Thursday 24 August 2023

Paddington and South Ken

Today's Canal - moored in Paddington Basin

A slow start to the day. Just after 9 Mike took a stroll around the basin (as Christine did last night) so a lot of pix with some words.

GoBoats not awake yet - the staff will be in to prep them soon and most will be out as their website indicates fairly well booked up.

The boom across the far end  - where boats cannot venture - seems to help keep out floating rubbish and weed. But it does emphasis that the residents and tenants of the buildings around the end did not want horrid boaters spoiling their view (which does cost n arm and leg, BTW)

New (to us) is the fountain feature. On warm days it is irresistible to young children, which we did see on just one day.

Alongside sits Sir Simon Milton who was once the Deputy Mayor of London and said to have been instrumental in enabling the restoration of the Paddington Basin area that had long been an eyesore. For compensation he was consigned to forever watch the fountain. The statue is very convincing - but perhaps two thirds size.

The fan bridge which was installed just before we last stayed here. Not sure when/if it opens.

At the end, the Floating Pocket garden is also new to us and makes this area much more attractive - it previous emptiness only served to emphasise exclusion. During the daytime visitors can walk around it and there are a few places to sit and soak up the restfulness.

Unless, that is, there is an event on for which the barge provides bar facilities - not, it does it go anywhere! (At least not easily)

The buildings at this end were constructed in the early phase of the development and some look in need of a little TLC. The ground level has not developed any real sense of liveliness which we suspect the planners hoped it would. The other end of the basin is 'where it is at'.

Looking back to where we were moored, the block on the right is part of St Mary's Hospital. The lighter block to the left is nearing completion and is just beyond the hospital estate. It is to be called Paddington Square and will have retail space at the bottom, a restaurant right at the top (with views over this part of London) and a lot of offices in between. Despite the Covid inspired 'work from home' trend, all the space has been pre-let to corporate tenants.

A more recent addition is the sand area - occasional volleyball sessions are held here. Nearby there is a large screen that mostly shows ads about the area but in the summer shows free films most Wednesday evenings.

The Merchant Square website indicates that there are three further areas yet to be developed although the existing areas seem now complete. This fenced off area used to be a car park.

Another pleasant sitting area outside the entrance to the M ands S food store.

And finally, our mooring, taken from the nearby footbridge with the other mooring on the St Mary's side which we are booked for after our overnight trip down to Battlebridge.

After coffee we walked around to the front of the hospital looking for the Alexander Fleming Museum. Building works made this quite difficult and the web site suggested that access is from Praed Street (once you have navigated around closed oof streets and footpaths) As this entrance was also closed we looked further and eventually found a small, almost anonymous, door buzzer. At last we were in!

The purpose of this small museum is to celebrate the work of Fleming who is credited with the discovery of penicillin in a small laboratory that he used here in the hospital. Although that lab was later moved elsewhere, it has been re-created here using as many contemporaneous items as possible.

As we were taking the photo of the plaque outside the door we were somewhat shortly reminded that no photography was permitted (we had mistakenly thought that we had seen that it was permitted) so no more photos. It does nt seem to have its own web site but more info can be found here.

The curator talked us through the story of the discovery and development of antibiotics, especially penicillin. Although Fleming was the first to notice the effect that a particular mould had on certain bacteria, it took the work of a team in Oxford to make it into a practical treatment and the backing of the pharmaceutical companies to produce it at scale.

We then went to one of the eating places  close to the mooring for lunch followed by a lazy couple of hours. A sort of 'high tea' stoked us up for a lengthy walk down to and across Kensington Gardens as we had booked tickets for tonight's promenade concert.

After passing the Albert Memorial, the Royal Albert Hall came into sight.

We had seats in the Grand Tier, directly opposite the stage. We could not have asked for a better view. However, it took us a couple of mis-turns to work out which of the wo numbers on the tickets related to the doors and which to the individual boxes.

Each box seats 12 so no long rows of seats to negotiate or wait until late comers fill up the middle. By the time the concert started, the hall was nearly full, mainly spaces in the top of the highest tier and perhaps a few more prommers could have been squeezed in.

The concern began by a recent piece Judith Weir, Master of the King's Music, called Begin Afresh, which used innovative orchestration to evoke the sounds of trees and plants in differing seasons. This was followed by Schumann's First Symphony Spring. The BBC Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Sakari Oramo.

After the interval the second half comprised a single work, Elgar's Violin Concerto. As Elgar began his career as a violinist and so it is little surprise that he could challenge the soloist whilst still being playable. Perhaps his own background stimulated him to use both orchestra and solo to complement and challenge each other and whilst there is plenty to allow the soloist room to display his/her skills, the orchestra provides ample competition and nor relegated to little more than an unassuming accompanist. At the end, Christian Tetzlaff right enjoyed an enthusiastic applause and responded with a quite deep and at times dark encore.

By now the park was closed and so we would have had to take quite a detour around the outside. Instead we walked to the nearest underground station, still a good 20 minutes away. At least the rain kept off for both walking to and fro.

0 Miles - 0 Locks

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