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Monday, December 25, 2006


I would like to wish everyone a merry christmas and a happy new year.
I am spending christmas day with my son & daughter in law Andy& Bev in Watford. On Boxing day i will be staying with my late wife`s sister who lives nearby.
Soon after New Year i hope to start moving again up the Gd. Union through the winter closures. Milton Keynes is the main obstacle as the canal is closed untill mid March.
Next years cruising will i hope include Wales & York so need to get through MK as soon as poss.
I have found the last few weeks boring as i am not one to stay moored in the same place for to long. Perhaps next year i might return south for christmas later or i am thinking of continuouse cruising somewhere on the system and travel back by train for christmas. Still as this is my first full winter afloat it is still a learning curve.
Have for the last few days been installing a double dinette that will also provide 2 extra berths. When the boat was fitted out i decided i would not have a dinette as i wanted to live with the space and be sure of what if anything i wanted in the available space. A timber yard near where i am moored supplied the veenered board and cut most to the size i wanted. The cushions i will have made up at a convenient location.
I will start blogging as soon as i start to move.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Been here at Brentford a few days now and will probably stay a week or so.
In 1790 the waterway route from London to birmingham was 230 miles but only 105 as the crow flys.
The Grand jct. Canal a 90 mile link from Brentford to Braunston was started in 1793 and would be a shorter way to Birmingham by linking to other canals.The Thames route to London was not ideal for narrowboats owing to tides dictating access. So in 1801 the Paddington Arm was opened and by 1820 the Regents Canal opened up right into Regent Dock now known as Limehouse.
Narrowboats at Brentford loaded cargoes from the larger river boats and were Guaged and charged according to the weight and cargo before entering the canal system on their way north.
The cargoes carried were timber, steele, paper, sand, coffee beans, sugar etc.
Guaging was done by resting a tube containing a float on the boats gunwale. The float would rise pushing a measure up inside the tube showing how low in the water the boat was. From this measure they used the Guaging book that contained measures of all boats. A Toll/Fee of pence per mile would then be levied based on type and weight of cargo. The boat could then exit the lock to make its 4 day trip to Birmingham.

This is the Moorings at Brentford. Guaging Locks to the left. Residential moorings on the right. On the left is the BW office and the facilities building. The building contains washing machines, tumble dryers, toilets, showers, elsan & rubbish disposal. All in prestine condition and available to boaters using the BW key. There are also 2 electric hook ups outside the office. I am moored up on the left breasted up.

After passing through the Guaging Locks and passing under Brentford High St you are at Thames Lock. On going through this lock you are soon out on the Thames that can be seen in the distance under the bridge.
A view of the Guaging Locks in their heyday. Notice how low in the water the 2 narrowboats are. Perhaps just loaded ready for entry into the locks and Guaging or waiting to un-load a cargo from industry in the midlands to be exported from London Docks. Either way it means the family living and working on board are getting an income.
The Guaging locks today. Gone the days of cargoes being moved from Thames Barge to Narrowboat. Now just Narrowboats coming and going via Old Father Thames to perhaps the Kennet & Avon or maybe the South Oxford Canals.

A boat being Guaged. Took a pic of this exhibit in the Toll Office that has been preserved and is only open now and again mainly for schools but the lovely lady in the BW office opened up for me.



Friday, November 24, 2006


Marble Arch at the jct. of Oxford St. & Park Lane was once the site of public hangings upto 1783.These two busy roads were once named Tyburn Road & Tyburn Lane.
Hyde Park was aquired by Henry Vlll from the Monks of Westminister in 1536 for hunting.
In 1690 Rotten Row, that runs along the south side of the park , was created to link St James & Kensington Palaces.
In case you read the last blog and thought Hyde Park natters were some rare bird i can assure you they are in fact the many people stood on their step ladders who spend sundays nattering to anyone who will listen. I wonder how many of the many nationalities speaking here could do the same in their own country. Long live freedom of speech.....within reason.

Speakers corner started in 1872 Home to the Hyde Park Natters. They can say almost what they want with the exceptions of Blasphemy, Obcenity or anything likely to lead to a breach of peace. The latter covers a wide spectrum.

This cheeky fella came running along the railings every time someone walked by. I saw someone hand feeding it peanuts so i suppose he now associates people with food.

Horseriding is very popular in the park. Just to the right is the busy Park Lane and left 350 acres of park. Get into the middle of the park and you wouldn`t think you were so near the hustle and bustle of london traffic.

just the place to walk your Ferrett

All along Bayswater Road that runs alongside the park from Marble Arch artists hang their art on the railings to form an outdoor sales gallery. Some i thought very good but some.....well i suppose it was modern art. Still we can`t all like the same thing can we.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Paddington Basin is surrounded by private land owned by Paddington Development Corporation Ltd. and is operated by them jointly with British Waterways. There is a strict 7 day mooring restriction and notices all around plus the welcome letter you recieve on arrival state that overstaying incurs a £25 per day charge. No return within 7 days. This does mean of course you could cruise down into the city of london for a week and stop off in the basin on the way back upto the Grand Union and all points north.
It`s been nice to be back in my birthplace, so much has changed and again hasen`t. The hospital i was born has itself given birth to flats. In an estate agents window i saw a tiny 2 up 2 down on an estate originally owned by the church and then Westminster Council priced at £350,000. Gulp! That house had a front garden that i could just fit my motorbike in and the back garden was not much bigger. When i was a kid we had an outside loo till the landlords added a small extension on the back giving us a bathroom inside. That was when the tin bath became redundant. Happy days and it hasn`t done me any harm.
Had plenty of walks around the area but the best was a walk around Hyde Park. A few pics today and next time i will show you squirrel, horses, ferrets ! and of course Hyde Parks famouse chatters.
Looking back to the Basin entrance from our mooring.

Looking towards the end of the basin from our mooring.
A view of the basin from the end of navigation, Praed St and Edgeware Road are just 300 yds behind me as i take this pic.

One of several fancy bridges crossing the basin.

Marble Arch stands at the jct. of Edgeware Road & Oxford Street. It was at one time an entrance to the Hyde park but road layout alterations have now left it as an island, London traffic hurrying past on all sides.
Designed in 1828 for the main entrance to Buckingham Palace - home to a family that once owned NB Brittannia - it was moved here in 1851 when Buck Hse was extended.

Serpentine lake fits nicely into the 350acres of Hyde Park and provides pleasure to visitors with row boat hire, lakeside restaurants and an abundance of wildlife.

The solar powered trip boat that will take visitors around serpentine lake in Hyde Park. On the roof of the glass cabin are are 27 curved glass solar panels creating an output of over 2kw. The power is stored below decks in batteries from which the electric motor powers the propellers.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


After a week or so at Uxbridge we all decided to move on and head for Paddington Basin. Now as getting up early is not top of our favourites list we had an overnight stop at Bulls Bridge near Hayes. It was here at the jct. of the Paddington Arm that workboats would moor stern in waiting for orders to load at either Brentford or London as both gave access to the R. Thames and therefore loads from around the globe. Now sadly it is a large Tesco store and all that remains of the past is a dry dock.
The Nestle` factory is in Hayes just before Bulls Brdg. nice smell as you drift past.
Certainly seen some different boats as we move along the canals. The caravan body seems a good idea as it saves fitting out a shell. Further on there was a van body removed from it`s chassis and used as the living quarters like the caravan.
The nice thing about life on the cut is the close up view of the changing seasons. Now with autumn all the leaves on trees and bushes changing colour before dropping off ready for the winter hibernation. Before long, time seems to pass quickly on the cut, the buds will again give way to new foilage and another display of colour. When you leave the rat race of work and land living you really do notice so much more of what`s going on around you. Looking forward to spring and all the new born wildlife on the water and land come to that, saw a calf born in a field canalside this year.
Stopped off on the Aqauduct that crosses the N. Circular Road. This was where for 20yrs before i retired that i spent day in day out delivering. Looking down at the traffic it all came flooding back. Seems a lifetime but it was just 11 months ago.
Further down the Paddington Arm we passed the new Wharf just completed that will process waste, the majority of which to comply with planning consent must arrive and depart by rail or water.
So into the Paddington Basin and this maximum 7 day mooring will give me a chance to get a train to Leicester to see my son Kevin who is farming so i don`t get to see him to often.
Cor if you could smell what i can you would understand my ending the blog here. It`s a beef casserole that has been slowly cooking all afternoon and the smell has just made me realise how hungry i am after walking for 5 hours in and around Hyde Park, but more of that next time.

The Nestle` factory

Autumn changes the view and at such a slow pace more time to enjoy it.

From the Aquaduct, check out that traffic behind me.

Stopped on the Aquaduct over the North Circular Road in Nth West London
The new Wharf at Willesden

Here we are moored in Paddington Basin, just 5mins walk to the station and 15mins to Marble Arch and Oxford St.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Now is Jack saluting me as captain or is the sun in his eyes.
After the fireworks and a good nights sleep my crew Jordan & Jack are waiting for the lock to fill. It was a nice pleasent day for our mini-cruise from Croxley to Rickmansworth just 3 locks and almost as many miles but the two of them loved it. OK I DID AS WELL

Water skiers at Rickmansworth Aquadrome which is right alongside the Grand Union canal. The Grandchildren enjoyed watching this while we waited for mum&dad to arrive.

This barge operated by` Land & Water` carries gravel between Denham and West Drayton. Also the narrowboat Arundel operates on the same run but at the present time it is in dry dock in the yard to the right of the picture so i have no picture of it.
Nice to see a narrowboat working again even if only over a short distance.
The Land & Water Co. say they move 60.000 Tonnes per year saving some 6.000 lorry movements.

Metropolitan Police divers at Uxbridge. These divers are part of a team of 11 and are based at Wapping in east London. They cover the area within the M25 but also go all over the country if a Met Police case is involved.
They told me it was just a practice session but as they are so far from base and have passed many sections of waterways to get here i am not so sure.
The dives are strictly recorded, as when Firefighters enter a buiding with breathing gear on, each diver is connected by an air line fed from the bank by another diver and time in water and air used is noted. A rope is moved along a small amount each dive and the divers work from each side using only their hands to feel for anything on the bottom. The silt they disturb while searching results in zero visability.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Had a nice week at Cow Roast just relaxing and walking. I think winter will be like this longer stops and not so much travelling as in the summer months. Summer is the best time to seek out places like those we have visited this year and i can`t wait till march to really get travelling again. York comes to mind as does Llangollen in Wales but who knows what direction it will be. Beauty is with the rest of your life to travel the system and no ties there is no need to make any plans at the moment.
Travelled down to Croxley near Watford as 2 of the G`children want to stay on board after we go to the fireworks display in cassiobury park and then we will cruise down to Rickmansworth so mum & dad can re-claim them. So as i blog this they are sound asleep not heard a murmer despite all the fireworks going off all around us. Must be all the fresh air made them sleepy plus the fire is throwing out a lot of lovely heat.

This shows my signal strength of 3 bars without any aerial plugged in. Although 3 bars on 3G is good sitting inside a narrowboat the signal could weaken and if like now i am downloading pictures to the blog i could lose the connection and all my work, it has happened.
If 3G is not available in some areas the connection is made automaticaly via GPRS (General Packet Radio Service). The extra signal boost from the aerial will be good when on GPRS as it not as good as 3G.

Now with this aerial plugged in i get an extra bar on the signal strength, so i now have 4 bars which is a big improvement.
I purchased the aerial on e-bay for a cost of £18.49 inc p.p. The item number is 110045925098. This will at least bring you to the site and i have seen these aerials on a BUY IT NOW status previously so they may still be available.
The black aerial pad has a suction pad to stick on window glass and a 2 1/2 metre cable with plug to connect to your office card. I believe they also fit Vodaphone cards but full details will be on the site.

Monday, October 30, 2006


From below Marsworth bottom lock 39 the canal climbs 42` through 7 locks within a mile. The last of these locks is Bulbourne jct. where the Wendover Arm leaves the Gd. Union.
The arm is being restored by the Wendover Arm Trust. About 1 1/2 miles is navigable from the Gd. Union and it is from here the trust is restoring the canal to join up with the 4 miles that is in water going into Wendover Basin.
Bulbourne Jct. is the dry dock of Bates Boatbuilders where "maid of Oak" was fitted out. This narrowboat as it`s name suggests is made of wood and is the first wooden narrowboat to be built for some 40 plus years. The hull was built at Bates yard on the Aylesbury Arm and the oak used came from Luton Hoo estate in Luton.
I last saw this boat at Crick in May and was given a guided tour by Julie who together with husband Peter are the proud owners.
The boat uses hydraulics powered from the engine located half way down the the boat on the port side. The result is an almost silent boat gliding through the water.
Just along from the junction stands the British Waterways Bulbourne Workshops. In years gone by lock gates were made here. Alongside the workshops 2 sets of gates were loaded ready for water transport to Ivinghoe and i believe Bulbourne to be fitted during the coming winter maintenance programme. I guess they arrived by road from another BW workshop but could not find anyone to verify this.
Bates Boatbuilders dry dock at Bulbourne.

The wooden narrowboat "Maid of Oak"

Extra large windows on "Maid of Oak"

British Waterways Bulbourne Workshops.

New lock gates ready for installation during winter stoppages.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Terry & Maureen who we last saw at the Crick boat show back in May turned up at Fenny Stratford. They are heading for the Aylesbury Arm to moor for winter. Nice to meet up with people again, this happens quite often living the life i do.
Moved on down to Marsworth to catch up with Andy & Tina on NB YTENE who we cruised with for a month following the Crick boat show. We all had a nice meal and a drink at the Red Lion in Marsworth village and have decided to all carry on south together. That will be nice as they are a nice couple. Back at the boat show where we all met they sadly had to have Tess their 13 yr old four legged freind put to rest following a long illness and she now lays peacefully among the trees, a stone marking the spot. It is very common to see graves of boatowners pets along the canals.
While taking a 5 day break at Marsworth ( boatmans holiday) my son Steve phoned asked my location and said ok see you this evening. So that was a nice surprise and a chance to give the second youngest g`child a cuddle.
Then another call from son Andy resulted in being taken out for sunday roast at the Anglers Rest pub so more hugs from g`children Jack & Jordan. They both had news for me. Jordan had started dancing lessons and Jack said i had to be at his birthday party in December because he had a Maashishan coming. Magician? must be that i would think eh folks.
Hazel the resident mooring warden patrols her patch at Marsworth giving out a welcome letter containing her mobile number for boaters to contact her for any reason, and advising boaters of the length of time they can moor at their chosen spot. A very pleasent lady.
John(left) who i have been travelling with all summer and Andy & Tina all enjoying a meal and catching up on our travels since we parted company back in early June.

My son Steve & his wife Ozlem with G`son Teo. Won`t be to long before he will want to be on the tiller.

My son Andy, his wife Bev and Jordan & Jack who have found G`dads hats.

This is Hazel the resident mooring warden off to do her rounds. Telling me off as she went by "i don`t like my picture taken" as she stopped pedaling & smiled, poser.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Fenny Stratford Lock. This lock was built in 1802 because of water losses north of here due to leaks. The idea being to create slightly different levels. The drop in level here is just around 12".
The swing bridge is in use and must be swung open to use the lock. A Swing Bridge within a lock was at one time quite common.

Soulbury 3 Locks

The Globe Inn. It was very nearby to this pub that the Great Train Robbery took place when Ronnie Biggs and his crew lifted £2/3 million pounds from a mail train heading into London. Seems a small amount now but back then it was headline news and featured in the news for months.

An old swing Bridge lays un-used.

Just a few hundred yds before Tesco and L. Buzzard town is the base of Wyvern Shipping Co. and it`s hire fleet moored 3 abreast in places. I counted 25 boats but had seen 1/2 still out cruising. Will moor here for the night before heading to Marsworth to meet friends & family.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs