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.|
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.|