Friday, 26 May 2017

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.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

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!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

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.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Phew! 23rd May

 Ballot Box Bridge to Paddington Basin

DSCF2246smThe wallpaper on our laptop changes a couple of times a day to images that have been saved on it. As we bought the laptop when we moved on board the photos are of our cruising over the last three years. Most of which we can still identify where they were taken. This morning when the image loaded it was the one above on the Bridgwater Canal in Manchester.

P1040087smToday we continued our approach into London with the aim of joining the continuous shufflers. Last time we tried to arrive as early as we could hoping to arrive as someone else was leaving Paddington Basin. But this hadn’t worked, so we decided to take it more leisurely, anyway we had a passenger to pick up. We pushed off at 9.15 and slowly pootled along past numerous moored boats. Three quarters of an hour later Mick could see our passenger, Christine (Mick’s eldest sister) walking along the towpath and we handily met her at a bridge where she could step on board.

P1040118smOnly a short distance on and we pulled over to the off side where there was an elsan point and we hoped some water. Sure enough there was a tap from which we could top up the tank. Just as Mick hopped off Oleanna a lady walked up towards us saying “Excuse me!”. We thought she was going to tell us to move on, but instead she said “What a gorgeous boat”. Thank you we like her too!

P1040107smP1040128smP1040144smOnce topped up we could carry on at slow speed pootling our way towards Little Venice. This is the third time we’ve done this journey and we gradually cross off the sights as we go by. The north circular with it’s aromatic smells, Old Oak Common Sidings with shiny new trains, Kensal Green Cemetery, the gasometers, Spiderman still clinging on, the weird garden memorials, the West Way still with a space to moor under it free.

P1040102smP1040114smThen for the final mile we started to look out for spaces to moor. As we came under Ha’penny Bridge we could see a widebeam up ahead. Where had it come from? Would it have left a big space that we could fill? There were a couple of places where we could have breasted up, but we decided to try further along. The widebeam must have been a boat that came past us earlier this morning luckily it turned left at Little Venice and headed towards Maida Hill Tunnel.

P1040149smTwo boats were on the bookable moorings at Rembrandt Gardens. A couple of months ago we’d looked at booking one of these, but there was only one day available this week. Mick had even tried calling C&RT the other day to see if there had been any cancelations, but there were none. By now we were both feeling a little apprehensive as there wasn’t much water left to moor in. Outside the entrance to Paddington Station was a boat that had turned at Bulls Bridge yesterday, but no spaces. Turning the bend past the fixed boats we could quickly see that the pontoons were all full. A line of breasted up boats outside the hospital. But then at the end of the moorings we spied a gap, would there be anything to tie up to? Two cleats sat just waiting for us to pass our blue ropes round. We pulled in and tied up, Phew! Maybe the cormorant pooh had been lucky.

P1040160smP1040186smCuppas all round and some Spinach and Ricotta rolls to fill a gap. Sorry Frank no photo as we ate them all too quickly. It was lovely to have Christine with us on the way in and we’ll be seeing her again later in the week.

P1040153smP1040156smThis afternoon we’ve had a wander around and been to Maplins. At the end of the basin, past the fan bridge is an area that you can’t moor in, it always looked really shallow. Today people were working on some pontoons which make up a floating garden area. It is due to open before the end of the month and will have a mooring for a trading boat to sell drinks from. Grass, seating and raised flower beds make up the garden which certainly brightens up the end of the basin.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 7.65 miles, 1 passenger, 1 full water tank, 1 guided tour, 1 last towpath mooring, 1 lucky boat, 9 Spinach and Ricotta rolls, 1 can contact cleaner, 1 miffed cat! 0 shore leave, 3 moorings taken up by GoBoats, 1 sack barrow needed, 1 floating garden, 300 miles on Oleanna so far.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Turn To The Left. 22nd May

Cowley Lock to Ballot Box Bridge

A couple of suggestions came about after yesterdays poohing incident as to what might have jettisoned it’s load on Oleanna. Kath from NB Herbie suggested that it may have been a cormorant, we had seen a couple of them yesterday so I suspect this was the case. But another friend suggested it could have been peacocks as they tend to leave similar messes around Warwick!

P1040041smWe seemed to be the first to move today and it wasn’t early. Yesterday the canal had been quite busy with boats coming and going for some time after we’d moored. We pootled along in the sunshine, after three quarters of a mile we passed the end of the Slough Arm. At the beginning of 2015 we had tried venturing down the arm only to be thwarted by ice.

P1040043smI’m not too keen on this stretch of the canal as it brings back sad memories of the day we knew we had to say goodbye to Houdini our old second mate who had move on board with us in 2014. After passing West Drayton Tescos I headed below to have a shower and keep myself busy as we passed under Colham (Murderers) Bridge. Tilly kept me amused either by being transfixed by the shower gulper or putting the bath mat out of it’s misery.

P1040049smP1040053smOne of the first boats to be moving towards us was a very wide widebeam. Mick pulled us right over giving the chap at the helm as much space as we could, he still had to keep walking the half mile to look down is starboard side to check he had enough space. We were relieved once he had passed.

P1040056smSoon Bulls Bridge Junction came into view and the water point by Tescos was chocker. A small tug was on the end of the mooring, two narrowboats breasted up with a third filling their water tank. There was no point in us trying to find space to top up so we pulled in on the same side but where the wall is quite high. This would mean we could easily stock up on things from Tescos before turning left into the Paddington Arm.

P1040060smP1040065smShopping done and a load of washing on we reversed up a touch and then swung Oleanna into the Arm heading north east. Tilly came out to join us for a while, passing trains didn’t bother her, but she really has a problem with bridges. Someone steals the sky! It looked like something had been demolished near the Southall gasometer, but it turns out that the old gas works had been being used as a car park for Heathrow for sometime. Now the 88 acre sight is being cleared for a development comprising of 3750 homes, schools, commercial space and a lot of green park areas.

P1040070smOn we pootled passing the water point in Southall. Here there were a disappointing number of swans, but masses of pigeons. Locals come to feed the birds right by the tap, piling mounds of bread or seed up on the mooring point, it somewhat puts you off stopping! Arriving at the Black Horse Pub the water point here was free so we made use of it before continuing onwards. Our hope is to just need to top up tomorrow morning before heading deeper into London where once we’ve found a mooring we are unlikely to want to move for water as we may not have a mooring anymore!

P1040080smA short distance on and we approached Ballot Box Bridge at the foot of Horsenden Hill. A suitable sized gap greeted us so we pulled in. Mick was pulling us in with the centre rope as one of the working boats we’d seen in Rickmansworth came past. He didn’t slow down or even acknowledge that Mick was clinging on for dear life to a now unpredictably moving Oleanna! He just kept on going at speed pulling another boats bow spike out as he went. Cheers Mate!

I suspect Tilly will be gone for hours as we are right next to a nature reserve! Eek!

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 9.99 miles, 1 straight, 1 left, 0 space, 1 high wall, 19 swans, 1 bikini, 37 parakeets, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing almost dry, 1 absent cat, 1 laminated map!!


Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Albatross and Fairies. 21st May

Black Jack Lock to Cowley Lock

P1030939smP1030943smLast night we crossed over the canal and climbed the steep hill to The Old Orchard which had been recommended to us last year by Joa who moors nearby. I believe she had suggested that it was the only pub within the M25 where you couldn’t see a street light. As we passed by last year we looked up at the pub and didn’t believe that this was possible, but last night we could understand the claim.



P1030945smP1030949smP1030955smWe’d booked our table online which always makes me slightly nervous, but yes we were known about and directed to our table which was waiting for us. This was certainly a busy pub, parking for around sixty cars, numerous tables which were swiftly being turned for the next booking and people being turned away at the door. The menu was varied, I opted for Sea Bass with asparagus, saffron potatoes and a spinach cream sauce and Mick opted for the far simpler Steak Burger, both were very nice indeed. A choice of beers both local and Mancunian and a log fire. A very good recommendation, thank you Joa.

P1030976smP1030968smThe waitress was relieved that we were had decided to finish our beer outside watching the sun go down as the next people had arrived for our table. Outside a dark band of cloud was overhead, the lake below and trees as far as the eye could see. A fantastic view that got even better as the setting sun suddenly shone below the clouds. Even the staff came out to have a look, we really could have been in another country.

P1030980smBreakfast was an improvement to the last one we’d had. Thank you Naughty Cal for your recommended sausages a great improvement on Quorn ones.

P1030987smP1030992smThe sun was back out this morning and we soon lost our extra layers as the day warmed up. Boats were on the move and we managed to swap with two coming out of Black Jacks Lock and then swap with another as we came out below. The air soon became full of fairies, it was snowing the fluffy seeds from the willow trees that lined the pounds above and below Wide Water Lock. There were so many horizontally flying past that it made our noses itch and the surface of the water was getting covered with them.

P1040012smGongoozlers greeted us at Denham Deep Lock who filmed our whole journey down and this lock lives up to it’s name. After Uxbridge Lock we swung Oleanna into Denham Yacht Station and waited our turn. The diesel was 68p litre well worth filling the tank as ever here. As we left another boat was pulling in.

We decided to stop on the 24hour moorings opposite for some lunch before carrying on. So once moored up we retired inside for a cuppa and a bit of sustenance before the last lock this afternoon. A load of washing had finished and we toyed with putting the airier out on the well deck, but decided to leave it inside as it would only get in the way.

After lunch I came out into the well deck and was confronted with an absolute mess. What on earth had happened?

P1040030smP1040025smHad someone maliciously splattered white paint over Oleanna? She was covered with splatters of thin white stuff which extended half way down her. I called Mick over, we’d heard nothing whilst inside. Examining the white spatter as a scenes of crime police officer would I noticed that there was no angle to them that would suggest that they had been propelled from the towpath. It had definitely all come from above hitting both sides of the bow, covering the well deck, spreading half way up the length of Oleanna, but none on the bow or cratch window, not a dot! Only one thing it could be bird pooh! From a very big bird, an Albatross! Being poohed on by a bird is supposed to be lucky. Oleanna is extremely lucky!!!

P1040039smWe pootled our way on to Cowley Lock with me washing off as much of the white as I could as we went. The Uxbridge Boys (who we encountered in 2015) were at their home mooring. The mile of moored boats brought us to the services above the last lock before Paddington. We pulled in and dealt with the yellow water tank right in front of drinkers sat outside the pub, they didn’t seem to notice what we were doing. Once down the lock we spotted a 7 day mooring alongside the park the right size for Oleanna so pulled in.

With mooring up complete, trip computer co-ordinates noted and turned off Tilly was allowed shore leave for the rest of the afternoon. Today this meant annoying the local squirrels and birds, being chased by a black dog up a tree, loosing a collar and having passers-by worried that she was stuck in a tree! Firstly I went up the tree to taunt the dog and see how long it would keep barking for, stupid thing! I really didn’t need any assistance and my experiment was thwarted when she came and grabbed rescued me! Secondly the couple who were trying to stroke me whilst I was out of reach were also stupid and I climb trees as often as they are available, so needed no help what-so-ever! Thirdly, my collar just dropped off my neck,I had nothing to do with it, at all! Anyway it was looking decidedly tatty!

Tilly now has a new collar on with tag and bell, Mick is threatening on buying a tracker to add to her collar, at least then we’ll be able to find it when she looses one!

DSCF7114sm5 locks, 5.41 miles, 1 Braunston Banger, 1 Turkey sausage, 7245 bezillion fairies, 1 wave to NB Beatrix, 10 minutes of water lowering a boat, 0 floating dry dock, 71 litres at 68p, 2.7 gallons of accurately jettisoned bird shit, 1 blue brush kept busy, 37 drinkers unaware, 1 port side rinsed, 1 fantastic park, 9 trees, 1 stupid woofer, 2 stupider people, 1 cat without a collar,  1 last name tag, 1 slice of birthday cake for Mick, 0 for me!