Sunday 30 November 2014

Moored on the Paddington Arm

We’ve had a busy few days here at Hillingdon
Friday morning and we’ve moved from one side of the footbridge to the other onto the old brickwork wharf 

... as this was ideal for sawing and splitting the wood
This is where we are!
Once all the wood was sawn and most of it split ready for use

... we stacked up the split wood in the bow and the rest on the seats on the rear deck.
We shall need to keep the canvases open as much as we can to keep the air circulating around the wood and to prevent condensation/ mould from appearing on the fabric.
Saturday George swept and mopped the roof, that certainly looks much better!
In the afternoon we went for a walk towards Willow Tree Marina, it’s a lovely marina, very peaceful; the reception/office is smart and there were already people in the bar/bistro. We asked about short-term moorings but unfortunately since they took on Black Prince hire boats they have no room at all for casual moorers.
The receptionist also told us that just a few minutes walk out of the marina there is a Tesco Extra and B&Q and a little further on the village has a post office, chemist and a chippy!
 Today the weather has been wonderful, lots of sunshine and about 15degrees c.

We didn’t have a multi-fuel burner on nb Rock ’n’ Roll and so we’ve had to think about how we store all the fuel on Still Rockin'.  We’ve sorted the wood but needed something to keep the coal in and found this small bin in Argos at Hayes Bridge Retail Park which is also just a short walk away over the footbridge.  There are also Maplins, Currys/PC World, Halfords and more there.

This afternoon George walked to B&Q to get me a full-length mirror to hang inside one of the wardrobe doors (so that he can check that he’s presentable before we go out ... lol!)
 Even with all these big stores around the area it’s quiet here; there are dog walkers, lots of Dads and their kids walking or cycling but because the mooring is on the offside the ‘family'  cyclists keep to the pathways through the open spaces and those in a rush are on the towpath opposite!
 Ruby red rose hips make a lovely splash of colour
The late sun brings out all the rest of Autumn’s colours

Thursday 27 November 2014

Leaving the City

George wanted an early start this morning and the alarm was set for 5am but due to those bubbles sounding like thunder all night keeping us awake we were drinking our morning cuppa long before the alarm went off!

We wanted to be at the services before anyone else as the water tap there is very, very slow.

 So we left our mooring in Paddington just after 7 as the day started to get light 

... and headed around the corner to turn round

Jaq wasn’t at all sure that Still Rockin’ would wind (turn) at the end of the basin

... but as you can see George managed it very smoothly

... with no problems at all!

We head back past St Mary’s Hospital

... and past that noisy mooring

... these are the streams of noisy bubbles which were rattling under the hull of Still Rockin’. I wonder if another boat is moored there now!

We make our way out of the basin past the cafes and shops

Approaching Little Venice Bridge 

... where we had to wait because someone had got there before us!

It took us over 1.5 hours to wait our turn and to fill the water tank and use the sanitary facilities

... after which we continued out of Paddington passing the wall murals

... and cruising under numerous bridges

... and past loads of satellite aerials on the canalside properties.

At Sainsburys the pigeons are waiting to be fed

... and at Kelsall Green the line of moored boats reaches as far as the eye can see so it’s a slow, slow cruise once again.

Saw lots of herons today

 It took half an hour from our first and second glimpse of Wembley Stadium and the sun has managed to break through the clouds to show us just a bit of blue sky!
 Squeezing past the island on Stonebridge Park Aqueduct over the North Circular Road.  Anyone tell me what the coat of arms is on the plinth?

The Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal is 14 miles long and lock free, and cruising west out of the city is so boring (at least going east into West London you have the anticipation of arrival).

Today it took us over 5 hours to cruise just 9 miles of the arm   to reach our destination just before Willow Bridge Marina, it's a good place to enable us to cut up all the wood we’ve been carrying and start to burn it on the fire!

Wednesday 26 November 2014

London lights

Our last night in London and we took a bus ride in and around Oxford Street (some photos taken from the top of the bus!)

Early start tomorrow, off find a suitable mooring to cut up a load of wood as we ran out of cut stuff and have had to use coal!

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Good? Or bad?

I’m talking about Paddington Basin regeneration ...

 This is the new ‘fan’ bridge at Paddington.  I like it, and I like the Rolling Bridge too.  I’m impressed with the new buildings along the lower part of the basin and I like the pontoons making the most of the mooring space.

But is all this to the detriment of boaters I ask myself?

The rolling bridge bridges a ‘lay-by’ of water, but there is no reason (other than ornamental) for the water; there is no access for mooring even though there’s room.  The fan bridge as far as I can see is also ornamental only.  It is currently opened (furled up) at certain times but I can’t think that boaters will ever be given the ‘key’ to open for mooring even though there are mooring rings on both sides of the lower basin.

Whenever we’ve visited Paddington it’s always been a ‘will we, won’t we’ scenario about getting a mooring and sometimes we’ve been disappointed.  I had hoped that once the building work was finished there would be more mooring here in the lower basin but it doesn’t look as if that will happen.

We knew from CRT updates received that Paddington Basin was going to be given over to winter moorings and I’d contacted them to ask if they were all taken right from the start (1st November) or if there were any spaces for visitors (perhaps some that had been booked from December or later) and I was told no there wasn’t.

So when we arrived here last Thursday afternoon, we felt that we were very lucky to get the last space available here.  We didn’t really notice that there could be a problem as we were so relieved to find a space but as we sat down to relax later we realised that the ‘bubbles’ the moorer opposite had mentioned as we pulled in, were creating the sort of noise that I can only describe as what I might expect on the high seas in a force 10 gale with huge waves crashing onto the boat (but without the movement of course - we were very firmly tied up!)

Fortunately the following morning (Friday) a boat on the other side moved and we quickly took that space as we thought it may be quieter on this side.  Once moved we set off into London to meet up with our son and when we came back the ‘bubbles’ had been switched off.  We weren’t sure what they were for; I thought perhaps it was something to do with the air conditioning in the offices here and that was why it went off on Friday, but several people have mentioned since that it’s to keep the green algy/duckweed off the canal and basin.  Come Monday morning and they were still switched off - fantastic!

‘Till an hour ago, when a Merchant Square works guy switched them back on ...
The ‘bubbles’ looking from our current mooring

... and another set just two boats up from us.

This really does cause a nuisance.  If the noise under your boat whilst moored here is anything like it was under ours that one night last week you too wouldn’t stay for more than one night, and looking at the pictures above it virtually wipes out four decent sized mooring slots from the very depleted visitor mooring options currently available on this short stretch leading into Paddington Basin.

I asked the chap who’d switched the bubbles back on, why? He told me that they should be on 24/7 and he had no idea why they had been turned off.  When I asked what it was all for he told me that  it was to keep the rubbish out of the basin and the guys who look after the area are supposed to clean up the water once a day, but because the bubbles had been switched off they were having to clean up 5 or 6 times instead! I said "that’s nonsense as there were plastic bags etc in the lay-by by the rolling bridge and they didn’t clean up there at all!” 

I can understand that aerating the water may keep the duck weed at bay but does it grow all year round?  I wouldn’t have thought so.

I really cannot believe that the powers that be, here, have put this in action to keep the rubbish out - once a plastic bag is in the water it will stay there until it is actually taken out - the bubbles won’t do it!

It sounds to me a bit like a knee jerk reaction to a problem (but not sure what problem) and that those powers that be should be thinking again.

Rant over!