Friday, 21 June 2013



Monday 11th June
After a leisurely breakfast James, Mum and I headed off to the Tate Modern along the river. We got the bus to St Paul's Cathedral and walked across Millennium Bridge and into the Tate. A quick wander round the ground floor part by the shop was shortly followed by us  heading up to the sixth floor for coffee with a fantastic view over the Thames. After a short rest it was off to look at the exhibits in the Tate then getting the bus back to Paddington Basin and relaxing before heading to the station for Mum to get her train home.

James and Mum on Millennium Bridge

Still on the bridge with the Shard and Tower Bridge behind

Tuesday 12th June
This was the day when we headed out on the tidal Thames on 'Chance' with Doug and James. We had a fantastic day and enjoyed every minute of the ten hours we spent with them. James and I left them at Hampton Court and got the bus into Richmond and then the tube, with a change at Earl's Court, back to Paddington, arriving back at LJ just gone 1am. Thank you Doug and James for a truly fantastic day. 

Looking a bit choppy

Tranquility with a slightly larger boat behind

Tower Bridge

Not everyday you get this view of it

James and Doug

Wednesday 13th June
Paddington Basin - Kensal
2.5 miles
An early start for us as we had to be out of the Basin by 7:00am due to a charity Dragon Boat race event. We left just before 7am and were nearly the last boat out (apart from the one we think security use for storage, and another broken down one!). After stopping off at Little Venice to top up the water (with an inconsiderate moorer on the water point) we headed back to Kensal for a restful afternoon.

An empty Paddington Basin

And the other end

Thursday 14th June
James and I headed off to Greenwich late morning and due to some diversion we couldn't get our connecting bus so we went the long way round taking nearly two hours! We had a look round the exhibitions there but decided not to go into any of the places that needed paying for as we didn't really have the time to appreciate them before closing so we headed down to the Maritime Museum and had an interesting look around there, followed by a stroll to the Cutty Sark and then into the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames. Once the other side we hopped on a bus into Leicester Square and watch a couple of comedy acts in the Leicester Square Theatre. At only £5 a ticket it was excellent value. Afterwards it was yet another trip into China Town and then a couple of bus changes to get back to Kensal.

James relaxing at the Maritime Museum

Friday 15th June
A quiet day pottering around the boat.

Saturday 16th June
We decided not to go to Trooping the Colour but instead watch it on telly. It was amazing watching the RAF do their fly past on the telly as a couple of minutes later the planes were passing us, so we got to see them twice. Glad we decided to stay on LJ though as there had been some very heavy rain showers during the afternoon.

Sunday 17th June
Today it was off to Marylebone Summer Fayre. We got the bikes sorted and set off stopping off on the way past Little Venice to say hello and goodbye to Elly and Mick on Parisian Star, they were just on their way off to the Canal Museum Moorings. We continued off to Marylebone where we locked the bikes up and started to look around the many stalls, unfortunately the weather wasn't on side and as usual at this sort of thing the rain came. We managed a large hot dog and sat in the park watching the live bands, then out came the waterproof coats and we decided to call it a day returning back to LJ at Kensal just as the sun decided to come out.

Cruising - 2.5 miles
Locks - 0
Tunnels - 0

Cruising - 180.75
Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3

Saturday, 15 June 2013



Monday 3rd June
Paddington Basin - Kensal Green
2.5 miles and 0 locks
Time to head out of the basin again for a few days, this time up to Kensal. When we stopped at Kensal a couple of weeks ago James had noticed that the bank sides were quite low so therefore would be good for touching up the scratches we had acquired going through the locks. Whilst there we also managed to get our other roof box painted so now we have matching grey boxes.

Tuesday 4th June
Today we headed up to Westminster Abbey to see the Royals arrive (and depart) for the 60th anniversary Coronation service. We arrived just after 8am so we could get a good place for spotting the Royals, when we arrived we had a choice of either right at the front of the barrier or a place on the wall on the other side of the pavement. We opted for the wall as it gave us a slightly elevated view and we could see more of what was going on, glad we did too as we spotted Doug and James walking through the crowds so we shuffled up to make room for them. The Royals arrived, the service happened and then the Royals left, shame none of them came over to the crowds but I suppose it was a formal service after all. As we waited for the crowds to lessen a bit the BBC were doing a live broadcast and Doug and I had very short interview which apparently appear live on TV and Adam (Briar Rose) very kindly managed to get a clip for us. After a drink in the Westminster Arms with Doug and James we went our separate ways with us ending up relaxing in St James Park.

Getting ready for the service

The crowds are growing and still an hour to go

The Royals start arriving

William and Kate arrive

BBC news carrying out interviews

Doug in the middle of the two James's

The Pelicans in Hyde Park

Wednesday 5th June
Stayed at Kensal continuing with painting and getting 'ship shape'.

Thursday 6th June
Kensal and return
4.5 miles and 0 locks
A trip to the winding point to turn LJ round to get the other side matching.

One side finished

Friday 7th June
Kensal Green - Paddington Basin
2.5 miles and 0 locks
We were heading back to the Basin ready for Mum to arrive tomorrow. We must be lucky as managed to get a space again, and on the same pontoon as Chance. Just as we were getting the ropes tied James (from Chance) called over did we want coffee? That sounded a great idea, so once we were secure we headed over and sat out as the sun was out, so we started with coffee and chocolate biscuits which then was followed by baked Camembert with bread and nibbles and the wine kept flowing, and finishing with tea, by this time we had moved inside as there were a few drops of rain. We had a lovely and very unexpected afternoon in excellent company.

Saturday 8th June
After a quick trip to Leicester Square to get tickets for a show tonight we headed to Paddington Station to meet Mum off the train, then back to LJ for lunch of quiche and salad as we had decided to eat after the show. We headed off to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus to watch The 39 Steps, it was very cleverly done as there were only four actors and was very funny. After the show we went off to China town and had a very good buffet.

Sunday 9th June
It was off to the parks again on the bikes, Mum got a Boris Bike but as she preferred riding mine I used it and thought it was great. You pay a £2 access fee per day and then up to half an hour is free and an hour is £1, if you have it longer than that it starts to sound a little expensive. You can change bikes as many times as you like during the day but there must be at least 10 minutes after dropping one off before you can pick another up, so we made sure we only had one for half an hour so only costing £2. We stopped off at Hyde Park and came across the biggest dog show in London "Hyde Bark" so stayed around a while watching the competitions and parades, then it was off to the cafe for coffee and cake. We then went off through Green Park to Buckingham Palace and then cycled down The Mall. Time was now getting on and we were getting worn out so after dropping off the Boris Bike we folded our bikes up and got the bus back to Paddington Basin.

James and Mum in Hyde Park

Cruising - 9.5 miles
Locks - 0
Tunnels - 0

Cruising - 178.25
Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Up the Thames with the help of an old man

No not Doug, he's not THAT old. I mean 'Old Father Thames'

And boy was he in a hurry at times!

An empty tube carriage and a confused taxi driver got us to Limehouse Basin in good time where James and Doug were making last minute preparations, the vitally important things that need to be done before entering the tideway in a boat not designed for purpose - Doug was finishing off dinner and chilling the wine whilst James was buffing the outside of NB Chance to a gleaming luster.

Empty carriage

The previous day checking the sea state from the Tate

Ready for the off
Last minute instructions from the skipper - I knew I shouldn't have asked 'what happens if?'
The lockie invited Chance to proceed before ten yachts were due to arrive and things got a tad busy dockside. Hot on our wake were Dave and Maureen aboard NB Tranquility (seasoned river cruisers) who we had the pleasure of meeting a while ago in Paddington Marina.

Tranquility ready to go

James eased us into the cavernous lock after loitering at the entrance waiting for the lockie to press the right button. Instructed to turn off engines, I took a further grip of the rear starboard rope which was hung around the lock sides steel braided cable. I was a little nervous, as helm I usually use the boats engine to hold steady forwards and aft in a lock, using ropes to keep close to the lock walls. The water lowered slowly, then dropped about four feet in a heart beat.

Hard to see but the outside level is still well below the lock level¬

Too late to turn back

'Is it too late to turn back' - says Maureen

Life jackets on, VHF batteries charged and to hand and two-way radio to NB Tranquility at the ready the lower gates started to open 'Oh were down already James noted' as the gates opened jaws dropped as we all saw at the same time that, even though the gates were three quarters open, the Thames was rushing by  at about six feet below our level, we were being flushed from the lock! The ropes held steady but James was on the ignition in the blink of an eye ready for a big handle of reverse throttle if needed. We hoped Doug was alright on the bow deck, he couldn't have been more than a few feet away from the cascade.

We were out.

There was a stiff breeze and a fast flow but the river was a fairly flat, even chop of less than a foot. That was until we were in the tideway channel and playing in the wake of the trip boats, tugs and police boats. The journey really was one of two halves, towards the latter stages we were in calm tranquility, well actually we were in Chance Tranquility was following, Maureen and Dave were in Tranquility and we were all on tranq... flat water.

This is what you get for overstaying in Paddington Basin

Some are big...

...others are bigger

James was the picture of calmness and control at the helm and made safe progress through bridge after bridge and turning Chance into the heaviest of the trip boat wakes the most exciting of which saw the bow bury its nose deeper than we would have thought possible and the rear dodger save us from a soaking deflecting most of the water from the rear deck.

At canal speeds Tower Bridge is still two days away

Look, it's OK to be nervous, it can happen to anyone.

They think I am trying to capture a breaking bow wave, but really I'm checking the polishing

Good grief, it's even shinier that side! 

Adam from NB Briar Rose had changed his workday timetable to be waiting in the drizzle on Westminster Bridge for us to fly by. He took some great pictures which are all on Chance's, and Briar Rose's  blogs (all links below). We've chatted and waved to Adam as we've passed each other slowly on the canals, but today the waving was over in the blink of an eye even at 1500 revs we were flying through London.  Elly and Mick from NB Parisienne Star had also made the trip over (not from Australia, they are moored closer!) to wave us all through. They had to make a mad dash and ran from Tower Bridge over to Embankment to shout and wave their greetings. It just goes to show what a special bunch of people narrow boaters are, really going out of their way for fellow enthusiasts.

Elly and Mick outside the Tower

Adam on Westminster Bridge

'Big wheels keep on turnin'

Where the best of British dribble into their beards until it's time for Matron to come and take them home again

A nearly pretty row of large houseboats

All together a better class of trip boat on the non-tidal

Nice pair of slippers hee, hee

The wind dropped and the wash from boats big enough to swallow ten narrowboats started to abate by the time we were approaching Battersea and soon after we were able to contemplate the finer things in life; good food, good wine and more importantly good company.

It was a fantastic journey, one not to be missed that gave us a completely different perspective of London from a few inches above, and at times a few inches bellow, Old Father Thames

Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew

Wanted to know what the River knew

For they were young and the Thames was old,

And this is the tale that the river told –

From Kippling's 'The River's Tale 1911

Thanks Elly and Mick, Adam, Dave and Margaret and of course Doug and James for making our first tideway trip so memorable. Please take a look at their blog pics.

Friday, 7 June 2013



Still in London.

Monday 27th May
After our overnight stay on the museum moorings we had to be out early as the trip boat was operating today, being a Bank Holiday. So we moved all of the few hundred yards back out onto the King's Cross moorings. We then hopped on a bus and headed for Camden Market. In the evening we went over to Trafalgar Square as the London Symphony Orchestra were putting on a free performance .

View from the mooring at the museum
Tuesday 28th May
We had a bit of a lazy day today, partly because it was pouring with rain most of the day and also Jess was heading back home. So the fire was lit and a few games of chess played before having an early dinner and heading for Waterloo station for Jess to get the 7:35pm train back to Winchester. After saying our goodbyes to Jess, James and I decided, as it had turned out to be a fairly nice evening, to head over to Knightsbridge and look at Harrods all lit up, we had a lovely stroll before heading back to King's Cross and having a bite to eat before getting back to LJ gone midnight.

Wednesday 29th May
King's Cross - Paddington Basin
4 miles and 4 locks
Fairly early start this morning as it was dry first thing with showers forecast later, also we needed to be off our mooring as our 48 hours were up. After stopping to top at the water at the first lock it was off through the Camden locks and this time hardly anyone around. As we approached the bottom of the Camden locks I headed off to empty the lock when I realised the pound above was virtually empty, the lock wasn't even half full and it was the same level as the pound, so I let James know and we headed up to the next one to let some water through. At this point CaRT were aware and they opened a sluice gate and let water flow through, it took about half an hour to get the water up to a level where we would be able to get through. We passed through the second lock with no problems and then at the top one I couldn't get the gate closed, there seemed to be something jamming to open, as the CaRT guys were doing some clearing of trees just below the lock I head down to them for some assistance. After a bit of wobbling and forcing we finally managed to shut the gate and continue on our journey. We arrived back at the Basin and managed, again, to get the last but one mooring space, which coincidentally was right next to the one we had last time.

Very low pound above Camden bottom lock

More water please

Water as requested

Thursday 30th May
Today we mainly stayed around the basin and were lucky enough to see the bridge being curled up, this usually happens on a Friday but today they were doing some maintenance to it and therefore it was curled and uncurled several times. (Can't think of another way of describing this - could it be lifted??) Later in the evening we got the bus into Leicester Square and had a wander round the various street acts going on before heading back to LJ, at yes gone midnight again!

Curling or lifting??

Definitely curled here

Friday 31st May
We headed out this morning to the markets just round the corner from the Basin at Church Street and ended up walking along Regents Street and into the park, we bought a sandwich and some chips and sat in Regents Park and watched the world go by. On deciding to get back to LJ we thought we would find the canal and head along there for a pleasant walk away from the traffic, we got to the bridge over the canal and looked down only to see Doug and James on Chance heading back to the Basin, we missed a lift back as we had a busy road to cross and then down the steps to the canal. We invited Doug and James over for coffee once they had settled back in and were sorted but it turned into slightly more as we got the cheeses out and picky bits and then of course coffee wouldn't go with that so it turned out to be wine and port, then followed by coffee. 

Doug, Debbie and James (pinched from Chance's blog)

Saturday 1st June
Thought we'd try to get a bit of exercise today and got on the bikes and went through the parks, starting with Hyde Park, then onto Green Park and then St James. We visited Princess Diana's Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, which we hadn't been to before. Then it was off along Embankment and we ended up in the Indian YMCA for a very good authentic curry at £7 each, what a bargain. 

Sunday 2nd June
We had an early start and went to the East End markets at Brick Lane. There was lots of fascinating things for sale and many potential bargains to be had. 

Having a stroll and inspecting the boats in the Basin

All in all a very busy and enjoyable week again.

Cruising - 4 miles
Locks - 4
Tunnels - 1

Cruising - 168.25

Locks - 103
Tunnels - 5
Bridges - 3