Finding Mithrandir’s Pub, Again

Quite an uncanny yet cool thing happened this afternoon. A couple of days ago I was thinking about trying to find the Grapes again. It had been a while since I visited Sir Ian McKellen’s pub, and I wanted to try to find in again. On Saturday, then, I trundled down to Greenwich and took the foot tunnel under the river. I remembered it was on the north shore of the Thames, west of Canary Wharf, but further than that I would be following my nose.

Rather predictably, I didn’t manage to find the pub. After quite a long, good walk, I decided to return home and check where it was on the web. I had intended to go back that afternoon, but of course I got bogged down with other things and promptly forgot all about it.

Today I thought I would go up to Stratford for a bit. I still like it up there. These days, I like how I’ve seen the area change and develop over the last twelve years: you know you have been living in an area for a while when you start to reflect on how much it has changed. I especially like the waterways up there, and the accessible paths beside the rivers and canals.

I have a couple of favourite routes I taking in that in that area. I usually follow the Lea down to Star Lane, from where I can take the DLR back to Woolwich. Today, though, I opted to explore the Limehouse Cut, a long straight canal from just south of the Olympic park to the Limehouse Basin, a small dock on the Thames. I had seen the route on a map, but had never investigated it. It took quite a while to go along, but rather cooly the path is built on a wooden platform suspended just above the canal. You would have been able to hear my wheels rattling the planks for miles around, but nonetheless it was impressive how well maintained it was. especially for a footpath.

Getting to the Cut, I realised I was in quite a well-to-do area, obviously housing the bankers for nearby Canary Wharf; yet it also had an aura of history to it, as though you could feel a lot had gone on there in the past. I looked around, but soon began to wonder how to get back to my side of the river. Not to worry: there was bound to be a DLR station nearby. Just when I was beginning to wind my way east in the direction of Canary Wharf, though, I spotted a pub. And which pub do you think it was?

I had found the Grapes again! Of course, today being Monday, a beer was out of the question; but as I started to hover around the doorway, the barlady spotted me. The sixteenth-century doorframe was too narrow for my powerchair, so she came out to me. To my great surprise she recognised me from the last time I visited in January, and we began to talk. Sir Ian was apparently away filming, and is very busy these days, although she couldn’t give me any details. She kindly offered me a coke, which I was very thankful for, and I was soon on my way again.

It had just been a short visit, but as I caught the DLR back to Greenwich I resolved to go that way again soon. Sir Ian goes to his pub quite regularly apparently, and the possibility of meeting another of my favourite actors is too tempting to pass up. The afternoon had turned out to be rather a good one. I’m finding my way around London, especially East London, with more and more ease; and the best part is, you never know what – or who – you might find around the next corner.

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