Monday 10 June 2013

Southall to Little Venice

Spikes Bridge, Southall to Little Venice : 11 miles, 0 locks
To date : 383 miles, 233 locks

What a day!

Yesterday evening there were motorcycles whizzing by on the towpath.  With parents riding bicycles with toddlers onboard and plenty of youngsters lingering around it was a dangerous thing to do.  They were really speeding around too.... up and down about 3 or 4 times.  Despite that, it was a quiet night.

The day started with a visit to Willowtree Marina for a pumpout.  We were ready and waiting when they opened at 9am.  We headed off with an arrangement to meet nb Winton's Folly.... they were probably still in bed... at Sainsbury in Alperton.  The stretch of canal approaching Alperton was unexpected.  It was tree lined and more pleasant than further back where we'd been moored up.  From Alperton it was full steam ahead towards London.

The canal wove through increasingly urban surroundings.  We passed beneath major roads, under pretty bridges, beside towering apartment blocks and all sorts of industrial structures.  We were surprised how quiet it was on the canal though.  We'd been expecting it to be busy closer to the city but we didn't pass many boats.  We went over an aqueduct that had an "island" in the middle.  There was nothing indicating which way we should go but we assumed to the right.  The boat in front of us went to the left so in the end we followed them.  nb Winton's Folly and the boat behind them also followed.  No harm done but I suspect we should have gone to the right.  We passed a working pair of boats on a narrow section with moored boats beside.  As well as the usual diesel, gas and coal, this one also did loo pumpouts.

We noticed quite a few moorings among buildings.  One in particular was a small basin surrounded by new apartments.  Each pontoon had water, electricity and pumpout.  That's the first time we've seen moorings where there is no need to move the boat at all.  Passing under one of the bridges we noticed a fellow at the other end who looked like he was about to climb over the railing.  For a moment I thought he was going to try and get on the boat but as we neared he stuck out his thumb as if to hitch a ride.  We said a passing hello and got the often heard comment "How did you manage to cruise that thing across the ocean?!"

There were dozens of coots, ducks and moorhens with chicks/ducklings.  The nests became increasingly creative as we went.  The poor things had nests made of rubbish and some of them in bizarre locations.

We were a bit apprehensive as we approached Little Venice.  Would we find a mooring?  Would it be crowded?  The stretch of visitor moorings isn't terribly long and at first it looked like there was no space free without breasting up with other boats.  Then behind a widebeam it looked like there was a spot.  Mick did a fantastic job of getting the boat into a gap only just long enough for us to squeeze into.  nb Winton's Folly came in alongside us and we're all set to explore London.

I was thrilled to be here on our boat.  I love visiting London and to be able to do so with our home along with us is just fantastic.  Barry and Carol and their guests had the latest "breakfast" I've ever heard of - it was near on 3pm!  We wasted no time in heading out for a walk.  We went to check out the Paddington Basin.  There was space for a few more boats so we could have gone there.  We saw fellow bloggers nb Lois Jane moored up but nobody about. 

I took Mick for a walk through Paddington Station.  Being a Sunday it was nice and quiet but despite that he said "I hate all these crowds!".  Goodness, I better not take him there on a weekday when it's busy!! 
Crossing the bridge to go back down to the canal we saw Barry, Carol, Mick (the other one), and Jill walking along the towpath.  Mick and Jill were going by train back to Uxbridge to collect their car and go home. 

No sooner had we got back on the boat and a couple of faces appeared at the galley window... the only one we'd left the blind open on... it was Doug and James from nb Chance.  I've been in contact with the guys for some time now so it was lovely to finally meet them face to face. We'd had a bit of a false start over the last few days with a plan to join them on their journey from Limehouse.  We had planned to go along until they realized we'd need to turn off at Brentford to come back around to Paddington and they were going on to Teddington.  We'd need to leave Limehouse an hour after them so that wouldn't work.  It was a shame because we would love to have done the trip, but only because we would be going with someone who has done it before.  We had a good chat and by the time they left (another forgotten photo!) the day was almost done.

Across the canal from where we are moored is a restaurant called "The Summerhouse".  We decided that we'd skip cooking dinner and go there.  Mick had fish and chips and I chose tiger prawn tagliatelle which was just delicious.  Not a cheap meal by any means but a nice treat on our first night in London.


Diane and Ray said...

Thats amazing you are in London. Enjoy I will enjoy your blog about your time there as i am envious as we stay in the marina for a while : )

Elly and Mick said...

Diane, you have to put it on your "to do" list. It's fantastic! Mick's freaking out about the crowds but I'm loving every minute.
Bet it's like going home when you return to the marina. Enjoy the rest.