Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Leaving London


IMG_4752We pulled pins untied from the bollards at 08.00 at Paddington basin with friends Rich and Sharon on Nb Oakapple and headed to Little Venice to fill with water and deposit waste. The taps are some of the slowest on the system and after nearly an hour we moved onto Kensal and did a very quick shop in the canal side Sainsbury.

IMG_4778Travelling along The Paddington arm and we couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw five or six very large Carp causing a disturbance by the bank. I would have thought that they were probably mating.

IMG_4793Leaving the Paddington Arm we turned left at Bulls bridge and headed towards Brentford. It wasn’t long before we saw this sad sight of yet another sunken boat.

IMG_4799A little further along and we saw this very unusual boat . I’m not sure if it ever had paddle wheels or not.

IMG_4810Nearly at the end of the Grand Union canal and we came to the Hanwell flight of locks. It was nothing like we thought they would be. We had imagined them to be in a built up are ,but in fact we thought they were one of the best flights we have ever done .The flight passes down past the Ealing hospital with a most impressive brick wall for a lot of the way The present hospital is built on the site of an old hospital which was known as The Hanwell Insane Asylum, and Hanwell Pauper and lunatic asylum, it was built for the pauper insane. Hanwell was the first purpose-built asylum in England and Wales, and it opened in 1831. Some of the original buildings are now part of the headquarters for the West London Mental Health Trust .

IMG_4807We noticed these holes in the wall. They were built in the wall in case of a fire in the Hospital. The fireman would put their hose through the hole and then pump water from the canal to put out the fire.

IMG_4819It was the first time that we have worked locks with Rich and Sharon on Nb Oakapple. But as you can see with myself and Rich entering the lock together and the girls working the locks we were like a team that ran like a well oiled machine.

IMG_4823We picked up this mooring at the bottom of the flight on a river section and will spend the night here before moving onto Brentford in the morning. It was gone four in the afternoon when we did eventually stop ,but it was a most enjoyable cruise.

                                                                                                Happy Days

Monday, 30 May 2016

A cunning plan (not)

IMG_4553You may remember that a couple of weeks ago we contacted Canal and River Trust regarding a mooring at Rembrandt Gardens in London. There are only two bookable moorings (but room for three boats) and unfortunatly we were told that they were full and there would be no chance of a mooring. They did however say that they would put us on the cancellation list , so that if any boats didn’t turn up they would contact us and give us a place. Luckily though we managed to pick up a mooring in Paddington Basin.
The picture above shows The Rembrandt Garden moorings with only one boat on it and it stayed that way for five days while we were there. In that time loads of visiting boats from outside the London area arrived and could not find anywhere to stop and several of them after travelling for many days just turned and left the city. It’s clear that Canal and River Trust have great problems of controling the moorings in central London. Canal and River Trusts offices are just opposite the moorings in Little Venice so they would just have to step outside the door to see if the Rembrandt moorings had been taken.

In the basin where we were eight out of the twenty boats there at one time had either overstayed or did not display a valid licence or their boat number. Some had CRT overstay envelopes pinned to their boats. Several of them seemed to be so called dumpers, which are boats that are just moved around the system with no people on them for the time they are moored.

In Liverpool they run a very successful scheme where you pre book to moor in the city. We have spoken to so many other visiting boaters to London who have said that they believed a system like that should be introduced into Paddington Basin and most boater’s said they would be prepared and more than happy to pay a fee for a guaranteed visitor mooring.

IMG_4456I did speak to one local boater who told me that If I wanted to over stay and have a longer time in London at this time of year was to get an old tyre and hang it off the side of our boat. Then within a couple of days a Coot would build a nest and lay some eggs. Because the birds are protected the boat can then not be moved for the next month or more… “What a cunning plan” he said .   I THINK NOT !!!!.  Of course I’m sure not all boaters that use tyres for fenders do it for overstaying.

                                                                                                   Happy Days

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Cleopatra’s Needle


IMG_4709With are time in London coming to an end we jumped on the bus from Paddington and headed down towards the Embankment on The River Thames. It’s the first time we have ever been here so it was all new to us. The first thing we saw was Cleopatra’s needle. It was originally erected in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis on the orders of Thutmose III, around 1450 BC. It remained in Alexandria until October 1877 when its transport to London was funded by William James Erasmus Wilson.

IMG_4713Carolyn decided to take a rest and sat in front of one of the two large bronze Sphinxes which lie on either side of the Needle. These are a very Victorian version of the traditional Egyptian original, but still look impressive.

IMG_4717I have always wanted to go along the tidal Thames from Limehouse to Teddington but Carolyn has refused point blank to ever do any part of the tidal Thames. When we looked at the boats going up through that stretch she became even more determined to never do it. Little does she know but we will be going on the tidal Thames from Brentford up to Teddington.

IMG_4720We then walked around to St Paul’s Cathedral which was a very busy place. We did venture about 10 foot through the front door and saw the admission price and promptly turned around and left .

IMG_4729After St Paul’s we walked up The Strand and came across The Royal Courts of Justice. According to Carolyn if I’m not careful I will end up here.The Royal courts of Justice, commonly called the Law courts, is a court building in London which houses both the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is one of the largest courts in Europe. It is located on the Strand within the City of Westminster, near the border with the City of London (Temple Bar). It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court, King's College London and the London School of Economics.

IMG_4736After an exhausting few hour’s it was back to Inca and a chill out on the boardwalk beneath the hospital.Tomorrow ourselves and friends Rich and Sharon with their old vintage engine (Which apparently is music to your ears) on their boat Oakapple will leave Paddington and head down towards Brentford.

                                                                                                                 Happy Days                     

Friday, 27 May 2016

Rolling Bridge


IMG_4567This is the Heatherwick Studio’s Rolling Bridge in Paddington basin. It was commissioned in 2004 and needed to be a footbridge that would allow a crossing for local workers and residents but crucially could also move out of the way completely to allow boats to moor in the inlet.

IMG_4572It's a system of hydraulics that opens and closes the bridge which are fitted into the balustrade. It's a beautiful thing to watch as it appears so graceful for something that is so functional. The bridge can be stopped at any point of the 'curl' but generally there's no need and the operator will open stop it when fully open or fully closed.

IMG_4574When fully open, and across the inlet, people are allowed to walk over so do run round and try it. It's very stable for such a temporary structure. Once it's been used for a few minutes, and there are no people trying to cross, the second member of staff blocks the way for safety - remember you can still walk around the canal path - and the bridge curls back up.

IMG_4577Probably the biggest ever crowd of people we have ever seen for the Rolling bridge operation. Even though we have witnessed it several times before it’s still a buzz watching it in action.

IMG_4549Out and about in Paddington and Carolyn is not sure about this bloke.

IMG_4658There is so much building work going on all over London and now the building opposite the canal entrance to Paddington station as nearly been demolished.

IMG_4649We watched them assembling this crane behind the buildings at Merchant Square. It was a rather large mobile crane with a big jib attached to it.

IMG_4672It took them half a day to assemble it and then they used it for a couple of hours to take a few things off the roof of this building.

With only a couple of days left in London Carolyn is out hitting the shops again and has just caught the bus down to Harrods. She said she was only going to look around…..Well that would be a first !!

                                                                                                              Happy Days

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Aus 1


IMG_4628Our next trip out in London was to Buckingham Palace. We have been here before ,but it’s always worth a trip down to see what’s going on.

IMG_4627All change as the Guards on sentry duty get replaced by their mates.

IMG_4617I wonder if any of our Aussie boating friends know who this guy is. He must be someone of importance with that car with the registration number AUS 1 ,and they even put the red carpet out for him.

IMG_4633We walked back up Constitution hill and right outside of The Wellington arch at Hyde park corner we heard whistles blowing and turned around to see several Police outriders and these two cars. It’s the first time we have ever heard Police blowing whistles to stop people and traffic. We tried to look through the windows but couldn’t make out who was inside. anyway it was a bit more excitement.

IMG_4642We walked back up through Hyde Park to Marble Arch where we had a sit down and did a bit of people watching . Marble Arch is a 19th-century white marble faced triumphal arch and London landmark. The structure was designed by John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace; it stood near the site of what is today the three bayed, central projection of the palace containing the well known balcony. In 1851 it was relocated and following the widening of Park Lane in the early 1960s is now sited and isolated on a large traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road.

Next to Marble Arch is the site of the Tyburn trees where  Executions took place for almost 600 years, with the first recorded as William Longbeard in 1196 and the last as John Austen in 1783. In between, tens of thousands of highwaymen, robbers, forgers, murderers, traitors and other convicted men and women met their end at Tyburn. At least it’s a bit more peaceful here now, except for all that traffic and the thousands of people.

IMG_4688You may remember that I mentioned they were putting up a stage in Trafalgar square when we were there. We found out it was for a concert by The London Symphony Orchestra. They were performing works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and it was a free event. They performed the 1812 Overture, Swan Lake and Symphony number 4 . They were conducted by Valery Gergiev .

IMG_4678With friends Rich and Sharon we caught the bus down to Trafalgar square where we all enjoyed a good evening of music even though we couldn’t see a lot due to the amount of people there. It was a first for us to go to a concert like this and it was certainly an experiance we wont forget in a hurry.

.                                                                                                            Happy Days  

Tuesday, 24 May 2016



IMG_4585With Hamish on the boat we are a bit restricted to both going out around London for any length of time, so it’s a quick hop on the 23 bus as we head down to Trafalgar square and have a look around The National Gallery for a couple of hours.We got our Oyster cards a few years ago and they certainly make travelling easy on London transport. You just can’t believe how busy it is in London. Even on a weekday it’s buzzing with people like here at Oxford Circus as we look down from our front seat on the upper deck..

IMG_4596There are loads of these what ever you call them around London. Guess what ? We know how he does it.

IMG_4600Inside the National Gallery and I was drawn towards this picture for some strange reason, maybe the word Wine had something to do with it. The picture by Titian called Bacchus and Ariadne and it depicts Bacchus, god of wine,as he emerges with his followers from the landscape to the right. Falling in love with Ariadne on sight, he leaps from his chariot, drawn by two cheetahs, towards her. Ariadne had been abandoned on the Greek island of Naxos by Theseus, whose ship is shown in the distance. The picture shows her initial fear of Bacchus, but he raised her to heaven and turned her into a constellation, represented by the stars above her head. How sweet !

IMG_4605The flowers on the left are worth over £100 million pounds and the flower on the right is priceless…(That should earn me a few Brownie points).Of course the painting is by some bloke called Vincent Van Gogh.This is one of four paintings of sunflowers dating from August and September 1888. Van Gogh intended to decorate Gauguin’s room with these paintings in the so-called Yellow House that he rented in Arles in the South of France. He and Gauguin worked there together between October and December 1888. Carolyn thought that the picture was a bit fuzzy, so if it ever comes up for sale I don’t think we will bother to buy it.

IMG_4606This is thought to have been painted soon after Van Gogh's release from hospital in Arles in January 1889. On 7 January he wrote to his brother Theo: 'I am going to set to work again tomorrow. I shall start by doing one or two still life’s to get used to painting again'.

IMG_4597In Trafalgar square this massive stage is being built, I’m not sure what it’s for but it maybe worth finding out. As usual London is an eye opener and it’s one of those places that’s good to visit ,but I’m just not sure if I could live here.

                                                                                                  Happy Days

Monday, 23 May 2016



IMG_4486We finally got moored in Paddington basin on the hospital side and as you can see we have a great view out of our front room window. With the apartments in the distance selling for several millions of pounds we are more than happy to be here our little old boat .

IMG_4499A couple of times a week they lift the fan bridge at the end of the basin. Conceived by Buckinghamshire-based bridge specialists Knight Architects, the three-metre-wide cantilevered moving structure spans 20 metres across the canal and is raised using hydraulic jacks with an action similar to that of a traditional Japanese hand fan.

The deck of Merchant Square footbridge is made of five fabricated steel beams which open in sequence, with the first rising to an angle of 80 degrees; the four subsequent beams rise at lower increments. Shaped counterweights assist the hydraulic mechanism and reduce the energy required to move the structure. 

Everything was going fine on this occasion until they tried to lower the bridge . It didn’t matter what they did it would not go down..

IMG_4504Unfortunately they couldn’t get an engineer out to look at the bridge until the following day ,so it had to stay up all night. The last time this happened a few people decided to climb the bridge in the middle of the night and then jump into the canal. So this time they had security staff guarding the bridge all night.

IMG_4517A couple of times a week they have the Crave food market in Merchant square . With lots of different stalls selling all sorts of food from around the World it’s a bit difficult to decide what to have. After having a bite to eat Carolyn was soon on her way down to Oxford Street for a bit of retail therapy, I don’t expect to see her again for the rest of the day. Now then , Where’s my credit card gone…..

                                                                                                      Happy Days

Sunday, 22 May 2016

London bound


IMG_4434The day has arrived when we make the journey in to London. We pulled pins from our mooring at 05.15 which has to be one of the best times of the day. We used the services above Cowley lock before dropping down and travelling the nearly 18 lock free miles into London.

IMG_4445At Yiewsley we passed this colourful boat.

IMG_4448It was then off the Grand Union main line and a sharp turn at Bulls bridge and onto The Paddington arm where we have 13 miles to cruise into Paddington basin. We should be back this way in a week or so and then head the 6 miles down to Brentford and eventually out on to The River Thames.

IMG_4454Our reflection.. So that’s what we look like as we cruise along.

IMG_4459This boat has been here for a very long time and is listing just a bit. I’m not sure how long it will be before it finally topples over

IMG_4470Passing through Kensal and it is full of boats from one end to the other with not one spare mooring. We have never seen it that full before . Although it’s a fairly noisy mooring it is always said to be probably some of the safest moorings on the way into London. There are certainly a good cross section of boats as we cruise through and it seems that if its big enough to live on then someone will ,especially in London with the very high property price’s

IMG_4472We are starting to see a lot of these old ship’s lifeboats on the canal. I suppose they would make a cheap home.

IMG_4475Yet another colourful boat as we head through Little Venice.

IMG_4476It looks like Carolyn’s prayers have been answered . As we go into Paddington Basin it is full except for one mooring on the Hospital side, but it means we have to double moor outside of another boat. It’s something we don’t like doing, mainly because of the difficulties in getting number one ship’s dog Hamish on and off the boat. But at the end of the day we are just pleased that we are in. We are tied onto a very friendly young couple,but we will keep a watch out for any boats moving off the moorings and swap places if we get the chance.

                                                                                                            Happy Days