Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Capital Experience

Over the last week the Cat has been purring through London, down the Lea, through Walthamstow, Hackney, or should that be ‘ackney, and then we took the Hertford Union to cut off a chunk of East London. This was very pleasant piece of waterway, and hugged Victoria Park along much of its length. It gave us another view of the Olympic stadium, and we took the picture below at Ponders End Lock, just south of Enfield.
Our last view of the Olympic Stadium from the junction of the Hertford Union cut

A "Cheeky" request at Ponders End Lock
From the Hertford Union, it was a quick right turn back on the Regents Canal. The bit through East London is fast being gentrified, but there is still the remnants of the old East End, complete with the usual graffiti – and a sort of “shabby chic” emerging, with many of the boating communities in this area adopting an “alternative” lifestyle.
A fairly typical sight in some parts the waterways in East London
But once you get to Islington things change somewhat. Your passage through theMaida Vale  tunnel reveals the most expensive canal-side moorings in the country at “Little Venice”, a term coined by Byron or Keats I believe. Before that though, you have the honeypot that is the Camden Lock flight, with its famous market, hundreds of gongoozling tourists, London Zoo and the mansions of Regents Park.
A lot of canal communities, town and marinas hold waterways festivals during the summer months so we often collide with these but when we moored below City Lock last Saturday night, I had no idea that we had landed right in the middle of the Angel Canal Festival and the following morning, before our guests arrived for the day, we had to shuffle TCW around, as boats jockeyed for position  and were moved around the basin just ahead of us.
The Angel Canal Festival gets underway as we leave City Lock

The Tubridy/Dean clan arrived on time and they got the “Full Monty”. The sun shone and they saw the bits of the canal the tourists flock to see in central London. Locks, tunnels, Regents Park, Camden Lock and the regenerated Kings Cross all drifted by. And we chucked in Little Venice. We even got a mooring in Paddington Basin without too much fuss this time. It was a bit cramped having seven bodies on the boat for lunch, but at most times, two of them were walking alongside the boat, so it was not that noticeable.
Lorraine, Cara and Alana. 

John at Camden Lock

Going through St Pancras Lock with Lorraine and Anne

Both brothers on lock duty, John's brother, and good friends of TCW, Paul

Paddington Basin at night
Our last guests arrived on Wednesday. Roy and Geraldine are very old friends and it was Roy’s birthday. He hasn’t been too well of late and I think they both enjoyed the experience, though Roy and I have been boating for years. Geraldine, who is self-employed, maintained this was her holiday for 2013. It was a nice hot day, and though the scenery on the Paddington arm is not up to much, once we turned right at Bulls Bridge, back onto the main Grand Union, it was much more interesting.
Roy puckers up to blow his birthday candle out
They left us at Uxbridge, where we will be, here or hereabouts, for the next week or so.  Our daughter and her family arrived from New Zealand for a family wedding this morning, so it was easy to get to Heathrow from Uxbridge, about 15 minutes by bus to say hello.
We are hiring a car for a week from Saturday, so we can spend some time with them, so our blog will be very different next week.
Finally I was looking back over some old blogs last night and noticed that I had not had a good rant recently.
So excuse me while I adopt my “Grumpy Old Man” persona (Pat says I do not have to adopt it - it comes as standard)
Why do a particular group of cyclists who use the canal tow paths have to dress as if they are Bradley Wiggins and ride like him too?
I, like a lot of boaters, use a bike, but I am careful to be respectful to pedestrians, and peddle at a speed where, if I have to stop suddenly, I can do it safely. But for this particular group, it’s heads down, and full speed ahead. You know I would like to talk to one of them about their style of riding, but even if I hurl abuse at them they can’t hear. They are going too fast and I would never be able to catch them on my little fold-up machine.
I know our boating governing body, the Canal & River Trust, have an ongoing campaign to educate cyclists, with the “two ring” warning message. I think I would rather swap the “educate” for “castrate”. “Enough”, I hear you say, and quite right. Anyway, I feel better for that.
Toodaloo folks

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