Category Archives: London

Pausing, Power and Phone. 15th July

Ballot Box Bridge

Those trees are talking!

Just as well we’d decided to stay here another day so that I could carry on working.

Notice Alert

Grand Union Canal
Starts At: Lock 101A, Thames Lock (House side)
Ends At: Lock 101A, Thames Lock (House side)

Monday 15 July 2019 09:00 until further notice

Type: Advice
Reason: Repair


Original message:

Due to a local power supply fault, Brentford Thames Lock is currently not operating until further notice.Engineers are currently working on restoring power to the Lock and an update will be provided when this becomes fully operational.

However these things don’t tend to take too long to mend so Mick checked on the C&RT website and made a phone call to book passage down onto the Thames later this week. At first he was told that they weren’t taking bookings, but then he was passed onto someone else. This person then told Mick that the lock was operational again. Sure enough a notice to that effect dropped into our inbox as he was on the phone some 52 minutes after the first one.

Apparently in the summer you don’t have to book 48 hours in advance to use Thames Lock, Brentford, but at least we now knew when it would be manned, as the river is tidal there this alters.

Crossing things off

I spent the day doing technical drawings for panto, working my way through the list I’d made yesterday and sadly spotting a couple of things I’d missed too! By the end of the day my box of bits left to draw up only had a few things left in it. Only a few hours left and I’ll be ready for my final design meeting.

Nearly there!

Tilly spent the day dodging bikes and runners. There is definitely a rush hour or two between 5:30 and 7:30pm. The speed some of the bikes go at! So much so her shore leave was curtailed for her own safety and hour earlier than normal. She wasn’t impressed, but then she has had two whole days outside and decided to have a nap. This nap lasted until we wanted to make up our bed and had to disturb her.

Towpath Tilly

Mick caught up on the Tour de France and then headed off to get a bus into Ealing, this is where he grew up and lived until he moved to Scarborough. He successfully managed to walk past The Red Lion without going in for a pint, but also successfully managed to loose his mobile!

Being in Ealing he knew there would be an EE shop and an Argos, so that he could get sorted . But where were they? He’d look on his phone…Oh. He’d give me a call…..Oh. He’d use a phone box, found one, it did have a phone but stank of wee…Oh. At the library he was signed onto a computer so that he could see where his phone might be, the outcome likely to be on the 296 bus….Ah.

Still talking

He succeeded in getting a new phone, identical to his last and a new sim card then headed back to Oleanna. As soon as his new phone was working he gave Perivale Bus Garage a call, they had a phone that matched his description and when he called in he was able to unlock it. One phone not stolen, just misplaced.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 1 bus garage, 2 phones, 2 boxes of bits, 1 almost full, 1 almost empty, 10 hours, 7 taken, 5 talking tress, 73 mph bikes, 4 running paws, 1 lock booked.

Tense. 14th July

Ballot Box Bridge

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.

Reception good

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.

Sharing my studio

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.

Bloomin bicycles

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.

Blimey!

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!

Boozer complete

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.

Bubble Failure. 13th July

Paddington Basin to Ballot Box Bridge

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.

Duck weed encroaching

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.

Goodbye Paddington, Thank you

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.

Pushing through Little Venice

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.

Nice garden

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.

Hen do
Masses of mushy peas

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.

A touch of pruning
Slipping away from the services with the help of Custodian of the Bins

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.

Boat after boat after boat

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!

Stop washing Herbie!

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.

Straight through there out of sight

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.

Chicken, bacon, spinach, onion, feta, garlic, quinoa, parmesan, almond. Yummy!

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.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 6

Paddington Basin

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 and me through the hatch

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.

Yummy

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!

A touch more hollandaise would have been nice

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.

A sketch of 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.

Dalmations

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.

Ziggy keeping an eye on us all

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?’

Paella

A lovely evening with them as ever and Andrew cooked a wonderful paella on the barbecue, packed with fish chicken and prawns.

Lemon Tart

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.

Helen, Mick, Pip, Jac, Andrew, Josh behind the camera

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.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 5

Paddington Basin

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.

Kew

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.

The Hive
from inside

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.

Lunch
Cherries

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.

Icy spikes

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.

Planes a constant reminder

A lovely afternoon amongst nature, art and family, ducking the shadows of planes from Heathrow.

Mick, Marion and John

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.

What do you mean not yet! I’m on the Ding Ding shelf!

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.

Tasty

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.

I’ll have the whole pack please

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.

Goodies

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.

Die mouse Die!

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.

How to arrange your kit ready for inspection

Shiny Boat Central. Day 4

Paddington Basin

There were movements outside early this morning. The boat next to us had dropped it’s pram cover by 6:30. They were being considerate keeping the noise to a minimum, eventually pulling away at 7am. They were soon followed by two more boats, including the one in front of us. Once we were up Mick pulled us forward all of 60 ft. This end of the pontoon is longer, so we can now use front and back doors, better for visitors.

No work today, just some scanning of my Dad’s diary before we headed out. The memory card in my camera has been playing up a little recently so Mick formatted another card. But the camera didn’t like it as I tried to take photos of the female Tufted Duck with her 9 ducklings that she proudly displays around the basin. So a quick trip back to the boat to sort it and we were on our way again.

Going up

This delay was quite fortuitous, as we walked towards the end of the basin our route across to the bus stop was blocked. Blocked by the very bridge we’d intended crossing.

Almost
there

Several times a week the Fan bridge is opened to show it off. It does this very well. Made of five fingers, it pivots it’s digits up into the air until all the counter weighted ends lie level on the ground, this produces a fan above the water.

The buildings got in the way of a good photo

We paused to watch it reach it’s highest point. I felt sorry for the chap who had his finger on the button, knowing how much your finger joints start to ache after a while lifting or swinging a bridge. At least he didn’t have the added pressure of traffic being held up and if the bridge broke whilst up fully it would only slightly inconvenience some pedestrians.

The Number 27 bus runs up to Camden where we alighted and walked our way through several streets, the hubhub of Camden soon falling silent on the calmer side streets.

Hollyhocks

Christine (Mick’s eldest sister) and Paul have a lovely house in Kentish Town where tall hollyhocks grow around trees in the street. We had a lovely few hours catching up with them over a very nice lunch of salad, bread and cheese. The cheese was very tasty, a Caerphilly, a goat, then something blue which was tasty but the best one which was slightly creamy, sadly I can’t remember the name of it.

Cheesy treats
Sweet treats

These were followed by some Lebanese cannoli, based on Sicilian cannoli but with an almost almond brittle brandy snap outer. The insides were reminiscent to Halvah just not as crystalish. These were very tasty indeed.

The London Transport lady on the buses doesn’t know how to say Hammersmith Grove, she falls silent instead after announcing the number of the bus. Maybe that bit just hasn’t been recorded yet.

Back at the boat we gave Tilly some fusses, two more boats had arrived, leaving one available space. Soon I spotted a familiar face walking towards us, one of my best friends from school in York. Big hugs all round and then we were straight onto the wine.

School mates

Morag has recently started a new job helping to smooth existing arrangements world wide which have been and will be affected by Brexit. Her daughter today became a barrister and her son now 17 works hard at school and hopefully has stopped growing having now reached 6ft 1.

We caught up on each others news and then passed on that of other school friends. Later in the summer there is hopefully going to be a get together of our A level Geography group. I had a few leads to pass on of other members of the group. Mick did well listening to tales of Tim going for ‘Gold’, Jason’s wild card to Wimbledon and many others he’s never met.

A lovely evening which we finished off with a visit to Pizza Express.

0 locks, 60ft, 3 boats gone, 2 new boats, 13 pages scanned, 1 fanning bridge, 2 buses, 4 treat cheese, 1 sister-out-law, 1 best friend, 6 hours of catching up, 1 allusive school friend found, 1 too many glasses of wine.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 3

Paddington Basin

Another work day for me today. I put my model together and worked my way through the scenes. The colours I’ve used work well with just about every scene, I may just change the shade of pink I’ve used in the kitchen scene. Second coats could go on to everything and by the evening it was looking pretty good, it now looks like panto. Still a few days work left to do before I can hand it over.

A sneaky peek of Panto

Mick headed off to find a hardware shop. The washer on the cap for the water intake has expanded, making it hard to put it back on. So he returned with two to try and a set of new bits for a screw driver. In the set is a square headed one, which we’re hoping will mean we can now take off the back of the freezer drawer.

Mick’s personal ferry

Then he headed off to make use of his 60+ oyster again. Today he headed first to Canada Water via the tube and southwards on the overground via Clapham Junction. Then on to Greenwich. Here he considered climbing up to the top of the Dome, but at £30 he felt that was a bit steep and the view wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as that from the Harbour bridge in Sydney.

Thank you

So instead he spent £2 and caught the ferry Predator 2 across the Thames to Trinity Buoy Wharf. This only took around five minutes, but he had the boat to himself. He’d remembered about the ferry from when we came to visit my friend Kathy a couple of years ago in one of the galleries at the wharf.

Greenwich and a big boat
Greenwich and a fast boat

Next was a bus to Canary Wharf, then DLR to Island Gardens where he watched big boats go past on the Thames, before returning back to Oleanna.

A busy day all round, except for Tilly. She has taken to sleeping until around 2:30pm, then she has a period of shouting at the back door before giving up and having to visit her box in the bathroom. A quick check at what I’ve been doing all day, by sticking her head right into my model box. Luckily she approves.

Excerpt from 9th September 1943

This evening I have started to scan my Dad’s diaries from the mid 1940’s. I only have two (I suspect that’s all he wrote) which cover his life from the age of 18 in York, then onto when he joined the army and training camps. The last few entries cover his journey across the seas to India where he rebuilt bridges around Hyderabad after the end of WW2. I’m wanting to try and collate his diaries, with letters, photos and his drawings at some point. Passing them on to Andrew to read has spurred me into action.

My Dad (central) at the age of 19
140th RE (Field) OCTU 175 Class April 1944

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 2 overground trains, 1 ferry, 1 bus, 2 DLR, 1 back room den, 3 portals, 1 floor, 1 backdrop completed, 52 pages scanned, 1 cat saving up all her shore leave to have in one big go.