Friday, June 02, 2006


It was a humid and sticky afternoon, but there were a good number of people strolling along the towpath of this part of the Regent's Canal last Sunday as I walked from Little Venice to Regent's Park.

The canal is a popular place at weekends. It was originally built as a commercial thoroughfare in the nineteenth century, linking the Grand Junction Canal with the Thames but, as has been the case elsewhere, the huge growth in lorry transport has meant that since the 1960s it has been used almost totally for leisure purposes.

In spite of the crowds, every so often I came upon an empty stretch where only the chatter of birds and the faint hum of traffic could be heard, punctuated by an aircraft heading towards Heathrow or a barking dog. Now and again a slight breeze ruffled the surface of the still, muddy water.

The occasional houseboat chugged past, captained by a weekend sailor with his family and friends on deck. Groups of mallards and moorhens swam over to the bank all along the way, sizeing up the passers-by: which one is most likely to produce food?

Getting to a destination via a waterway always seems like tiptoeing in through the back door, instead of taking the more habitual public route by road. There was a certain voyeuristic buzz to be had in catching a part of the city with its guard down - passing back gardens with families relaxing on the lawn, peeking through the open doors of the moored houseboats at the doll's house living spaces inside - as I headed towards the Regency villas and the leafy greenness of the park a mile or two away. It was glimpse of a seemingly gentler way of life to that lived on the dirty, often dangerous, London streets - an illusory glimpse no doubt, but seductive.

As I walked I tried to think through a difficult personal issue. Nothing was resolved and there were no quick fixes. Just questions reflected quietly back.

In hindsight I can see that I already knew the answers.

Photographs taken on the Regent's Canal between Little Venice and Regent's Park. Click on photos to enlarge.


Blogger Jean said...

Under these voutes, I always feel magic! The reflections on water are splendid!
Sous ces voutes , je ressens toujours de la magie !
Les reflets sur l'eau sont splendides !

10:25 am  
Blogger rdl said...

great pics and story - love the canal and houseboats!

12:49 pm  
Blogger Brenda said...

Is it that sometimes the answer is contained in the question?

I love the amble you took, the gentle descriptions, the doll's house sized living, the canal.

Sometimes we do find our answers by going the back way, even if we knew them all along.


1:52 pm  
Blogger MB said...

Sometimes we have to ask to realize we know the answer. The question reflects it back to us from the back ways of our hearts.

5:04 pm  
Anonymous Jess said...

Thanks for the tour, Mary.

About "the answers"--knowing them doesn't necessarily mean liking them.

It's interesting that the tunnel (you know, the one with the light at the end of it) is handmade, brick by brick.

5:22 pm  
Blogger Sky said...

"tip-toeing through the backdoor" to get to a destination is often the most gentle way to travel there. i believe we have all the information we need at any given point, but we are not always emotionally ready to "see." i think it is when the heart and head work together collaboratively that our vision is less myopic and we can embrace the full truth of our lives and choices. safe travels in the journey you are making. :)

i love the photography, mary!

11:21 pm  
Blogger LJ said...

More than one way to do a self-portrait. These are all so good, M - but it's the first one. That first one gave me shivers.

2:17 am  
Anonymous Tania from Germany said...


11:52 pm  
Blogger Endment said...

these photos are a tour in themselves.

I think i am with mb - sometimes identifying the question holds the answers.

Another post that has real meaning for me - thank you!

12:19 pm  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

Your final line really struck a chord.
Brenda said what I was thinking so well...

4:37 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you everyone.

7:42 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home