Friday, September 28, 2007

Ladder safety

They say you should have someone holding the bottom of a ladder when you are up it. I hope this isn't the case here!

You have to admire the guy's ingenuity - and agility. It looks like he'd climbed out of the nearby window. Kath took the pic as we passed by last week on the Paddington arm somewhere near Queen's Park

Monday, September 24, 2007

Splash and grab

"What's gravel boat Colne up to here?" you may ask. Using our powers of deduction, and some previous knowledge, we worked it out.

On the way through Uxbridge lock last week we met Colne's sister boat Frays and her driver told us Colne had been broken into the previous night on her mooring at Cowley. Thieves had taken thousands of pounds worth of gear from the cab, including the stereo (well, they're comfortably appointed) and the water pump. The pump is used to fill and empty the ballast tanks which keep the barge stable when it's empty of gravel.

So it was easy to guess what Colne was up to. Trying to fill the tank with grabs full of water. It looked a pretty desperate effort. Most of the water leaked out before the grab could be manoeuvred over the tank, and then half of it missed! I can't imagine how they get all the water out again when they get to Denham where they take on the gravel. I suppose they might just drop the gravel in and displace the water.

Herbie goes to town

We've just been up to London and back with Herbie (and Rick and Marilyn). Despite a poor forecast the weather was mostly fine, which only goes to show you shouldn't be put off by the weather boys. Rick never seems to arrive without a gift for Herbie. This time it was a pair of crew polo shirts. I'm not sure where they score on the twee-ometer but they're fun, and they fit!

Over the trip, Marilyn did most of the driving as she'd got a bit nervous of it in recent years so a boost in confidence was required. We're happy to say she did brilliantly and she was awarded the Herbie certificate of competence at the end.

On the way in to London, we overnighted at the Black Horse at Greenford to have a go at their Thursday quiz and to have a meal. The food and beer is very good there, but the quiz was a bit too full of popular culture for our tastes. We're not very good a recognising photos of soap stars or listing chart bands from Sheffield!

Next day we were hoping to moor at Camden but the few places were full up. Nevertheless the 4 hour shopping berth was empty so we used that to visit the market. This time we remembered not to eat before going in so that we could enjoy some of the the amazing variety of ethnic foods you can get there. I had a lamb tagine from a Moroccan stall. Rick was disappointed that they had no curry goat left at a Carribbean stall.

Returning through Regents park, where we got a good view of the African hunting dogs in the zoo, we moored up at Paddington basin. It always seems pretty full, but we found one of the last spots as usual.

Next morning we decided to walk to Portobello road to see the market, half an hour's stroll from Paddington . We'll certainly go again, you couldn't possibly do it all properly on one visit. Food, clothes, antiques, junk, - you name it, and a lot of people! Rick managed to find and buy a fishtail parka to wear on his restored vintage schooter. Now he just needs a mod haircut.
Its about a half hour walk from Paddington basin and if you leave the basin arm at the right spot, you can do the whole walk in a straight line, just one long road.

It turned out quite hot so we lunched on the pavement alongside the boat when we got back.

I like mooring here. despite being in central London, it feels very calm and secure. Lots of people pass by and you can hear some of the station announcements, but its generally quite peaceful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


We're away on Herbie for a few days with Rick and Marilyn. First up to Rickmansworth for a birthday bash and then off into London, via the Black Horse at Greenford for their weekly quiz and then on hopefully to moor up near Camden market. Typical that the fine weather is now set to finish! I think we'll need to light the fire.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Amazing Grace

Absolutely nothing to do with Herbie or the inland waterways, but today's entry is a special one. Meet Grace McLeod, our new grand daughter born today and seen here with her big brother Jacob when she was barely two hours old.


Here she is with her Grandpa. I'm the one on the right.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


I've been painting at the front of the boat and am now ready to put a pattern on the vertical centre board of the cratch window. I know I want to do diamonds to match the roof box, but there are options. Here are four ways.

The only difference between the first two and the last two is the use of black instead of white, yet how different the pattern looks. Should the top start with a half diamond as in the right picture of each pair, or a whole diamond as in the left hand ones.

Well according to the books, a half diamond at the top is the traditional way. Its all very well to be aware of the traditions, but I don't have a lot of time for boaties who get sniffy about it. If you have a proper working boat then of course you want it right, but so many so called traditional boats are no such thing. Is it "traditional" to have a fridge, a toilet, hot water? No.

I'll probably opt for the half diamond though because it looks better, and probably the white rather than the black because the diamonds stand out better (and the colours will match the roof box).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Slough Canal Festival

At last, a warm sunny weekend at a festival. No rain, no mud, no hassle - lovely. What a change to be able to sit out in the dark without feeling chilly.

The Slough festival is as I expected not much more than a village fete in size, but on the Sunday in particular, local people turned out in large numbers to enjoy the events.

I guess the aim of the event is to make more people aware of the local canal and its value as a wildlife park and a healthy recreation resource. I'm sure it worked too as most people took a stroll along the bank looking at the boats, or going for a boat trip , or taking advantage of the free fuishing tuition from professional coaches. Dozens and dozens of kids had a go and most of them caught fish, including Jacob who caught nine in about 20 minutes.

Quite few people asked us about narrowboating as we sat outside Herbie, and we gave a few guided tours of the inside of the boat, including one for the deputy mayor! Kath's recycled plastic bag bunting was a great success and I think was the reason so many came up to our boat. I fear we may feature in this week's Slough Observer as we were photographed and interviewed by them.

Entrance to the festival was free thanks to the sponsorship of ICI paints who have their factory half a mile away, and most of the stalls and displays were run by local charities and wildlife and waterways groups. The local residents association were doing a roaring trade in samosas.

The arena entertainments were surprisingly good. I didn't expect to be impressed by a King Fu demonstration, but I was! The complexity and grace of the movements is a sight to behold. Whether it is any use against an attacker I'm not sure, but it sure looks pretty. They also did a Chinese Lion dance. Amusingly, the bloke on the Tannoy wasn't sure whether he was announcing Lion dancing or Line dancing.

The only disappointing thing was that only 15 boats showed up. Surely we can do better than this. There must be over three hundred boats moored within 5 miles of Slough. I know the canal is narrow and shallow but that's no excuse. Its still a lovely cruise. Those who did make it included old deep draughted working boats and a huge Dutch barge. I'm going to make a point over the next year to encourage other boaters to come.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Will she won't she

Our chances of an uninterrupted weekend at the Slough canal festival don't look promising. Claire is currently in hospital while they decide whether she is in labour or not. They might induce her tomorrow or she might start on her own or they might send her home . With all this uncertainty we've decided to go to the festival anyway as it is only a ten minute drive from the hospital whereas from home to the hospital is 40 minutes.

Meanwhile here is an idea what to do with your unwanted CDs or DVD discs.

Presumably it keeps out the birds. You'll also need a boat garage and a very posh house like this one in Caversham (Reading) I suppose. Alternatively you can aways use your old CDs a coasters or as mirrors to signal to passing helicopters for help.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Flying the flag for the Slough Arm

This weekend we're taking Herbie down to the Slough Canal Festival, a cruise of about 25 minutes! As far as I can tell, its a small affair. The programme looks not unlike that of a vicarage fete. I don't know whether I'm more excited by the bouncy castle or the Kung Fu demonstration. However, its our canal and we'll be showing our support. Kath is busy making bunting out of recycled plastic carrier bags, and it looks great. Actually I am looking forward to the terrier racing, which is always fun, and there will be steam engines there, which I like. I'm not sure about the boat trips though :-).

Hopefully the best bit will be getting to know some other local boaters to extend our network of friends on the water. I think they expect about 30 boats to be there and there is a boaters' BBQ on Saturday night.

The only possible spanner in the works is that our daughter Claire is expecting her new baby next Monday, so if it's early our plans might be interrupted!