Monday, 31 August 2015

A Rest Day in Aspley

We had planned to cruise today (Monday) but the Weather Bureau forecast was mostly right, it rained and rained. It did stop  long enough in the morning for Rachael and I to drop over to Sainsbury's to pick up a few groceries but when we came back out of the shop the rain was back on. That was the story for the day on again, off again rain.

I got a bit of cabin fever after lunch and headed up the canal about a mile to see if B & Q (hardware store for the Aussie readers) had a few items I was in need of, specifically the wheelbarrow wheels I mentioned in the last post. While I was along the canal this far, as I said, only a mile really, I decided to go the extra few hundred metres to see if I could find nb Ferndale. It wasn't hard to find at all but alas it was completely devoid of its human contents or Ray and Diane saw me coming and wouldn't open the door.

Rachael continues to remind me that I have painting to do on Serafina so while I was at B & Q, besides finding those wheelbarrow wheels at a the same price Amazon were offering them, just over £8, I also picked up an extension lead so I could use the electric sander. I think I am ready to go...if the rain stops!

We are going to stay put and see how Tuesday shapes up although the forecast for the week is cloudy with showers so I might get to try out my new waterproof jacket!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

North on the Grand Union - Uxbridge to Apsley

Friday we reversed off our mooring at 9:30, opening time for the Denham Marina, we were moored across the canal from the entrance. The marina is quite busy; on Friday we saw this boat(s) come out of the lock, call in for fuel at the marina and continue on down the canal, the narrowboat was the only one with power.

Several of our blogging friends had recommended picking up diesel here and the marina didn't disappoint! It's the cheapest diesel we've picked up this cruising season at 0.59ppl. While we stopped we filled with water and had a pump out as well.

The stop at the marina made it a later start than usual but the trip was a nice easy one. We saw a few sights along the way, I guess this boat doesn't move very often it was quite a substantial awning.

This boat had a very professional extension, not sure if he licenses the boat or register the car, since it still had registration plates.

This fellow has been hanging around from the top of this abandoned building for quite a while, I've seen it on a couple of other blogs. He is pretty large and not easily missed.

You don't see many hippos on the canals, first one Rachael and I have seen.

Arriving at Rickmanworth we found it was very popular with the continuous moorers, we seemed to be on tick-over for ages. We dived into a vacant mooring close to Tesco, later that evening we found why it wasn't taken by a continuous moorer with the hull banging against something submerged, too late to move now. I need to get a couple of wheelbarrow wheels for such occasions!

Today we left Kevin and Carol in nb Dunslavin behind at Rickmansworth, Kevin has had a cold for a few days now and it wasn't getting better so they are taking a few rest days. For us, we have a flight to catch in a month or so and we like to have a few days up our sleeve if we find some interesting stops along the way. Not to mention we prefer not to get wet while we cruise, that time is better spent in a pub.

It wasn't long before we picked up some cruising partners or more rightly locking partners, it's always easier sharing the workload of double locks. Enter Ian and Irene, fellow bloggers on nb Freespirit who had passed us late yesterday afternoon, Irene tells me they were in search of a better mooring. We passed them this morning as they fueled up at Bridgewater Boats. We were delayed going into our lock just long enough to see them waving in the distance as we entered the lock. We chatted for quite a time in each of the locks, perhaps we will meet again on a canal or even in Australia as they escape the English winter this year.

Ian and Irene moored up after sharing quite a few locks but it was only at the next lock we met our next locking partners due to being held up by some over zealous young fellows. With the two Casiobury Park Locks only 150 metres apart they decided to fill the lower lock as I saw the rear gates being closed on their boat in the top lock. Rather than empty the half filled lock we waited for what turned out to be quite a while as one boat had broken down and was being towed, side-by-side, bow to stern. We met our new locking partners as we waited for the lock and continued on until they moored at Kings Langley ready to head to the football (soccer) tomorrow. Cruising today we passed by this guy who seemed to watch us all the way.

We continued on, keeping an eye on the weather with rain predicted at 1pm. We arrived in Aspley nice and dry at 4pm mooring up just below Lock 67. There was even time to head across the canal for a drink at The Paper Mill. How odd that the Weather Bureau was wrong!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Heading North on the Grand Union - Uxbridge

We enjoyed our stay in London on our Rembrandt Gardens mooring. I will spare you all the standard pictures of London but suffice to say we managed to repeat a few experiences that we had had before as well as experience some new ones. Probably the highlight of our stay, mainly because we hadn't done it before, was our tour of Buckingham Palace, so may beautiful pieces of art, beautiful furniture and ornately decorated rooms. Sorry I can't show you any pics of them you will have to go to the Palace website for that, best I could do was a pic of the Palace as we left through the garden.


We slipped off our mooring Tuesday morning and out of Little Venice around 9:30 for the four hour cruise back to Bulls Bridge. I was confident we would make it before the predicted downpour in the afternoon so no wet weather gear for today. That was a bad move, the heavens opened with about half and hours cruising to go. Arriving at Bulls Bridge moorings there was no room on the 24 hour moorings so we moored across the canal on the 14 day moorings. I think I knocked the pins in and tied up in record time! Straight inside and into a hot shower.

Wednesday morning and heavy rain is predicted so we decided not to cruise today. Two of the four boats left the 24 hour moorings leaving enough room for us to move across the canal and get the water flowing into our tank. It's the first time we have filled since we left Bull's Bridge to head down the Paddington Arm six days ago. Rachael had also put on a wash as we headed back up the Arm. I know the Bull's Bridge point is a slow filler but it took ages. With no water gauge I can only guess that if we had one the needle would be awfully close to the big 'E'. I managed to just get the tank filled and the heavens opened again, that was the last we saw of the outside for the next four hours while it poured and poured. It was late afternoon before we could head across to the Tesco to fill the cupboards again. A boat pulled onto the only vacant mooring as we returned from the supermarket, they were focused on tying up and getting into a hot shower, they told us they had cruised through what I would call torrential rain.

Overnight it poured rain again, heavy enough to block out noise of the aircraft movements at Heathrow. We slept well and were ready to head off to Uxbridge today, a tidy little two hour, one lock cruise. It was a nice cruise, the canal passing through industrial area, much of the canal made you forget you were in the Greater London area.

On the way we did see the biggest set of bolt cutters I've ever seen dismantling a shed frame, it was making short work of it.

We arrived at Uxbridge and moored up just before Bridge 185, in the last spot left. Rachael had popped her head out and advised me that there was no internet signal so I took a wander past the bridge and realised that the Canal Companion had the moorings marked incorrectly, there were mooring bollards just beyond the bridge. We pulled up pins and moved beyond the bridge and tied up just before the lock with an added bonus that the extra 300 metres gave us a strong internet signal. This is critical at this time as it's our youngest granddaughter's 1st birthday party and we plan to see a little of the party live on Skype. We spent the afternoon in Uxbridge Town Centre which has a large shopping precinct only ten minutes walk from the canal.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Cruising the Paddington Arm

We moved off our Bull's Bridge mooring and turned on to the Paddington Arm around 10am. No hurry today, we had booked a mooring at Rembrandt Gardens in Little Venice, arrival time was after 2pm. It was a beautiful sunny day, a perfect day for our four hour cruise ahead. For those who don't know where Rembrandt Gardens is, try this link.

There was plenty of artwork along the way to keep us interested, this one made from junk pulled from the canal.

There seemed to be a breakout of something on the canal, I am guessing it was blue/green algae if I had to guess. It was everywhere!

Visually, the water was pretty clear, there were plenty of birds and other wildlife around, even getting deep into the suburbs.

The first two and half hours there was no shortage of moorings available. After that the cruising slowed considerably with moored boats increasing significantly. This was one boat, if that is the right word, that caught my eye. There was a door on the canal side, must have been less than an inch off the water. I did take a shot of the door but it wasn't in focus.

As we got closer to Paddington Basin, around an hour out, you would be very lucky to get a mooring...ever! Even the boats on the four hour moorings in front of Sainsbury's looked like they had been there for months. Just before we moored, we received a call from the manager of the moorings giving us a few instructions on where we needed to go. We moored up behind a broad beam hotel boat. I didn't know at the time, but after meeting the boater that was waiting for his booked mooring to become available, the owner of the broad beam hotel boat decided that he needed to stay on for extra days to pick up his clients. Seems that even that the CRT moorings at Rembrandt Gardens aren't immune from over-stayers.

Two days later, when the owner of the broad beam returned I mentioned to him that he was in somebody else's mooring, his reply 'in my mind I thought I had booked until Sunday,' and me, 'so you know someone is waiting for the mooring but you stayed anyway? He walked away, I guess the conversation became too difficult for him! We were lucky enough to get our mooring in Little Venice as booked. I am unsure if there will be any repercussions for the wide beam owner but I must say that Sarah from, who manages the Rembrandt Gardens moorings, does I good job of keeping you in the loop. Being able to pre-book a mooring in the centre of London is a great initiative by CRT, we saw first hand how difficult it is to get a seven day mooring in the Paddington Basin.

Not long after we tied up, a highly polished Maid of the Locks turned up off the Regent Canal looking for their pre-booked mooring, I helped them breast up to Serafina while they went for a walk to find their mooring. A half an hour later they were back and set off again a little further down the Paddington Arm.

We are only five minutes walk from Paddington Underground Station, our mooring is for four days.  In that time Rachael and I have quite a shopping/sightseeing list to get through considering this is the second time we have been in London in four months.

Cruising the Grand Union

Brentford Lock easily accommodated the four boats coming off the Thames, two in each lock. It wasn't long before the locks were filled and we were off again along the canal since the tide was still well up. A short cruise to the electric Gauging Locks then around the corner to the moorings. It was after 8pm when we arrived at the moorings, the first two boats had the pick of what was available, we went along another 200 metres or so finding a mooring under an old steel structure, possibly and old warehouse.

It wasn't until the morning that the ramifications of mooring under a steel framed structure became obvious. The pigeons also loved the steel frame and had deposited quite a mess over the bow of the boat, a job for later on today! One thing that struck me (no, not pigeon poo) was the colour of the water in the canal once the propeller had stirred it up, it looked like thick black soup. Looking closer in the morning, the water was very clear, so clear in fact that you could see the rubbish that the propeller was stirring up from the bottom. Cans, bottles, but mainly leaf matter accumulated over a very long time.

We cruised off knowing it was a ten lock day to get to Bulls Bridge Junction, our first manual locks for over a week! Met this guy along the way keeping watch on a Moorhen nest.

The locks were reasonably easy to operate but Rachael found several of the lock gates very hard to open and close. The last lock for the day, the top of the Norwood Locks, had CRT Volunteers operating the lock, always a welcome sight. We moored temporarily to fill with water so we could do another load of washing on the way to the nights mooring. We chatted to the volunteers while filling and mentioned all the coconuts in the canal. His explanation was that there was the high Asian population in the area tossing coconuts into the canal to appease the river gods. It may be good for the gods but it's hard on the lock gates!

We moored up just over half and hour later at Bulls Bridge Junction, just outside a large Tesco.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Goodbye Thames - Windsor to Brentford

It was interesting to chat to the Windsor bailiff while we were paying our second nights mooring fee. He seemed a reasonable guy, ultimately he was really a water parking officer who liked his job and hated mooring fee avoiders. Seems there are regular avoiders, he knows the boats! as well as visiting avoiders but he was on their trail too!

Windsor Castle grounds were extensive, as we passed by...and still passed by...and continued to pass by, all I could think of was that there was so much mooring space going to waste. Not to mention how neat and tidy the grounds were.

Staines was a pleasant little three hour run, we arrived in town before lunch. There was plenty of room on the visitor moorings just beyond the bridge but the ring spacing was very awkward so we chose the best configuration for one boat and breasted up. As it seems to be a regular occurrence, we locked up the boats and headed into town for a little shopping or in my case watching Rachael shop. She finally hunted down a hairdresser for a reasonable price, her last attempt was in Windsor, the price would have been laughable except the hairdresser was serious. Rachael booked a time and we found a nice little cafe to have a light lunch which filled in the time nicely.

Hampton Court was a must stay, we had planned an early arrival to secure a mooring. Some interesting features on the way down were the line of  houseboats, some were very extensive.

And, Pink Floyd's floating recording studio.

It was a good plan and working fine until we got to Molesey Lock. The lock had been closed for nearly six hours for repairs and they were still going. I chatted with the lockeeper and a log had gone through one of the rotten gate panels. They had a team of divers trying to fix the panel.

It was an hour and a half wait before we got through, only five minutes cruising down to the Hampton Court moorings. The moorings were full but fortunately a boat was about to leave which we pounced on, they had been waiting on the other side of the lock for the repairs to be done. There was still plenty of time to take a walk around and check out the 'lie of the land'. Hampton Court was a nice little village with three or four cafes to choose from for afternoon coffee and cake. We also checked out their breakfast menu in preparation for breakfast tomorrow morning, just for a change.

We managed a sleep in then there was an important job to do before heading back to Hampton Court Village for breakfast. I rang Teddington and Brentford lockeepers, check the tide times and book our passage through the lock tomorrow. The tide times turned out to be 0630 and 1900, not the times we were hoping for since we had olanned to leave from Hampton Court. We made a quick change around, we were going to head off to Teddington this afternoon and moor at the lock.

After a nice brekky of Eggs Benedict for each of us it was off to Hampton Court Palace for a look see. Big place and still in good repair, not sure why they needed a new one!

And one of the courtyards, there were several!

Rachael and I managed to tour much of the palace but agreed it was easily a two day job since we didn't get anywhere near the gardens. And, if Windsor Castle grounds are any indication of what to expect then they are probably extensive with not a blade of grass out of place.

We finished about 3:30pm and were back on the boat by 3:40pm. A quick chat with nb Dunslavin crew, Kevin and Carol and by 4pm we were off down to Teddington. I did see this interesting sun room on my way down.

We arrived at Teddington around 5pm and moored up. A quick chat with the narrow boat owner in front of us and he was heading to Brentford tonight, leaving at 6pm. A call to Brentford and the lockeeper was only too happy to accommodate two more boats, she was going to be there anyway!
Never having traveled on a tidal river before I was amazed how quickly the tide rose at Teddington, in less than an hour the water was at least two metres higher! Wow! The tide was still coming in when we left for Brentford and changed about half way there, it's a 90 minute trip. All of a sudden Serafina's performance picked up considerably. I didn't realise how much until I was turning into the Grand Union Canal and needed quite a lot of power to get the boat around and across to the entrance. We moored at Brentford visitor moorings for a well earned rest, it was a long day.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Back on the Thames

With the Kennet and Avon Canal now behind us it was out on to the bigger waters of the River Thames heading further south.

The day started out overcast as we slipped off the moorings at Reading around 8:30am. We were prepared for the worst having gone with the wet weather gear this morning. Within a few minutes we were at Blake's Lock which is a nice easy lock to handle first thing in the morning, no windlass required. A few more minutes and we were out on to the Thames, Serafina obviously enjoying the deeper water as handling is significantly improved. We cruised up to Sonning Lock ready to part with our hard earned cash for a temporary licence only to find the 'Self Service' sign up. The gates were just opening to let a lock full of boats come out and there were three narrow boats to go down the lock, one crew member offered to operate the lock as we prepared the boat to go down. Rachael enjoys holding the bow rope rather than having to get off Serafina, open the lock gates and open the paddles of a manual lock.

Through the lock and one hour on we were into Shiplake Lock where the lock keeper was happy to take our money, £61 for a 7 day license for a 57' narrow boat. It was about here that the heavens opened and we were hit with an almighty downpour which lasted all the way to Henley, where we found some nice moorings just past the bridge. We hadn't finished putting mooring pins in before a small boat turned up to collect mooring fees, the rain can't get in the way of commerce, another £8 gone! I don't mind paying fees for good moorings and these were pretty good compared to a few I have had on the Thames.

And across the river from the moorings.

Turns out we were moored next to the park where they run the Henley on Thames Rowing Regatta. They were still packing things up from the latest Regatta and there was still lots more packing up to do. This shot was taken the next morning after cruising for over a mile, must have been a big set-up!

First lock of the morning and the 'Self Service' sign was up. Rachael became the queen of the lock and ran things, there were only the two of us in Hambleden Lock, plenty of room with dimensions of 59.63m x 7.74m x 2.2m, our boats are just over 17m long and 2m wide!

When we arrived in Cookham the weather had closed in again and with only a few moorings available with rings, we breasted up again with Serafina tied to pins on an edge that was just above the level of the roof. Needless to say it was a challenge to get up and hammer the pins in. Rachael had just finished saying noone would find us here to collect mooring fees when there was a lady waving her arms profusely at us from the bank. Turns out she wanted £6 for the mooring. Initially we were one of three boats moored here but by 5pm there was very little space to be had.

Saturday the weather fined up for our cruise into Windsor, beautiful sunshine!. It was around three hours down to Windsor, we were expecting the worst, a jostle for moorings at such a popular place but no such thing! Turning up early is the key, we virtually had the pick of the moorings! In the end we settled for mooring in a small channel just near the railway bridge, it turned out to be a good choice. The views were very good and it was relatively quiet being off the main channel. The bailiff was roaming around and was pretty quick to snaffle our £8 for each boat per night, he was back on day two for our next installment. Once again, by late afternoon it was slim pickings for the moorings, several boats on the hunt for a space.


The park next to our mooring contained a memorial to Sir Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hurricane among other aircraft. The memorial was a full sized replica of the Hawker Hurricane.

We had visited Windsor on a number of previous occasions but never by boat. In fact I can honestly say I wasn't aware that the Thames was so close to the centre of town. We did take time to browse and take our second tour of Windsor Castle, the last time was over thirty years ago Rachael assures me.

We head off to Staines tomorrow for an overnight stay, just another nice three hour cruise.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Bye Kennet and Avon

The last leg of our trip on the Kennet and Avon Canal traveling from Hungerford to Reading.

Our stay in Hungerford was quite pleasant. We moored just out of the lock on the tow path side of the canal using mooring pins, the moorings on the off-side next to the park already taken. After several hours on the back of the boat I enjoy the times we get to wander around town. Of course there was our usual call into the closest supermarket along the way which, in this case, was Tesco.

The cruise to Newbury was longer than last time having stopped at Kintbury on the way up. This time we cruised on through Kintbury with only a brief stop while the lock filled to rid ourselves of our rubbish. We were only staying overnight in Newbury this time and it was going to be rather busy. We know Newbury rather well by now having spent 4 or 5 days here on the way to Bath. We came down through Newbury Lock heading for the moorings next to the park. One boat just leaving a mooring, which we took and breasted up together, last time we were here you could have had just about any mooring, it was very quiet. A big audience for our arrival, but really they just wanted to be fed.

There was a small (30ft) boat tied up just ahead of us with the addition of a plastic coated cable running through the unused mooring rings, the cable must have been around 30ft as well. The owner came out for a chat and I asked about the cable, he told me that he connects the cable to each end of the boat in addition to his ropes whenever he is moored in a town, just in case he has his ropes cut or untied. Better to be safe I guess but thankfully we haven't had that problem in two seasons.

Up early and Rachael headed up to the marina with a two-way radio. Having moored across from the Newbury Marina last visit we know how busy it can be and we had already been for a walk and knew the 14 day moorings were full too. Rachael gave the all clear and both boats set off and moored at the marina for what turned out to be one and half hours, the owner loves a chat! We left with both holding tanks empty, both fuel tanks full and both water tanks full. We even got a discount on the pump out because Kevin and I pretty much did the job; excellent!

We arrived at Woolhampton just in time to see two boats come out of the lock and take the last two moorings. Once again we hammered in the pins after getting as close to the bank as we could, all seemed fine. I strolled up to post another postcard and found a nice little village.

We awoke at five o'clock in the morning to find the pound well down, seems the lock had leaked overnight and we were now on a significant list. An unusually early start as we managed to slide off the mud and into the centre of the canal, we were underway by 6 o'clock. The early start was required to get under the lift bridge at Aldermaston Wharf before peak hour. Nothing worse than grumpy peak hour motorists! We cruised under the bridge at 7:15, easily making the designated 8 - 9am rush and not a peep was heard from any motorist. We caught a glimpse of Tyle Mill as we passed, built around 1720 as a flour mill and later becoming a sawmill.

We cruised on hoping to moor at the Cunning Man Pub tonight but it seems even before midday there was not a spot to be had, not that they're designated CRT moorings and I'm only guessing but it looked to me like many of the boats had been there for quite a while...again! We cruised on to Reading where I took the turn into County Lock far too wide and then had difficulty getting across the current to the lock mooring. Should have been much closer to the starboard bank to make the lock entry much easier.

Once through the lock we pressed the button for the light controls and got a green straight away, off we went through reading. Rachael wasn't terribly impressed taking a bit of spray from a grape that hit the side of the boat. One of the lovely residents of Reading with little else to do. Despite this the cruise through Reading was enjoyable.

'Mini Dino Golf' on the canal.

We rounded the junction for the moorings and only two boats currently on the moorings...excellent! With the Kennet and Avon Canal now behind us, we locked up Serafina and headed to 'The Oracle' shopping centre to pick up a few important pieces of kit for Rachael, new waterproof shoes and waterproof over pants.

My final thoughts on the K & A Canal; too many permanent moorers ruin a lovely canal. It is obvious that many of the boats haven't and/or are not capable of moving. I have never had to re-tie up or help so many boaters in boats of such poor condition. The CRT has started; I've never had by index number recorded so many times on one canal, I only hope that they can clean it up.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Kennet and Avon - Cruising from Bradford to Hungerford

It's been a few days since I posted a blog but the internet signal hasn't been the greatest and to be honest, we are returning the same way we came so I don't want to burden readers by repeating myself.

We were up early to get underway for our cruise to the base of the Caen Hill Locks in an effort to secure a good mooring. Rachael walked up to set the Bradford Lock, no volunteers on duty this early! Through the lock and straight on to the water point mooring to fill a very thirst Serafina. Kevin and Carol in NB Dunslavin followed about ten minutes later doing a single paddle slow fill of the lock while waiting for us, that is until a broad beam boat appeared below the lock. Kevin and Carol pulled up beside us to tell us the broad beam was coming up and to make sure we were ready to go before the other boat came out of the lock, otherwise it would be a slow trip. As the broad beam peeked above the top gates of the lock we packed up the hose and got on our way.

While cruising we did meet a couple and their family on a hire boat, they were out for a week from somewhere below the Caen Hill Locks and for some reason had decided they were going up them tomorrow. They planned to moor for a couple of days and then come back down the locks, not my idea of fun for a weekly hire! That's especially since they were having difficulty operating this lock. We passed them later on after they had moored at Sells Green.

Cruising on for a little longer, mooring at the base of the Foxhanger locks, I headed off on foot to the base of the Caen Hill Flight to see if there were moorings after Lock 28. Nope, two boats had already taken up prime position for tomorrow! Locks 29 and 44 are locked each evening and all the locks emptied for the night, I assume to minimise seepage. That means that if you are the first boats to go up Caen Hill all the locks will be in your favour to the top.

As expected, we cruised past the moorings at the base of Caen Hill, they were empty. That just meant we had the extra task of emptying the locks before entering. Half way up we met some keen young prospective lock keepers who, after helping with several locks, were keen to go through a few locks on the boat. With mum's ok they jumped on.

Not quite as quick getting through the locks this time, it was a five and half hour journey to cover two miles, mooring at Devizes for the second time this trip. There were a lot more boats passing us this time which slows you up considerably.

Our tour of The Long Pound was uneventful. I do notice coming back from Bath, the trip is much more enjoyable. Perhaps it is because now we know the canal and we know where the moorings are. Initially, on the trip down, I think the sheer number of moored boats may have been a little overwhelming. Still, that doesn't make The Long Pound anymore exciting with a lot of tall reeds making it difficult to see.

Our target for today was Pewsey but as we cruised through the best moorings on offer were caved in banks. We did have an offer from a gentleman that was preparing to leave but we could see how far he was moored from the bank so I politely declined. We cruised on for around an hour where we found two nice moorings at Wooten Rivers. There is enough room for three 57' boats but the other spot in the 24 hour moorings was taken up by a boat that had been moored there when we came past a fortnight ago. Another continuous moorer testing the system! The gentleman that offered his mooring to us at Pewsey was right behind us and waiting for the lock. After a little discussion we breasted up with NB Dunslavin to make room for him to moor for the night. Later that evening we enjoyed a pint at The Royal Oak, a sixteenth century inn.

Yesterday we headed off to Crofton, there were some nice 48 hour moorings there between the locks, we had noticed last time we passed. We made such good time we continued on the extra hour to Great Bedwyn. Unfortunately, all the short stay moorings were full so we spent the night with the bow close to the bank but the stern of the boat tied up about a metre away from the bank. By morning the stern was grounded and the boat was listing to port. This made for some interesting walks up and down the cabin, bumping into doors and walls.

Today we counted ourselves lucky. Rachael walked from our mooring to set the lock (Lock 65) which was fine until we tried to open the top gate, one of the gates had a broken hinge. We moved into the lock through good gate and managed, after some time, to manipulate the hinge into place to close the other gate. We emptied the lock and checked that the top gates had closed correctly, rang the CRT to report the damage and placed a sign on the lock arm. Not sure how long it will take to fix but a call back from the CRT work team about an hour later to confirm details meant that at least they were heading out there today to assess the damage.

Currently we are moored at Hungerford, more mooring pins and soft banks but it seems like a nice little town. Rachael and I will go walking later and check things out!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Bit More on Bath as we Take a Scottish Break

Just a wrap on Bath. Serafina spent nearly a week in Bath, Rachael and I spent a couple of days, punctuated with a trip to Scotland. The last part of the journey into Bath was a highlight, the cityscape across the hill and some of the ornate stonework on the tunnels and bridges made for interesting viewing.

This shot, coming out of Sydney Tunnel.

This tunnel, Cleveland Tunnel, with Cleveland House atop is around 52 metres long.

Once moored in Bath we locked up Serafina and headed into town. There is always the shopping to be done when you hit a larger town or city and Bath has a nice big shopping centre. Not surprisingly, you could have been in any city in the UK as the shops never seem to change. There are plenty of chain stores and not so many boutique stores, this is not unlike the way shopping centres have gone in Australia.

Rachael and I have done the 'tourist thing' in Bath several times before. We passed all the main tourist hangouts pointing them out to Kevin and Carol, stopping several times to listen to different artists performing in the street. One thing I have noticed on my visits to Bath is the quality of the buskers on the streets and how well regulated they are in rotating around the various popular parts of the city.

Pretty soon we were searching out something for lunch, we chose one of the oldest pubs in Bath. Rachael and I both chose a chicken burger with chips and salad, after being told that several of the popular choices were unavailable.  It turned out to be a store bought burger rather than a freshly prepared piece of chicken, needless to say lunch was nothing to rave about. A few hours later it was time for tea and scones and one thing Bath does have is some really good tea houses.

We returned via the long walk up the hill to the canal to find the moorings full. Before we had left there were only five boats on the 48 hour moorings, our two boats, a hire boat and two others that looked suspiciously like they had been there for at least several weeks. What are the tell tale signs a boat has been on a mooring for a long time? Well, to start, the amount of junk beside the boat and the length of the grass around that junk.

That was all the time we had to spend in Bath, just the one day. We prepared to go to Scotland, it was Rachael's aunt's birthday. The next morning I moved Serafina to the 14 day moorings just a few hundred metres back up the canal, after going down two locks and winding. Once Serafina was safely pinned it was straight into a taxi and over to Bath Railway Station for the seven hour train journey to Glasgow.

We managed five days away in Scotland, two of which were traveling days. In a two visits to Scotland this year we haven't managed to score too many dry days but we still managed to enjoy ourselves, the time seemed to fly.

Back on the canal by around 5:30pm we grabbed a few things from the Tesco Express between the 48 hour and 14 day moorings and headed over the bridge and down on to the canal. Surprise! all but two boats on the 48 hour moorings were different, seems these two guys have decided to try their luck and see how long they can last here. Who knows how long they have already been there! We made our way to the 14 day moorings and loaded the boat with our suitcases and food essentials. Rachael found boarding the boat a little difficult given the distance between the boat and the shore but managed to get in through the cratch at the bow.

We had phoned ahead and Kevin and Carol on NB Dunslavin had moved a few times while we were away and were now moored in Bathampton, about a half hour cruise depending on the number of ever present continuous moorers. There was a mooring available for us so we headed off. It turned out to be a good mooring with  great views...of The George Inn.

It was nearly 7pm by the time we moored and noone felt like cooking so it was over to The George for dinner.

Heading out of Bathampton this morning I did notice one change. I took this photo going into Bath nearly a week ago.

 This shot was taken this morning. Ready to live in again?

We are currently moored in Bradford on Avon, below Bradford Lock, after a frustrating five and half hour cruise, mainly a tick over. Tuesday must be hire boats out day, must have passed nearly twenty hire boats heading towards Bath. It was a challenge at times avoiding them, almost being T-boned once by a hire boat coming too fast around a blind corner on the wrong side of the canal. Following a broad beam boat also proved quite frustrating. He didn't get out of tick over and each time a boat passed he ended up grounded.

One thing that has struck me is the number of broken down boats on this canal. I passed one guy on the front of his boat using a barge pole to move the boat down the canal; glad I wasn't following him! Could the CRT be exerting pressure on people to move boats that haven't moved (as they should be) for quite a long time? Our rescue count is also mounting, another boat across the canal but this time we had already moored. A rogue speedster had pulled out the pins.