Pip headed off back to Chipping Norton on the 08:55 bus. Oleanna was getting short of water. The nearest water point is at the residential moorings next to Isis Lock. From a visiting boater’s point of view this is easiest to get to from the lock landing on the Sheepwash Channel below the lock. Officially this is EA water as it is a part of the Thames but I didn’t think anyone would mind me being there. So I untied the ropes and reversed back to upper lock landing, tied up, filled the lock, reversed in to the lock then emptied the lock and reversed out onto the pontoon lock landing. The washing machine had been on and after I had started the hose going it was just finishing a cycle. So I started another load whilst filling the tank. An hour or so later the tank was full and the washing machine was into it’s second rinse so I headed back into the lock and went back up onto the CRT waters of the Oxford Canal. The mooring spot I had left a couple of hours earlier was still vacant (there’s not much traffic around at the moment) so I tied back up there. It’ll do for another few days.
I’ve been on another day trip to London. I was born and brought up in Ealing in West London (not far from the Hanwell Flight of locks) but left the area 28 years ago. So with a bit of time on my hands I thought I’d have a little trip down memory lane. But to get there I went on a bit of a roundabout route.
If you are a train operating company and want to close a bit of railway line or a station you have to go through a long, complicated and expensive procedure involving parliamentary approval. So often a train company won’t actually close the line but instead run an infrequent service, sometimes once a week in one direction only, sometimes once a day. For example don’t moor at Polesworth on the Coventry Canal expecting to be able to catch a train from the nearby railway station. The only train of the day there departs at 07:23 and there is no return service. There are quite a few of these services dotted around the country and they are known as “Parliamentary” services (because running the service is required by the original Act of Parliament when the railway was built). One of these services is in London: the once daily Chiltern Railways train from South Ruislip to London Paddington. Most services from South Ruislip go to London Marylebone but this service heads off down a railway equivalent of a backwater via Northolt, Greenford, Park Royal and North Acton to join the Great Western mainline at Old Oak Common and thence onto Paddington. So I caught a Chiltern Railways train from Oxford to High Wycombe, changing there onto a train that stopped at South Ruislip. At South Ruislip the “Parley” was waiting on another platform. There was one other passenger on the train and the driver checked with us both that we really wanted to go to Paddington. It was a very interesting ride, running alongside the Central tube line for some of the way. The track is formed of old jointed rails, it’s not often these days that you hear the clickety clack noise of trains passing over un-welded joints. Trees and bushes lean over the tracks and the train passes through a narrowing leafy corridor. We go slowly, no more than 20 mph, I suspect due to the leaves on the line and the fact we are the first train of the day to head this way therefore the track might be slippery. But all too soon we are onto the Paddington Main Line and it feels like we are allowed to sneak unnoticed into platform 14 which is tucked away in a little corner on the far side of the big terminal station. All in all a very enjoyable 25 minutes of train travel. Sorry, I didn’t take any photos, I wanted to enjoy the moment. If you are interested someone else has posted a Youtube video of their trip on this line here . Incidentally if you feel excited about this and want to experience it yourself you’ll have to do so before 7th December. After that day the line closes due to HS2 construction work. Presumably there is parliamentary approval for this! Or maybe HS2 is going to follow the route albeit underground so will count as a train service?
After that excitement I caught a normal train out to West Ealing. This was my old stomping ground.
Here is the house I was born and grew up in. It’s the semi on the left. I lived in this house until I was 22.
And here is the Back Lane entrance to the garage.
Most of the shops have changed completely, except this one where I spent many happy hours in the past.
It is still trading and still has a wonderful array of electrical stuff in the window. Many of the pubs have changed names or no longer exist. Most of the bus route numbers are un-recognisable, I mean who ever heard of a 427, a 483 or even an E11? But Ealing still seems to be a busy vibrant place with lots going on.
After a couple of hours of strolling around Memory Lane it was back to Paddington to catch a train back to Oxford. This train took the more normal route via Slough, Reading and Didcot.
0.14 miles in reverse, 0.14 miles forwards, 2 locks (or the same lock twice). 1 full water tank, 2 loads of washing. 3 standard trains, 1 Parliamentary train. 1 excited cat, 1 cat bored again.