes cornfields with Manchester. Brindley decided that it would be better to have narrower canals than the European ones, and proceeded to design the 'narrow boat' to make this possible and the rest is history. Don't know if we were downstream or up from my previous stop! However the sign showing miles to Liverpool inspired Bevan. He's got the run to Liverpool on his 'bucket list'. I think he also has doing all the canals around London. I'm not sure they interconnect, but even finding them would be fun.

And then the markets. Again a bit of serendipity. The owners of a warehouse were waiting for some approval from the council to do something with the site. Again the council were very slow. By which time the Artisans and artists who had been allowed to use the site temporarily, were bringing in lots of visitors. The owner decided he'd make more money this way! SO the Camden markets began. They were added to when the massive building containing tunnels that used to house the horses was bought.

Another name dropped. The Clash used to rehearse in tunnel 15, before they were purchased and turned into markets.

Many of the tunnels were knocked together to make large open spaces, but parts were also left so there was much weaving and winding you could do as you went. Our guide kept saying "we don't have time, but if you come back later I suggest...." as she pointed into sections we were passing.

Sometimes it was "If you do that route I suggested, this is where you should come out"

I think it was the person who bought the horse stable/tunnels who was nearly drowned in the Tsunami and returned home determined to do only what he enjoyed. It seems that was markets and scupture and maybe also horses! Although the many horses could have been to fit with the theme of the place.

He already had a theory that everything was cheaper off shore, including carving and huge cast iron sculptures. He had drawings done in England and sent them off to India. THe place is now full of horses. Most working horses, occasionally a pair that don't fit. The carved wooden panels covering walls and some ceilings were carefully locked together looking like they'd been done on the spot.

DOn't know if the owner just loved horses or the artist didn't realise the difference between a racing horse and a draft horse.

There were also sculptures of the men who would have worked with the horses

The place was abuzz and by the time we left the main street was packed. People having to walk in the street the footpaths were so packed.

We had planned an Ale Pie at the Earls Court pub where we had previously eaten, as my last tea in England, so now we headed for a pub and just had a carrot and coriander soup.(not exactly English I suppose, but then who could claim it?) This hotel was one the Council had responded to quickly ensuring it could be quickly rebuilt after a fire that destroyed it and neighbouring buildings. The reason? It was Amy Winehouse's favourite watering hole and she kicked up a stink and the publicity revved the council up. The other buildings took ages. (again the guide had been scathing!) The hotels toilets do not have their graffiti removed. Its all Amy Winehouse!

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