There was only one thing for it today, we had to stay put. Last night the TV signal had been checked and double checked. We really would have had to move on if the signal was patchy, but luckily it was fine.
Boats started coming past fairly early, the first being NB Lottie Jane heading in towards London. Our New Zealand friends Clare and Graeme had introduced us in Manchester, sadly we were still having our morning cuppa in bed as they passed. A while later one of the boats that had been in Paddington cruised past at quite a speed, at least if Lottie Jane had booked one space would have become available.
Soon after breakfast I set myself up for a day of model making, hopping that today I would put my finishing touches to my panto model. Mick turned the radio on, followed by the TV, there was an important cricket match that needed to be watched. Today because England were in the final of the World Cup it was to be shown on terrestrial TV, a first in a long time.
10 hours! Those trees out there may have thought that they had disguised themselves, but I could see straight through the ivy. Plenty of climbing, pouncing and bicycle avoidance today. My back legs were in need of a good stretch and they certainly got it.
With the commentary from the Test Match Special team keeping us company for much of the day, the delay of around five seconds before the TV caught up was handy, apart from when they went to adverts. Blimey it was tense, time after time. How close could one match be!
We celebrated with a glass of Crabbies each as I did my best to finish my model. By 9pm the last bit of dressing was added, security boxes repainted, the list of model jobs was all ticked off. Just the long list of Tech Drawings to work through now. Thank goodness we had a good portion of Paella left to eat cold as soon as I’d finished.
0 locks, 0 miles, 0 steps off the boat for me, 1 load washing, 10 hours, 8 taken, 1 tenser than tense ending to the match, 1 shade of pink which became yellow, 1 model completed, 20 rows of knitting.
Our time here was up, well at midday it would be. Check-out time is at midday and check-in at 1pm, not that there is anybody to check in with. Some people have opted to stay for longer in the basin, once their booked mooring has elapsed they keep their eyes peeled across the way. As soon as a space becomes available they move over to the hospital side, giving themselves more time, but this time for free.
We could easily stay for longer, loads more people we could catch up with. It’s been great to see those we’ve seen, but we both were looking forward to heading out of town away from the constant hum of the buildings around us and into the cool of some countryside.
It looked like there was nobody on board the boat behind us, but as soon as we’d pulled away a chap appeared out the back, time for them to nudge up and be able to use bow and stern. We moved on down to the end of the basin and winded, turning our back on central London.
When we’d returned to Oleanna last night we’d been surprised at the amount of duck weed that had reached the basin, yes there had been numerous boats moving through the bubble barriers, but the amount was more than you’d expect to be pushed through on bows of boats.
The bubbles were working at the first barrier, maybe too much duck weed had now crossed and it was multiplying at a rate of knots. Ahead of us was a green lagoon that had been Little Venice. Hardly any water visible anywhere. People queued for the trip boats, students threw bread in for the ducks off Rembrandt Gardens as we pushed our way across.
At the services there are two taps. The first one was in use and as we got closer to Westbourne Terrace Bridge we could see two boats there. No option for us but to wait today our tank was down to 1/8th and the next tap would be past where we wanted to pull up for the day. We pulled up to wait in the bridge hole, hoping no wide beam would want to pass.
Go boats came past, the narrowboats through the bridge swapped positions, one leaving, the other sounding like it had a very empty tank. After quite a wait the boat just behind us moved off and we wee able to pull back. Oleanna’s length too much to tuck into the gap so her bow stuck out in the bridge hole. A while later a work boat approached, wider than a narrowboat, would it fit through? I pulled the bow as far over as I could and there was just about an inch spare, phew! The bubble barrier here wasn’t working, the amount of duck weed on the move explained the green lagoon.
As soon as the other boat had finished filling on the other side of the bridge we pulled Oleanna through so that we’d be out of the way, one lady asked if we’d broken down! Coal Boat Indus came past, so Mick flagged him down for a bottle of gas which turned out cheaper than in Uxbridge. Bottles were swapped as the dog on the roof helped cut back the overhanging tree.
As we continued to fill we emptied the yellow water and the next boat wanting the tap breasted up against us. once full we crept out from the inside and headed outwards, a mile along realising we’d gained a boat hook on our roof. I could have walked back to return it, but he was likely to have moved off, three directions he could have gone, it seemed pointless.
Slow going past all the moored boats not helped by the thick layer of weed. We had to wait for a line of work boats to be nudged out of the way for us to pass, a weed collector and a couple of skips fighting a loosing battle.
The moorings at Ladbrooke Grove Sainsburys were full, we’d hope to pull in to do some shopping and then have lunch before continuing on our way, but no chance. Happily a short distance around the bend a suitable gap showed itself, so we moored and headed off with our bags, the shopping list reducing to supplies for the next couple of days, we’ll do a bigger shop at Bulls Bridge.
How dare they! They’d moved the outside and there were trees! Yet I wasn’t allowed out. They came back, sat around, and then carried on. Didn’t they know it was getting late!
The weed stayed with us to about a mile before we moored. A length of towpath empty opposite the golf club on Horsenden Hill was appealing, but this length is closed at the moment due to the towpath being resurfaced.
We pulled up around the next bend more or less where we’d left a week ago. The shouting from inside Oleanna so SO LOUD, Tilly was excited! Within seconds she disappeared into the nature reserve, showing her face a couple of times and returning for a late Ding Ding.
Our evening meal got later and later. I’ve been wanting to make a quinoa crust quiche for a while and we’d stocked up on the ingredients today. The crust is made from cooked quinoa, ground almonds and Parmesan. The quantity of this seemed a touch too much, but I forced it all into the quiche tin.
The quantities in the recipe were cups, so I’d converted them, despite the amount of filling I had being a touch short I still had way too much! We’ll have spare chicken to eat for lunch for a while. Six eggs were needed for sticking factor, but I felt this was maybe a touch too many. So instead I used three with some creme fresh and a glug of milk. It smelt fantastic, but maybe the creme fresh had given off a touch too much moisture and I’d have been better using more eggs as the centre of the crust had more slop factor than crunch. However it tasted very good accompanied by some of the new potatoes Marion and John had given us.
0 lock, 7.69 miles, 1 wind, 1 left, 1 green lagoon, 2 familiar faces, 1 hour wait for water, £33 for gas, 1 load of washing, 2 boxes wine, 1 reduced shopping list, 1.75 hours of freedom, 1 HAPPY cat, 12 meals worth of quiche, 4 years of being an amputee, 1 TV tuned in for tomorrow.
A cuppa in bed, then a shower and we were ready for the day. Bang on time another familiar face walked under the footbridge into the basin. My college friend Kathy coming for breakfast on her way to work.
Kathy has worked her way around the drama colleges of London through the last few years and now is head of Production Design at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, possibly the highest thought of design college in the country. Kathy was the first person I met when I moved to Croydon for college and our first day in the student house together we just didn’t stop talking. We don’t get many opportunities for a catch up nowadays, so it was great that we’d managed to find a couple of hours today.
We headed over to Kupp for breakfast, Kathy must have know where we’d be going as she matched the decor perfectly. Mick and I opted for poached eggs with bacon and hollandaise sauce, whilst Kathy had wild mushrooms spinach and a poached egg. It was all very tasty, my only criticism was that just because my gluten free bread was smaller than Mick’s sourdough slice shouldn’t mean that I got less sauce than him!
We talked about friends, family, theatre and boats. During the week Kathy lives on board Dora May on the Thames, her mooring just down stream from Tower Bridge, a fantastic view from their wheel house. All too soon it was time for her to head to work. Hopefully she may come out and join us for a day when we’re on the Thames, but we’ll see, she’s a busy lady.
Some shopping was needed, so Mick headed off again into central London this time in hunt of some new clothes for himself and a stock up of tea for me from Whittards. I in the mean time did my best to finish scanning my Dad’s second diary. Not as many pages as the first one, but this one has the account of his journey by ship to India.
I was determined to get the diary scanned today, the only thing distracting me was the GoBoats. Several of them had been hired out to teams all in matching fancy dress. Dalmations, Rabbits in hats, Blackbirds, Elfs. Each one set off from the next pontoon and just about all of them managed to collide with us. We may now have access both bow and stern but it does mean we are the first and most likely boat to get hit. No wonder the boats have had more and more padding added to them from when we first saw them.
A new boat arrived for the pontoon, having to hold back under the footbridge as there was no space. Who was overstaying? Yesterday a not so shiny boat had pulled in and the chap carried his bike along the gunnel and disappeared, he was an obvious choice, but being shiny isn’t a prerequisite for mooring here, anyone who books and pays can.
There followed a bit of complex boat moving. The central boat moved out, the one on the inside then pulled out and moored on the Hospital side (they were the ones), before the boat from the outside moved into the inside, the central boat moved back into position followed by the new boat onto the outside of the pontoon. Everyone was happy now.
Mick returned with a stash of my tea, showered and put a new polo shirt, far less creased than normal but with tell tale signs of it being new. I still had 20 pages left to scan, we decided to be slightly late to our next engagement so that I could finish.
Across London to Homerton, here I’d spied a stockists for Charlie and Ivy oils and bread dippers. One of these I use on lamb and veg kebabs and I’m having to cobble together my own version, which isn’t quite the same, the lack of juniper lets my version down. We hunted the shelves of Eat 17, but nothing from the range was to be found.
At my brothers they have been joined by Jac’s Mum over from Australia for six weeks. Not bad doing that journey in her mid 80’s. Helen is as inquisitive as her daughter, just with a Scottish accent. We were asked endlessly about life on the boat, my favourite question being ‘What do you eat?’
A lovely evening with them as ever and Andrew cooked a wonderful paella on the barbecue, packed with fish chicken and prawns.
Helen had made a lemon tart, the crust having been made with corn flour for me, very tasty it was. A good evening to mark our last in London.
0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 2 buses, 1 overground, 1 best friend with a beaming smile, 5 poached eggs, 2 hours to catch up, 157 pages scanned, 0 juniper balsamic dipper, 1 huge paella, 1 slightly nutty Scottish Australian, 2 diaries handed over, 1 slow journey home, 1 fruit cake of a cat, it’s time for Tilly to have some shore leave.
We caught the tube out to Kew Garden this morning. A day outdoors meant having to apply sun cream, which we did as we waited for Marion (another of Mick’s sisters) and John to arrive from the south coast. They were given a years membership to Kew Gardens at Christmas and can take a friend in for free.
I’ve only been once before with Mick’s Mum some years ago when we sought the warmth of the houses. Today instead we sought some shade whilst looking around.
First we headed to The Hive. This is an installation designed by Wolfgang Buttress. It highlights the importance of pollination in our food chain, a third of the worlds crop yield is dependant in some way to bees. It is illuminated by almost a thousand LED lights which because it is linked to one of Kews honey bee hives vibrate in time with the bees in the hive. Digitised sounds also emanate from the structure linked to the bees. The more active the real hive, the more active the giant hive is. Sadly we couldn’t climb into the structure today as it was closed for maintenance.
We walked round to the other side to gain a different perspective on it and found a vacant picnic bench which we moved into the shade for our lunch. A very nice courgette frittata and humous crunchy salad, followed by cherries from Marion and John’s tree and a very tasty apricot and oat cake (which I must get the recipe for please). We provided a bottle of wine to help wash everything down.
Around the gardens are glass sculptures by Chihuly : Reflections on Nature. Most of the pieces we saw were red orange and yellow, fiery burning out from flower beds, chrysalid like forms, large feather dusters towering up to the sky.
One nearer the main entrance was bright blue, a giant ice bauble made from spikes of glass.
We walked along paths by trees that have seen and watched many visitors. Down rhododendron paths, sadly all the flowers long gone. We dashed past sprinklers getting a refreshing spray. Bamboo walks reminding me of the secret passageway as a child between an ornate garden wall and the tall canes where you could hide from Mum and Dad.
A newish bridge across the lake was a bit of a surprise to Mick, it not having been there in his childhood when he and his sisters were brought to the gardens by his Dad, most probably to give his Mum an hour or two of peace and quiet.
A lovely afternoon amongst nature, art and family, ducking the shadows of planes from Heathrow.
They came home smelling of trees! Exciting exotic trees. How dare they go climbing trees without me showing them how! I’d been left on board on my own again, looking up at the big climbing frame that I’m not allowed into. She had requested that I carry on scanning a book, doesn’t She know that turning pages without an opposing thumb is impossible! I’d have had to use my teeth to do that and I knew that wouldn’t have gone down too well.
This morning I’d been told that we were expecting a visitor this afternoon and that she was coming to meet me. I was going to meet the lady who sends me Christmas mice and Dreamies, my Number 1 fan! This got me quite excited and I couldn’t quite contain myself so had to dispose of a very big fur ball all over shorts that She’d left on the bed. I felt much better afterwards.
Joa Number 1 arrived around about Ding Ding time, which did mean that I wasn’t having a post food snooze. Joa smelt of cats and had a big bag which smelt quite interesting. Being shy for a while paid off as I was offered some of my favourite things, Webstix. If you haven’t tried one you really don’t know what you’ve missed! They are just so good. So much better than Dreamies. Then I let Joa give me some. Joa is very nice and had this great bag full of things just for me! Although a book had sneaked in there too which had instructions on how to make felty cat things from my fur! Well I haven’t quite finished with my fur yet! She can practice with the fur ball I left for her earlier today.
It was very nice meeting Joa Number 1. She has told me that I have to thank you for my treats and the mouse. The mouse got killed several times this evening after my Ding Ding. She says I have enough treats now to last me till next year.
Because I hadn’t even started on the scanning, She spent all evening using her thumbs and getting it done. Tom cooked them a nice M&S sad gits curry which they had in between pages.
0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 3rd sister-out-law, 2nd free visit to Kew, 1 yummy lunch, 18 very nice cherrys, 1 recipe required, 1 clean pair of shorts in the wash, No 1 fan, 2 many treats for such a little cat, 1 sad git curry, 1st diary completed.
One boat pulled out from the pontoon at 8am this morning, the boat next to them pulled across so as to reduce the amount of footfall directly outside their window. The first GoBoat filled with Japanese tourists went past at just gone 9am, no popping of presecco corks on that boat. The world was waking up around us.
The yellow water tank needed sorting and thanks to Tilly the boat floor really needed a wash this morning! We had a good tidy up and then Mick headed back to Little Venice on a bike with recycling and the yellow water for disposal. The custodian of the bins was still on duty. With fewer feet about the place I gave Oleanna’s cabin floor a good wash down.
The forecast had been for lower temperatures today, but it still seemed quite warm. To make sure we didn’t get hypothermia I popped the oven on for a couple of hours to roast a couple of small chickens.
Kath and Sean arrived for Sunday lunch. We haven’t seen Sean for some time, he’s been working when we’ve arranged a meet up. Today, as the weather this last week has been so good, he had a day off. He is a sound engineer and has been working at Wimbledon, no rain meant no play today so he had a day off.
We had a lovely afternoon with them, chatting and eating. The handy M&S next door meant that we could have some ice cream with our strawberries and raspberries despite not having a working freezer at the moment.
After filling our bellies we had a walk up to Little Venice before returning to the boat. Kath and Sean had come by car so that they could pick up a couple of boxes of Geraghty history we’d brought back from the house. They had been fortunate as the nearest parking space to our mooring had been available and free on Sundays, so there wasn’t far to stagger with the boxes.
Mid afternoon our nearest neighbour pulled out, Motor Boat Willow. For two years they worked at Bollington Wharf on the Macclesfield but when they had a baby earlier this year they decided to head south. Tilly now has a better view out of the windows, but there is no longer Thea the cat to stare at.
The title of todays blog? Several boats have come down into the basin today, most of them local boats looking for their next mooring. One such boat spotted the two free spaces on the pontoon and was starting to reverse back into one of them, he then saw the sign. As he moved his boat away he said to Mick ‘Shiny Boat Central!’ Followed by how nice it was to see such boats in Paddington. Just before dark another boat arrived and pulled in to an available space,they looked shiny too!
Time to make our final plunge into London this morning. We had a two and a bit hour cruise ahead of us and also wanted to top up with water at Little Venice. It being a Saturday and there not being many taps along this stretch we expected that we’d have to wait.
Whilst Mick pootled Oleanna along through, Perivale, Alperton and Stonebridge, across the north circular I got on with a bit of a tidy up.We’ve got visitors whilst we’re in London so my panto model won’t be able to stay out. Stuff needed to go away, we’re bad at that.
A spare duvet needed putting back under the sofa in a vacuum bag, Tilly helped especially when she thought she’d found a new entrance to the secret passageway. Winter cloths were also put in a vacuum bag and shrunk ready to be put away.
A sweep through, the shower had a once over before I used it then I could join Mick up top.
As we got closer towards the centre the canal got greener. The duck weed being pushed aside by our bow. To us it’s not that much of a problem, but water cooled engines, especially outboards it really isn’t good. Along the Old Oak stretch a wide beam came past towing a cruiser with a homemade wooden top. Not much further along we could see that someone was having difficulty. One of those box boats, a bit like a square caravan was sat too far over, a lady seemed to be doing circuits along the narrow gunnel.
I popped up to the bow to see if they needed any help whilst Mick slowed our progress, not that hard against all the duck weed. They had been over taken by the widebeam and pushed across getting grounded, their outboard had also stopped working not helping things. After checking which way they were travelling (it’s hard to tell with such a vessel) I took a rope from their bow, passed it over our bow T stud, Mick backed us off and they came free. It hadn’t taken much effort on our part but without a pole they were stuck.
We carried on the duck weed getting thicker.
Ducklings stood in a line infront of some moorings having a preen, an orange wiggle on the towpath with an ideas cafe sat underneath the A40.
We spotted a few spaces should we have needed them, then as we came round the last bend we could see up to the water point, empty!
There used to be a group of men who loitered here, today there was only one chap, a Custodian of the Bins. He offered to help with our ropes and admired Tilly as she posed in the window. We topped up the water tank, disposed of rubbish and the contents of our solids bucket.
Just ahead of our bow a line of bubbles pushed back the duck weed, trying it’s best to keep the green out of Little Venice.
A slow tap, but once filled we pushed on through the bubbles assisting some of the green to cross the line. Two boats were moored at Rembrandt Gardens. We’d managed to book a place there in 2014, but when ever we’ve tried to get a place since they have been booked up months and months in advance.
On we continued across another line of bubbles and under Harrow Road Bridge. Normally by now we are trying to be cool about finding a mooring whilst being slightly pensive inside. Today we hoped our space would be waiting for us.
There were a few spaces by the tube entrance, opposite the new tall criss crossed building which is still a building site. The final bend into Paddington Basin and there was a vacant spot waiting for us. We pulled in onto the slightly too short pontoon, not enough cleats to tie to so some jiggery pockery had to be done with the centre line. We’d arrived.
Since early June C&RT have been running a trial. This pontoon is now pre-bookable. A maximum of 7 nights, there is space for six boats, the outer two spaces can be used by widebeams. There will be another couple of sights across London, Kings Cross and Sweetwater on the Lee which will be introduced this year. These will be reviewed in the autumn, hopefully they will continue to encourage more visitors into London, I just hope there is space available when we next want to visit without having to book a year in advance. Details here
This evening was our first catch up. We caught the tube across a hot sticky London to Tufnell Park where our friends Nick and Kerry live with Harry their dog. A lovely evening followed with much beer and wine drunk, a great chicken curry all followed by homemade Chilled Medication! You can tell he reads the blog every now and then.
Lime water ice and ginger ice cream, the curry had been good, but this, yumm. We might have to return for seconds. The evening had brought rain with it, but we were fortunate that one last drink meant it had stopped for our journey back to Oleanna and Tilly.
0 locks, 7.65 miles, 1 blanket of green, 1 rescue, 1 free water point, 1 straight on, 1 last mooring, 0 shore leave, 1 miffed cat, 4 tubes, 2 bottles of wine, 1 chicken curry, 2 varieties of chilled medication, 1 lovely evening.
NB Augustus came past us whilst we were having our cuppa in bed, there wasn’t enough time to get the covers rolled up and pushed out to join them for Denham Deep Lock, anyway I hadn’t finished my tea.
An hour later another boat came into view, we started to get ourselves ready when Mick spotted another boat behind them, they were obviously already sharing the locks, so no need to hurry. We pushed off and followed on behind them knowing we’d be the odd one at the back of the queue.
Chatting to the two boats ahead as they descended the lock, they both were heading into London, one to take their chances with the masses, the other has a booked mooring.
With nobody coming from below we filled the chamber up, all 10ft 6″. A large group of students came up to the side of the lock to watch.
They just about filled the towpath side and I suggested that some of them move, just in case Mick knocked the bottom gate as he left, we didn’t want anybody tumbling into the canal or onto our roof. A chap sat on the off side closed the gate for us meaning we could be on our way.
We were now looking for a mooring close to Uxbridge, one with cover would be ideal. Soon there was space in the shade and Mick pulled us in, both of us doing our best not to get nettled as we moored up.
An early lunch then Mick was off to make use of his 60+ oyster card. He headed across London back out to Hackney where my panto model was sat waiting at my brothers. Hopefully I’ll be able to get on with finishing everything so that as soon as we turn out onto the Thames I can concentrate on boating.
Tilly headed off and soon found gaps in the mesh alongside the towpath to be able to access the trees and find friends for the afternoon. This left me with the panto script and a spread sheet to compile a props list. It is way bigger than last years, but with fewer tricksy makes. A set builder also needed more information so some of my technical drawings had to be scanned and emailed off.
The shade that we’d arrived to was short lived. I had about an hours worth before the sun crept along the cabin sides, this lasted well into the evening. Inside I was at least sheltered from the sun, but the temperature kept on rising. Tilly even had to return for spells to be a long cat on the floor.
When Mick returned we made use of the shade Oleanna was now creating and sat out to enjoy a barbeque, the towpath just wide enough. Sweet corn, followed by some chicken thighs marinated in ginger and garlic with a hint of chilli and veg and halloumi kebabs.
1 lock all 10ft 6″ of it, 1.17 miles, 1 shady mooring for an hour, 1 bright mooring for 7! 1 oven, 1 long cat, 4 tubes, 2 buses, 118 props, 4 kebabs, 3 thighs, 1 model back to be finished, 1 cat preffering a wider boat roof, 1 big hello again to Ali!