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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last blog of 2011....along the Paddington Arm

Hope everyone enjoyed Christmas, Jaq and I spent our first Christmas on board nb Valerie at Cow Roast on the summit pound. We had reached this point late on Christmas eve and took the first mooring available as we were due to be picked up for a family meal at a French restaurant. Waking up on the 25th we decided to cruise for 30 mins to get away from the muddy towpath and the endless line of boats both sides. So another first, Christmas day cruising. Out of sight and sound of others I spent a couple of hours cutting and splitting the wood we had collected over the past few days.
Old Swan Cheddington
After a couple of days it was on to Marsworth for another family get together and meal at a pub in Cheddington. This stretch of water from Cassio northwards is very close to family so it`s nice to see them all before we go off heading to Wales.

Ok so as regular readers know the blog is never very current and although we are now out in rural Buckinghamshire ( Ross are we near to you?) I am blogging some weeks back.
The journey out from Little Venice to Cowley lock is 27 miles and one of the longest lock free stretches in the country.
The Paddington Arm and the mainline were once a large collection of docks and wharves (click on map to enlarge). If you look carefully the long filled in ones can be located and even the bridges although no longer in place can be placed by deviations in the towpath surface some obvious if looking closely.

A lot of the arms were for loading at brick works, chemical plants, railway yards to name just a few but the one I like best is Shackles Dock pictured below. Although in the early days bricks were shipped
from here it then became the site of the Aeolian company that made Pianos. In the picture below from the early 1900`s I have marked a Red X(click it to enlarge) next to the bridge pictured above. The Red line is the arm into the factory site and just above the Red X is the arm that went into the GWR Great Western Railway sidings. Strange to think that had we passed that now renovated bridge the view would have been a lot more spectacular than a few old shabby buildings.
The J. Lyons dock still remains although the site has been re-developed with many faceless warehouses replacing the original landscaped J Lyons site. I remember this area so well through working and growing up in Paddington with surrounding areas like Greenford just a bike ride away along the towpath. If you click the link above you can compare the maps of the original site with the google one i have marked below. In the link maps the canal runs past the tall chimneys below the canal is red lines, the basin is red x and the Yellow marks the size of the old  J Lyons site.
Google earth is fantastic, if you look closely you can see nb Valerie passing by.......honest......would i lie.

Have a Happy New Year everyone. Jaq and I are seeing in the New Year with some fellow bloggers so whatever way you step into 2012 do it safely.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Break

Well as the Christmas w`end fast approaches and Jaq and I both prepare to have the holiday on the boat may we wish you all a very happy Christmas and as some of you may be aware today is the shortest day and longest night so happy Winter Solstice as well.
I will leave you with some festive pictures and one that might make you give thanks to whosoever you think might be listening that you are warm and fed and happy.

Tree in Covent Garden.

The lights in Oxford st. and Regent St. London

Just give thanks this is not you. At first I thought it was rubbish dumped then I saw the coats hanging on the fence and pairs of shoes neatly by heads just visible under the covers. This is the road bridge adjacent to Tesco just as you exit the Paddington Arm at Bulls Bridge.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cruising again

So having left the basin, (talking of which, it was nice to see Carol-- blog follower & friend during our stay) we are passing through the lines of boats in Little Venice.
Made of the local rubbish by a youth club.

Just liked the look of this one but the next one in front, see below, just was so completely different in shape and the workings. One thing for sure the variety of boats is huge on the edges of London and each trip seems slightly different.
All electric, no gas,diesel or petrol. Solar panels galore on this boat some can be seen on the side up front. All the power is stored in a battery bank weighing 1.2tons. Price £119,000(NO mooring) or for just a read of the detailed spec click here.

Now hands up all those boaters who were like me thinking "it won`t freeze like the last 2 years".  Keep those hands up those that moved when the mild weather of late suddenly changed. Well our hands are up as it snowed quite hard this morning(Rickmansworth) and we moved a bit smartish to top up the diesel and the galley. Nothing came of it but it was a nudge from mother nature or as Jaq would say the Goddess.

Not sure of our location for Christmas as for both of us it will be our first afloat and we have to be mindfull of stoppages we want to get through. Winkwell swing bridge was one (Jan-Mar) but they have cancelled a complete closure but still have delays of a matter of hours. So that took off the pressure. Then BW decided our second stoppage to get through (Cosgrove Aquaduct) would not need the canal closed during the first 2 weeks, fantastic we thought less rush. BUT reading on it seems they can`t guarantee this happening so boaters should assume the canal is closed!!!! W T F why bother making the amendment if we still have to get through by the original date.


Stoppage: Cosgrove Iron Trunk Aqueduct

04 Jan 2012 - 09 Mar 2012

Associated Regional Office: South East Waterways

UPDATE (12 December 2011): For the first 2 weeks of this project, works will be taking place without dewatering the canal. It is possible that limited passage may be possible during this period, but British Waterways are unable to guarantee this.
For the purposes of journey planning please assume the canal is closed

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Farewell London

Million Dollar Quartet was our show for the last night. It was a musical based on the getting together back in 1956 of Elvis, Carl Perkins, Jerry lee Lewis and Johnny Cash at Sun Records in Memphis.

 Bella Italia was Jaq`s choice for a pre- theatre dinner. Only after starting our meal did we realise it was one of many all over the country which might have put us off but the  food and service was fantastic.

The crush on the Underground trains is one thing we won`t miss. Just think people do this twice a day and they pay for the privilege.
Sad as I look back from the mooring before we turned and set off this is the only original building amongst all the glass tall office buildings in the basin with a 40 storey block still to be built. In it`s day it was a Hay & Straw store.
In 1927 a block of land was sold  to the governors of St. Mary`s hospital by the Grand Jct. Canal Co. for the sum of £65,000. I don`t know the size or location,(part of St. Marys is on the left of pic) but tremble to imagine the cost of that same plot of land at today's prices.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The visit goes on

Harrods all illuminated as we ride past on the top deck of the bus. Must say the Oyster card is a great way to travel. I did get one each although I have a bus pass it does not cover the Underground trains.

Camden Lock market is a must when in London even if only as boater the interest is just the fact it is centerd in and  around the canal buildings.

This surprised me, double locks in a pair. I have never seen this and wonder if this occurs anywhere else on the canal system.
In the stable building the stalls are where once the boat horses were bedded down, nice that history survives.

Jaq about to enter the Natural History Museum. I must take her in the museum`s out of town branch at Tring.

Although the museum is free they have a donation machine that takes coins, notes and cards.
£3 will light up the Dinosaur in the entrance hall.
£5 and you can choose the colour.
£10 and the thing will roar, and perhaps people nearby might applaud your generosity.
Or like me put nothing in and think of it as a perk of a long time taxpayer. Pity they don`t allow brits free entry and charge tourists like some countries do for certain attractions. I thought the idea of tourism was to bring money into the country not subsidise peoples holiday with free visits to top attractions.

First show we saw, I let Jaq choose, was a play (see left). Sharon Gless is 50% of the `Cagney & Lacey` team on our television screens quite a few years back.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jaq loose in London

Add caption
Horse guards parade. He looked at Jaq as if to say "at least try and look tall if you must pose with me" or can you give a better caption?

 Free entry to all the museums amazes Jaq.

Big Ben never closes but the Abbey was when we finally arrived so it was a walk through St Jame`s park instead.

Protesters opposite the Houses of Parliament entrance not that the MP`s would take any notice as they came in and out. As long as their taxpayer funded life style is ok and they can get away with fraud then all is well for them......i`ll stop while i am still being polite about that bunch of parasites of whatever party.

 Buckingham Palace another tax payers.......oh just let me get back to the canals and away from London where i can`t see or think about it.

St. Pauls Cathedral surrounded by protesters, what or whom they protest for i neither know or care. Sorry but it`s my way of dealing with the crazy world and making my last years amongst it all as pleasant as possible ie don`t live in it and pretend the country is one big waterway. Believe me it works, i`ve never been so relaxed as these last 6 years.

Down by old father Thames. Just behind Jaq is the Millenium bridge and in the far distance can be seen Tower Bridge, the one the Americans thought they had when purchasing the old London Bridge.

Well I can only bear this week we are in London because of the lady I married. It`s noisy and full of people rushing here and there. I have trudged around art gallery's and museums and past the sights i grew up with(born in Paddington) but you can`t do enough for someone you love so i can just enjoy the peace and quiet on the boat each night. Very hard to believe we are deep in London here in the basin with just the odd distant siren to break the silence.
We have 2 shows lined up for our last nights here so that is something I am looking forward to.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Americans into London

Two Friends, Christina & Cliff, popped over on the Eurostar from Paris to spend a couple of days of their holiday. They only had limited time before having to return to the USA from Paris so a trip into  London on the boat was a treat as was fish and chips followed by a pub visit. They will do the London tourist bit on another trip, Jaq however is doing it big time.
Jaq gives our guests tuition on lock operation at Cowley lock soon after we set off from Uxbridge.

Paddington Basin is very quiet, nb Valerie moored on the near right of picture. The wind genny is up as the wind is screaming through this tunnel of tall buildings.

Jaq,Christina & Cliff on the way back across the basin from the pub.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Just cruising south

On route to London the canals are very quiet as is usual this time of year with just a few boats moving probably heading for winter moorings or getting near facilities should the freeze strike again. Sure is mild considering this time last year it was the 2nd week of being frozen in.
So we have had a night stop at Cow Roast, Berko, a couple of nights at Apsley and last night was just north of Hunton Bridge tonight as i write we are in Rickmansworth. We need to be in Uxbridge to meet our American friends who are using the Underground to get from the Eurostar to spend a couple of days with us as we cruise into central London.
Jaq has put on some music `to cook with`. The music is `The Gypsy Kings` cd  Compass and the food is home made Tamale Pie washed down with a bottle of  Pino Grigio.
Boy am i living well.

BW launch moored at Bulbourne 
Plenty of wood in Tring Cutting
Three Horseshoes at Winkwell swing bridge, where i tasted for the first time Venison, lovely.

This was the scene at Nash Mills lock 68. Housing stretching down to Red Lion lock. This was all just a pile of rubble from the pulling down of the mill when I last passed by.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No more waiting at Marsworth

These are the last of Jaq`s boxes that daughter in law Joanne has just arrived with. The situation as i type is only 1 box remains un-opened with all the others having had a home found for their contents.
So now we can once again get under way and the decision has been made to go into London. It seems to be the right decision as we have just learnt friends are flying in from Paris and wish to stay a few days before flying back to the States. So we will all share what is the cheapest hotel/restaurant in London and i will act as the  guide for 2 American tourists plus my darling wife.

Are Swans vegetarian? I ask because for the last few days a pair of Swans have  been playing tug of war with a plastic bag. Trying to get a clear picture is difficult, as they stop the game thinking i`m
going to feed them.I have just this minute taken a night shot.  Anyway the mystery of the bags contents are now clear, chicken innards, as the bag has almost come apart. In true C.S.I. fashion this was  confirmed when one Swan brought up from the murky depths a chicken carcass and the pair of them took turns pecking and holding what was  
left of the meat on an almost bare carcass.
It seems after a Google search that Swans are in fact omnivorous and will make a meal of land and water based insects and the odd small fish but are mainly veggi.

Tina asked for a pic of the cross bed but i forgot....sorry Angel. The two pieces just slide out from

under the mattress and rest into a lip on the bed and drop into an `L` shaped piece of wood below the gunnell. It is Tina the same as the dinette table fixing on nb Valerie the design of which as you know I copied from your boat. The bed is complete with a 6`x2` inlay that sits on the bed during the day but at night becomes a 6`x6` bed.

Just been reading through the Dec. issue of Waterways World and two things caught my eye. First in early 2012 Mercia marina are offering a holiday of 4 days in an on site lodge then 4 days on a boat for around £1,035. This is an April price and i think they might have been nervous to quote a summer school Holiday price. Still it might suit the people you see on the front of hire boats, usually ladies, that look totally bored while the men are on the tiller beers in hand.

Next thing catching my eye was an article(click here) on Standard narrow boats new 50` Cygnet, just another new boat report but it has a sales gimmick offering a years free insurance and 100 litres of  fuel plus other bits and bobs some of which i would expect with a new build.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marsworth on sea! Would it work?

Arriving at Marsworth I was surprised how empty the moorings were. In the picture below just 2 other boats here alongside the reservoir. Here now after a week, don`t worry 14 day here, the boat count has risen 50%. This is a convenient spot as our boxes will be easy to deliver when they arrive at my son`s house in Luton as we are adjacent to the car park.

All three of the reservoirs close by are very low and the Startops one pictured below has revealed 2 mud banks something i`ve never seen in all the years i have passed this way.
Perhaps if the water shortage remains BW could import some sand and turn this into a beach. Punch & Judy, candy floss and perhaps even a pier. Maybe a charge to the public for using an inland seaside resort will help fund canal restoration, do it all over the country. If the rains come and fill the reservoirs they could change to underwater shopping centres or a submerged version of `Centre Parcs` Maybe if the water levels never recover BW could drain the canals and people unable to afford bricks and mortar could by a boat and have it craned in anywhere on the system. BW collects a ground rent and can re-locate boats when owners want a different view or change employment location.

Mmmmmm back to reality and after a few days along came Del & Al on Derwent 6. So coffee and catchup gave me a break from fitting drawers in the galley cupboards.

Grandaughter Jordan stayed one night as school was closed one day for teacher training. I think Jaq enjoyed having a female aboard as her gran kids are all boys.

The White Lion here at Marsworth is up for sale. The sign reads freehold £325,000 but i`m reliably informed by the former tenants the price the owners want is nearer 500k. I just hope it doesn`t end up as flats as the ground the pub occupies is quite large and a canal view will push prices up making the seeking of planning permission very tempting for a developer.

I will finish up by posting a picture of a Welsh love spoon. Jaq was over the moon to receive this from a blog follower, you know who you are and once again many thanks to you. It has our names at the top and below our wedding date. When you next visit you will see it hanging in a special spot chosen by Jaq.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs