Monday, 30 November 2015

It's not really Xmas (yet)!!

Saturday 21st November to Sunday 29th November 2015

We hung around in Alperton for another couple of days, mainly on account of the weather conditions before we finally headed off; we had wanted to spend a couple of days at Willow Tree Open Area but decided against it, opting to have a quite long cruising day by our recent standards and made it to Cowley Peachey where we found a lovely mooring just up from Tesco.
It is to be expected that at this time of the year the conditions will be a bit unpredictable and not the best for daily cruising, so we have got into the habit of mooring up for a number of days before finally moving.

With mooring restrictions relaxed, essentially they are all 14-day moorings (unless otherwise stated) it becomes a bit easier on the need to move-on quite so soon.

The Costa located in the Tesco store as well as the one a bit further down the High Street seemed to be a bit well frequented whilst we were around, and strangely on Thursday morning we found ourselves outside the freshly- reopened Aldi wating for it to open so that Diane could inspect and purchase her favourite Star Wars toys – really is a big kid (again!).
Crazy people - queuing up outside Aldi - and we were crazy
as well

Her spoils

It was just as well that it was open early because we had decided to move on up to Uxbridge after the shopping expedition and, of course, in the process, had to go through that locking process business for the first time in quite a while – that being with both of us there.

Luckily we managed to grab a perfectly sized mooring spot in a line of moored boats – it being virtually the last one available.
There were more through the bridge but didn’t fancy being moored outside a pub over the weekend, although we doubted that there would be much trouble.

It was quick work mooring up and a little later we walked up to the station – Diane was off to Watford for her annual diabetes MOT, but because of the early appointment time she spent the night with Maggie and Paddy – the Friday being Paddy’s birthday – cannot tell you how old he was but he was a war-time baby.
Looking fighting fit and ready to celebrate
Diane passed the testing and is now OK for another year – oil change and tyres all checked and in good working order.
We did a bit of follow-up work on some planning for a trip-away in the new year and that is now taken care of; we also went off to the movies here in Uxbridge to see “The Lady in the Van” with Maggie Smith, whom we admire as a wonderful actor – I didn’t think much of the story which, although true, showed up the gullibility of the author and also Social Service attitudes which I find condescending and in many ways blinkered.

Saturday was a milder yet quite windy day but I was coerced  suckered  persuaded to go shopping – oh how I love shopping especially when it involves Diane looking at clothes (NOT!!!) – but I survived got through it came out of my coma woke up from the nightmare.

We also ordered some tiles that we need for a new splashback in the kitchen and they are likely to arrive in another week, so we will need to come back – as we will have moved by then.

Without doubt the highlight of the week was a surprise phone call on Sunday morning from Sue (and Andy) – they had been at Twickenham for the double header the previous day and wondered if we were free for lunch.
It seems almost like years since we had last seen them both, but it was only the end of August – which in boating terms is about the same.
There is always somebody trying to photo-bomb - that big guy at
the back just wouldn't move
So we met them in the town centre and adjourned to The Three Tuns – the food was quite delicious and plenty of it; good value too; the Guinness was good and that was what counted for me; the football was on, but in the other bar area and rightly so as we wanted to talk to Sue and Andy and the football was not important (after all it was only Spurs v Chelsea).
Incredibly nice lunch but not as nice as the company - such
a lovely surprise
This was just such a good tonic for us – although we are in contact almost on an hourly basis with everyone via Viber, it was so good to catch up with them over a meal – we will of course be off to see the whole gang very soon anyway.

After we said our goodbyes it was back to the boat and out of the wind (which was still blowing quite strong) and also out of the cold – so we settled down and resisted a nanna nap.
It almost seemed dark outside at 3pm but we had only to wait another 90 minutes to really complete the process.

Just think, it is only another 23 days until the winter Solstice and then the days will be getting longer and we will be heading to summer – that season of the year with more daylight than not.

Diane is deeply “indebted” to the words of wisdom passed onto her by Gary (nb Inca) concerning the correct time to put up Xmas decorations.

In Gary’s “thesis” on the subject, he states quite clearly that any decorations put up before the beginning of December mean that an “elf is killing a baby reindeer”.
Diane is severely traumatised by all of this – walking around town with decorations clearly on display; seeing people wearing xmas clothing; avoiding even finding exactly where our decorations are currently stored.

She has however decided that we needed some battery powered timer lights to be put in place which are apparently our new security lights – on Tuesday they will be renamed decorations.
This one is by courtesy of Gary (nb Inca) and is from a couple
of weeks ago as we posed at one of these pop-up toilets.
No really we were only posing - it was too cold to expose anything

12 Miles, 1 Lock
YTD: 867 Miles (1395 km) , 528 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 16 Swing Bridges

Total: 3761 Miles (6053 km) , 2649 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 167 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Old Man on the boat!!

Monday 16th November to Friday 20th November 2015

Although we have officially finished our requirements we decided that we would stay a bit longer around the basin area – the primary reason being that the threatening winds up to 80 mph suggested that travelling would be the least sensible thing to do.

Once that decision was made we thought about things that we still wanted to do whilst we were here.

We had seen, during our regular walks, Kensington Palace and thought that it would be worth seeing, but only on a 2 for 1 offer which we duly instigated on Monday.
It contains four exhibitions in the one location and coupled with a lot of other things that we had already learned from other loctaions and visits, it helped to fill in a few more of the missing pieces in our knowledge of the royals.
On it’s own it is still well worth the visit.

my very own princess

The long Gallery

A most interesting piece - at first I thought it was a clock
but appears to be just a map

A representation of the working desk for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
- notice the two pictures on the left and in particular the one on the right of these two

The Lord Melbourne after whom Melbourne is named

Outside the gates which show the private apartments in the background where
some of the lesser royals now live

Tuesday was a pretty much a lost day – we had rain in the morning.
We did however wander down to Wetherspoons for breakfast and to use their wifi to download the new Windows 10 – rather than use up our Myfi allowance. It took a bit longer than usual, but the staff were very good – and obviously in a sign of things to come, looked kindly upon the old couple sitting there quietly for 3 hours.
in Wetherspoons waiting for our downloads to finish
Later we ventured out for the afternoon and evening in Watford.
My follow-up to some x-rays on my back and neck – it is a bit of a reality check when you go and see the doctor about these things and he sums it all up with the statement
“I can see some wear and tear in the vertebrae but that all seems quite normal for a man of your age”
That’s it then – I am officially old – I guess that the future holds that same statement over and over again whenever I visit the doctor.
You can just hear it all
“You have to expect that your joints will creak a bit for….”
“Your flexibility is just as I would expect for…”
“You are quite fit for….”

…a man of your age.

Anyway a man of my age still enjoyed a night out with Diane, Maggie and Paddy and  I managed to negotiate the train system on our way home with the wind ever-increasing and line disruptions due to trees fallen down.
When I say the “I managed” I did need some help from my much younger wife who in no way has had said to her “for a woman of her age” – perhaps she should apply for a carer’s allowance.
Maggie and Paddy - still looking good (for their age!!!)

On the way back we traveled past Wembley and managed to get this shot
from the train.

Wednesday was a little better with regards to the rain but still the wind was around but today we decided to do some walking a bit further afield.
On many of the British TV shows that we have seen over the years there are regular mentions of “whilst walking out on Hampstead Heath…” so I thought that it might actually be nice to go and see it in person.
After changing trains just the once we made it to Hampstead Heath station – right on the edge of the heath.
Luckily we had a map already printed on the iPad so it was easy to find our way around – because we found precious little of any signs to say where anything was.
The views across to London were just as we had seen on the TV; you can see how easy it would be to find a remote location to leave the evidence of a crime; it was in many ways quite different to how I had pictured it in my mind’s eye – but we did have a good walk around – not quite finding the conveniences which we knew were there (somewhere).
Looking over one of the lakes at Hampstead Heath

A brave soul using the swimming area - I felt cold just looking on

The shot we wanted - from Parliament Hill - looking out over London
The weather did deteriorate later on, so we were quite happy to be snuggled down in the warmth of the boat as the rain came down and the wind stayed blustery.

Thursday was to be our last day moored here in Paddington.
A few things were still to be done.
1. We wanted to send some more things home so off we went to the Doddle store at the station for a box
2. We visited the Charles Street Markets for fruit and vegetables – so that Diane could try out her new blender – we are going in for the pureed vegetable/fruit drink meal replacements.
3. We wanted to visit the lunchtime food market in Market Place
4. We had arranged to have a drink with Caroline and Gary from nb Inca

We did get a little wet with the shopping expedition but all was achieved satisfactorily.
The food market offered a few more varieties to those that we had already seen and we caught up with Caroline and Gary there as well whilst we all ate.
That made it pretty simple to then wander off to The Dickens in London Street where we enjoyed a few hours together discussing – well discussing what boaters always seem to talk about – our travels and people that we have each met and other that we have yet to meet.
Enjoying a lovely afternoon with Caroline and Gary

Oh and we also did mention toilets as well.

It was a very good afternoon and very glad to have met them both – we will be crossing paths with them over winter and into next year I am sure.

The knowledge was with us for Friday – well it was with the young woman sharing the boat with me – she knows how to read all those apps that we old men don’t know anything about, so I was informed that the rain would be disappearing and the wind would be dropping.
It was as it was told it would be.

Firstly though we had to drop off our package at Doddle to send back to Melbourne – really a fair bit easier than with the Post Office and substantially cheaper – for the same price as a package I had sent back just a week or so ago, we managed to send back 4 times the weight.

After that and a last coffee at our regular Costa, we untied the ropes and pushed away – heading around to the basin to wind; saying a last goodbye to Gary (Caroline was out walking Hamish) and we drifted slowing past the boats that we knew by memory (still moored in the same places from 3 weeks ago) and around to the services at Little Venice – the water tap is so slow that we were there over 90 minutes to fill the tank, but after that we were able to be on our way.
On the move again - Wembley seems to be everywhere

and quite like the look of this smallish dutch barge

Mooring up at Alperton outside Sainsbury’s in a spot exactly the right length for the boat – marvellous.
The feel of winter was certainly upon us and really the thermals will be getting a bit of wear when next we cruise – I was freezing most of the way and still cold for quite some time after.
The Reflecs was working well and the boat was very cosy for the rest of the day – I doubt that it will be turned off for a while yet – the forecast for the next few days is for low single digit temperatures over night and higher single digit maximums – yep, winter is fast approaching – this is just the start.

7 Miles
YTD: 855 Miles (1376 km) , 527 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 16 Swing Bridges

Total: 3749 Miles (6033 km) , 2648 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 167 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Our time is about up.

Monday 9th November to Sunday 15th November 2015

We are still moored up in the general Paddington Basin area, having started the week around in the basin proper and after moving out of there and now find ourselves outside the entrance to Paddington tube station for the completion of the filming for the film.

Today (Sunday) is the final day and we will be free to move as necessary tomorrow but haven’t decided that we will be moving – simply based on the weather outlook at present.

So what have we been up to in this last week – well quite a bit actually, making good use of where we are moored.
Diane was convinced that the guy in the centre was Matt Damon -
but he was only the stunt double

We’ve been off to see the National Gallery; continued to do our walking down to Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park; been down along Oxford Street; up along Edgeware Road; continue to discover more about the Paddington area and surrounds – feel like we are almost locals with the knowledge we have of the locations around here.
The Assumption of the Virgin - Francesco Botticini
at the National Gallery

saw this old barrow at one of the local markets off  Edgeware Road -
that would be the one with the wheels

Managed to see the “concertina” bridge open and roll-up in Paddington Basin; we met up with Gary and Carolyn from nb Inca; we had Caroline from nb Sonia-Louise drop by on her way home (their boat hasn’t been built yet but at least it is named).

Nicely moored up at Rembrandt Gardens - a truly top spot

Diane has loved being able to get a morning coffee direct from Costa – it being barely 50 metres from the boat.
Assuming the position for her morning coffee

The weather has, on-the-whole, been fairly good but as anyone who has been to the basin will know, the buildings create a wind-tunnel effect and that has been quite strong at times. Mostly it has been dry but a few days of rain have appeared (and gone).

Where and when we head next we will make a final decision about tomorrow. All we know is that we will be heading west and then north through Uxbridge at some time over the next couple of weeks.

One last thing that I very much need to advise about – anyone interested in buying a really top boat should look here -  nb Balmaha  - she is a great boat and worth a look. Having been on her a couple of times and enjoyed the company of Mo and Vanessa, we can recommend it very highly.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Hardly back long and she leaves me – stranded!!

Friday 30th October to Sunday 8th November 2015

It has been a “funny” 10 days since the last blog and the delay hasn’t been due to nothing to write about.

The most important thing to happen is the Diane made it back to the boat, all the way from LA.

She even had to catch the express from Heathrow to Paddington all by herself.

There have been a few times whilst she was away that we have both said that we will not be doing this travelling alone thing again for so long – 2 months has just been too long – well that’s what we are saying now but who knows what circumstances may arise in the future.

Anyway she is glad to be back and I am glad that she is back – I can now save some money on the cleaning, not to mention the cooking.
But mostly I have missed her gentle persuasive ways – some may call it nagging – I myself would never mention that word – especially anyway near where she could whack me.

We are currently moored in Paddington Basin after a week directly outside the Paddington tube entrance; we will be moving back to there sometime during this coming week for another week - it is all to do with the filming schedule.

The basin at night - so brightly lit that we have had to put
up "black-out"curtains in the bedroom

Have not seen this before - the pedestrian bridge
at the end of the basin open.

Every Thursday - a small international food market - we will
be back next Thursday

By arrangement with CRT we have some priority moorings allocated to us for this period of time and making full use of them as well.
Our moorings had something to do with filming taking place
around here - the boat is in the film - we are not - the big guy
in the centre is the director Paul Greengrass

Just a small part of the crew and equipment

There has been plenty of chance for us to do a lot of walking and a bit more exploring around this part of London and also seeing sights that we have previously discovered.

We have “endured” Halloween and wandered around to see the decorated houses and strange people walking around like living dead.
Wisely, to avoid any confusion, she left her broom back on the boat

Saturday mornings have taken on a new adventure as we seem to have ended up down in Kensington Gardens each time, but we have really enjoyed the feel and the lack of too many people – that can easily be destroyed if we venture too far near to Oxford Street.

The Italian Gardens in Kensngton Gardens
Xmas decorations have gone up in Oxford Street

Outside the British Museum...

...and inside too

The Sunday roasts have been variable to say the least – the first at The Sawyers Arms just near Paddington Station left a lot to be desired – quality-wise and price-wise; whereas the Weatherspoons (The Tyburn) at Marble Arch was incredibly good and at about half the price.

We found ourselves with some time on our hands so off on the tube we went to Kings Cross, a bit of a walk to The London Canal Museum – for Diane to buy a pen to replace the one that she liked a lot but gave to her Dad when she saw him.

After this we took a walk along the towpath to Camden Markets where, despite the rain, we had a good look around.
On our way to Camden Town tube station, we spotted these in a shop
Star Wars boots...

...and shoes

a tribute to Star Wars – not sure that they would be used as intended – at least not at £195-£250 per pair.

Further on we boarded the train to return us to Kings Cross; Diane noticed it was going the wrong way (Northern line heading south) so quickly said to get off – which I did – well trained that I am.
I turned around to see this figure still inside the train with doors closed and train moving, waving goodbye – only back a few days and she was deserting me – it must have been something more than what I said.

Anyway at Euston I got off the train and found her immediately so we could get back on and with no more problems we made it back to the boat.