Billy Mates. 24th June

Ballot Box Bridges to Rembrandt Gardens

At around 3:15am we were woken by what sounded like an outboard motor. We laid in bed fully aware of the noise hoping that it would pass by us reasonably quickly, but it stayed constant. Constantly annoying with a bit of revving added into the mix, or may that was a motor bike. After a while Mick opened up the hatch to see what he could see, it was quite dark. A small strange looking cruiser was pulled up quite close to our stern with it’s engine running.

Currently Mick’s tool box has a nomadic life and yesterday had been left out under the pram cover. Just in case someone was eying our possessions Mick popped out the back to bring it inside. Other than move there wasn’t really anything we were willing to do about the noise. Yes one of us could have politely asked them to move to turn their engine off, but at that time of night it didn’t seem wise.

The revving stopped, possibly a motorbike had headed off. Then after at least half an hour we noticed the engine noise had stopped too. Thank goodness! We fell back asleep.

On waking this morning I opened up the side hatch to inspect our new neighbours. Well the canal bank was just as empty as it had been when we arrived, not a boat in sight! Maybe whatever happened last night was the reason for there being no boats on this stretch!

Thankfully no alarm was required this morning as we hadn’t really got that far to go. So we had a relaxed breakfast and pushed off a little before 11.

I wanted to pick up a few bits of shopping so we pulled over so that I could visit Alperton Sainsburys which was thankfully not heaving. We pushed back out to move over to the water point through the bridge on the off side. Mick admitted we’d actually pulled out in front of another boat, they were the kind of distance away where up north it would have been polite to wait for them to pass.

I looked behind us and there almost angel like a chap stood at the helm, highlighted by the sun before dipping into the darkness of the next bridge. I knew who that was!

As the bow came back into the light my suspicions were confirmed, it was NB Billy with Pete at the helm, Clare soon popped her head up at the stern lifted binoculars to her eyes, we waved back.

NB Billy overtaking

Last night on Facebook people were making comments regarding the new eco moorings in London, Clare had made a comment that she hoped her booked mooring at Little Venice would be unoccupied on their arrival. Well we were going to be neighbours! We last saw NB Billy last year near Newby Hall on the River Ure, they were returning from Ripon as we were heading there. Earlier in the summer we’d shared most of the western locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

What a stupid configuration, fine if approaching from the other way

We pulled into the water point and let them pass, we’d catch up later. Now the elsan and waterpoint at Alperton are not the easiest to get to. A railing has been put in to stop people from falling in, but this means we’d have to pull along onto the permanent moorings and hope our hose would reach to the tap as there was nowhere else to get off your almost 60ft boat. We decided against it and would fill the tank on reaching Little Venice.

North Circular

We followed at a reasonable distance, both boats catching up with another who waved us past. The going was very slow, plenty of weed below the waters surface.

A temporary bridge has been put in over the canal for HS2 even though the line is a touch further away from the canal. From here numerous pipes, possibly containing electrics snake along the bank and through the water for quite a distance.

We passed more colourful boats, piles of rubbish and strangely enough several mooring spots big enough for us. But we knew there would be space for us up ahead so there was no need to take note of them.

The row of terraced houses that back onto the canal in Kensal Rise always make you wonder how many more such streets used to back onto the canal and do they have a problem with rising damp! Imagine the outcry from London boaters should the canal walls require repointing and a stretch be dewatered.

A good view from up there Pete

One property has a lot of satellite dishes on the back wall. Is it flats? Why would someone need so many dishes? Well it turns out it is the rear of Jamal Satellites, so that’s why.

It felt as though there was a lot more graffiti about. Mostly tags, some quite good, but very little of serious artistic merit.

Two years ago, where the Westway offers shade to the canal there was a series of wooden ramps and a drop in centre of sorts, but that is long gone, instead piles of rubbish line the wall, rather sad really.

Is that Micky?

A short distance on a red haired lady was chatting to a chap on the towpath, she pointed at something on the canal. I recognise that face! It was Micky whom we’ve met several times up at Crick in fact when Oleanna was brand new she was one of the first to make a bee line to have a nosy.

The last stretch

The water point on the near side of Westbourne Terrace was occupied, but the one on the other side was vacant. Oleanna is a touch too long to slot in here, but the water tank needed filling up, so we slotted in as best we could, stern sticking out under the bridge. Thankfully no widebeams came along which would have meant having to move.

Not the best place for a water point

Micky came and joined us for a chat as the trickle from the tap did it’s best to fill our tank. It was nice to see her and have a catch up. When she left to head home we decided we’d cope with what water we had, we can always top up the tank later without loosing our spot if needs be.

We have reached our destination!

We followed the one way signs round the island and pulled into our spot at Rembrandt Gardens. A catch up and compare cruising stories was had between us and Clare and Pete, very good to see them again. Sadly their hope of finding the other half of the original Billy on the K&A didn’t pay off, but they’d had a good time cruising there and back.


Rembrandt Gardens back at the beginning of 2015 had only just started to be a bookable mooring in London. The day we arrived in January that year was the day we met Heather Bleasdale. Today is our second visit and we find ourselves sharing the mooring with Clare and Pete. I wonder if we’ll know our next neighbours here?

These trees are maybe a touch too big!

Back in February when the roadmap out of lockdown was announced I suggested to Mick that we look to see if any of the moorings in London were available. I think we looked within ten minutes of the announcement being made. Paddington and Rembrandt Garden bookable moorings are usually booked up months and months in advance, but we were lucky, we got in before anyone else had the idea. We booked our slot, we just needed to get to London and escape from Goole!

Little Venice with the Lady A going past

So over the last month we have accomplished our mission to get to London. 293.15 miles and 143 locks. Now it’s time to actually see some family in the flesh.

0 locks, 7.33 miles, 3:15 noisy neighbour, 2 pints milk, 5m wrapping paper, 1 glowing Pete hopscotching us, 2 boats for Rembrandt Gardens, 1 Micky, 0.75 full water tank, 1 bemused cat, 29 days, 293.15 miles, 143 locks, 1 escape plan accomplished, 1 happy Oleanna, 2 happy boaters, 4 humongous trees!