Monday 14 September 2015

Kings Cross, the London Canal Museum & a Bookshop on a Barge!

Back in August, I had a Nice Day Out in London with my crafty/bloggy chum Fiona. We like to pick an exhibition to visit together, then have a good old natter about the ups and downs and ins and outs of crafting and blogging. This time round, we were visiting the Ladybird By Design exhibition at the House of Illustration... just round the corner from Granary Square, at the heart of all the redevelopment that's happening at King's Cross.

"We had a wonderful day out exploring King's Cross!" is not something you'd be likely to have said a few years ago, but the redevelopment includes lots of great stuff like viewing platforms, parks, the fun fountains in Granary Square, some nice cafes and the recently-opened House of Illustration.

Ladybird By Design was a fab little exhibition. Celebrating 100 years of Ladybird Books, there were lots of (very nostalgic) original illustrations on display along with info about the history of the books. There was lots of reminiscing going on amongst the visitors, and I found it very hard to resist buying aaaaall the charming Ladybird Book -themed stuff in the gift shop afterwards!

We'd hoped to follow the walking tour of the area next but sadly when we left the gallery it was absolutely chucking it down with rain. Ah, the joys of an English summer.

So, hiding under our umbrellas we headed to nearby Kings Place, which we'd spotted from one of the viewing platforms earlier. We had a cuppa and some very yummy cake at the cafe, explored the galleries and peeked out at the canal (and all that rain!) from the shelter of the patios.  

Seeing the London Canal Museum was so close by, we decided to brave the rain again and head there for a visit.

We both loved this part-sculpture, part-vertical-garden we passed along the way - though we got some funny looks from passers by as we stood taking photos of it from under our umbrellas!

The rain might have been a nuisance, but it lead to us discovering the delights of the Canal Museum and for that I'm very glad. This is such a nice little museum!

The building that now houses the museum was once an Ice House, storing blocks of ice imported from Norway. Here you can learn all about the ice trade and the history of London's canals, see inside a narrowboat cabin, watch an archive film of a canal trip, and discover the history of ice cream! There are also free audio guides to the museum and a walking guide for the local towpath, both available to download from the museum's website.

The museum backs onto Battlebridge Basin and luckily for us the rain cleared up just in time for us to enjoy a stroll by the water. Such a peaceful little spot!

After our visit to the Canal Museum we headed back to Granary Square for a late lunch, then explored the area a little.

 There's still a huge amount of building work going on, but even the not-yet-let shops are looking great with art installations in the empty windows and quirky, positive little phrases where the shop signs will be.

Our final stop for the day was something really rather special: a bookshop on a barge! How cool is that?!

Word on the Water is incredibly quirky (how often do you go to a bookshop that is also a boat?) but also a really lovely little second hand bookshop, with lots of tempting titles to choose from.

Unfortunately, though my head and heart were in love with the idea of a floating bookshop my stomach was not impressed and I had to retreat to dry land while Fiona paid for her purchase.

After starting our day with an exhibition of book illustrations, it was great to finish the day with a visit to such a fab little bookshop! If you fancy a visit yourself, you'll find Word on the Water on Facebook and Twitter.