Monday, 30 May 2016

On the tideway

after a day spent in Brentford preparing ourselves for the Thames we arranged for the passage through Thames lock on Saturday morning.
Not just mental preparation, the captain had to dig the anchor out of the locker and find a suitable rope to give us the right scope just in case. Not something you need on a canal but an essential piece of equipment for a river, especially a tidal section.
As the old saying says, time and tide wait for no man, so we were on the move at 5.00 am, dropping down the guaging lock to arrive at Thames lock at 5.45 ready for the lock keeper to  let us onto the river and catch the tide to whizz us up to Teddington.
Although the captain has sailed on the Solent, it was my first time on tidal waters and I was a bit apprehensive. Oakapple behaved beautifully, streaking along with the tide, followed by NB Inca.
All too soon we arrived at Teddington lock and were onto Evironment Agency waters which meant a transit licence was required for the section onto the river Wey. (A bargain at £10).
The sun shone and we relaxed as the two boats cruised past Hampton Court palace, through Sunbury, eventually finding the entrance to the river Wey which was a bit confusing.
The Wey is administered by the National Trust so yet another licence was required. Not such a bargain this one, at over £70 for the week. Hope it's worth it!

Friday, 27 May 2016

London Town.

it's an amazing thing, you can take your boat into central London and spend a week only minutes away from Marble Arch. The second half of our week there was just as hectic as the first.
There was an open air concert in Trafalgar square by the London Philharmonic. Frustrating if you are serious about the music, what with people pushing in front and chattering, (does anyone in London speak English?), but great for the atmosphere.
A visit to St Pauls was on our list. What a magnificent building. It was worth the hundreds of steps up to the galleries. The views over the city were superb.
From there we walked along the south bank to tower bridge. The exhibition takes you up the towers and over the walkways high above the Thames. These walkways have been fitted with glass floors, so you can stand and look down to the cars and boats underneath. Some people were a bit squeamish about it but we loved the experience. You then visit the boiler and engine rooms which originally powered the bridge. It was well worth the entry fee. Quite modest for London.
Our last visit of the week was to HMS Belfast, the last surviving cruiser from WW11 . For anyone interested in ships and the Royal Navy it is an eye opener to see how the crew lived and worked in a warship of the time. You can wander at leisure over the whole ship, from the bridge right down into the engine rooms.
Sadly our time there has come to an end and, along with NB Inca. We slipped out of Paddington basin on Wednesday morning, heading for the river Thames at Brentford.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Big City, Bright lights.

Since our arrival in Paddington basin we have set about exploring the big City.
There were two things on my wish list. As a lifelong Rolling Stones fan, a visit to the Stones exhibition at the Saatchi gallery was a must. we bought the tickets in advance online. On our arrival the link they sent me was scanned from my phone. Wow! Is this the future or what?
The whole thing was stunning. Guitars, costumes, and a host of other memorabilia. Our walk there took us down Sloan St. It was a suprise to see that the shops all had bouncers in the doorways. I suppose they are there to keep rif raf like us out. None of them had any customers in but I expect they don't need many with the prices they charge!
The other must was a trip to the theatre to see Sunny Afternoon, based on the story of the Kinks. The story was put together by Ray Davies himself so it had the ring of authenticity, as well as all the wonderful music.
Today we caught the bus as far as St Pauls and walked across the millenium bridge to the south bank. Wending our way through the old alleys we found ourselves at St Thomas St. Where the old operating theatre museum is hidden away in the roof of the church. It is a vivid demonstation of how far medical science has developed since Georgian times. The operating theatre lay hidden for 100 years until its discovery in 1956. It is complete with the galleries where students would crowd in to watch the operations taking place, all without anaesthetic. You can see why they are called theatres.
To recover from our chilling visit we had a pint in one of the many traditional London pubs before making our way over Tower bridge and catching the bus back to Paddington.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

A last supper and Parting of the ways

After six weeks cruising in company with NB Muleless, we parted company this morning at Cowley.
Gary and Della are coming no further south while we are heading for the Thames. We had a last meal together on board Oakapple yesterday evening. The captains played guitars together and we all had a great time.
It was a 6.00am start today for the long run into Paddington basin. NB Inca had gone ahead and we managed to breast up alongside at midday in pouring rain. We were just thankful to get a mooring here. We are now settled in for a week in central London with all the delights it has to offer.
As the rain eased this afternoon we had a stroll down the Edgeware road and across Hyde Park, ending up outside Buckingham palace.
The Queen must have heard we had arived because the household cavalry, splendid in their finery, came trotting past, the leading horseman blowing a fanfare in our honour.
I am now putting together a wish list of things to see and places to visit. Just got tickets to see the stones exhibition at the Saatchi gallery. Top of my list!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Old haunts and armed police!

After the Queen graced us with her visit we started making our way towards Watford and moored at Lady Capels bridge near Cassiobury park. The Captain grew up in this area so he is always keen to explore the changes that have taken place since he was a nipper.
After a day or two there we moved on down to Rickmansworth in company with NB Muleless and NB Inca. There is an odd collection of boats moored here. Aparently it has always been that way, even back in the 1960s.
Again, the town and canal here is part of the captains childhood and we took the oportunity to walk to the estate where he lived. The route took us along the Ebury way, a cycle route into Watford along an old  railway line. Turning off down a footpath, we passed the very picturesque Hamper Mill and entered the back of the estate. The Captain was keen to point out where his childhood friends had lived and the places they had built dens as kids.
As we stood looking at the house he grew up in we became aware of a helicopter hovering overhead. There also seemed to be a lot of police activity around. When we saw armed officers getting out of cars in seemed sensible not to linger so we moved on and left them to it. It seems that someone with a machette had been seen near one of the local schools. The Captain says it was never like that when he lived there. My parents always warned me to stay away from the council kids but he turned out OK. Bit late now anyway, after nearly fifty years!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Queen Visits.

Since leaving Startops End we have made our way down to Berkhampsted. I say down, because all the locks are downhill right the way to the Thames at Brentford.
As we arrived at Berkhampsted in company with N B Muleless there were large crowds out to greet us, all waving flags and cheering. Coincidentally, the Queen was also visiting the town so she also was able to bask in the glory of our arrival.
We all strolled up to the high street for breakfast at the local Wetherspoons. Around 11.00am I went outside with Della to catch a glimpse of Queenie. The captains went off to the Gents to wave their own flags and got back just as Her Majesty dissapeared round the corner. Hey Ho, such is life.
After some shopping for supplies we moved on, looking for a good mooring with space for a BBQ. Finding a good wide towpath at Hemel Hempstead we moored up and were soon joined by NB Inca.
The sun shone, the BBQ smoked, and we had a great weekend of, well, lazing in the sunshine. Has summer really arrived at last?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Alien landing at Startops End? The Captain speaks.

We left Aylesbury basin on Friday and moved up three locks into the countryside ready for the bigger slog up the remaining 13 locks yesterday. The sun shone, although the wind was still keen at times. Still, by three o clock we were moored up at the romantically named Startops End.
Now the Captain has his own theory about how it got its name. Here it is in his own words.

Hi readers. The Captain speaks.    My first mate has generously allowed me to contribute this to the blog. Well, what she actually said was, "if you want that in you can write it yourself", Some people just don't share my sense of wonder at at the mysteries of the cosmos.
At Startops End there are several large reservoirs which supply water to the canal. My theory goes like this:
A few thousand years ago a fleet of intersteller starships landed here, creating the depressions in the landscape which have now become the lakes, giving rise to the name, Startops End, as a kind of race memory effect. Obviously, being the highest land around it was the perfect place for the fleet to land. Now I know some of you will dismiss the theory as mere fancy but, hey, you never know!
Now back to the first mate.

Well, having got that out of the way, we will be making our way south towards Berkhampstead next week. The fuel boat Hyperion camy by this morning so we topped up the tanks. The captain wanted to stay moored at Startops  in case the aliens returned so he could be abducted, but luckily Canal & River Trust won't let us stay that long. Honestly, I sometimes wonder what planet he is on!