Sunday, 31 July 2011


Our quest to find a quiet rural mooring became 3 days hard slog, we've only covered about 17 miles but did 37 locks, most of which were against us. The majority of the usually heavy gates leak badly & most have notices on requesting that you leave empty with a paddle up on a bottom gate, the notice tells you that this will help with water management, maybe some maintenance on the locks would do that!
Though I have since read somewhere that it has been practice for years as due to leaking lock walls the lock cottages basements would flood if locks left full.

Anyway the weather was kind & we managed to pair up on Wednesday with a couple on nb Meg who are heading up to the Macclesfield Canal, we moored up for the night just passed Kings Langley, pleasant enough but the noise from the main west coast line meant it was definitely not quiet.
 Thursday, we pressed onwards stopping off in Hemel Hempstead  for some stuff from B&Q. As the day wore on it got very warm & we were visibly wilting so when we spotted some moorings above Boxmoor Top Lock we decided we'd had enough even though it was only 2pm, wimps! 
Again we had the train noise but it does seem to ease off during the night or else I was so whacked I'd have slept through anything...
So Friday we got cracking at 8am determined to find a spot for the weekend, after a couple of locks we caught up with nb Paddington & shared with them the rest of the way. We stopped briefly in Berkhamstead to pop onto the handy Waitrose,

the welcoming approach into Berkhamstead
a Berkhamstead lock with nicely painted bridge
plaque on the bridge commemorating Frances Egerton, Duke of Bridgewater
who had an estate near Berkhamstead, he is credited with being the originator of the canal system with the building of the Bridgewater Canal

We then carried on, having lunch 'on the go' getting  to the summit at 2.30 pm. A space was spotted on the moorings between the lock & the bridge that we decided it would do nicely. Nb Paddington carried on a bit further as they are on a schedule, it was a pleasure working the locks together & it certainly made it easier.

 a sigh of relief when exiting Cowroast lock 

Yesterday was chores day, I'm always amazed how messy & dusty the boat gets so a good clean through was in order then an afternoon doing very little followed. The cats are very happy here, Sid has been given his freedom as there are no big trees to get stuck up & no roads to worry about, we hardly saw him all day as he made the best of it, just the sound of the bell on his collar tinkling in the hedgerow let us know he was not far away, he did catch a shrew but luckily he brought it indoors  unhurt (apart from it's feelings maybe!) so we swiftly returned it to the great outdoors. He didn't seem to bother after that & today he has been happier to stay closer to the boat, in fact as I type he is fast asleep on the bed.
view from the hatch
We had planned to do a longish walk today across Northchurch Common & Aldbury Common but I've got a gippy tum :( so a good excuse for a lazy day (Mark's happy, it's grand prix day) & hope to do the walk tomorrow.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


What with battery problems & the dreadful weed we decided to not go any further east, so once the wind & rain had eased on Tuesday  we headed back up towards Bulls Bridge. We had been a battery down since we had to call RCR out back on the Thames at Bray. Having tried & failed to get one anywhere ( well a reasonably priced one!) I eventually located one at Uxbridge Boat Centre & they also had the oil filter we needed.

We passed this houseboat which is for sale it can be yours for £119,000 -
 they have got the same solar panels as us ( though a lot more!) which I can recommend
Still weedy note, though not as bad as Paddington & the Regent Canal. 

something else a bit different...

A couple of miles before Bulls Bridge we stopped at a mooring  we'd spotted it one the way down, it's just beyond the newish BW marina at Engineers Wharf & it's a nice patch of countryside amongst the urban sprawl. It was so peaceful we stayed 2 nights & there is a Tesco at Hayes just a 15 min walk for supplies, also brambles aplenty so we had our 1st this year, just lightly stewed with yogurt this time, next time we'll have crumble. :)

On the move again on Thursday & the first stop was the canal side Tesco at Bulls Bridge junction & then we turned north west back on the main line, the next stop was Uxbridge Boat Centre.  A very busy boatyard with boats everywhere it was difficult to see where we could get in & Mark ended up half breasted up to an old working boat & I managed to clamber across to terra firma. It was worth it, got the battery & the filter & I resisted the temptation to browse what looked like a fairly extensive chandlery. 
A bit more cruising & we moored up between Denham Lock & bridge 182, just before the rain started. The new battery was soon fitted so we are back up to 440amps again which suits our power usage.
We stayed put for the weekend as it was fairly quiet ( apart from the buzzing from overhead pylons & the nearby A40) & just a mile or so to walk back into Uxbridge for the papers & other essentials.
 I had a repeat prescription to collect from Harefield post office having previously rung them to check it was okay so yesterday we cruised the couple of miles to South Harefield & moored up above Wide Water lock. I had half a plan to stay around Harefield whilst my prescription was filled ( chemists rarely have my migraine tablets in stock &  it usually means at least waiting till next day) but we weren't impressed with the moorings available so as it was lovely weather cruising we carried on.
I liked this view, the path looks very tempting especially after a week in the City! 

No weed!

Stockers Lock
 & it's delightful cottage

We found a space on the moorings above Stockers lock that Mark reckoned would be okay for a TV signal & be handy for Rickmansworth. Through a gap in the hedge we could see what looked like a park, a look at the map told us we were moored alongside the Rickmansworth Aquadrome so after lunch we had a very pleasant walk through it to town. The prescription was left with Boots & as usual needed to wait till today to collect it. 
This morning Mark did the service now we have the filter, we need to stock up on them really than faffing about looking for them when a service is due, last autumn when RCR did our service they sold us 6 & they were much cheaper than at chandlers. 

I walked back into town this afternoon & collected my meds so that's sorted for another month. It's not been as sunny today but still warm & Sid has been happy on his lead lying in the hedge bottom or charming the passersby. Tomorrow we shall move the half mile or so up to Tesco to do a food shop, hope to get on to the service point, which is, according  to mark after he walked up there today, on the same spot as the small lock landing. After that we shall probably potter along until we find a nice quiet scenic spot for a few days, not too much to ask I hope!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Paddington Basin

Yesterday was chores day so while I did the laundry, Mark went up to Argos on Edgeware Road to pick up another vacuum cleaner as the one I bought in Staines was rubbish so it's been exchanged. He put it through it's paces & it seems to be up to the job.
Chores finished we went off to Maplins, reason being there is no satellite signal here surrounded as we are by tall buildings & I had read on Petroc's blog  that they had bought a mini aerial for £9.99 which they were getting a picture with when no sat signal. At that price it seemed worth a try though we ended up spending £14.99 for one with a slightly better range, also had to buy a freeview box @ £17.99 Came home, plugged in & we have TV, a really good picture from this titchy thing, not all channels but Mark can watch Tour de France so he's happy.
A very weedy Paddington Basin, we are in there somewhere, 
 A rare photo, it's not often these two are sat so close, Sid usually ends up 'play fighting' 
& Soona runs off, squealing...She's a big wuss.
 We were just having a coffee this morning before setting off into town when nb Baron (Pete Wakeham) fuel boat came down into the basin, at 80ppl domestic he was doing a brisk trade & we took the opportunity to fill our tank. Now we just need another leisure battery & some oil filters, I rang Uxbridge Boat Centre as we will be going past on our way back up north & they have both in stock, sorted.  
Had a walk up to Oxford Street as I wanted some crochet hooks & other bits & bobs, having  found Kleins on google I thought they would have some. Rather disappointed, the staff were off hand, only 1( & the wrong!) size of crochet hook & I felt we'd had a long walk for nothing but they did grudgingly suggest Liberty's. They were just round the corner in Regent Street & what a difference, had just what I wanted & very pleasant to boot so should you need any haberdashery items in London I can recommend Liberty's.

 Broadcasting House, although not much broadcasting today as they are on strike
 one of Boris's 'rent a cycle' stands
 We walked back through Regents Park, where even the Herons are tame
Walking back to Paddington Basin along the Regents Canal, the weed is really bad here.
 It was nice to get back to the basin after the madness of the city.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Brentford to Paddington

We spent a very pleasant long weekend in Brentford meeting up with sister in law Joy & hubby Dave & visiting Kew Gardens.
 Token Kew photo! I took loads but how many pictures of flowers do you want to see...Anyway we really enjoyed our visit &  the weather behaved itself. As we pottered we kept hearing loud music & as we wandered towards the Lion Gate to leave the music got louder then we spotted..
 these musicians on stage, it was Blondie doing sound checks getting ready for their evening concert, tickets were sold out( £36!) but we had a more pressing engagement, Mark was going to try to drag Joy into the 21st century & get her on the Internet. An hour or two later & they were online via a spare dongle of ours, Mark left it with them to play with & then they may invest in a dongle of their own although we had a text this morning to say it wasn't working....
 Leaving Brentford Visitor moorings on Tuesday morning
 Asylum Lock on the Hanwell flight,  the old asylum site over the wall is now a hospital
 The pretty Asylum Lock cottage 

The Hanwell locks weren't too arduous, they were all in our favour although we only met one boat coming down. The paddles need to be treated with respect & opened slowly as they are a bit fierce & we only needed one trip down the weed hatch. 

We found an empty spot on the Tesco moorings at Bulls Bridge, the intention was just to stop for a big shop & lunch but then we decided to stay overnight, a bit noisy but we still slept okay.

 A late start for us this morning as we leave Bulls Bridge & turn onto the Paddington Arm at 9.45am this morning.
 Not very inviting visitor moorings..

 The A40, the Westway looms overhead. Note the weed in the water, it has been quite bad, in some places the canal is greened over. When we had got moored up Mark removed a carrier bag full from the prop.
Little Venice was pretty full so after a quick stop at the services to get rid of some rubbish we carried on down to Paddington, it was busy up at the top end with the only space under a bridge so we tied up & Mark went down to the basin for a look, plenty of room further down so we moved up & are now nicely settled on a pontoon, for the next few days anyway. 

Friday, 8 July 2011

Back on the Canals in Brentford

Not wanting to outstay our welcome we left Sunbury On Thames moorings on Tuesday morning, we didn't go far as we found a spot on the moorings at Molesey Reservoirs. It was warm & sunny so we had a walk up the Thames path to Hampton Bridge...
...& spotted this ripe blackberry, will need a few more before we can have a crumble.

We walked back through East Molesey & stopped off at the small Tesco as at the Reading  Tesco I had bought  some decaf coffee by mistake & wanted to return it for a refund or exchange. Dear me, what a palaver & what miserable grumpy staff, glad I shan't have any reason to darken their doors again.

On Wednesday morning I had B****y vertigo back & decided it was time to see a GP, I had located a NHS walk in centre at Teddington so we moved up to Teddington Lock moorings, passing on the way...
 Chimneys galore at Hampton Court
 Hampton Court Palace
& some odd...
There was plenty of space at Teddington & after mooring up we walked up to see the lock keepers to pay the mooring fee (£8) & find out what time we needed to be going down on Thursday morning. We knew high tide was 6.40 am & the lockie advised 7am to half past so not too early.
 moored at Teddington Lock
 After sorting that out we crossed over these 2 footbridges into the town, the height didn't bother me but the steps up & down were a bit tricky.... I was in & out of the very pleasant walk in centre in less than an hour & a half, had seen a lovely GP & give a prescription which I was able to have filled at the on site pharmacy. A brilliant service & due to close in December - madness!!

7.15am Thursday morning saw us in the lock 
& before long we passed under the ornate Richmond Bridge.

After a bit of  'is that it?'  (a sign would help here!) we made the sharp left turn off the Thames.
The Thames Lock was manned,  I think it'll probably be a while before we see any more of those! 

As we approached Brentford Lock a couple of boats where just going up & I could see it was electric so no windlass needed, Mark pulled up on the landing & I walked up to take over from the boater seeing the boats through, I was a bit wobbly still  so it didn't help when I realised I needed the BW key & had to wobble back to the boat. 3 weeks on the Thames & I've got out of practice! Easy peasy though, just pressing buttons & with that we are back on the Grand Union.

There was plenty of space on the Brentford visitor moorings so we are staying here for the weekend, the real work will start next week when we do the Hanwell flight on our way onto the Paddington Arm,  better dust off the windlasses.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Sunbury on Thames

Friday morning  at 8am we left Maidenhead, 
no-one had been along to ask for the £8 mooring fee, which was nice ;) 

no mooring here ?

According to Nicholson's there are full services at Boveney Lock, the lock keeper directed us to the water point below the lock & a sharp right turn, as we came round the corner it made a nice change to see these 3 busy filling up ( instead of the ubiquitous  plastics)

 It was nb's Amarantine, Caipercaillie & Sarob 

Chatting to Ken & Lynda, nb Amarantine, whilst waiting (one slow tap) we were introduced to Max their 9 month old cat, who like Sid is trained to a lead. 
Sid & Max checking each other out
Max also like climbing trees & like Sid non too clever at getting down again.  You can read about their adventures here as they are also bloggers so another one on my blog roll.
They have fitted out Amarantine themselves including the very smart & professional cratch cover  which Lynda made. I was very impressed! Eventually it was our turn & we filled the water tank..
 then on passed Windsor Castle
 a dire warning not to moor here... click on pic to enlarge if text is too small
 & found a pleasant  National Trust mooring at Runnymeade in front of this grand old dutch barge
'De Witte Seep' 1897 
this beastie posed for a photo, it was huge with a 4" wingspan

The NT warden came to collect the £6 fee about 6pm, as we'd had a free one the night before we could hardly complain & it was a lovely spot. we spent most of the afternoon taking the cratch off again as still the earwigs abound... yuk.   We thought we would have had a disturbed night as we seemed to be directly under the flight path for Heathrow with planes noisily passing over every minute or so but either they eased off or we just slept through it. 
Mark spent Saturday morning tinkering with the batteries & I would have had a good clean up but the vacuum cleaner decided to pack up....
After lunch we made the decision to move on as the plane noise was getting a bit much, we stopped briefly in Staines when we spotted a handy mooring on the waterfront so a quick food shop & a new vacuum cleaner from Argos.
This barge moored near Staines caught our eye as it was registered in Hull ( our home town) Later I googled it & found an interesting  blog  by the owners Mary & Simon Sparrow. If you click on 'Mary's View' she recounts the story Misterton's restoration, I found it fascinating.
After leaving Staines we pottered along hoping to find somewhere to moor for at least the night but of course it's a warm sunny & busy  weekend on the Thames & no free ( meaning available, we got to the point we'd happily have paid up for a vacant spot!)  moorings. So onwards & eventually at 6pm we arrived at Sunbury Lock where, on the Nicholson Guide there is a blue M & I thought these maybe moorings at the lock, usually to be booked & paid for via the lock keeper. But just as we were getting fed up our luck turned, the helpful lock keeper directed us to turn sharp left after the lock, round the lock island to the free & practically empty long stretch of moorings outside the church. According to the lockie there is usually space here as they tend to get overlooked & as they are behind the lock island it's fairly quiet, just the job.

Soona does like an empty box...

I had planned to do the laundry on Sunday & put the new vacuum through it's paces but the gremlins that have dogged us this week hadn't quite finished with us yet, 18 months ago I had an attack of vertigo, it was horrible & yesterday morning as I got up the spinning started swiftly followed by nausea,  B****r! So I spent the day sitting very still & feeling sorry for myself.
This morning I got up carefully but felt fine, thank goodness... so the washing was done & soon out drying in the sunshine but the vacuuming will have to wait a day or two.