Playing Hooky

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you miss it.” — Ferris Bueller, from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Today is our last day in Lomdon, so we had decisions to make. Should we go to the British Museum to see Egyptian antiquities? The Tate Modern for the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit? The British Library to view the Gutenberg Bible? Nah. Our brains are full. Instead, we followed the advice of one of our favorite Chicagoans, Ferris, and stopped and looked around.

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With a bit of online searching and thumbing through a guide book, we discovered a walkable neighborhood we hadn’t seen.  Just  a few blocks from the Camden Town tube station is the Camden Locks market. Yup, another market, a funky one inside old brick industrial buildings. Just a quick look-around, then we back down the street to search for the Locks themselves  and the canal called Little Venice. At our landmark, a sleazy bar called The Purate’s Castle, we headed down some steps to walk the canalside lined with narrow houseboats moored at the water’s edge. Some of the boats were spiffed up with fresh coats of paint and geraniums decorating their rooftops; others begged for a bit of TLC.

A water taxi drifted by, heading toward Camden Town. Then, we ascended the steps near the Regent’s Park Zoo, in an upmarket neighborhood called Primrose Hill. More pretty houses to see; more blue historical markers (“William Butler Yeats lived here”) to spot.


The centerpiece of the area is the Primrose Hill Park with  gentle slopes to a summit that shows off a dazzling panorama of the city. A few minutes to take inventory of the sights — the Shard, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and all of their neighboring landmarks– and we headed back down. A pub called the New Inn popped up right about lunchtime, so we had to go in.

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After lunch, we hunted for another passageway down to the  Regent’s Canal. There,  through an iron gate and down some steps, more  vessels with names like Jemima Puddle Duck and The Scarlet Pimpernel were lined up, cheek-to-jowl. The towpath was canopied in greenery and in some spots, boaters had crafted little gardens along the walls.  What a find! Surely no hop-on-hop-off buses stop here.

Now we’re back in our flat, open suitcases lined up on the floor, ready to be filled. London, I’m so glad we finally got to meet you. You’ve been brilliant!





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