Little Venice is a hidden gem of London, tucked away near Paddington. Here, pretty decorated narrowboats and barges line the canals and waterways of London as ducks, geese and swans glide on by the tea coloured water.
We decided at the very last minute that because we were in France, that we would ‘pop over’ to London. Very British really. A bit like ‘popping over for a cup of tea’, except it took a bit longer to get there!
We used our Eurail Pass to get to Lille in France, then from Lille, we took a coach to London. Unfortunately, the coach was delayed by two hours in arriving into Lille, and because there is no bus station, we stood out in the FREEZING cold! I thought I had frostbite on my toes and the burning pain was intense. I had to jump up and down to keep my feet warm. My hands still froze through my gloves – we were not prepared for this! It was horrid.
A good reason in itself to travel by train – there is a station and a roof over your head, and rarely are trains delayed.
We were very pleased we did manage to get a seat at the top and front of the coach, and it had a restroom.
We were pretty excited to also use the Eurotunnel – the bus literally drives in onto the train. It was a really great educational experience!
Arriving in London it was peak hour and with two large suitcases we decided we didn’t want to have to tackle the Tube, so we caught a London Black Cab. Explorason gasped in delight over the leg space, and we had a really lovely cab driver who chatted away to us the entire ride.
All in all, it was quite a reasonable price, and he dropped us at the door of the English Pub where we had arranged to meet the owner of our Boutique Barge that we would call ‘home’ for the next 5 nights.
We’ll tackle getting an Oyster Card and working out the Underground rail system of London at another time – just not at London peak hour time.
‘Barbara’ is a beautifully restored barge, and Sam the owner walked us down from the local pub where we’d met her, and explained the idiosyncrasies of this barge – one of the two barges she owns.
Nice And Warm
The pot belly stove was already warmed in the corner, and Sam had arranged some basic essentials for us: eggs, milk, bottled water, gourmet bread, English butter and blackberry jam – just to name a few of the items.
Not only that, but there were herbs and spices, pasta, sugar, coffee, tea, and quite a few sundries in the cupboard – I thought this was an incredible and unexpected lovely gesture on her part.
Lovely English two-tone rosebuds sat in a vase on the wooden bench-top. It was a perfect cosy nook to read one of the tastefully presented books on board the
This central area was a perfect cosy nook to read one of the tastefully presented books on board the barge, or curl up with a glass of red wine on a winter’s evening.
There was a great small dining area, and as it turns out, I ended up ill with a migraine and sinus infection the very next day after we arrived. It was lovely to have this nook where Explorason could use the internet and also do some studies whilst I rested.
We loved her style and interior design throughout the newly renovate barge. The colours coordinated so well, and it was a sleek and clutter-free design.
There is one double bed at one end with a door, and also the lounge turns into another double bed too, and Sam left us bedding so we could turn the sofa-bed into Explorason’s own room if he wanted it.
With Sainsbury’s down at the local railway station at Paddington, we stocked up the first day and cooked meals each night in the barge. We found we wanted to stay in; mainly because it was a unique place to stay.
So I was able to use the oven and the stovetop hob to cook dinner, and I was surprised by the good bench space for a smallish area.
Lovely hot showers, hot basin water, and an electric toilet. And the best bit – the softest toilet paper we have used in just about forever!
As we motored down the canal one day when they needed to fill the water tank, I spied two legs dangling from the roof. Explorason was up there taking photographs, and he had found a comfortable position where he could see it all.
Motoring Down The Canal
Usually, the diesel-run narrowboat is moored, and the boats and barges can be tied two-abreast, so we were delighted that we had the chance for a wee motor down the canal instead of remaining stationary the entire stay.
Most days we would either walk to Paddington Station or Warwick Street Station if we wanted to go exploring via the Tube to inner London nearby, but we also walked to Edgecliffe ‘high street’ as well.
We found it a great area to relax.
Explorason loved feeding the ducks, geese, and swans right from the kitchen when we opened the artistically painted hatch doors, or he’d head to the back of the barge to hand-feed them there.
The area we were moored in felt very safe, and it was extremely quiet at night.
We really loved our stay on board ‘Barbara’.
If you need a Staycation for just a weekend away, or if you are a traveller or tourist visiting London, we’d really recommend staying on this Boutique Barge.
Sam the owner was just delightful, and ‘Barbara’ the Barge was just as delightful too!
Merry Christmas from us here in London – this is not where we will spend Christmas, but we are here seeing how pretty London is at this time of year. The Christmas Markets, and the decorations, and the English cheer!
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