Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Early morning cruising

Monday 29th August to Tuesday 30th August 2016

Having decided earlier this year that we would spend another year in/around/near London and in particular cruising more of the Thames it had made sense to do it properly – hence we (meaning me) had done the VHF Operators course and we had purchased a VHF radio (Receiver/transmitter) and now we had booked our passage to leave Limehouse and go all the way to Teddington.
We always love seeing Limehouse Basin in the early morning light
We were due out at 8:45am – Diane had wanted an early morning cruise – this was as early as we could get at this time – her reasoning was that there would be far less river traffic if the tourists weren’t awake yet.
Also in our favour were the light to very light winds forecast for the morning.

So after seeing two other boats head out at 8:00 am bound for Brentford, we did the final part of the preparation – start the engine and cast off – into the lock we went, following Dutch Barge Dorchester.
Final instructions from the lockkeeper; lower the water level; and open the gates.
There she is - nice a flat, just how we want it to be

ready in the lock...

...gates open...

..off we go

We had done this voyage last year and whilst we enjoyed it we didn’t get to appreciate it all, so now we were definitely ready to do just that.

Heading out was less rocky: the river was dead flat; Diane had done her research and there were no other craft about.

We had a chance to enjoy – not even the appearance of a tug dragging a barge of empty containers or the clipper close behind upset the equilibrium – they were about the only craft we saw for the first hour of the journey.
just such a beautiful day to be out

I never tire of seeing my lovely wife

Some London landmarks - this one unfortunately
isn't finished yet - still the top to go...

...and the curved one - I think it is called The Penis

Tower Bridge

The toll office for Tower Bridge - oops, no, this is the Tower of London

The air was clear and cool; the sun was now up but not too high; the whole experience was totally different; were we enjoying it – absolutely.
We had the chance to just relax and see everything around us.
Approaching the Houses of  Parliament

This used to be Boris' office -  now it is Sadiq Khan's - the Lord Mayor of London

Nearing Westminster Bridge, we had called Dot and Gordon, who had come down to get pictures of us (and for us), with the Houses of Parliament as a backdrop.
That's us in front of the HoP (courtesy of Dot Campbell)

(courtesy of Dot Campbell)

(courtesy of Dot Campbell)
and there she is - that is Gordon on the left and Dot on the right (she is a bit
camera shy)

Further along, there was no need to be as snap-happy as we were last year – didn’t have to photograph everything – we sat and enjoyed – even had time to make a cuppa and some breakfast on the run.

Diane took her turn at the tiller; no problems or worries for her – she is such a good boatperson and now able to do it all.
The channel for Brentford - the statue is the marker to look out for

up closer

Approaching Brentford channel we could see things we hadn’t seen before, and then the journey to Teddington was relatively uneventful – that is if you discount the canoeists who wanted to take up half of the river (just needed to let them know we were coming); the family in the row-boat who were seemingly using it like a 12m yacht and changing course at each stroke; finally the large cruiser who decided that they wanted desperately to pass and did so in a narrow section with a trip boat coming the other way (damned fools), cutting in just in front to avoid a collision – we could see what was going to happen and knew we were in no danger at all – it just shows that there are still those out there who have no idea about using the waterways with others in mind.

Anyway we arrived at Teddington, last in line of the flotilla of boats, so we waited to the lock to re-empty and then we were through.

Have to say that the idea of not speeding and creating a wash in the lock cutting seems to have been forgotten by all of the cruisers who came out of the lock with us – we knew that they were all speeding to get to Kingston and beyond and find suitable mooring spots.

We were steadily moving – no point in rushing – finally making it to Kingston and yes, the cruisers were all vying for some choice locations that were empty; we couldn’t do anything about it – we headed towards the moorings for Hampton Court Park in Kingston.
There was one space that we could see, but from where we were it looked too small – funnily it got bigger as we got closer – Diane was on the bow and I on the stern checking it out, slowly inching forward – the stern cleared the boat behind before the bow reached the one in front – in we went with a few feet spare at each end – luvvly jubbly.

All moored up and settled; a few minutes later a narrowboat approached from upstream looking for a mooring but there were none left.

Diane, knowing it was Monday, suggested a lunch at The Slug and Lettice (this was a 50% off food establishment), so we enjoyed a relaxing repast.

Back to boat – I still had work to do – Diane had a chair to hold down and papers to read (oh and she also had some relaxing to do).

We didn’t achieve much later in the evening and I headed off to bed about 10pm, leaving Diane to look after some recording on the television – I was knackered – we had done 22 miles today and coupled with the long day on Sunday, it had caught up – didn’t let the head hit the pillow.

Tuesday morning and Diane informed me that Sue and Vic (No Problem XL) were moored just at the end of the line of boats where we were – we had not seen them, but then we hadn’t ventured that way; Sue had told Diane that when she walked the dogs, she had not seen us when she passed by (easy to explain that one – the height of the vegetation on the lower bank actually hid the boat from view).

Anyway we caught up for a cuppa mid-morning and had a good chat about any number of things –it was just on 8 weeks since we had last seen them.
It was much of the usual things that we talked about; Diane took Sue off to see the inside of Ferndale – Sue hadn’t seen it since we had bought it from Dot and Derek, so a few changes to have a look at.
Vic and I just left them to have a look – we looked after the chairs.
The two girls exchanged some things between the boats – a magazine rack came our way and a crotched blanket for the bed and some hand towels found a new home on No Problem XL – things that we would have had to leave on the boat at some time in the future when we decide to sell her.
Diane, Vic and Sue - what a great way to spend the morning
After more than a couple of hours it all of a sudden was lunch time – Sue and Vic needed to get ready to leave for their trip from Teddington down to Brentford; Diane wanted to see the inside of the Chinese restaurant again. So we said goodbye, we headed back to head out again.

After lunch it was back to the boat – me to work and Diane to read the papers – there seems to be a pattern developing here – it ain’t gonna happen for a third day (or will it?).

22 Miles, 2 Locks
YTD:  552 Miles (888 km) , 340 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4347 Miles (6996 km), 3039 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 28 August 2016

A Single Act of Kindness

Friday 26th August to Sunday 28th August 2016

Another warm to hot day saw the start of Friday but for us the day really shone brightly with the arrival of Dot and Gordon for a few days mooring at Rembrandt gardens.
We had missed them a bit – even though it had barely been 10 days.

After they had moored up, it was time to be away – we had lunch to have in Vauxhall – at Zeitgeist, a German pub with a lunchtime serve-up that was highly recommended by D and G.
The number 36 bus took us to Vauxhall bus station and a 15 minute walk got us to the pub – large one in side with quite high ceilings and the doors were open, so that any breeze would be caught.

It made it bareable sitting for lunch, which was a self-serve affair with plenty to satisfy us all – I did over-indulge with the mushroom and cream sauce that was available – suspected of containing garlic and onions – I paid for the luxury later that night.

Pleasing as it was to stay in the pub and just have a couple more drinks we needed to get back to the boats, so another bus trip back in the heat – why are they not air-conditioned?
Saturday, and we were off to Bermondsey to check out a butcher there and also to enjoy the sights and smells of the market.
When we Googled the location of the
butcher the information came up as above.
Note the misspelling of the Chinese coffee
place - should have been Fu-ckoffee

The butcher was found without problem, a lovely little coffee shop was also found – the donuts were literally to die for – the fillings – chocolate; lemon; jam; butter-scotch; and others, were just too tempting – well, at least Gordon resisted.
Yeah, silly people in front of a camera(phone)

I have to draw the line at this - peanut butter one of the
great tastes (not) and should be banned

After that we split up, with D and G heading back towards Stockwell to catch up with their grandson, Jamie, whilst we headed towards the O2 arena – Diane wanted another ride on the Emirates Air Line across the Thames – after which we used the DLR and Jubilee line and Circle line to get back to the boat.
Ready to fly

High above the Thames

Part of the Old Roman Wall of Londinium on the left; the Tower of  London
on the right and a beauty in between

We were pretty knackered again – feeling hot and just a little sweaty – the humidity is what gets you the most.
Plus I wanted to see the Man United v Hull match on BT Sport via the iPad – now that we have access we want to make the most of it – a very late goal saw us remain with full points so far in the season, but a great and gutsy performance from Hull.

It was especially pleasing to wake on Sunday morning and have a few clouds around – it made a welcome relief from the last week.
We were heading off early towards Limehouse Basin and had sorted out with Dot and Gordon to take our spot – they want another week in Paddington and can do so where we were.
So a quick 6:45 am switcheroo – which is the way the London boaters do it all of the time – they were moored for another week, we were on our way.
Stopping for a Costa coffee at bridge 27 and water at St.Pancras Cruising Club, we made pretty good time.
At lock 5, I was talking to a young couple enjoying an early coffee and something to eat; they were admiring the boat and our way of life – hopefully thinking of doing it themselves when we were joined by another boat – 4 young guys with the boat belonging to the parents of one of them – they had it out for the weekend and were moving it from pont A to point B
It was here that something truly wonderful happened.
We noticed that the guys all had lovely looking danish's to go with the coffees they were drinking – Where did they get them – right there at the cafĂ© beside the lock.
We asked the waitress if she would bring us a couple and we would pay for them then – she said she couldn’t and we would need to moor up and come back – we said “thanks but no thanks”and then settled to move through the lock.
Just then the young man who had been sitting talking with us at the table handed us a bag with two lovely danishes and would not take payment – he simply said to return the favour with someone whom we meet along the way.
We just could not believe how lovely and kind he was (and his partner) – the world will be in good hands if they have something to say about it.
We were simply amazed, astounded and just a bit humbled.
These two lovely people deserve to be happy and proud of what they had done.
Thank you for your kindness.

have to say - they were delicious

The two boats continued on until after Lock 8 where we went straight ahead, the others veered off along the Hertford Union.
All was going well until we reached Lock 11 – the pound below the lock had disappeared. Not that the cutting wasn’t there, just the water wasn’t there,
Diane ventured down to Lock 12 (the one into Limehouse Basin – our desitination) – just 2 locks and a ½ mile.
Someone had left one of the gate paddles on the bottom gates open by about 8” – enough that it would drain the pound – most probably overnight. It may very well have been that the paddle gear was stiff and tight and they thought that it was down – anyway we couldn’t go ahead.
the pound is down - no not the UK one just this one

Put a call into CaRT who had just heard about it 5 minutes before we called. The guy looking after it came by about an hour later and explained that he would need to bring water down from above Camden locks and it could take 5-6 hours before we could through the lock.
We opted to go back to the Hertford Union and go around – an addition 5 miles and 4 locks.
Anyway we finally arrived at 16:30 about 4 hours after we thought we would be there; but it was only about an additional 3 hours travelling.

Our new route via the Olympic Stadium - oops sorry West Ham's new
home ground

the water looks lovely and clean - but somehow we still managed to
pick up plastic bags and other rubbish

what can I say

When we walked over to check how the pound was filling it was still about a metre lower than normal, so I think that we made the right decision.
All moored up in Limehouse Basin and enjoying a nice hot shower and a cold drink – we would not have been here yet if we stayed where we were.
We don’t think it was deliberate, neither does CaRT – just one of thise things.
We noticed the first boat coming down through the lock was at about 8pm - long after we arrived and certainly long after we had hoped to arrive.

Fortunately for us it was a reasonable day to travel; it was noted by many of the people that we met along the way – they all seemed to be glad to have a day without the heat that we have been having and the humidity we have endured.
We also know that some people seem to think that we are complaining about the sunshine and the summer – as short as it is – that we are not.

Anyone who knows us, will know that we simply do not like such heat and humidity – it is how we are – a lot of people in this country like to cook themselves until they are lobster red and all blistered – good luck to them – which leads to……

I do not like the heat, that is true
But I think that is for me not you
High heat and humidity makes me sweat
Of this it is right you can surely bet

If you like to not sleep at night
Then certainly you have the right
Summer does not mean only blazing sun
High humidity does not make for any fun

Warm days, quiet nights and lazy breezing
Make summer forget the days of freezing
These are the days that make us glad
And be pleased to say it aint half bad

It is your right to like what you like
But mine to write of what I still like
Summer is not the time that I enjoy most
Wish I do not to spoil your time as my host

You are born to a land that is always more cold
But you wish to stay here to where you hold
Glad to complain about the weather
Losing sight that you stay under tether

Not making that step to try something new
But preferring to criticise those that will do
I do come from the land down under
Where I enjoy the sounds of thunder

I like to hear the drops on the roof
When the rains comes, that is the proof
Green lands here from sun and the rain will abound
In equal share, the growth will astound

I do not wish to see the lovely summer end
But the excess heat does my mind round the bend
But if wish to be always on heat
The smell will not always be so sweet

I respect your to right to say what you feel
But mine too remains as I say to reveal
It should not be something of which to “get a grip”
The voice should be of kinder words for my hardship

All comments I, of course will certainly publish
Even those that I think are a load of old rubbish

16 Miles, 16 Locks
YTD:  530 Miles (853 km) , 338 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4325 Miles (6960 km), 3037 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Life Continues, but Diane misses the football

Friday 19th August to Thursday 25th August 2016

It has been a particularly tough week just gone – not too many moments have drifted by without at least one of us thinking about Elaine and of course Paul, but there have been so many wonderful memories of times spent together with them and with so many friends that you cannot help but smile at what has happened over the time that we have known them.

Our plans now are for getting together with Paul and saying our goodbyes to Elaine – just such a wonderful lady – Paul, you certainly were punching above your weight there!

But as we all know, the sun comes up the following morning and we have things that we have to get on with.

We stayed at Willow Tree Open Space until Monday, with a few longer walks to different areas that we hadn’t seen before and just generally relaxing a bit -  a bit of rain accompanied our time, but it didn’t give away the change in weather that we were about to face.

Cruising on Monday was very pleasant to begin with – a bit of a chill in the air until the clouds let some blue show through and that yellow thing in the sky and after filling the water tank at Black Horse we decided to head into Paddington in the hope of a mooring in the basin.
Sadly, all moorings were full, but we had made a mental note of possible other mooring points on the way in. Surprisingly, there were at least 3 available out in the stretch of Little Venice, very few boats were breasted up, so we knew we could get in along there; Diane in her infinite wisdom surmised that the set of rings closest to Bridge 2 were in fact for a public mooring – she had seen other non-permanent moorers there; there were no signs saying otherwise; and most importantly, there wasn’t a boat there.
So after cruising into the basin and then winding we pulled into the aforementioned spot and we have been here since.
OK, it is a little noisy in the early evening, but actually we have got a bit used to some of it and during the night it is not too bad.
The only problem that we have encountered is that infernal sun shining just too brightly and the temperature that goes along with it.
We came here to escape the heat and here it is with us again.
Careful management of the boat – closing curtains to keep the heat out; open windows on the shaded side to allow cooling breezes in has meant that it has not been too hot inside, except when we have had it closed up whilst we have been out.
Tuesday was time for a stroll through Regent’s Park day – which is not very far away at all.
We had never been there and it never ceases to amaze at the vast areas of public parks that are set aside for the benefit of the people of the capital.
Never-the-less, if you were a boy (or girl) between the ages of 8 and 15 and you wanted to kick a football around, then forget it in here. The land we saw was all reserved for organised games (with a fee payable).
Anyway we had a stroll around (I kept the football safely in the bag and out of sight) – I had to placate Diane and divert her attention away from wanting to have a bit of a kick.
Ornamental Gates for Regent's Park - these for George V

The large parkland - obviously this was before I told Diane that she couldn't
kick the football - she is still smiling

I couldn't believe this - hourly hire of the deck chairs was
one thing, but a season ticket ?? and 110 pounds at that.
I am sure I could buy my own fleet of chairs for that!

Diane overcame her football disappointment by sneakily
using one of the chairs without paying

On Wednesday we took the No.46 bus from Warwick Avenue up to Hampstead Heath and viewed two National Trust properties.

The first at 2 Willow Road and was a creation of the architect Erno Goldfinger in the late 1930’s.
It showed off the use of concrete as a medium for building houses and how great use of space could be made by careful planning – of course, the concrete allowed greater strength in the structure which meant more flexibility with placement of internal partitions.
We couldn’t take any photos inside the building, but you could certainly see the effect that this would have had on people at that time – some would marvel, others would be horrified.
2 Willow Road - not much by our standards today, but in 1939, it was ground-breaking
Our second property was in Fenton House, a little way up the hill – just the thing to do on a bloody hot day, but it was very much in the style of the 17th century, with some changes down the years.
The more traditional entrance - this time to Fenton House

the backyard - bet you wouldn't have been allowed to kick a football here either.

The view from the top-floor balcony - that is St Paul's there in the middle

A traditional garden, orchard and plot of land for a vegetable patch were part of the property.
lovely pattern-cut lawn - but no goal posts

She's a brave girl - getting over the disappointment

At first I though this might have been a barn - but later I think it was stables
on the bottom and servants quarters on the top

The lovely flower shot!!

There seemed to be an incredible collection of pianos and harpsichords in the house, although these were not necessarily part of the original furniture with the property.
Did I say that there were a few pianos and harpsichords...

...and some more...

...not the last, just the last you will see

A chinese foo - a guardian over the property

Being a mighty warm day, a couple of quick icy cold pints seemed to be appropriate – at the pub, literally just around the corner, before we faced the bus trip back – no air conditioning and coming onto later afternoon traffic.
Watford on her mind even in Hampstead Heath

Spot the mistake with this picture....

....that's right, the car is in the garage - that doesn't happen in this country

On advice from Dot (nb Ewn Ha Cul) we took Thursday to track down a 24-hour bagel salon called the Beigel Bake in Brick Lane, Shoreditch.

We were catching the first train, but heaven knows where the third one was going,
I couldn't see that station on any of the lines.

Took the Underground to Liverpool Street Station and then legged it onto the establishment concerned – yes it is open 24 hours a day, but it wasn’t a service that we needed – although it might have been a bit cooler at 3 am instead of 3 pm.
The bagels were very good – Diane had the Salted Beef and I had the Tuna, mayo and sweetcorn, all washed down at the pub on the next corner with a couple of cold drinks.
Would we go back again – probably, but I think we would need to be moored a bit closer – by the time you add the cost of getting there, the bagels became a lot more than they were priced on the board.
Salted Beef Bagel with dill pickles - wrap your
laughing gear around that one

Whilst wandering around there were so many people handing out free samples
- mainly food items - just some of the spoils of the trip

We have been a bit of the centre of attention during these days moored here - on Tuesday, Diane was chatting away to a couple from New Zealand – Shona and Joe – who have been over in this general part of the world for a few weeks but have managed to buy a yacht in Greece which Joe will be sailing back to NZ with his mates; and just this evening, she was at it again, talking with a couple – Sophie and Peter – from Melbourne – who are flying back tomorrow night.

Shona and Joe - there seemed to be a bit of checking it all out for a future adventure,
- a very heppy couple

Peter and Sophie - very surprised about the invitation to look aboard.

Both couples were busy asking questions about life on the boat and everything else that goes with it; they were both delighted when we offered to show them the inside of the boat.
Just nothing like that first look inside a narrowboat – I mean the very first look inside – and seeing how much is in there and how much space perhaps there isn’t or is, depending on how you view it.
Anyway, four people pleased to get a peek inside and have a chat about a way of life that is a bit different to most people.

18 Miles
YTD:  514 Miles (827 km) , 322 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4309 Miles (6935 km), 3021 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges