Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Going “out” in the West End.

We took a very quiet exit from Paddington Basin at 6:30 this morning (so’s not to wake our neighbours Del and Al on ‘Derwent6’!) Actually we walked ‘Chance’ out of it’s mooring, pushed the bow out and swung the back around on the rear rope before starting the engine.  We didn’t even wake the ducks!

With ‘Chance’ now back in Packet Boat marina for a while, we’re now back home in Selsey (cutting lawns and hedges and things) and preparing for another jaunt abroad next week.

However, we can’t forget our night out in Soho with Del and Al and Sam and Tanya before we left.


After visiting the very busy ‘Comptons’ we looked in on ‘The Yard’ where it was a bit quieter (until we got there that is!). Here’s us: Del, Tanya, Al, Doug,Sam and James in a “quiet” corner.


After that it was ‘Manbar’ where a charity event was taking place.  Food and drinks and good music (and a very capable smoke machine!) made for a great evening. Tanya, Sam, Al, Del and Doug – it was all a bit of a haze.


By the time we got out into the fresh air the Tube trains had shut and so it had to be the “No 23”.  We were all tucked up by 3:30 so it wasn’t too late!

We had a fab evening with all of you guys – thanks so much and we look forward to meeting up again very soon.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Lazy Bank Holiday.

After our wonderful day last Friday when we travelled down the Thames from Teddington to Limehouse and then back up the Regents Canal – and the fact that the weather this Bank Holiday weekend  has been poor, we’ve decided to be very lazy (sort of!)


Saturday we had some very heavy showers, so we feel we can look the Crick Boat Show in the face as the weather has not been so good for them either.


Still, the sun has shone as well and, on Sunday when we had a good spell of sunshine, James managed to clear out the entire contents of the gas locker (only gas bottle of course!) and dry everything out after the deluge of water we took over the bow after Friday’s excitement.  We’re privileged this weekend to be moored next to Del and Al on nb ‘Derwent6’ and have them as our neighbours. Our side hatches are almost opposite so we have some great morning chats ‘over the garden fence’………..


…….. and, as always, Del and James are head to head for the “shiniest boat” competition!


We had a surprise during our Saturday night out in Soho when we spent an hour or so in the company of Jean Paul Gaultier who was out with friends on a birthday celebration.  Sunday saw us out for the afternoon looking up, and having a drink, with a few London friends in Vauxhall.

Today we’ve been ultra lazy – got up late, did the washing and now hunkered down for afternoon, as the weather is in another one of it’s ‘threatening’ modes.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Extreme Narrow Boating!

Yesterday our friends Mags and Pete joined us on ‘Chance’ at Teddington lock for, what turned out to be a mammoth day’s cruise.  We were let out of the lock at 10:30 to start our lone trip back down the Thames to Limehouse Basin.


The poor weather forecast proved not to be so poor and we had a good deal of sunshine for most of the trip.  As we approached Richmond at the start of the journey the magnificent Star and Garter Home dominated the scene as it always does.


The wind was fairly strong all day and in places, with the wind acting against the tidal flow, the water was quite choppy even before we reached the busy section of the river from Vauxhall Bridge onwards.


Thanks to Pete’s exceptional knowledge of London we were treated to many facts about the riverside features.  This is the power station which was built solely for the production of electricity for the London Underground. Now as sad looking as it’s bigger sister at Battersea.


Even with the threatening skies the sun still shone through as we approach the Albert Bridge.


After a cup of coffee and delicious sponge cake (thanks to Doug) while we were still on the upper stretch of the tideway we soon uncorked a bottle of wine before we got too far into the rough water (where we might spill it!).


The bridges come up fast and furious in places. As we approach Battersea Power Station we pass beneath Chelsea Bridge and then Victoria Railway Bridge.


No, they haven’t removed the chimneys from Battersea Power Station – it’s just poor photography!  Is that your 2nd or 3rd glass folks? Drink up, it’s going to get rougher soon!


Approaching Vauxhall, the now finished tower (scene of the unfortunate helicopter accident) literally towers above everything else.


As we approach Lambeth Bridge, Doug keeps in touch with London VTS so that they can keep track of our position on the river.  From the start of the journey we felt very much alone on the river – there was virtually no other craft around until we’d passed Westminster.


Along with Tower Bridge the Palace of Westminster has to be most exciting and iconic sight on the river. (“I see no ships” –still!)


At last – a ship!  - and behind it is the back of the Savoy Hotel and, next to it, the Shell Mex building which has the biggest diameter clock face in London.


Now it’s getting a bit busier!  The London skyline has changed dramatically in the last few years.  The dome of St Pauls’ Cathedral can be seen left of centre.


The much awaited highlight – and a chance for us to use the centre span as there’s a boat manoeuvring on the other side of the right hand span.  We’ve no pics (which is hardly surprising) of the very rough water encountered in the Pool of London. Waves came over the front bow several times and deposited quite a lot of wet stuff into the gas locker.


Time for a group hug before sharing the bridge with a floating restaurant.


Entry into Limehouse Lock was surprisingly easy this time as the water was fairly calm.  We went down stream a short distance to approach the lock against the flow which made entry into the lock mouth less hazardous.  Once in the lock we set about holding firm against the tremendous surge of water as the lock filled.  Mags took this action shot of James holding the rope tight on the dolly!


The lock has no paddles to allow water in and out.  Instead the radial gates are opened allowing the water to pour in.  For the last couple of feet of water the gates are just opened fully and you just have to pray!


Once into the safety of Limehouse we stopped for lunch (thanks to Doug again)………


……… before tackling the Regents Canal. Doug and Mags are the happy lock operators.


We found ourselves “top and tail” with a day boat full of a lively, and somewhat intoxicated, 21st birthday party.  It’s too complicated to explain how it happed but it was a brief moment of chaos which passed happily.


After a very short shower of rain the sun shone even brighter than ever and almost dazzling us as we entered the Islington tunnel.


We have to give Mags a very big ‘thank you’ for her sterling service with all the locks. Our progress was magnificent and we arrived in Paddington at 7:45 in the evening where we, again, had a choice of moorings.  We of course picked the one next to friends Del and Al on nb ‘Derwent6’. 

We said a sad farewell to Pete and Mags,  – we all had such great fun and we were delighted they joined us for the trip.  Lovely to see you both again and thanks for your great company.

As the night was young (and Al was away) we took pity on Del and whisked him off to Soho for a quiet evening (!) We had a long and glorious day which we shall remember for a long time – and so lucky with the weather.


LAST WORD – on the Regents’ Canal there’s this chalk board for people to express themselves – it’s worth stopping and giving it a glance!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Lazy Days at Hampton and Kingston

Leaving our moorings at Teddington Lock on Monday morning we cruised up to Shepperton Marina for fuel and water. 


Now we’re on the non tidal Thames we have the pleasure of viewing some of the super-duper properties both on land ……….


……. and on the water.


We passed Hampton Court, which was to be our mooring for the night on our return from Shepperton.


Olly took most of the strain of steering again – bless him!


The weather was a scorcher again and, although there were few craft on the water we were treated to the company of two cruisers in Sunbury lock.  They didn’t seem to have the fear that some of them have of being crushed by a narrow boat -although we could have taught them a thing or two about lassoing a bollard first time!


Fuelled and watered and back down to the moorings at Hampton Court, in the evening we took the short walk across the river to East Molesey ………


……. for our last meal with Olly at Mezzet a wonderful Lebanese restaurant, before his return to Manchester. We’ve so much enjoyed his company again over the last few days.

Olly caught the train on Tuesday morning and we soon left Hampton Court as the boat was being covered with a very fine dust being blown off the concrete mooring.  It was a very brief trip down river to Kingston on Thames where we’ve spent the last three days (among other things) washing and cleaning the boat of all the dust.


By chance, we caught up with Selsey friend Phillip who was in the area for the day.  We met up at The Ram, directly opposite our mooring, where we were also treated to some Morris Dancing during the evening.


Today we met up again with our “Oriana” cruise friends Derek and Jane for lunch at The Albany on the river front near Hampton Court.  The meal was splendid as was the company (as always!) and, we had free entertainment ……….


……. by watching the customers on the terrace trying to enjoy their meal in the torrential thunder storm that hit the area mid day.


However, as the saying goes “he who laughs last laughs longest” and when we got back to ‘Chance’ the said storm had undone a lot of our cleaning work! Oh well ……


…….. we sit here in Kingston this evening cosy, and on our own, and ready for an exciting day tomorrow.  Its Tideway again!!!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Big Weekend on the Tideway.

This is a big blog for a big weekend. On Saturday, bright and early at 07:00 nineteen narrow boats were let out of Limehouse lock and onto a a very calm and considerate River Thames. We were given the honour (for the first time) of leading six of the ‘novice’ boats during the day’s cruise – a responsibility we hoped we aspired to!


Heading down river on the outgoing tide we soon passed the first of many well known London sights – the Cutty Sark with the domed entrance to the Greenwich pedestrian tunnel to the right.


The magnificent buildings of Greenwich College.


Just past the O2 Arena is the Emirates Skytrain, a pile of nails and one of the City Clippers just about to cast off and do it’s best to create a great big wash for us to enjoy  ………..


…….. there it goes!


On the mirror calm waters of the early morning we passed through the Thames barrier ……


…….. and then on to encounter the Woolwich ferry.


Downstream, as the river got wider the freedom and joy of calm open water is something difficult to explain.


At the briefing the evening before, all boat owners were warned of the dangers of the giant yellow buoys, with their powerful electro magnets, which attract narrow boats with alarming ease (joke!). However, sometimes it doesn’t register!  The force of the outgoing tide can easily broadside a boat into the buoys – and they got three of us in total on Saturday! (No – we weren’t one of them)


Getting as far as Margaretness, we turned and stemmed the last of the ebb tide before taking the incoming tide back up through the city.  This 30 minutes interlude, on tick over, is perfect for preparing bacon sandwiches for breakfast.


Heading back up stream we were inspected by the Police and all seemed to be in order. 


One happy-chappie sitting on the well deck while he can (there are some rough waters ahead!)


Olly, another happy-chappie, as we approach the Thames Barrier again.


Olly takes the strain as we pass the O2 Arena and head towards the city.


What a sight - nineteen narrow boats, are they ready for us!


Heavier waters as we get into the busy area around the Pool of London.


The RNLI start an emergency dash right past our stern.


How many buses can you get on a bridge?


Choppy waters towards the Palace of Westminster.


Small though we might seem on such a big river we were spotted, by many bystanders, as something a bit different.


Vauxhall bridge has the most wonderful and huge bronze statues which only the river users can ever see properly.


Some situations require fortitude!  It’s ok at this level but not much more!


James and Olly’s favourite (Albert) Bridge. A joy of cast iron architectural design. 


After the Albert Bridge the waters calm down and we can get on the with next exciting part of the day.




Two helicopters landed at the city pad while we cruised past – an impressive sight.


Further up towards Richmond Olly’s sister Fleur, and partner Gren joined us on their boat and escorted us to our final destination ……..



……… which was Teddington.  Nineteen boats in the big lock!


We had a few nibbles and a drink on board Fleur and Gren’s boat before having a meal in the local pub with our cruise leader Andrew and his wife Frances. A great end to a really great day.  Nine hours of unique excitement – thanks go again to Andrew and Frances for their superb organisation.

On Sunday we walked the three miles into Richmond from Teddington Lock where, by chance, we caught up with Doug’s school friend Caroline and her husband Geoff …………


……. and joined them in the grounds of their lovely home on the banks of the river.


We had Champagne and a catch up chat before leaving …….


……. and having to wade through the floods caused by the exceptionally high tide!


We had quite a time getting to dry land! ……….


…….. and back to the town centre where we decided to have dinner at the floating restaurant.  Even that was fraught with some difficulty as we negotiated the high water again! 


Still, it was all worth it as the meal in the evening sunshine afloat on the receding tide was a wonderful way to end a wonderful weekend.