No Direction

No Direction is our 70ft Narrowboat which is now home to my wife Jayne and myself, it was launched on 4th February 2008.

We spend the Winters in a Marina and cruise in the warmer weather.

Monday, 30 August 2010

The I.W.A. Festival.

Sat/Sun/Monday 28/29/30th August 2010
Moored at Beale Park.
No Miles No Locks.

Saturday.  The show opened at 10am and the first stand I headed for was the suppliers of our Batteries, Multicell, now and again we have a strange reading on our Battery monitor panel which measures the voltage in the Batteries, charging/discharge and the amount power in them which is shown as a percentage figure, the first 2 are OK but the percentage figure sometimes does not make sense, we decided that the Batteries were fine and that it was was down to a problem with the Victron monitor panel so we will be following that one up.

We used quite a bit more Diesel coming up the River than we would normally use on the Canals, mainly due to me trying to go to fast, after a while you realise that with the shape and weight of a 70ft Canal boat the extra throttle opening gives very little increase in speed, so now we will be cruising at Canal speed again, Jayne spoke to Tom Hill who runs a Coal/Diesel boat which is on display at the Festival and arranged for us to have a fill up before he leaves on Tuesday, his prices are a bit more realistic that some of the Yacht/Cruiser type Marina's we have past.

At 12 o,clock we started our 2 hours on the .R.B.O.A. stand, the first hour was very quiet, the second very busy, the rest of the day was spent Looking around the show, the organisers had built a mock up of an old wharf where working boats would have loaded/unloaded.

Crane loading at the Wharf

Sunday. We were on the R.B.O.A. stand between 10 and 12 o'clock today, someone (forgot his name) from One Chem brought  some samples of there toilet fluid which were gratefully received. We also bought 6 side fenders from rope specialists outdoor escape, we have been using Go-Kart tyres but being rubber they squeaked when the boat rocked.

There were a few classic cars on display.

1970 Morris 1000 Van

Jayne and I bought one of these Vans in April 1971 only by then they were called Austin 6 cwt Vans, XOG 796J, it cost £501.00, £12.50 for a heater and £7.50 for the passenger seat. (Jayne says she could still find the receipt but I think she's winding me up).

Last night there was an open air get together of  R.B.O.A. members on the grass area outside our boat, about 35 members turned up, it went on till dark when the illuminated boat parade came out of the lake and up the river turned and back down.

Monday.   Today I had booked a 2 hour rope splicing course in the craft centre which started at 10.30, I can splice an eye on the end of a rope but it never looks very good although we have never had one come undone, we were shown how to splice an eye, how to splice 2 rope ends together and finally a back splice, now I just need to practice for a couple of years.

Whilst I was splicing Jayne had borrowed a small electric mobility scooter from a company who had them on display, we have been planning to get a small foldable scooter for events just like this Festival where there is a lot of walking to see everything, so it was an ideal opportunity to try one on grass, she had it for 2 hours, all the company wanted for it's use was a donation, I asked her later how much she had donated expecting it to have been £5 or a bit more, she had given them £2, mean or what, I'm glad I never worked for her. Comment from Jayne, I asked if the donation was for a charity, they said 'No for us', that is why I only gave £2!!!!

I did another hour manning the swing bridge this afternoon ( see Fridays blog), after that we had a final wander round the festival and watched the model boats on the Lake, not little models but ones large enough for the owner to sit inside and control it.

This is a Model, it's about 24 feet long, 3 feet wide and the owner is lying inside, it even fires it's guns

This is another of his models, a Nuclear Submarine.

This is called Water Zorbing, the child gets in, it is then pumped up with a leaf blower and the aperture zipped up. then it's pushed out onto the water, there is a rope attached, there was a long queue even at £4 for 5 minutes

It was then back to the boat, we were going to the entertainment tent tonight as it was "Sixties" night but Jayne was to tired.

We have planned to move off on Wednesday probably up to Abington .

Friday, 27 August 2010

Getting Sorted

Thursday/Friday 26/27th August 2010
Moored at Beale Park
No Miles No Locks.

Thursday.  Drizzle this morning as we shuffled our boat with the one next to the River bank, we were allocated mooring position  A,  which is against the bank, it was raining when we arrived yesterday so we agreed to do the swap today.

No Direction lined up with the access boards.

In the afternoon 3 more boats arrived, so there are now 5 side by side.
During a break in the rain we put our bunting and flags up. 

The festival site is off limits to us as the exhibitors set up, we are only allowed in during opening hours unless I can get my hands on an exhibitor pass, then I can have a good nose around before the crowds arrive.

Friday.   Some of the floating exhibitions and boat clubs are situated on the Beale Park lake, the lake is accessed from the River Thames via a narrow cut across which, there is a floating swing bridge, so every time a boat arrives that needs to get into the Lake area the bridge needs to be opened so the organiser asked for volunteer's, I volunteered and was operating the bridge today between 10 & 11 o'clock, it takes 2 people to operate it, 1 to pull on the chain to open it and 1 to pull on another chain to close it, I have also volunteered for an hour on Sunday and again on Monday.

A Dutch Barge enters the lake with the Swing Bridge open

At around 5 this afternoon I heard the distinctive sound of a Narrowboat with a Bolinder Hot Bulb Engine these were one of the first Diesel engines available in the early 1900s, (the starting procedure requres a Blowlamp !!!.)  I went down to the lake entrance to have a look, it was 2 Historic boats from Tamworth,  Kangaroo, the one with the engine and Australia the Butty, without an engine.

The 2 Boats pass the open Swing Bridge, our mate Caz is standing on the back of the far one.

Tomorrow we will have a quick look around the show when it opens at 10 am, then we are both on the R.B.O.A.. stand at 12 for our 2 hour stint.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A Windy Day

Tuesday 24th August 2010
Maidenhead to Sonning
21.5 Miles 9 Locks.

This Dutch Barge passed us this morning before we left our mooring.

Enjoyment of all outdoor activity depends on one thing, the weather, and the worst weather that a Narrowboat can encounter is wind,  today it was blowing gale force.
The heavy showers of Monday had gone but the wind made controlling the boat difficult, fortunately at 8 of today's Locks the direction of the wind  was blowing boats onto the Lock waiting moorings or the Locks were sheltered by trees, but at Hambleden Lock which is next to open fields it was blowing the boats off the moorings so it was a case of getting ropes on quickly, Jayne is getting quite good at lassoing mooring bollards from the front of the boat.

The first 2 Locks today had the "Self Service" sign showing as the Lock Keepers was adjusting the weir flow, one of the crew from the other boat using the Lock pressed the buttons on the control panel to operate everything.

The weirs are adjusted according to the amount of water flowing down the River to maintain the correct levels.

We then went along a straight section of river used for the the Henley Regatta and, through Henley which is a very Boaty place with plenty of nice moorings, free for a few hours to visit the Town but £9 to stay overnight.
We came across a Narrowboat which was in trouble, 1 of the crew was standing on a very expensive looking lawn belonging to a large waterside property holding the front rope with the rear of the boat sticking out into the River, the steerer was waving frantically at us so we went over, they had engine failure so we tied their boat to the side of No Direction and moved it across to some visitor mooring on the other bank, they had called a boatyard for assistance, so we left them there.

The boat with engine failure was crewed by 3 New Zealanders

We found a Mooring for the night just above Sonning Lock, Sonning is about 4 miles southeast of Reading.

Wednesday. 25th August 2010
Sonning to Beale Park.
10.75 Miles 3 Locks.

The weather forecast for today was rain in the afternoon so we off the mooring by 8.30, the first stop was the moorings outside Tesco's in Caversham, they were pretty crowded so we moored along side Narrowboat Enigma (we always ask first) and went shopping.  Jayne always checks the bill to make sure that any Discounts/offers/2 for 1 deals have been deducted, today she spotted a mistake with the price of the Yogurts, the offer price said 12 Muller Yogurts for £3, we were charged £6 the normal price, so off she went to sort out Customer Service while I took the rest of the shopping back to the boat, it turned out that the 12 Yogurts for £3 offer finished yesterday but someone forgot to take the sign down, ha ha Jayne won, they gave her a cash refund.
After packing most of the supplies away we moved off as there was a queue forming  for the moorings.

We then passed through Reading where there seemed to be plenty of moorings, it was also gearing up for this weekends Reading Festival with lots of fans queuing with there camping gear waiting to get in.

Eager fans wait in the rain to get in and put their tents up in the rain and spend the rest of the day and possibly the weekend in the rain, a tickets only £180

I also spotted a least 4 rescue boats patrolling along the river waiting to pull the the over excited one's out.

The temporary bridge built to get Fans from the campsite to the Festival site and back, in previous years they used a ferry.

A more permanent Reading bridge.

After Reading the rain really started to come down and I thought about those people putting there tents up, we were wet as well but a least we could switch the central heating on after we had tied up to dry out and get warm.

So we are now moored at the I.W.A. Festival at Beale Park warm and dry, it hasn't stopped raining since we go here so we have stayed on the boat, if the weather is drier tomorrow we will go and sign in and collect our Commemorative brass plaque, might even venture into the zoo if they will have us.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Speeding Along

Monday 23rd August 2010
Shepperton Lock to Maidenhead
20 Miles 8 Locks.

Firstly I had better go over yesterday's trip as we were both to tired last night to do much of a blog.
After entering the Tidal Thames we discovered very quickly that having Dr Roger Squires on board was invaluable, he was with us because one boat in each group must carry a V.H.F. radio and someone who knows how to use it, Roger has a radio and is qualified operator, not only that, he is a past Commodore of the St Pancras Cruising Club with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Tidal section of the Thames so not only was he able to guide us past the various moored boats and obstructions he also knew every building along the shoreline including it's history.
We passed under Tower Bridge, passed H.M.S. Belfast, the famous Millennium Bridge (the one that wobbled), Waterloo Bridge, Houses of Parliament and dozens more which would take all night to list.

Approaching Tower Bridge

And out the other side

H.M.S. Belfast

The trip was timed so that we were carried up stream by the incoming Tide, because we were already doing  5 to 6 mph with the Tide the engine is only on low throttle settings to maintain steering which made the whole trip seem strangely quiet. It also had the advantage of missing most of the trip boats as they don't start till around 10 o,clock.

Are we being watched ?

We eventually arrived at Teddington Lock which is the upper limit of the Tidal River, this Lock is massive compared to the Locks we are used to which are 72 feet long, Teddington has 3 Locks, a Skiff Lock 49 feet 6 inches, a Launch Lock 177 feet 11 inches and the Barge Lock at 650 feet, this was the one we used and it took 13 Narrowboats and 2 Wide beams(10 feet wide) in one go, we had already paid for our Thames license so all the lock keeper needed to do was write the expiry date on it and we were away, (Boats only need a License on the Non-Tidal section)  some boats pulled over for the night as soon as they found a mooring, we carried on to a free 24 hour mooring just before Shepperton Lock.
The Thames Lock Keepers start work at 9 o'clock so we left at about 8.45 and arrived at the lock and went straight in.
A Typical Thames Lockside

We carried on without stopping for Lunch, having a sandwich on the move, the rain which had fallen all Sunday night returned after Lunch with very heavy showers in between periods of Sunshine, it was particular heavy as we passed the grounds of Windsor Castle (Definitely no mooring or landing here), at around 4 o'clock we had had enough and looked for visitor moorings, Jayne spotted some in the guide book but as we passed there was an £8 charge, maybe that's why they were empty, so we are now on some free moorings at Maidenhead, they are by a road so we have a bit of noise, we can handle that, it was the £8 pound we couldn't. 

Sunday, 22 August 2010

On the Thames

Sunday 22 August 2010
Limehouse Basin to Shepperton Lock
29 Miles 4 Locks.

We Locked out of Limehouse Lock at the pre-arranged time of 9 o'clock,  and are now about half a mile from Shepperton Lock, having completed the Tidal section as planned but due to a very poor Broadband hook up and exhausted crew this short blog is all we can manage tonight, more tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A Lot Going On

Saturday 21st August 2010
Moored in Limehouse Basin
No Miles No Locks.

There was a lot going on this morning with 6 or 7 boats getting ready to Lock out onto the River at 9 o'clock and others moving over to the fuel  boat for Diesel. It was not only Narrowboats filling with Diesel, the owner of the fuel boat is very pleased to see the cruisers pull along side as some of them hold 600 litres of fuel.

The Fuel boat on the inside, dwarfed by a thirsty Cruiser.

A bit of info which will only be of interest to Narrowboat anoraks is that the Fuel boat has a 3 Cylinder Bolinder Diesel engine.

The Bolinder Engine

One of the first boats through the Lock today was a Hanse 430 Yacht, checked on the Internet and you could have a nice secondhand one for about $275000.
Because of the mast the road bridge by the Lock swivels out of the way.

An Expensive Hobby

The locks on Canals are filled via sluices which lets the water in or out in a controlled action, the Lock from the Basin onto the River does not have sluices so the hydraulically operated gates are opened a bit at a time and the water pours in or out.

The Lock Gates are opened a small amount and the water comes out.

The veiw down stream, it bends to the right, goes past the O2 Arena (Millenium Dome)  down to the Flood Barrier.

At about 5 o'clock the boats that were going out on to the Thames Flood Barrier cruise started Locking out, they arrived back as it was getting dark.

Narrowboat Willow heads for the Thames Barrier.

We have had our Locking out time moved forward to 9 o'clock on Sunday morning which is good, pity about the weather forecast which is bad.

We will be looking out for these trip boats on Sunday as they cause a few waves

On our Way.

Friday 20th August 2010
Little Venice to Limehouse Basin
8.5 Miles 12 Locks

We left our moorings in Little Venice at 7 o'clock as planned and went up to the Services where we filled the water tank, that took till about 8.10, then we were off through the Maida Hill tunnel and were soon passing Regents Zoo, the only thing you can see from the Canal is the Snowdon Aviary .

Part of the Snowdon Aviary

The houses we passed in the Regents Park area of London look a bit on the expensive side and there is definitely no mooring outside.
We arrived at Cumberland Basin where the Canal makes a sharp 90 degree turn to the left, I nearly missed it and had to reverse to get round, it was then Primrose Hill, Camden Market

I think these boxes are Apartment's, but it's only a guess.

 and the first of the today's Locks, we caught up with another boat here, Charlie on Narrowboat Woodruff, he was on his own and we stayed with him until St Pancras Lock where he stopped for water, we dropped down the Lock on our own as there was a boat waiting to come up, we carried on through Islington Tunnel and waited in the next Lock for him,  at Mile end Lock we had our first view of one of London's most famous skylines.

Seen through the Trees from Mile End Lock, can we have our money back please?.

The last 3 Locks were quite close together, we emerged into Limehouse Basin at 2 o'clock.

Limehouse, the last manually operated Lock for a few weeks.

Our first view of Limehouse Basin

We knew that mooring space in Limehouse was going to be tight,so we were happy to see Narrowboat Poppy moored up against the wall, Poppy had breasted up next to us in Little Venice last Saturday night so we Breasted up next to them this time, in the next 2 hours 14 more boats arrived so now there are 7 boats abreast at 4 places along the wall.

Tonight most people attended a safety briefing at the Cruising Association where we were given a talk by Andrew Phasey who will be leading the trip, and the Lock Keeper who explained the procedure for Locking out onto the River, we were also warned not to be surprised if a Police boat came along side to check us out as we go past the Houses of Parliament.

View upstream from Limehouse Lock.

No chance of a lie in tomorrow as there are a party from the Stort Boat Club moored here who will be leaving to go up to Teddington at 8.30 so we will have to shuffle the boats around to get them out. 

The Coal and Fuel boat Baron has arrived tonight and tied up, they filled us up with Diesel in Paddington 2 weeks ago, we will have a top up on Saturday from them.

Coal, Diesel  and other Boatie things are available from Narrowboat Baron.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

More Sightseeing

Wednesday/Thursday 18/19th August 2010
Moored at Little Venice
No Miles No Locks.

Wednesday.  We were off sightseeing again today, back into Hyde Park and over to the Albert Memorial and The Royal Albert Hall, the hall was opened in 1871 and it is possibly best known for holding the Annual Summer Proms Concerts since 1941, but for me it's a Bob Dylan Concert in 1966 and it's mention in A Day in the Life by Lennon/McCartney on the Sgt Pepper Album.

Our route then took us along the Kensington Road past Harvey Nichols and into Knightsbridge it was then down Constitution Hill to Buckingham Palace, we knew Liz was in as the flag was flying but she was probably busy so we didn't stop, after watching the overseas tourists climbing over the top of each other to get a better picture,  (there was no changing of the guard today, that is on Thursday so it will be a right Rugby scrum then)  we headed back up Constitution Hill and back into Hyde Park, stopping at a kiosk for a cup of hot chocolate and a piece of cake each, it was then back to the boat.  One thing that did surprise us was that apart from the paths in Hyde Park the pavements around London  are the most uneven and badly maintained we have ever used a wheelchair on, a lot of the slabs are cracked and it would be very easy to trip, the wheelchair came to a sudden stop on more that one occasion when one of the small front wheels dropped into a gap, I think the compensation lawyers in London must be very busy.

Thursday.  As we are moving tomorrow,  today was a clean up and check everything over day, Jayne had the washing machine on while I was outside giving the paintwork a wipe over and cleaning the windows, it was then check the levels on the engine,  have look at the propeller and remove any debris.
There has been a British Waterways Inspection Boat around this afternoon checking for un-licensed boats or those which have overstayed the 14 day limit, the one moored in front of us got a warning pinned onto it for overstaying, good, the mooring around here is tight enough without people doing that. 
We hope to leave at around 7 in the morning, first stop will be at the services about 200 yards away to fill with water,  empty the cassettes and rubbish, Jayne says she is stopping in bed while all this is going on,  it's then off along the Regents Canal including 12 locks down to Limehouse.
Hopefully the Broadband will be better when we get onto the Thames, it has been very bad around here, I thought it would be fast in London, the TV reception has not been good either.

I read that the further south you go the dearer the Beer and Diesel gets, well we haven't been into a pub since Daventry so can't comment on the price of Beer but the Diesel is not any dearer here than we paid in the Midlands.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Visitors and Sightseeing

Sunday/Monday/Tuesday. 15/16/17th August 2010
Moored at Little Venice.
No Miles No Locks.

Sunday.  I was up early this morning and off to get a paper from the Sainsburys local in Sheldon Square, the shops are at the base of an Amphitheatre , it's all part of the Merchant Square development around  Paddington and includes part of the Crossrail Project which involves new tunnels under central London.

The boat that was moored along side last night Poppy, left us today, we will catch up with them at Limehouse Basin on Friday.

Mid-afternoon saw fellow blogger Halfie moored along side, they came on board for a cuppa before leaving for a trip on the rivers lee and Stort before getting to Limehouse on Friday.

Monday.  We decided on a bit of sightseeing today so with Jayne in her wheelchair we were off down the Edgware road into Hyde Park, and around the Serpentine past the Diana Memorial Fountain and the Lido before arriving at The Joy of Life Fountain, we then carried on through Hyde Park keeping parallel with Park Lane to Speakers Corner and Marble Arch, it was then back along the Edgware road to Paddington, Little Venice and the boat.

We also received our I.W.A. Bulletin for August with news that the 2011 National Festival will be at Burton on Trent and that it has been moved forward to the 29/30/31 of July after consultation with Traders, visitors and I.W.A. volunteer's who help stage the event.

Tuesday.  Jayne had finished knitting a couple of Cardigans for two of our niece Emma's children so we walked to the local post office to post them.

We also looked into doing an open  top bus tour round the sights of London but the buses we saw on Monday were crowded with screaming kids so that will probably not happen

The R.B.O.A. always have a stand at I.W.A. Festivals, where people considering living afloat can talk to people already doing it, Jayne and I will be on the stand for 2 hours on Saturday and 2 hours on Sunday which works out OK as I am booked on a rope splicing course on Monday morning.  

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Busy Doing Nothing

Thurs/Friday/Sat 12/13/14th August 2010
Moored at Little Venice
No Miles No Locks.

Sorry, not much to blog about,  I have been busy giving the inside of the boat a thorough (delayed) spring clean, Jayne has had the washing machine on the go and the rest of the time we have been watching the world go by.

Trip Boats and a floating Cafe in Little Venice

We moved to this mooring on Wednesday, it is opposite a restaurant which I have mentioned before, in the early hours of Thursday morning we were woken by someone hammering, I looked across at the restaurant and they had the builders in doing some alterations, they must have started as soon as the last of the diners left,  fortunately No Direction has double glazing so after closing the windows on the restaurant side most of the noise disappeared, we closed them on Thursday night as well as the building work didn't look finished. 

Looking down the Little Venice visitor moorings, Houseboats on the right, visitors on the left.

This morning, (Saturday) we walked to the local Sainsburys for bread and milk, after lunch a boat moored in front of us, one of the crew came to our Cratch where Jayne sat reading and said that they had an electric boat and needed somewhere to re-charge it, she suggested he try the floating cafe, as the British Waterways information boat is closed at weekends, he returned, un-tied the boat and drifted over to one of the houseboats, he then passed an electrical cable in through their Patio doors and stayed there having a re-charge !!

Electric boats have one big drawback, the Batteries go flat.

Another Narrowboat came passed slowly tonight and asked if they could tie up along side us, we said yes, so we now have Narrowboat Poppy along side, they are off in the morning as they have people to meet on the Regents canal, however next Friday they will be in Limehouse Basin as they are going up the Tidal Thames at the same time as us.

Tomorrow we will be looking out for fellow blogger Halfie who will be coming past during Sunday morning on Narrowboat Willow, they are going up the Thames as well but are cruising the Rivers Lee and Stort next week before getting to Limehouse, there schedule for doing the Thames looks scary, 13 hour days !!.  If I suggested that on board No Direction it would lead the crew to instant mutiny closely followed by Divorce. 

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Living in London

Tuesday/Wednesday 10/11th August 2010
Paddington to Little Venice
1/2 Mile 0Locks.

Tuesday.   The good news is that Jayne has made a full recovery after her weekend woes.

Since we arrived in Paddington Jayne's phone has had no reception, and, the battery was going flat after half a day, so we located the nearest '3' shop which was in Baker St  W1, printed a map and set off to find it, after about a mile we got there and the phone was fixed in minutes. The noise of city life after spending most of the last 2 1/2 years on a Narrowboat moored mostly in quiet rural locations is ear splitting, the traffic noise and the sirens from ambulance and police vehicles around here goes on 24hrs. 

We knew the price of property in London was astronomical, however we were still surprised when we passed an estate/letting agent and looked in the window, the apartments advertised  ranged from £850.000 to £1.3 Million and there was one for rent at £1150 a week, yes, a week.

We didn't move today, mainly due to the rain which stayed with us all afternoon.

Wednesday.   Nice sunny morning today so at 8.45 we wriggled out of our pontoon mooring at Paddington Basin and cruised the short distance to Little Venice, the area know as Little Venice is the junction where the Regents canal branches off, there are a number of trip boats operating from here, the Island in the middle of the junction is know as Browning island, named after the Poet and Playwright Robert Browning, it appears very popular with Ducks, Coots, Swans and Cormorants due to the ramp for them to walk up out of the water.

The Junction, go left under the blue bridge for Regents canal and right for Paddington Basin

Browning Island

We winded (turned) No Direction at the Junction, reversed back under the bridge to the water point and filled up, we then reversed back along the moorings looking for a gap big enough for us, no luck, so we moored alongside another boat, there was a gap where a 60ft boat had just left but it was 10ft to small for us, the boat in front of this space was Narrowboat 'The Grand Affair' which used to moor close to us at Kings Bromley Marina so when the crew returned we asked nicely and they moved forward enough for us to get in, perfect.

This afternoon I changed the oil and filter on the engine as it is approaching 500 hrs, an easy job just messy, British Waterways (B.W.) used to provide tanks where waste oil could be disposed of safely and there is one at Little Venice, however it is locked, we enquired at the information boat but were told that B.W. no longer provided this service so it will stay onboard until we find somewhere for it.

Access to the front of No Directions engine is easy due to a removable panel.

Our mooring is opposite an expensive fish Restaurant, ( well expensive to us Wetherspoon types, they want £14 for Beer Battered Cod & Mushy peas and that's without chips !!), it's been busy all afternoon and tonight it is packed with diners, what recession ?.

No Cod and Chips here, the Restaurant is just the low building at the front.

We are here for 10 days so I will have to start finding lots of little jobs that need doing onboard.

Monday, 9 August 2010

A Bad Day

Sunday/Monday 8/9th August 2010
Moored in Paddington Basin
No Miles No Locks

Sunday. Poor Jayne had an a bout of food poisoning and was up being sick in the early hours of Sunday morning, so she stayed in bed, at about 9.30 a fuel boat came into the Basin, so I went out to have the tanks filled up, unfortunately after filling the tanks and paying for the fuel I went back inside the boat and found Jayne on the floor, she had got up to go to the Toilet and passed out.  Anyway to cut a long story short she is now OK, apart from feeling battered and bruised. (no damage to the boat !!!).
I had planned to cycle around the area this morning but that didn't happen, we just had a quite afternoon.

 Monday. Jayne is a lot better today, so after breakfast I cycled back to Little Venice with a bag of rubbish for the boaters bins and carried on down the Little Venice moorings, it was not as packed as I thought it would be which is good news as the mooring in Paddington where we are now are 7 days so we need to move off by Friday at the latest, we will try and get onto the Little Venice moorings as they are 14 days, so we can stay there until the 20th when we set off down to Limehouse, ready for the Thames. I shall miss these Posh moorings in Paddington as they have people who come round to sweep the jetties and give the stainless steel lights a wipe over, there are also security guards patrolling, just like being in the harbour at Monte Carlo. (I imagine)

Due to Jayne's M.S. the distance she can walk varies from day to day, for bad days we carry a wheelchair on the boat and today was a bad day so when we fancied a bit of fresh air it was out with the wheel chair, we didn't go far just round the local streets, back past the front of St Marys Hospital and down to Little Venice then back to the boat for a late lunch.

It's handy to know these things at my age.

This afternoon I gave the side of the boat a wipe over and ran the generator to charge the batteries. We may move to the 14 day moorings tomorrow if the wind drops as it has been blowing a gale this afternoon causing havoc with boats trying to get onto a pontoon, I don't know if it is really windy or just these high buildings the wind is funneling between.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

At Paddington, and not a Bear in sight

Saturday 7th August 2010
Bulls Bridge to Paddington Basin
14 Miles No Locks.

I was up at 6.30 this morning, last night wasn't as noisy as we were expecting, in fact the noisiest thing was the rain, it really hammered down.
The boat moored in front of us, Countess, set off for Little Venice at 7 o'clock and we followed about 20 minutes later, we were now on the Paddington Arm section of the Grand Union Canal which leads to Brentford, at Little Venice the Regents Canal branches off left to Limehouse.
The Canal goes pass housing estates and industrial units but still retains a lot of trees and greenery, after passing the district of Northolt there is a large golf course on the left side before you get to more houses, a Sainsbury's (where Jayne popped in for fresh bread) and industrial estates, it all seems more spread out and not so intense as you see when you cruise into Birmingham, as we passed over the six lane North Circular road on the Aquaduct we had a good view of Wembley Stadium. One thing that we have noticed along this Canal is the number of Cormorant's about, perhaps it's because the water is so clear here.( I have just googled them and they seem to be upsetting fishermen so we have something in common).

Just the thing for the Canal, a self righting lifeboat

While I am steering the boat, Jayne is keeping up a commentary from her guide book pointing out the old Wharfs and buildings which would have been a hive of activity in the days of Canal transport, Kensall Green Cemetery is the next land mark, last resting place for some very famous people.

We now approached Little Venice, and our first impressions were not good, we had expected to see something a bit smarter, but it was just boats moored either side, all the 14 day moorings were full so we carried onto the junction with the Regents Canal and carried on down the Regents, hoping find a mooring, but it was all reserved for trip boats, we could not wind (turn around) so had to carry on through the Maida Vale Tunnel and managed to wind at the other end, back through the tunnel and turned left towards Paddington basin, as we approached the moorings a Boater called out, 'looking for a mooring as I am about to leave this one', we went to the end of the Basin and winded, then had to wait while he manoeuvred his boat out as it was the second one in on the floating pontoons, we then manoeuvred No Direction in, the jetty is about a metre shorter than the boat but we are in.

Moored at Paddington, that's us in the middle, second row. (Click on picture to enlarge)

The building on the right is St Mary's Hospital, must be good as the Royals use it, and behind it is Paddington Station.

After a Cuppa we went for a short walk, the immediate area is still being developed, with Cranes and building sites which were still working on a Saturday afternoon, we walked down to the British Waterways Information Boat but, they are closed at weekends, I found that a bit odd.

You may have heard on the news or read in the Newspapers about the Barclays Cycle hire Scheme that's just getting underway in Central London, well this is what they look like.

Journeys under 30 minutes are free

Should be popular here when all the buildings are finished and occupied. Tomorrow I will be out early on my bike to to have a good look around Paddington.

You can tell this is a smart area, now that it's dark the edges of the jettys have lit up with nice little recessed lights, when we get back to our mooring at Kings Bromley I will expect them fitted to our jetty.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Noisy to Very Noisy

Friday 6 August 2010
Harefield to Bulls Bridge Southall
6 Miles 5 Locks.

The noisy Peacocks in the grounds of Black Jack's Cottage woke us up a few times last night so we decided to move today rather than wait until Monday which was the original plan.
We are surprised how few boats are on the move around here despite passing old flooded gravel pits which are now used as Marina's and Cruising club mooring's, we did not share a Lock with another boat until Cowley Lock which was the last one.

We pasted fellow blogger Captain Ahab going in the opposite direction between Cowley Lock and Bulls Bridge, he was coming back from the River Thames after joining it at Oxford.
We had hoped to moor around the Cowley Lock area but most of the mooring are taken up with British Waterways Long Term Moorings and some unusual boats ??

Steel pontoons with wooded buildings mounted on them

Or, get a Caravan, remove the Chassis and mount it on a Steel pontoon.

We thought it looked a bit run down so carried on to Bulls Bridge and are now moored on the 24 hour mooring outside the 24 Hour Tesco. so we should have a nice quiet night !!!
In front of us on the mooring is Narrowboat Countess who is heading for Little Venice tomorrow which is what we have decided to do.

On August 22 we will be joining the River Thames at Limehouse and travelling up stream to Teddington Lock, this section is Tidal and is controlled by the Port of London Authority, their regulation require a boat of No Directions length to carry a V.H.F. radio and that a member of the crew be qualified to use it, V.H.F. radios are around £80 on Ebay and a training course with the R.Y.A. £150 so it is an expensive 4 hours which is the time it will take to travel between Limehouse and Teddington, the solution is to join a cruise organised by the St Pancras Cruisjng Club, they organise cruises thoughout the year in which they have a lead boat with a V.H.F. radio and members of the club travel on the other boats with there own Radio's, this is acceptable to the Port of London Authority and is also very reassuring for first timers.
Although we will not be locking out until the 22nd we need to be in Limehouse Basin on the 20th for a Safety breifing at the Cruising  Association.  


Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tube Trains and Peacocks

Weds/Thurs. 4/5th August 2010
Cassiobury Park to Harefield
6 miles 8 Locks.

Wednesday.  Narrowboat Tarka, who we had shared 24 Locks with turned around this morning and headed back to their home mooring.

Narrowboat Tarka heading home.

 After breakfast we moved down below Iron Bridge Lock at Cassiobury Park and found the water a little bit deeper so that we weren't grinding on the bottom and, got the TV working. Later in the morning I got the bike out and rode a couple of miles further down the Canal but it started to rain and by the time I got back it was a full Thunder Storm, it rained on and off all afternoon.

Thursday. The weather was sunny again as we set off about 9.00 o'clock, the frequency of the locks is easing now as the land flattens out, we saw a Tube Train today so we must be getting close, we reached Rickmansworth, scene of the Annual Historic boat gathering and moored outside Tesco, who ever designed the moorings for Tesco didn't seem to have much idea about Narrowboats, I think they were expecting only large cruisers or Dutch Barges to use them as the step up from the back of No Direction onto the landing was 16 inches, then you had to walk along a narrow edge or climb over the railings.

Gymnastics Required to shop here

 Somebody found the moorings OK,  he was asleep

 Jayne came back with very little shopping and gave the Store 2 out of 10, most of the sell by dates on their fresh food was today.

The Tesco site used to be Frogmoor Wharf and the premises of W.H.Walker who built many of  the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company working boats, the first in 1907 and the last in 1952
There are some strange boats along here, this one looks a bit underpowered

We moored up for Lunch, afterwards it was 3 more Locks to tonight's mooring which is just above Black Jack's Lock at Harefield, on one side of the Lock is Black Jack's Mill which used to be a Restaurant but is now a B&B, their was a Mill on this site recorded in the  Doomsday Book, and on the other side is Black Jack's Cottage with it's collection of wildfowl, the Peacocks are very loud tonight.
The water in this section of the canal is very clear and you can see a lot of vegetation on the bottom, this is because the Canal is joined by a small river further back which flows down the Canal and out under the Mill.

After mooring up this afternoon I washed the Towpath side of No Direction and touched up the black paint along the Rubbing Strip, that side now looks beautiful again but the other side will probably have to wait until we get to Little Venice.
Waiting for the Lock, Somewhere on the Grand Union Canal

We don't know what to do tomorrow yet, we will decide in the morning.