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Monday, July 29, 2013

Up the Hanwell Flight....into the Company of Friends

"Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." ~Marcel Proust

   After coming off the Tidal Thames at Brentford we stopped to top off our water tank and Les dashed down the street to Morrison's for a few bits and bobs. Off we went, up two locks to moor near the bottom of the Hanwell flight. We traveled up the two locks with Malcom and Sue on NB Yorky and Dave and Jane on NB Norfolk Lass, getting to know them as we helped each other up the locks out of Brentford. 
   When we came down this same canal in May on the way down to the Thames, we found it empty and peaceful, with plenty of mooring space. We were also amazed at how clean the Southern Grand Union was--Canal and River Trust (CaRT) had just been down in front of us with barges and nets, tidying  up. 
   As we rounded the bend to the same mooring spaces last week, we were surprised to find it rammed with a mix of continuous moorers and summer boaters on their way down to Brentford/The Thames. The recent weeks of scalding hot weather caused bubbles of methane from rotting vegetation to break the surface of the canal. Boats on the move--including ours--churned up the mucky, black bottom, and a terrible stink, or pong as they say over here, filled the air. Just by our bow as we pulled in to moor was a disgusting assortment of piles of dog poop. Yep, we are not on the Thames anymore where one seldom saw such filth and dog owners usually kept their pets on a leash. Sadly we were sure it was a boater whose dog was leaving this mess--let out of a boat in the early morning on its own to do its business. Later events confirmed this to be the case.
   Our fellow travelers moved on the next morning and we stayed a day to rest, sort out our drawers and wardrobe, and pack up all our winter clothes. We were woken up at 4:30 the next morning by two dogs fighting viciously on the towpath just outside our boat, and a transvestite running down the towpath in a dress and stiletto heels yelling, "Get off of my dog!" We decided to move on later that morning. 
   We shared the locks up the Hanwell Flight with Jim and Joyce aboard NB Joie de Vivre. Jim fished for leftover coconuts from the Festival of Diwali, a celebration in which the local Asian population fill coconuts with scented oil, light them and set them to float in the canal. Jim lines his treasures up on the roof of their boat and enjoys the scent of the oils. We had a good natter about all kinds of things and it was a pleasure to share a bit of canal travel with Jim and Joyce.
   Soon enough we reached Bulls Bridge where the Paddington Arm branches off the Southern Grand Union (G.U.) and continues into London. In the mid afternoon sunshine we spotted two immediately recognizable boats and a gaggle of fellow boaters standing on the towpath. It was Paul and Elaine on NB Caxton AKA the Manly Ferry,
Ali and John, and Paul and Elaine; fellow boaters and bloggers.
and Ali and John aboard NB Triskaideka--fellow bloggers all!

   We spent a lovely hour and and a quarter having a good chinwag before Ali and John headed north up the G.U., Paul and Elaine headed south for Brentford and the Thames, and we went to the canal side Tescos across the parking lot from where we had all gathered, for a grocery top up. In the golden afternoon sunshine we carried on up through Uxbridge where we stopped for the night. 
   The next morning we started off again sharing a couple of locks with a lovely couple who are just beginning their life afloat--four weeks on the cut!! Eventually we found a shady spot in a lovely slice of canal and we stopped for the day. 
   Sue and Vic on NB No Problem are moored nearby and we've swapped morning tea on each others boats, walks with the dogs and time catching up with one another. As we slowly make our way to Watford it is perfect timing, catching up with Vic and Sue, who are dear to Les' heart and mine. We had a scrumptious dinner invitation aboard Sue and Vic's boat and I will tell you I felt like I had truly arrived! I've been reading about the famous Sunday Suppers aboard No Problem for four years. At last I was going to attend one! The whipped cream and cherry on the top of this was finally properly meeting Graham and Jill aboard NB Matilda Rose whom we had passed along the cut when I first married Les.
Graham, Sue, Vic, Jill, and Jaq. Les is taking the snap.
    We experienced the authentic British Sunday Roast ala Vic--and it was to die for! The roasted potatoes were exquisite, the gravy was mouth watering, the meat tender and juicy, and the Yorkshire puddings were round, crisp clouds filled with gravy.  Graham made an Apple Crumble that was perfect in my humble opinion--the topping was sweet with brown sugar and crunchy with oats; the apples were tender but firm--not mushy. Heavenly!! Between the fabulous food, the good wine and the brilliant craic, we were surrounded by love, friendship, and goodwill. This morning Vic and Sue were kind enough to provide me with cooking lessons and recipes for how to make a real British Roast Dinner. I am humbled, happy, and filled with gratitude. Vive la Friendship!!


Nev Wells said...

You are at it again selling this life on the cut to all us land based office bound working monkeys !!

A gem of a write up.

Nev NB Percy

Sue said...

What an honour it was for us to have you aboard on Sunday and to share our Sunday Roast.

I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends sitting at my table, I will never forget.

Thankyou xx

Anonymous said...

"Vic and Sue were kind enough to provide me with cooking lessons and recipes for how to make a real British Roast Dinner."

Please enlighten us in other climes
of said recipe!

If you enjoed the roast then maybe we who are not on the cut could perhaps emulate the repast!

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Nev! Soon, soon you too will floating amongst all of us, joining in the revelry. There will always be a place at our table for you and yours.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thanks Sue.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Okay Bryce,
When I attempt my first British roast dinner I will include pictures and recipes on the blog. I'll dedicate it to you!

Elly and Mick said...

Jaq, I had to smile at the "famous Sunday suppers". It brought to mind Hyacinth Bucket and her "candlelight suppers"! I somehow think there'd be more people queued at Sue's door than Hyacinth's. :) Elly

Jill, Matilda Rose said...

We shall never forget last Sunday - my ribs are still hurting!

Les Biggs said...

Hi Elly/Mick
Dining aboard ` No Problem` Is for sure a joy. With limited space count yourself honoured if you are offered a seat.
Can you imagine a series with Hyacinth living on a boat.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs