July 31, 2008

Well a short journey today as we wanted to have a look around Windsor Castle, but by the time we had done our half day at the mill and travelled up the river and made our way up there it was getting a bit late to have a good look around so we will go in the morning.

The Castle

The Castle

It is strange how people behave when going past the boat, they always have a good look in and speak as if we are not here, and fortunately they always say complementary things about the boat. I think that it is the sign writing and the name that does it, today a group of girls asked if it was ok to have their photo taken leaning against the boat.

Well we are just off for a walk over towards Eton but I need to get this up as after 8 it becomes a torturous business.

Today we did 2.52 miles and 1 lock.

Statistics so far:
111.92 Miles, 72 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.


July 30, 2008

We are back on the boat and loving it. This is the natural habitat of the water gypsies, thank you Lynne. We have made our way past Runnymede and the historical Magna Carta, talking of which we had our own today. When the person at the bow casts off they are to inform and wait for acknowledgement from the helmsman.

We have pulled into a marina to charge the batteries from the mains, I was getting very worried about the state of the batteries. The specific gravity was increasing but I felt that we needed a good long charge. Further investigation and I think that I have found out the problem. The voltage regulator was set for standard lead acid batteries and not deep charge types as we have, so hopefully we will be ok from here on in, famous last words.

We are moored on the other side of the bank from the Windsor grounds, which is very nice but boy what a noise from the planes going over head once every minute into/out of Heathrow.

The roof garden is doing remarkably well, especially the Basil which cannot survive a night out at home so no sea slugs in these parts. So we had a Thai chicken made with Basil and chillies tonight, very nice.

Met an interesting lock keeper today who still goes to music festivals, he said “he can’t help getting older but he doesn’t have to grow up”. He kept us in the lock as we were the only boat and we were having a great time chatting to him. Much to our surprise there was a large queue of boats waiting to go the other way when we came out.

Today we did 5.83 miles and 2 locks.

Statistics so far:
109.7 Miles, 71 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.

Land Lubbers

July 29, 2008

Well we left the boat at Staines and have returned home to visit our respective places of employment. It all seems very strange and I cannot believe that it is only a little over three weeks since we were last here. Going on the boat has certainly done something with time, the weeks are no longer wizzing by and I guess this must be down to the break of routine as we hunt for the next 24 hour mooring spot.

Our son Michael picked us up from Staines last night and will take us back very early in the morning as he has an 8 o’clock start. I unfortunately left the computer charger on the boat so I am writing this with a ticking time bomb waiting for the battery to die on me. We cannot wait to get back.

Staines and the late evening bike in the river incident.

July 28, 2008

Okay we know that you have all been waiting for it… the bicycle in the river incident. We had been for a bike ride to Staines to check out the moorings there.
First of all I did not go through my normal routine of mounting the bikes on the back; I was distracted by a family of swans, two adults and five cygnets. So I forgot to lower the seats, fault number one. I then twisted the centre strap holding my bike so that the slightly less rough face was facing out, fault number two. When I came to put the second bike on I realised my error with the saddle so lowered it on my bike in situ probably fault number three. Whilst repositioning Frances’s bike, my bike suddenly swung out and down into the water the centre strap had come undone and my bike was held by its wheels while being unceremoniously dunked into the Thames.
We quickly had Frances’s bike on the shore and I get back on the boat balanced on the tow bar support leaning over trying to recover the bike I grab on to the tiller for support and unfortunately not a good idea as the tiller swung me out over the Thames in the style of a Gibbet Crane but without the confidence. I felt my centre of gravity move outwards over the river and although my life didn’t exactly flash before me I did have my heart in my mouth as I repositioned myself over the boat by some magical contortions I must have picked up in a previous life.
Anyway there was no panic the bike just stayed there with its seat and handle bars enjoying a little dip. In the end it was quite easy to recover the thing with the aid of the boat hook and we soon had it ashore and drying with the only damage done being to our dignity.

I think that the jury has now returned and this bike rack is to put it mildly no effing good, so it is back to the drawing board on this one.

We spent the morning working getting an early start before eight as we wanted to get to Staines by early afternoon. A beautiful morning with the sun on the water which was as smooth as a mirror and yes this has got to be what it is all about.

We are now moored at Staines.

Lazy Days in Staines

Lazy Days in Staines

Today we did 5.21 miles and 2 locks.

Statistics so far:
103.87 Miles, 69 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.

Groundhog day…almost.

July 27, 2008

We came back to Shepperton but there was no moorings available to complete the ground hog cycle of the previous days. Stopped off at the Weir public house for lunch and a couple of pints; GRPS 1.2. This is approximate until I get around to calculating the correct factor for cost.

Lower Shepperton doesn’t have the seclusion of Shepperton but we are only going as far as Staines tomorrow, and as everywhere seems to be 24 hour moorings we do not want to have to move tomorrow as we wish to stay in Staines on Monday night.

The batteries are charging nicely but the engine is making a strange noise. I have discovered that this is due to some loose washers between the retaining nut and the alternator pulley. Needs further investigation, helpful comments greatly received.

We had a late meal last night and sat on the river bank afterwards watching the bats hunting down the rivers edge, it was very peaceful and relaxing, oh apart from the occasional party cruiser full of inebriates in fancy dress – only jealous.

Late evening on the river

Late evening on the river

Today we did 9.31 miles and 3 locks.

Statistics so far:
98.66 Miles, 67 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.

Thames Ditton Island

July 26, 2008

We were out last night with Ursula and David a very good meal at the Thames Court, that is on the Gordon Ramsey Pub Scale, (GRPS is normalised to 1 for The Narrow) and the Thames Court gets a 2.

Lazy Days at Shepperton

Lazy Days at Shepperton

We had decided to bike down to Kingston but this has gone out of the window due to the poor state of charge of the batteries. So we have motored down to just off Thames Ditton Island, we had intended to go to Hampton court but all of the moorings were taken. We have a very attractive spot near the Pavilion which stands on the Hampton Court grounds. One day I will get around describing these places but don’t know when don’t know where…
We walked into Kingston which was about a 5 mile round trip, saw our first parakeets which have apparently started breeding in the wilds of west London.

River Boat

River Boat

We also watched the sailing boats plying up and down the river, the steering manoeuvres where somewhat hit and miss as the boats weaved in and out in a haphazard fashion dictated primarily by the wind. Further down there were grown up yachts which appeared to be under the control of the yachtsman and not the wind.

Today we did 7.65 miles and two locks without incident.

Statistics so far:
89.35 Miles, 64 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.


July 25, 2008

Yesterday we travelled all of 0.9 miles down to a lovely little site near Shepperton. It’s by the side of a park but we have trees that offer some seclusion from the hoards of park goers. My head dictated that I was going to have an easy day after the night before, so I didn’t get much done. We managed to do some more washing with the washing machine and found the cause of the leak – it was a blocked tray where you put the softener into. Here’s some more, the battery low light came on again, it is always around the time we use the washing machine. I have topped the batteries up and we are running the engine, my feeling is that the alternator is not delivering the specified current.
Ye gods! Did I really write that?
We had a cycle around so we know the bikes survived their little onslaught. To get on to the Thames cycle way we need to catch a cycle ferry, cost £2, it was closed last night so we couldn’t use it. You can get on to the cycle way by cycling around Shepperton so we might cycle back down to Kingston tomorrow.

This is a view out of the hatch.

Duck Soup

Duck Soup

I must remember to take more pictures, it is very difficult organising this and doing a half days stint of work each day. I am sure that there are others who are as equally bad off and badly done by, so mustn’t grumble.

Statistics so far
81.7 Miles, 62 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.

Impulse Response

July 24, 2008

Another morning of work and then a walk around Kingston town centre, which has some very interesting buildings, I must remember to take the camera with me when I go out. We set off for Walton at about 1 o’clock in bright sunshine there were two locks and 7.6 miles to travel which would take about 3 hours. This would give us enough time to finish off our daily quota of work and get to the BBQ with David and Ursula by 6:30. Does it get better than this?
The moorings at Hampton Court looked like a good place to come back to if we wished to explore the area. We went through the first lock without incident but at the Sunbury lock we were followed in by an out of control cruiser. We were moored up and stationary, they came into the lock and gave the lock keeper the rope from the bow and the helmsman then left his post for some reason to let the boat career into our bikes on the back of our boat. The lock keeper prevented any serious damage by pulling their boat into the side. No apology but we did get their phone number if we found that there was any damage.

There was no mooring space available when we arrived at Walton and we continued on to Desborough Cut where the river forks to the right and there were good 24 hour moorings.

We had another couple of hours of work and then we were off to the BBQ. A very pleasant walk along the river and we met up with David just before the Swan pub.

Thank you David and Ursula for such a “perfect” evening, it’s not often that you can finish the evening off with talk of continuous and discrete functions. We got back to the boat after 1:30, and both got up this morning much the worse for wear.

80.8 Miles, 62 Locks,1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels

Lazy Day

July 22, 2008

Where does the time go? By the time we have done our 4 hours of work we don’t seem to have any time left. We did manage a cycle ride down to Richmond, this was along the river back in the direction that we travelled yesterday. I guess any day would be a bit of an anticlimax after yesterdays little adventure.
The bikes are out of the lounge area now and back on the back of the boat where they belong and the boat is back to how it should be after its little bit of excitement.
It is fun sitting relaxing on the boat watching all of the people going passed in vessels of all shapes and sizes. The whole place is bustling with activity with people out walking and taking in the evening air. There is a lot of cycling, running and as you might expect rowing, a very fit community?
We are moored on the edge of Hampton Court, unfortunately we have to move tomorrow or pay a small fee to stay for another night. As we need to be in Walton tomorrow night this is not a problem and we can either come back down here or cycle down to have a look at Hampton Court.
Well Lazy days by name Lazy Days by nature.

Kingston upon Thames

July 21, 2008

Wow! What a trip, 22.9 miles and 3 locks. We worked in the morning and then made ready. We put everything away in the lockers and anything loose on shelves we put on the floor. At 12:55 we headed for the Lock with a strange mixture of excitement and dread, Frances said “you have got me to do some very scary things over the years and this is one of them”. The lock did not have any sluice gates, the main gates just open and the water pours out. From the very first moment when the gates opened the boat began to pitch in the river swell we thought well here goes. My main concern was whether the engine would fail as we had heard of a number of cases when the narrow boat had got as far as the Houses of Parliament and their engines cut with a fuel blockage due to the pitch and roll of the boat throwing up sludge and crude from the bottom of the tank. We had been told that it can be quite a shock as you pull out into the main channel and catch the flow, but we didn’t particularly notice it.
We had spray coming over the cratch cover at the bow and waves coming over the stern as the large passenger catamarans sped passed us. We did get the impression however that they were giving us a wide birth and slowing as they did so, so it could have been worse.

We had a check sheet which had all of the bridges and duly ticked them off as we passed, in case we forgot where we were, which added to the tension and excitement.#

Here we are going towards the Tower of London:-

Lazy Days approaching Tower Bridge

Lazy Days approaching Tower Bridge

It was interesting seeing the famous sites from the river and we began to relax and enjoy the experience.

London Eye

London Eye

Kepping clear of the Houses of Parliament

Keeping clear of the Houses of Parliament

I was glad to see the back of the houses of Parliament as I felt that that was a mile stone and it should get easier from here on in and Lazy Days engine had held out. After Westminster Bridge the river traffic reduced significantly and with it the large waves that had been buffeting us and causing a low pitched resonance along the bottom of the boat.

Approaching Battersea

Approaching Battersea

After about two hours we approached the Brentford junction where three other narrow boats pulled out in front of us and we all made our way up to Teddington Lock. In the lock there were 6 other boats, I couldn’t say whether we went up or down as we were still tying up when the gates were opened, it couldn’t have been much more than a foot difference.

We did have a mild panic about moorings as we made our way up the Thames as everywhere seemed to have been taken, it was after five o’clock in the afternoon and we were wishing that we had stayed at Teddington. At Kingston however there was plenty of moorings. We are now off for a well deserved drink.
I may have understated how are day has been. It has been one of the most exciting days we have had in a long time, yes bring on more.

Statistics so far
73.2 Miles, 60 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge, 2 Tunnels.