By Margie Skinner
Half term duties were calling, and my 13 yr old and four of her friends wanted to go to Camden Market. They seemed drawn to it from the very core of their beings, like so many teenagers before them – myself included.
So off we set, on a bright and beautiful Halloween morning. The first nice surprise was the train fare from St Albans into St Pancras. Despite travel website indications to the contrary, it turned out that as long as all five travelled back with me (which was definitely the plan), then the girls’ tickets would cost just £2 each! I did comment that despite extensive online searching this price had not appeared, and the very polite ticket lady just shrugged her shoulders, shook her head in agreement and said ‘I know’. And we shared a special moment pondering the seemingly unexplainable alternative, and oh so mysterious universe that is train travel pricing in the UK.
During our walk from St Pancras to Camden we traversed Goldington Crescent Gardens with its aluminium ‘cloud’ sculptures. Except we didn’t realise they were clouds. And they don’t look like clouds, they look like…. Anyway enough said, but the girls enjoyed climbing on them and there was much hilarity and childlike joking. And yes that was from me! It was also lovely to see the girls’ excitement about the masses of fallen leaves as they ran to kick and shuffle through them.
The attractions for the rest of the day were of a less ‘natural world’ type but very enjoyable nevertheless. Once in Camden I let the girls go off as a group without me for a couple of hours, maps in hand. They were reluctant to grab that independence….not! I only got as far as ‘Good…’ before they had vanished into a noisy and dark clothing establishment that I feared might have an age detector fitted above the door. ‘…Bye’ I announced a little woefully. But hey, the sun was shining, the lock was beautiful, the coffee shops plentiful and I felt lucky indeed.
We met up for lunch; purchased at the street food bit of the market and eaten in the sunshine on a wall by the canal.
In the afternoon I had booked us a Halloween boat ride with hiddendepthscanalcruises.co.uk and led the girls along the Regents Canal tow path to Granary Square to meet the boat.
The Lapwing was captained by a dead pirate, and was festooned with spooky stuff. It was as if the whole of London was cheered by the surprise mini-heatwave, and as we motored along the canal it seemed that everyone we passed was happy to smile and wave. I don’t think I have ever known London so friendly.
We sailed through Islington tunnel which is about ¾ of a mile long. Most of the lights went out and the air was filled with the sound of spooky moaning and maniacal laughing. Strangely though, these particular ghosts seemed to have a sort of ‘sticking’ problem so the noises cut in and out. To tell you the truth I don’t think there really were ghosts at all. But we all got in the spirit of it (excuse pun), wearing as we were our witchy accessories, and it certainly is very eerie looking both ways down a tunnel and seeing….nothing, just darkness.
Despite my complete lack of direction (lucky I am not involved with guide books or anything like that) we managed to get on our train home before the 4.30 curfew and were home in time for…….the girls to get dressed up and start their proper Halloween adventures!
For me it was definitely the witching hour. Witch to open…red or white?!