Mike in Finland

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

London Sights Part 2

In this post I´m going to introduce two places, Camden Lock Market and Little Venice. The two locations are about 3 kilometres apart and are joined by the Regent Canal. On a warm and sunny day it is very pleasant to walk from one location to the other.

The closest underground to Camden Lock Market is Camden Town. From there it is a short walk (500 m.) up Camden High Street to the first part of the market area. There are several separate sections to the entire market area, which is pretty large and includes many clothing and food stalls. It´s nice to just wander round and see what takes your eye. It´s large enough to get confused about where you are and how you got there, but you can´t get really lost. You´re never that far from where you started, so it´s easy to find your way out!

Close to the entrance to the market from Camden High Street, there is a bridge over the Regent Canal. Steps lead down to the canal side where there is a tow path. This is where the horses that pulled the barges used to walk in the days before engines. There is also a lock (no surprise, right), which is where the name comes from. A lock, for non-English-speaking readers, is where the water level in a canal changes. Kanavansulku in Finnish. This is where you can start to walk the 3 kilometres to Little Venice. Not far from Camden Lock, maybe 500 m. there is a large old wooden boat moored beside the canal which has been converted into a Chinese restaurant. We didn´t eat there, but it looked like an interesting place for a meal.

The canal itself is not the most beautiful stretch of water. I suppose canals never are. But it passes through some pleasant areas. It skirts the edge of Regents Park at one point and you can see the bird house of London Zoo. There are also some lovely houses on the opposite bank that would surely cost a fortune. A different style of life is lived by the people who have house boats along the canal. You pass a few small communities on the walk from Camden to Little Venice. The boat houses are converted old barges and many of the owners have decorated them and made them homely in various ways. Some even have little gardens beside the tow path.

As you get closer to Little Venice you come to an area called Maida Vale. It´s a quite up-market part of London. There are some very nice buildings. Flats would surely be very expensive round there. There are also good pubs in the side streets. Close to Little Venice there is a bridge over the canal at the point where Edgware Road and Maida Vale (which is also the name of a street) meet. Right on the bridge there is a small Italian restaurant called Cafe Laville. At the back of the restaurant there is a large window that is directly above the canal and looks down towards Little Venice. It´s a very nice spot to stop for some lunch if you´re peckish, or just to have a drink. As I remember the meals were not very expensive. We stopped there last summer and had a glass of wine beside the window. Here´s a picture of the view:

Little Venice itself is the point where two canals, the Regent Canal and the Grand Union Canal, meet. There is a wider expanse of water there. There is also a small community of house barges and some boat cafes, which also have tables and chairs beside the water in good weather. The atmosphere is really pleasant.

It´s also possible to take a trip on the canal in one of the barges that takes visitors between Camden and Little Venice, if you don´t want to walk. Or of course, you could walk one way and take the boat the other instead of using the underground. The closest underground station to Little Venice is Warwick Avenue.

There are pictures of the places I´ve described at these websites:

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Some Literary News

Here´s some news about a new independent publisher that´s just started operations in the U.K. The company´s name is Ward Wood Publishing and it´s been founded by Adele Ward and Mike Fortune-Wood, who was formerly a part of Cinnamon Press. Ward Wood Publishing will be releasing three books during this autumn, with further publications planned for next year. Their first book will be out at the end of this month; A Clash of Innocents by Sue Guiney. The novel is set in Cambodia and tells the story of an American woman who runs a home for orphaned children. One day a young woman arrives at the orphanage and stays there. From then on, the plot thickens. I´m really looking forward to getting a copy and reading it. And also, I shall be interviewing Sue as soon as the book is released and asking her about the story, setting and experiences described in her novel. I´m going to post the transcript of the interview here on my blog. Read it early in October.

In the meantime, here´s a link to Ward Wood Publishing´s home page. You can find more information about A Clash of Innocents there and also details of the other forthcoming publications, of which my poetry collection, Midas Touch is one:

And here´s a link to Sue´s blog, where there is more information about her writing and the new novel:

Sunday, 5 September 2010

London Sights Part 1

From time to time I´m going to post short reviews of interesting places and sights in London. My plan is to select places that may not be so well known to overseas visitors to London. I know that there are quite a few Finns who read this blog and maybe there are readers from other countries, too, so hopefully there will be useful information for these readers if they are planning a trip to London. I won´t post anything about the famous sights like Buckingham Palace and the British Museum because everyone is well aware of these places. Instead I´ll seek out locations that may not be familiar to people who don´t know London so well.

Here´s the first place, the John Soanes museum. It´s one of my favourite places to visit in London. John Soanes was an architect, born in 1753, and this museum is actually the house which he lived in. He totally redesigned the interior and filled it with collections of art works, archeological collections and many other objects. The museum is interesting for the collections it contains and also for the way the house has been designed to fit so much into a relatively small place. A good example is his `art gallery´, a small room about 4m. x 4m. Each wall, covered with paintings, is actually a wooden panel, hinged at one side, which can be unhooked, swung through 90 degrees and hooked to the adjacent wall, thereby presenting what had previously been its reverse side which is also covered with paintings. In this way he obtained double the amount of wall space. You aren´t allowed to swing the wall panels round yourself, but if you ask the attendant he or she will demonstrate the system for you.

Sir John Soane was an interesting person himself. He was the son of a bricklayer, so he wasn´t from a wealthy family. He eventually became professor of architecture at the Royal Academy and designed the Bank of England building.

The museum is located at 13, Lincoln´s Inn Fields and it is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. and entrance is free. The nearest underground station is Holborn. The museum has a website at
where you can find a map and other information.