Boatwif Blog

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From the Thames to the M25

The rubbish in the Thames Lock at Brentford on Friday afternoon (28th August) wasn’t such a shock second time round.     First encountered the previous Sunday it had appalled. After the glories of the sparkling Thames this is no picturesque sight… Now though it begins to make sense. Thames Lock at the southernmost end of the Grand Union Canal is some 121 metres / 395 feet below the summit at Tring in Hertfordshire. Water flows downhill, doesn’t it…. As the Grand...

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Look – there’s the Gherkin…

“Any advice?” the Tentatrice First Mate asked the lock keeper on Thursday afternoon. “Well, wear life jackets, have your VHF radio set up, have your anchor tied to your boat, put your kettle in the sink – and…” (with a sideways look at Monty, the Tentatrice Boat Dog) “your dog in the washing machine…” Hmm. Friday dawned, dry, calm, sea state 1-2, wind 6 – 8mph. All preparations had been made      and by 1030 the boats and boaters were ready...

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Paddington Arm and the Regent’s Canal

Timing was crucial on Wednesday: arrive at the London Canal Museum between 3.45 pm and 4 o’clock was the instruction. This was to avoid the only-in-August Wednesday boat trips and to book in at the Museum before closure at 4.30pm. At 10 am it was farewell to Gasometer View.   Restocked from the Kensal Green Sainsbury’s the cruise could begin in earnest. Destinations: Little Venice, Paddington and then the Museum. The green duckweed-clogged water  continued. The canal is lined now with buildings,...

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Have you got a licence? Doing the London Ring

Doing the London Ring suggests a Circle – but the Cleddau crew’s Ring is more like a letter P with some wiggly bits… It involves the River Thames from Teddington to Brentford – the Grand Union Canal – the Paddington Arm – the Regent’s Canal and the River Thames back to rejoin the Grand Union at Brentford. An early start was required on Sunday morning, a really early start. Teddington is as far upstream as the tidal effect extends on...

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Splashes and surprises along the Thames

Dorney Lake to Teddington Weird… wonderful…wacky… When cruising on the Thames or walking nearby keep your eyes open as round every corner there is something unexpected to see. On Wednesday morning at Dorney Lake (the Eton College and Olympic rowing course) the grass was being cut and the weed-cutter boat was clearing weeds from the racing lake water. About a third of the way along the 2,220 metre straight, set back on the edge of the arboretum, is what looked...

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Thames titbits

The Thames: river wide, water plentiful, riverside property fascinating. That’s it, isn’t it, the same judgement every time. But it’s the bits beyond the boating that can make Thames days interesting and different. Take events on Saturday for instance. On the approach to Bell Weir Lock a very low yellow bathtub was spotted in the water and in the bathtub/aka Jacuzzi were several women, the chimney indicating that their tub water was probably heated. (No camera to hand then, this...

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More musings from the River Wey

Monday 10th – Saturday 15th August There’s a different view on a return journey – or you notice things you missed on an outbound trip. Take Triggs Lock for instance (Monday). A single-handed boater was descending ahead of Cleddau and Tentatrice. It seemed sensible to work the lock for him. Out on the platform behind the lock gates there was a moment of surprise. What? Three paddles to wind on each gate?     One paddle on each of the gates did...

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Along the Wey

When not on boating duties there’s sometimes chance to jump ship and explore the local area. At the furthest navigable point of the Wey is the small town of Godalming (population about 22,000). Arrive by river and you see a broad valley bottom, edged by steep sided wooded slopes. Just beyond the Wharf cars are attracted to Sainsbury’s, Homebase, Pets at Home and Waitrose. As a pedestrian once you have got beyond the superstore car parks life improves… the traffic...

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Slowly through Surrey

Just round the corner from Runnymede the county boundary changes from the Royal County of Berkshire to (unroyal) Surrey. The four hours or so cruising on Friday to Shepperton Lock and the junction for the River Wey were characterised by words beginning with the letter H. It was a stop-start sort of affair, stopping to refill water tanks, to dump rubbish and to use a sanitary station. Then at Staines the Captain performed the boating equivalent of a hand-break turn,...

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Pause for thought at Runnymede

“There’s been a lot going on at Runnymede over the summer,” said Senior Niece. She’s a relative local, so she knows. Still, there was a lot going on here 800 years ago, as a mural at Bell Weir Lock explains.     Look, that baron, William d’Aubigney    (later the name became Daubeney) was one of the key players… !n 1215 Magna Carta was agreed and sealed here on this ancient meadow. King John’s dispute with his barons was resolved when...