Thursday 5th June
We are booked in at Packet Boat marina on Friday so it’s time to go. We were on the move by 9 – as we untied the ropes NB Amelia approached from the lock so we were set up to share for the rest of the locks. He is a single-hander who keeps his boat upstream on the Lee Navigation and was on his way to Kensal Green, having left Tottenham at 7 this morning! On the way to Acton's Lock we passed Container Ville, business units being created out of containers; they are behind the decorated screen.
As we worked the lock, our companion told us he had turned down a request from a hire boat to share locks as they mess about and would ‘slow him down’. He seemed happy with us, though I am sure the hire boat would have been ok too – the ones who don’t know what they are doing are usually keen to learn! He warned us he travels quite fast – he feels that as his boat is sometimes rocked by boats travelling too fast there is no reason for him to slow down either .… (see comments on No Problem’s blog for 6th June http://noproblem.org.uk/blog/ for more on this topic!).
At Sturts’ Lock we were slightly alarmed to be sharing the lock with a family of swans. They would not be enticed or chased out, so we had to fill the lock very slowly, watching them all the time. The adults were completely unconcerned, continuing feeding and the mum even took the babies to the back of the lock at one point – Dave have to keep a careful eye out so they didn’t get stuck or even squashed between the boats. As soon as the lock was nearly full, they assembled at the point where the gates join and were out as soon as we started to open the gates! They clearly have done that before!
We didn’t catch up with them for 200 yards. We passed many interesting things along this otherwise grotty bit of canal. There are often pretty mosaics on the walls of buildings, a school had a vegetable garden of raised beds in the shelter of a wall, and this school had parking for the teachers’ bikes on the second floor and the playground was on the roof!
At the King’s Cross moorings, the Chelsea Fringe planting was finished, and more things were happening at what we thought was some kind of art installation on our first pass through. Now there were workmen adding what seemed to be a table to the seats in the tenty bits, and a pile of short rolls of those planted bank supports you often see these days was waiting on the side.
Thee was also a group working on planting up an island .
At St Pancras lock, our companion pointed out the listed water tower and gas holder, which had both been moved and rebuilt to accommodate all the new building in the area. The string of lights in front of the water tower are the St Pancras Cruising Club’s. I took a zoomed-in picture of the gasholder to show the ironwork (with cranes in the background).
Here is another example of interesting/odd things we saw today – no pictures from the way down the other day as it was pouring! These unusually designed flats were shortly before Kentish Town lock.
Camden was busier than before. Though still not crowded, there were plenty of people watching or walking or eating (or all three) and also a couple of volunteers working on clearing debris from the lock who helped us through. The guy leaning on the gate was on his first day and hadn’t yet been issued with a windlass, so had to borrow. His training was yesterday – he certainly seemed to know what he was doing and very cheerful to boot.
We had hoped to take on water at Little Venice but it was too crowded. We should be ok till tomorrow though. More stuff to look at on the way – this guy was cleaning the 6th floor windows supported by a climbing harness.
Our companion had steamed on ahead to grab a mooring on the rings at Kensal Green and waved as we passed. We stopped at the far end for a quick lunch stop and to let poor patient Meg off for a while before cracking on to try and get to the grassy park area near Willowtree marina for the night. We had several views of the arch of Wembley stadium. This was taken close to the aqueduct over the North Circular (which is a lot wider than I remember in the early ‘70s when I used to drive round it in my 2CV!)
We had been on the go all day, mostly standing, and were getting very tired so rather than going on for another hour we moored at Greenford visitor moorings. Big mistake! We should have stopped about half a mile earlier. There was a lorry depot close by (thankfully we were far enough away not to hear the beeps when they reversed, but they all went over the bridge not far ahead of us) and several factory air-con units added to the noise. Things quietened down after midnight when the lorries stopped and some of the other noise reduced too – but it all started again soon after 5. Apart from on the South Oxford when we moored at the Rock of Gibraltar opposite the lorry depot – another 5am start – this was the worst mooring we’ve ever had for noise.
7 locks, 14 miles