Last Sunday I decided that something had to be done about my current addiction to (a) duvets, (b) blankets and (c) our gas fire. Donning as many layers as possible I took my camera to photograph the canals of Little Venice, which had frozen over.
Looking down Regent’s Canal from the blue Warwick Avenue bridge the canal looked more like a road you could drive along, rather than a waterway to float along.
A rare patch of water was visible under the other side of the blue bridge. Further along I found the beautiful red puppet theatre barge, which brought its optimism to the otherwise grey-and-white day.
Around the corner, poor old Jason sat quite inert. In the warmer months of the year he keeps busy chugging tourists up to Camden Lock and back, but now the canals are frozen solid so there’ll be no chugging for Jason for a while.
Some local folk had been testing the solidity of the ice, throwing bricks and other rubbish onto the canals to see whether the ice would break. It didn’t for this piece of scrap metal that will soon be polluting Browning’s Pond.
I once watched someone walk across an iced-over canal in Regent’s Park, but didn’t feel like risking an icy bath by trying to do so here. Meanwhile, in Scotland, a couple of joy-riding youths narrowly escaped death this week when they took their Peugeot 406 for a spin on the frozen Union Canal. Were their brains frozen? Apparently so.
This barge-café was open as usual, serving mugs of tea and coffee to walkers in need of somewhere to thaw.
Looking back at the Puppet Theatre and the blue bridge on Warwick Avenue, all of Browning’s Pool had disappeared beneath the ice.
The seagulls and other inhabitants of Browning’s Island took to their feet, walking about the ice in confusion. Where had the water gone?
Bilster wisely wore a coat against the weather.
And Bilster had obviously been around for a while, having been part of the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company, in the days where the canals were used to transport goods up and down the country. FYI London hasn’t seen a phone number like CITY 4755 for quite some years.
The plants on this barge were hardy in the cold, but still I wondered if they might like to be taken inside to warm up, if only for a little while.
Further along, I met a swan in a patch of water near Paddington. He was swimming in circles, bleating at me as he searched in vain for his friends. Where had they gone? How ever had he been abandoned?
Still, he seemed happy of my company, even if the other walkers looked at me with concern each time I replied to his cries with a quack of my own.
Near Paddington I found a barge with homely plume of smoke coming from its chimney and two loads of firewood stacked on its roof. The occupants must be long-time residents of the canal and know how to protect themselves against the elements.
It was time to turn back. At Browning’s Pond the island’s usual population of Canada Geese were on the ice, preening themselves with the aid of watery reflections.
But now it was time to trudge home, careful not to slip or do involuntary ballet-like manoeuvres in an attempt to stay upright on icy patches. Enough of ice and snow. Bring on the gas fire, duvets and blankets!