Monthly Archives: May 2017

Our Time Is Up. 30th May

Paddington Basin to Old Ford Lock, Victoria Park

P1040344smOur seven days in Paddington were up this morning, so it was time for water! A few jobs to do first, the yellow water tank, Tilly’s pooh box and a load of washing put on, yes we still had enough left in the tank. Our crew for the day arrived on time, my brother Andrew and nephew Josh and after the obligatory guided tour we were ready to push off.

P1040329smWe waved the basin goodbye and pootled up to Little Venice sanitary station to fill the tank. A pause whilst we waited for NB Ouse Dunit to reverse back from doing the same, they were heading back into the basin to see if they could get another space for a few more days! With no-one else on the water point we pulled through the bridge to be greeted by puddles of effluent by the pump out machine. Someone had had a problem this morning! The toilets here were also quite, should I say, continental and I didn’t fancy wading my way to a toilet without a seat and no paper! So we stood at a distance as our tank filled, Josh and I comparing broken limb stories.

P1040334smP1040337smNB Avalon Two arrived and pulled up to wait for water followed by NB Larch who were wanting a pump out! They pulled up alongside us and waited for us to finish before we pulled out from under their ropes and reversed back through the bridge. We winded and turned our way onto the Regents Canal to head east following one of the water buses. As we pootled past the moorings to Maida Hill Tunnel we spotted NB Muddy Waters another Finesse boat on it’s mooring, no-one was home so we couldn’t say hello.

P1040353smP1040361smAbove the canal sit large imposing houses with pillars and architectural details from the past, however they are only about 20-30 years old and just look they have been made up from airfix kits. There was a boar snuffling around in it’s enclosure at the zoo and in the Snowden Aviary birds were sitting up high to watch the world float by. Andrew and Josh have walked the towpath here out to Josh’s school in Hackney Wick, so they got to see everything at a slower pace today, the moored boats keeping our speed down.


A rendez vous with Christine, Anna and Julian worked perfectly at Camden Lock. Our crew hopped off to work the locks as Anna and Julian climbed aboard Oleanna. Anna used to live on a narrowboat on the Kennet and Avon but had never been through Camden locks on a boat so that had to be rectified. Two chatty volunteers greeted us behind the locked gates at the lock, we were surrounded by gongoozlers, the fence here is very handy for keeping them out of harms way! When we last came through a couple of years ago there were scooter seats along the canal where you could sit and eat your food bought at the market, but they have all long gone and large buildings are going up in their place between the railway and canal. We all had to stop in our tracks as a crane lifted a large load of something from a boat over to the building sight. Once down the three locks we pulled onto the end bollard so that I could give Anna and Julian a whistle stop tour of the inside of Oleanna before they headed off to catch a flight back to Berlin.

P1040425smMick pulled Oleanna in before St Pancras Lock, the works have been completed at the gasometers which look very fine. NB Bleasdale could just be seen glinting away in her fresh paint, moored up amongst friends at the cruising club. The lock landing was occupied and a community widebeam was on the water point blocking our way to the lock. The crew were familiar to us as they’d been two boats away in Paddington for a couple of nights and yesterday we’d been shot with their water pistols (so funny!). They got their act together and pulled into the lock. With plenty of crew on board they had no excuse to leave the gates open when they knew we were following! I found myself shouting after them “You will be closing the gates after you, won’t you!!”

P1040432smP1040441smBy now we had been caught up by NB Avalon Two who we shared the next four locks with. As the boats approached Islington Tunnel a light could be seen at the far end, so we both loitered. In the end we pulled into the side to wait, which was a perfect time to hand out the warm sausage rolls and a cuppa each to our crew. Then on through the near 1km long tunnel. Strange to think that our route a brick lined 99 year old tunnel has so much going on above it. Offices, shops, tube station all that hustle and bustle and us just pootling along at 3 miles an hour below it.

P1040503smOnce down Actons Lock we started to look out for a mooring. We passed a couple of possible places but they were still a bit too far to walk to my brothers and the proximity of a road meant Tilly would still be without shore leave. But when a space big enough for us appeared shortly before Old Ford Lock, we pointed Oleanna’s bow in. She fitted, towpath side, trees, a view into the park, still quite a way to Andrews house, but doable. Our three armed crew headed off to do a bit of work and most importantly do some chopping up for our meal this evening whilst we settled in and treated ourselves to showers. Trees were tantalisingly close, but the doors stayed shut!


This evening we walked the full length of Victoria Park, avoiding the many many cyclists and runners, to have a meal at my brothers house and catch up on the two birthdays that have occurred this month and see first hand the new tree room they have built in their garden. A lovely evening sitting out between the tree room and house drinking fizz, consuming paella, birthday presents and catching up with Jac whilst their two cats watched on from above.

DSCF7114sm7 locks, 7.58 miles, 1 tunnel, 0 mysterons, 3 armed crew, 12 to 15 visitors, 2 guided tours, 1 stinky puddle, 3/4 full water tank, 1 load washing, 2 shiny boats, 1 crane, 6 crew incapable of closing gates! 2 many gasometers to count, 12 sausage rolls, 1 spiky spined building, 3 cats cruising together, 1 jaunty angled mooring, 4 glasses of fizz each, 1 mountain of paella, 1 imprisoned cat!

The Bus To Nowhere. 29th May

Paddington Basin

Due to a leaking flat roof we had no visitors today, it wasn’t our boat roof! Hopefully Mike and Chris have found where water was getting into the neighbours and managed to fix the problem and we’ll be able to catch up soon.

P1040307smThat freed up the day for us, so we caught a bus into town. Well that was the plan! When we reached the bus stop every bus after the first one was stopping at Marble Arch, but when that arrived it had Marble Arch on the front. A brief message came up on the board saying something about there being a split route today for one bus, but we didn’t catch the full message. So we hopped onto the next bus and hoped we wouldn’t end up having to walk right across town. Sure enough at Marble Arch we were told that the bus was terminating there so we walked around the corner to see if there might be another bus that would get us closer to Tottenham Court Road.


Kings Cross would do us. Plenty of people were asking the driver how to get places and he wasn’t the most helpful of people, but we did manage to gleam that Oxford Street was closed. There had been a few Police cars with sirens heading that way. The bus set off and the next stop was displayed, then it turned left where there was a police road block and we entered the unknown. The driver was off route and the display helpfully told us the time and showed us an asterix. We at least vaguely knew where we were, but didn’t know if the driver would stop anywhere before he was back on route. Warren Street Tube came into view so we rang the bell and headed down the stairs as the bus was stopping. Just a shame we were at the other end of Tottenham Court Road from where we wanted to be and it is a one way street coming towards us.


Our walk took us past several places that I used to frequent when I lived in London 21 years ago. Samuel French Bookshop has recently closed. They mainly sold play scripts and I suspect very few people actually bothered to go into the shop anymore, they still exist but only on line now. Tiranti’s is still there a few doors down, they sell tools and equipment for carving, model making and moulds.

P1040313smP1040319smThe lure of the big Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road was far too great and I made Mick climb the stairs to the top floor where they have reams of exotic, coloured, textured papers to dream of. I used to visit here when making posh models for top designers. Back then I thought it was the only place to buy black flock paper, I didn’t see any today and anyhow Boyes in Scarborough sell a sticky backed version for half the price.

Next was Blacks where we purchased two folding chairs. We left our old purple ones with NB Lillyanne and Mick’s sister Christine had offered to buy us new ones as a boat warming present. So with two dark blue deluxe chairs (they had to colour coordinate with Oleanna) we headed back to Paddington on the tube dodging heavy showers as we went.

A few vital supplies have been bought so that we have some cruising sausage rolls to keep our crew going tomorrow.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 leaking roof, 0 visitors, 3 buses, 1 big diversion, 0 explanation found, 74 pretty coloured rolls, 2 improved chairs, 2 be test sat in still, 12 sausage rolls ready for the oven, 1 annoying water pistol wielding moron.

The Third Wave. 28th May

Paddington Basin

P1040281smThe sun was out and a way of being able to sleep in it needed to be found. This inside has quite deep windows and the curtains assisted me in being able to lie in the sun for an hour or so. I don’t think anyone spotted me there, it was quite comfortable and it may become a favourite spot, like all the others.

Late morning Kath, the last of Mick’s sisters, came to meet Oleanna. She had a full guided tour excluding the engine bay. It’s much easier when there is only one person to show round rather than four, so she got more information about everything. We still are not up to Leckenby standard though. As a hobby my Dad used to design conversions of vans into motor caravans. His guided tours could take hours and as a child I was occasionally sent by my Mum to try to rescue someone after a couple of hours who had shown a small amount of interest, this was extremely hard as Dad was in his stride and very proud of his creation.

We had a bit of a walk around the Paddington Central area. To our surprise a lot of boats had left the basin today and there was space that hadn’t been filled immediately. Kath hasn’t explored this part of London so it was all new to her. After donating my crutches to St Mary’s we walked under Bishop’s Bridge Road where there is an artwork ‘Message from the unseen world’ (United Visual Artists) which is a tribute to the life of Alan Turing, known for his work breaking the enigma machine in WW2. Large panels with LEDs light up using algorithms and displays extracts from a commissioned poem by Nick Drake. Alan Turning was born close to Paddington.


Further on is the sculpture Two Figures by Sean Henry. Affectionately nicknamed Walking Man and Standing Man, the two figures face one another from either end of a concrete path. They are a favourite of mine and if ever I’m walking here I have to say hello to the larger than life men. We carried on walking up into Little Venice were Rembrandt Gardens had one boat moored there. There was a very long queue for the water buses and there seemed to be a queue at the water point under the bridge. So much so that a boat had pulled up in the narrow section and a chap was rushing to the elsan to empty a cassette as quickly as he could before moving on and out of the way.

P1040302smThis evening we’ve had a visit from Frank and his ‘friend’ Helen. Frank is now standing out from everyone else as this is his second visit to Oleanna, he likes all the oak. It took a while for them to actually get to the boat, but they arrived after being delayed a couple of times and getting lost around St Mary’s hospital. This brought back reassuringly familiar memories of when I used to work with Frank. But as they arrived with a bottle of wine in hand it was alright. After  Helen had a chance to look around Oleanna and we’d drunk the wine we all headed out to Pizza Express for some food just before they closed the kitchen.

IMAG3606sm0 locks, 0 miles, 1 hammock, 2 Stafford crutches donated to London, 3 more visitors,  4th sister, 1 afternoon beer, 1 late lunch, 1 widebeam that can moor anywhere, 6pm, 7.30pm, 8pm, 8.35pm, 2nd visit for Frank, 4 pizzas, 2 bottles of wine, 1 looney cat.

Geraghtys. 27th May

Paddington Basin
IMAG3536smP1040262smP1040264smBoats started shuffling round quite early this morning once a rain shower had come over head. NB Four Seasons pulled out from the mooring behind us winded and then left the basin along with a couple of other boats. This then meant that there was space, a bit of jiggling about and NB Ouse Dunit got a space on the pontoons, a small gap had appeared behind us so the boat that had been three abreast moved down and reversed into the space leaving his bow over hanging our stern. More boats arrived some finding spaces big enough for them and others cruising off to try elsewhere. MB Ash came down to wind setting off on the weekend run. The deck was full of gas bottles and a few coal bags. Then the GoBoats started across the way, groups who have hired a self drive boat heading out towards Little Venice and beyond.

I was required to tidy up my toys again! I hope these visitors appreciate all that I do before they arrive and the sacrifices I am making for them to nosy around the new inside.

At around midday the first of our visitors arrived, Marion and John who were soon followed by Anne and Alasdair. A full boat! Marion and John had a full guided tour, but Anne and Alasdair had to wait, there really are only so many people you can get in one narrowboat galley! A lunch made up from the left overs from last nights meal went down a treat as our guests had travelled from Eastbourne and Helensborough, luckily no one had been flying with British Airways.
P1040276smThe second guided tour started shortly after Marion and John had left. I’m beginning to wonder how many times I’ve said certain things and whether we shouldn’t dwell quite so long on the composting toilet! Anne is the first guest to use it and she survived.

IMAG3556smP1040266smIMAG3560smWith everyone gone we spruced ourselves up for the evening and headed out to Mornington Crescent for Christine’s pre significant birthday meal bumping into Fran (Mick’s niece) just round the corner from our mooring. On alighting the bus there was time to have a look at the huge deco building  beside the stop. Giant black cats and Egyptian decoration adorned the façade. The only information at hand was that it was Greater London House. Why all the cats? Later on Mick’s nephew Duncan enlightened us as he had worked for Asos who are based there. It was Carreras Cigarette Factory, built in 1926, converted into office space in the 60’s when it lost much of it’s decoration. But in the late 90’s the façade was restored and replica cats were put back outside the entrance. The black cat was on Craven A cigarette packets and the original statues were removed in 1959 and separated, one now at the Basildon works and the other was transported to Jamaica to stand outside the Carreras works there.

The factory was the first to use pre-stressed concrete, have air conditioning and dust extraction. It was opened to a great fanfare, in front of the building the pavements were covered with sand to replicate the deserts of Egypt. There was a procession of members of the cast of Verdi’s opera Aida, actors in Ancient Egyptian costume performed around the “temple” structure, and a chariot race was held on the Hampstead Road.
IMAG3595smWe met up with the rest of the family (minus Tilly, Mick’s great niece and Richard his nephew) and friends of Christine at a Tapas restaurant and took over their basement room drinking wine, eating lots of lovely dishes that just kept appearing and talking lots. Our places were marked out with old photos of each of us. Obviously her siblings, nieces and nephew got the better photos as there was a larger back catalogue to choose from. The evening was rounded off with a couple of drinks in The Lyttelton pub opposite the tube station. Thank you Christine for having such a lovely birthday.

IMAG3582sm0 locks, 0 miles, 2 new neighbours, 1 boat at capacity, 8 visitors so far, £5 entrance fee this weekend only! 1parcel from Australia, 1 wonderful best friend, 2 guided tours, 9 diddy beans, 1 paper read from cover to cover, 12 legs too many, 11 on one boat, 2 buses, 1 walk too far, 1 circular walking route, 10 feline faces, 8.5ft feline figures, 22 for tapas, 1 miss hearing, 1 question thankfully never asked, 2 soggy legs, 2 pints, 1 non game.

The Seat And The First Wave. 26th May

Paddington Basin

IMG_20170525_172727940smMick’s mum Ruth loved her music, especially choral music and in her time she sang with the Royal Choral Society. One of her favourite concert halls was the Royal Festival Hall where she introduced her children to her love of music. About ten years ago Ruth paid for a seat to be named for her and recently the family was approached to see if they wanted to renew it. When we knew we’d be heading to London for a few days Mick decided to see if there was a concert whilst we were in town where he’d be able to sit in his Mum’s seat. So last night we were joined by Kath and Christine at a performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra of Brahms Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, Op 15 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 in A, Op92.

IMAG3522smWe all met at Wagamamas below the Festival Hall and had very nice summery fish dishes with a glass of wine before working our way into the Hall. Following the bombing in Manchester the South Bank have instigated bag searches at each of the venues. We had been sent an email warning us about this. Access into each venue is reduced to one door where security were checking every bag and large bags had to be left with them. We expected there to be long queues so left ourselves plenty of time before the performance, but the staff were very efficient and we were on level five before we knew it looking out over London.

I had last been here with my junior school some 40 years ago. Sitting in the cool concert hall listening to the orchestra was a lovely way to spend the evening. The Beethoven went down better than the Brahms and received a standing ovation. They don’t half like to applaud at these things! They even get a round of applause for just managing to walk onto the stage! I had to resort back to tapping my thigh with my left hand as my missing digit was complaining somewhat.

IMAG3523smIMAG3525smOn leaving we had to walk back out onto the balcony to admire the view and sunset over London. All the buildings were lit up and the sun was giving the sky it’s last glow of colour for the day. Stunning, just a shame I hadn’t taken my camera with me, so phone photos have to suffice.

A lovely evening all round apart from one thing….  where was the name on Mick’s seat or should I say, Ruth’s seat? Normally a plaque is put on the back of the seat so the person sitting behind can see who had been so generous. The row in front were almost all named but on the back of THE seat all there was were screws and a small portion of a plaque trapped under a screw, but no name! Not even the end bit of a Y. Has her name been broken off and not yet replaced? Or was it not renewed?

P1040228smToday we have had the first wave of London visitors, Siobhan and Fionualla. However Siobhan has travelled a lot further to be able to visit us, as she actually resides in Newcastle, Australia. She is over in England visiting family and brought Fionualla  her sister to see us this morning. Mick and Siobhan are very good friends and grew up together in Ealing. It may have been about ten years since we were last together in Newcastle, so there was lots to catch up on over a cuppa and of course a full guided tour of Oleanna. It is now our turn to visit Newcastle.

P1040251smOnce midday arrived, so did the stream of boats hoping to moor up in the basin. The first boat had tried yesterday and called out to see if they could pull alongside us. Mick popped out to chat with them, we think that where we are is restricted to single mooring so he pointed them to where there was a space to breast up. A few more boats have turned up and then had to battle with the wind that there seems to be today, but all spaces are now taken. A couple have tried to pull up on the opposite side to us, even managing to tie up, but they have been moved on by the security guards. They really should remove the mooring rings if they don’t want people tying up or better still allow people to moor there. Going for a walk this afternoon I noticed that boats are now three abreast just up from us. We certainly timed our arrival on Tuesday very well.

P1040257smThis evening we’ve had the company of an old friend of mine Sara Taylor. Her husband was a visiting lecturer at my college and I was taken under their wing during my final year. We became great friends and have managed to keep in touch even though they moved to the States 24 or so years ago. Sadly David passed away a few years ago and Sara and I haven’t managed to been in the same place together since I saw the Millennium in with them in Connecticut. After seventeen years there was a lot to catch up on over dinner and the odd glass of bucks fizz. Plenty of laughter and a lovely evening to round off a day full of visitors.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 great friends, 1 sister, 1 fully guided tour, 1 boat left, 1 sexist gaudy boat, 2 shirts bought, 1 trip to the bins, 3 abreast, 1 space at Rembrandt Gardens, 17 years too long, 1 edited highlights tour, 1st strawberries of the year,  2 glasses bucks fizz, 2 handy curtains, 7 boats come and gone, 1 evening full of laughter.

How Life Has Changed. 25th May

Paddington Basin
IMAG3484smA few days ago the view of the outside was like this. I would be allowed to go out on an afternoon, climb trees, feel the breeze ruffling through my fur. They were good days, lots to do, lots to keep me occupied and when I got home I would eat, drink and fall asleep. How I wished they didn’t keep moving the outside from day to day and that we could just stay a few days so that I could exhaust all that was to be found.
IMAG3490smThen they moved the outside to this! I am no longer allowed out. They say I wouldn’t like it even if I did. Constant clonk clonk clonk noises go along the side where the curtains are always closed. Here the trees are tiny and pathetic, they would bend under my small weight. The only friends to be found are small and hardly worth the effort of getting up close to, although one or two are quite tasty. There is a constant bustle and humm in the air, lights go on and off even when they are both curled up in their bed.
IMAG3501smP1040221smP1040219smApart from the weird people who go by fishing for plastic bags, those who stand on little islands that move, the man who today had  things dangling in front of him and he didn’t try to catch them, life here is boring! It is hot, so all I can do is melt during the day and then wake in the night when it is cooler. I have to run off all my excess energy before it gets hot again and all that happens is …. I get told off.
P1040223smThey haven’t moved the outside for days, why when it definitely needs changing!

0 list as it’s not worth it!

You’re Not Meant To Fall In! 24th May

Paddington Basin
P1040196smBoats started to arrive around 8am looking for moorings today, this was a more sociable hour than the boat that turned up at 11.30 last night asking loudly if anyone was awake hoping that they could breast up. Where we are moored we suspect breasting up isn’t allowed as it is close to the winding hole, but whilst we are here we wouldn’t be surprised if we had a close neighbour turn up.
The morning was spent doing chores, mostly emptying the yellow water tank to take to the elsan back in Little Venice. Luckily our tank for transporting it in fits into the bicycle bag so Mick could cycle it round then return to do a rubbish run. Who needs a sack barrow after all.
IMAG3490smAt 12.30 on Wednesdays you can have a go at paddle boarding for free. Several people had taken up the offer today. Some were experienced and were stood up heading away from the pontoons, others were kneeling on their boards keeping  their centre of gravity low. As time went on more of them were standing up. One chap came past with very shaky legs. I remember what it is like to stand on a windsurfer  which are a similar size to paddle boards. Unfortunately for the chap he kept wobbling until he did one wobble too many and then he was at one with the water. My Dad was good at this bit on his windsurfer, it was his main method of turning!
P1040198smAt first it was a little bit funny, people were stopping and taking photos, as did I. But no-one seemed to have told him how to get back up onto his board and no-one seemed to be coming to his aid. He tried but was getting nowhere. Then a lady came over “Are you alright?”, “No not really!” From her board she tried to suggest how he could haul himself back up, but his weight made this impossible. On a windsurfer you have a sail lying in the water that you can use to counter balance yourself, but there is nothing of any help on a paddleboard. After a while she got him over to the pontoon and here she tried to pull him out. This was also not going to happen as she was possibly half his body weight. Then eventually a chap came over and between the two of them they managed to haul the poor chap out.
Surely they must have someone keeping an eye out for those who fall in, or are they just not meant to! If the lady was an instructor you would think she would have had a bit more of an idea of how to get him out. Luckily the chap wasn’t panicking as others might as the water is quite deep. The thing that we were most surprised about was that there was no ladder in sight. Most marinas have ladders fixed to pontoons so should you fall in you can easily climb out. He was left to drip dry luckily in the sun, we heard no mention of Weil’s disease.
This afternoon we caught the bus to Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street to do some shopping. First port of call was Robert Dyas who managed to supply us with some small washers to help protect the wood from our swivel catches on the side hatch. For a while it was looking like this was going to be the only purchase we would managed. There was a possible folding chair at Blacks which we tried, we just need to check if two of them will fit in a cupboard. The afternoon got hotter and hotter and with all the people around we headed back to the basin hoping that the water was having a cooling effect.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 wee tank, 1 rat floating by, 2 bike rides, 4 rubbish trees! 3 friends of the insect variety, 2 bags to charity, 3 buses, 50 washers when 2 would have done, 2 supportive purchases, 1 pair flip flops, 0 booster block for my feet, 2 many people, 1/3 boat breasted up, 6 Americans.