Thursday, 30 May 2013



We've made it to London!

Monday 20th May
Rickmansworth - Cowley 
7 miles and 6 locks
We were not the only ones heading away from Rickmansworth, it was very busy with everyone leaving the festival, so we always had a boat to share the locks with.

Tuesday 21st May
Cowley - Kensal Green
15.75 miles and 1 lock
We started off by sharing the lock with Victoria, the fuel boat, when we made our stop at Tescos at Bull Bridge we moored behind her, not much left in the way of moorings as there appears to be a few abandoned boats here, which is a bit of a shame as anyone arriving after us to do a bit of shopping would have difficulty finding a mooring. After a bit of lunch we were on our way again as we knew there were a few miles to cover. As it was getting late we knew we wouldn't make it to Paddington at a reasonable time so stopped off just by Kensal Green Cemetery, we wanted a fairly early start to try and get to the Basin once the early morning leavers had gone.

Seems an unusual place for a large number of swans to gather
This one was real

Wednesday 22nd May 
Kensal Green - Paddington Basin
2.5 miles 
We finally made it and turning into the Basin there only appeared to be one space left, so in we went, James did a good job of reversing LJ in the space, which could have been tricky as it was one on the inside. About 15 minutes later another boat arrived and had to leave as there was no space, after that Chance arrived with Doug and James and again were just on their way out when they spotted the one in front of us getting ready to go, very lucky for them (although they had to wait an age for the boat to get out). Once settled in we set off to get our bearings saying hello to Doug and James first, with a kind invitation to join them on Chance later for a drink. We sorted out our Oyster cards for the week and picked up the bus maps so we could find our way around. Later we strolled the 50ft or so from LJ to Chance and to a warm welcome from Doug and James, it was so good to finally meet after reading their blog (Link) for so long. We had a fantastic evening and hope we didn't overstay our welcome as it was gone midnight by the time we left - times flies when you're having fun.

Our mooring in Paddington Basin
Doug and James' immaculate boat Chance, our neighbour for a few days
Thursday 23rd May
It was our 21st wedding anniversary today and Jess was getting the train to us straight after work to join us for a celebratory dinner. During the day we did a few touristy things including Leicester Square, China Town and Covent Garden. We met Jess at Paddington Station in the evening and back to LJ for dinner

Friday 24th May
We had a full day today, we got some tickets for a show in the evening from the theatre ticket office in Leicester Square, it rained most of the day so we made for the Museum of London near St Paul's Cathedral before going to China Town to eat before the show, One Man, Two Guvners at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, we had great seats in the Royal Circle and it was absolutely brilliant, Rufus Hound really made the show and the band were great too.

On a London bus
In Leicester Square
Trying out the head gear in the museum
Saturday 25th May 
Today we had a walk through the markets at Portobello Road, the rain held off and it was really busy. It was interesting looking at the various stalls and things for sale although we made no purchases. We went back to LJ for a relaxing afternoon before heading out to St Paul's Cathedral to join a 'Walk for London' ghost tour, which started at 7:30pm. We left at 6pm thinking this was plenty of time, however the traffic was horrendous and we had only made it as far as Leicester Square at 7:30pm so unfortunately there was no way we would be able to join the tour. Instead we went along the Embankment and ended up in the Templers Knight, a Wetherspoons pub, just as the UEFA final was finishing. 

Houses of Parliament
Sunday 26th May
Paddington Basin - King's Cross
4 miles and 4 locks
We had a fairly early start this morning as we were joining the subterranean 'Walk for London' tour and we didn't want to miss it. The tour started outside the Embankment tube station at 10:30am and this time we arrived early, it was just after 9am. So we went for a stroll along Embankment to see all the German fans from the yesterday's football final waiting for their coaches home. In the afternoon was our planned moved from Paddington Basin along the Regents Canal to the Canal Museum mooring. Being a nice sunny Sunday afternoon it was quite busy going through the zoo, lots of people walking and cycling and a few trip boats out. On the approach to Camden Locks we couldn't see the lock for people, I have never seen so many people round a lock and I thought going through the Rickmansworth Festival was busy, it was nothing compared to this. Poor Jess, these were her first locks, just as we got into the lock a plastic boat arrived so we were able to pair up down the four locks, which meant Jess and I could work the same side. As we were a little early for getting onto the mooring at the Museum, they had a trip boat out til 5:30pm which needed to get in before us, we moored up at the King's Cross moorings briefly and had a wander round, getting into the Museum just after 5:30pm, once settled we took a short stroll down near the station to where there are a few Indian restaurants and had a good curry.

Little Venice

Approaching Camden Locks

A few spectators 

More People on the approach to the next lock

Final lock and less people here

Cruising - 29.25
Locks - 11
Tunnels - 1

Cruising - 164.25
Locks - 99
Tunnels - 4
Bridges - 3

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I like traditional boat engines, and I like modern boat engines...

But which one is better? There is only one way to find out...FIGHT!

We didn't intend getting as far as Rickmansworth. We had planned to moor a mile or so before, the moorings were scarce. Lots of people we had meet along the way had asked if we were headed for Rickmansworth but I thought it was just the usual boaters being polite. Then Deb said 'yeah, someone said something about a festival'.

We dropped through the first lock and were thoroughly gongoozled! A bridge obscured the view of the Sunday afternoon mayhem. The boats were virtually bank to bank and these were people who had reserved moorings. Jazz bands played, announcers informed, children nagged and parents ignored, for miles past the aquadrome and fields of festivities. The sun was out the sky was blue, what a very British afternoon. We moored and walked back along the towpath to join in the fun.

From the canal perspective it seemed to look just like the Braunston working boats festival, but it was being run by a couple of matters who just wanted a laugh.

Oh and the modern engine won, but as the skipper was the boss of the Wyverne hire fleet judging went in favour of the boat with an old lister thumper at its heart. Oddest bout of the day was to see an engineless butty with a crew of, well punters really, having borrowed everyone's boat poles they were pitting arm power against a steam boat. The judge conceded that this would be the one and only time anyone could get away with calling a narrowboat a long boat. Rather surprisingly the steam boat lost.

All in all Rickmansworth is a great canal side festival, one for future diaries.

Deb being Gongoozled

View coming out of the lock

Gongoozled turns Gongoozler

Running out of room

The butcher, the baker...

Purple trombone, in a trad jazz band...these youngsters

Is a seventy year old engine meant to do that?

Ahh pretty aint she!

Modern hire boat vs old coal boat

Steam power vs a butty full of punts

I wonder if the fish received prior notice of the frivolities 

Hmm a bit of cheating in the final as the underdog throws a line to another boat for help.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013



This week seems to have been all about locks, I think I have spent more time at them or walking to them than I have on the boat!

Monday 13th May
Seabrook near lock 35 - Tring Bridge 136
5.5 miles, 1 swing bridge and 11 locks
This swing bridge was very substantial and it was just a footpath, took some persuading to open and close but eventually got there, James and LJ went through and I was just about to close it again when a boat appeared around the corner, I was on the wrong side and couldn't get across and likewise the crew in the other boat couldn't get to me as the bridge was open so they sailed through quite happily, pleased and thankful to be relieved of their duties.  

Tuesday 14th May
Tring Bridge 136 - Berkhamsted
3.5 miles and 8 locks
This is where we paired up with Inky, who gave me a lift when James couldn't stop for me as the pound was too low.

Wednesday 15th May 
Berkhamsted - Hemel Hempstead Bridge 148
3.25 miles, 1 mechanical bridge and 9 locks
I was not looking forward to the Winkwell swing bridge, I always feel guilty about holding up the traffic. When we arrived and I realised it was only seemed to be a small lane crossing it I didn't feel too bad. The bridge opened, and just as James and LJ were through and I was about to press the button a van turned up, closely followed by a car just as the bridge was slotting back into place, so there was no need for my worry. 

Thursday 16th May
Hemel Hempstead Bridge 148 - Cassiobury Park Bridge 165
6.5 miles and 14 locks

Friday 17th May
We actually stayed put today, we wandered up to the Post Office, in the same parade of shops was a chip shop so we treated ourselves and they were the best ever chips! Getting back to the boat we had a bit of a tidy up outside James gave the roof a mop as a few days before the only mooring spot was under trees. We also set too and repaired the three flat tyres on the bikes.

Saturday 18th May
Cassiobury Park - Bridge 165 - Bridge 168
1.5 miles and 3 locks
Didn't travel far today, we wanted to get a bit closer to Watford as there's a Pizza Express there, we had swapped Tesco clubcard vouchers for Pizza Express ones and they expired on 20th, £30 worth so didn't want to waste them. We went in on the bikes and it was a good run back as it was all down hill.

Sunday 19th May
Cassiobury Park - Rickmansworth
3.75 miles and 5 locks
A lot of people had been asking me on the way down if we were going to the festival, James had a quick look on the internet and we decided we would moor up just before to see what it was all about. Unfortunately we couldn't get moored, either all full or bank not suitable, so we continued on. We went through two locks with loads of people watching, embarrassing or what! Luckily the paddles weren't too bad to open and the gates were ok too. We managed to moor shortly after and went back up to watch the boat tug of war - very entertaining.

Cruising - 24 miles
Locks - 50
Swing Bridges - 2

Cruising - 135 miles
Locks - 88
Tunnels - 3
Bridges - 3

Not a lot of room left, wouldn't like to try and get another widebeam through there

Our mooring at Berkhamsted

A very full lock

A bit of sun at last

A granny annexe or just a very small house??

Loved this lockside cottage

Notice the train - definitely getting close to London now 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

What do you do for charity?...

What do you do for charity?...

Well luckily this very short blog isn't about me. Deb's recent charitable urge (link) was really only a dressed up fry-up in a cafe wasn't it. I guess that's more what I am talking about really being wholly giving in a charitable sense after all it doesn't just have to be all about giving money.

What this charitable couple are doing tonight, tomorrow, as a dog lover is almost difficult for me to comprehend. We have been talking for a while about getting another dog, it has been 37 months since Callum finally went with a bit of a shove after long illnesses into 'doggy heaven' (if that's your belief). The bit I'm less looking forward to about having a new hound is the post very young puppy stage, and going into doggy teenage years. Callum went from being a cute ball of fluff, through something quite comical with his legs seeming to grow an inch per day, to a hooligan who liked nothing more than to play bowling down the length of our garden using a five year old Jess as a pin. To stop his full pelt run he used to clatter into the fence at the bottom of the garden with a BOOM!

With lots of hard work and 18 months of training he eventually calmed down into a gentleman. How would I have felt if after that 18 months hard work and time bonding I had had a call saying 'great news, it's time to give Callum back!'

That is exactly what Bob (Tucker) and June (link), fellow Sandhill boat owners, have to do tomorrow. Phoenix has had her 18 months (ish) with Bob and June. She is now trained and socialized and like Callum has matured into a fine young. But her hard work is not over because tomorrow she University for Guide Dog training, and make a real difference to a blind persons life.

I know the day was going to come for Bob and June but that doesn't make it any easier. We're thinking about you guys and keep up the charitable work!

A couple of my favorite pics from Tucker's 2013 blog.

My Turn

Play Time

Time for a cuddle

And one of Callum.

In Gentleman mode - bowling, a long forgotten memory

A Speckled Hen and a packet of scratching please

Hmm f3.5 and ISO 100 ... well if your sure

I was actually trying to take a pic of Durdle Door, not Callum

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Getting Closer To London...

Getting Closer To London...

The weather is declined a little since leaving the Soubury 3 locks but we made good time down through Leighton Buzzard towards the countryside and on to our next stop just outside Ivinghoe.  Soon after came Marsworth , the bjunction itself was once a pretty little industrial part of the waterway with traditional working yards, now it's subject to large scale development (see Les and Jaqs'  (link) post for loads more info on the area - much better written than I could have done) with only one of the british waterways buildings remaining the rest of this pretty junction is an expanse of rubble. Passing through the junction is a little bit tight with boats breasted up on the towpath side and wide beams moored on the off side. We were quite surprised that the Aylesbury arm had no sign on its entrance saying that it was closed to boating traffic due to the collapsed lock - link - I presume that the further lock gated are locked but the closer ones were open making it look like an inviting wet dock, hmmm maybe getting the paints out on the way back

We paired up with narrowboat inky out on his summer cruise having moored in mercia marina this winter and several previous ones. The passage was tough going in places with insufficient water levels. One particular pound saw me scraping the bottom most of the way and the edge of the towpath side was high and dry, so much so that I couldn't get close enough for Deb to get on after the lock. Luckily she cadged a lift on inky just as it was leaving the lock. The countryside soon opened and we passed by many places that we have read about on other blogs but we just haven't got time to stop on this occasion.  The few days it has taken to come down from Milton Keynes will probably take a couple of weeks to go back through and we are looking forward to having a good look around Marsworth Tring Cowroast and Berkhamsted where we moored last night.

Today will be tackling the locks falling away from Berkhamstead. It's an area we feel we know quite well having read several people blogs one of which is Jacquie and Stein's aboard 'like ducks to water'. They've done the London part and are making a hasty retreat back towards the countryside. Having moored only a few hundred yards on front of us Jacq recognized our boat from our blog pics and they knocked on the door and came in for a chin wag sadly we have got to push on on the opposite direction to them today otherwise we would have meet up again and made an evening of it. I'm sure our paths will cross again soon Guys (PS the picture I took of Deb Jacq and Stein was a bit blurred so you've escaped this time)

We are in a bit of an internet hole so unfortunately the pics are in one lump at the end. 

Strange pets round these parts

Deb on inky

Nice boathouse that actually had a boat in it

Quite a few older boats moored in Berkhamstead

Boat in a boathouse

Jacquie and Stein - like ducks to water

Lovely conservatory, not sure about the art work

Attached to a rather nice house too

Back out in the country

No shortage of water

Many different boat styles

Deb holding up the traffic

Sunshine after showery day