Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd May 2011.

Sunday 15th
A short cruise was all we could manage which ended on the sweeping left-hander at Chertsey Meads opposite a whacking great house, or rather apartments, with plastics bobbing about next to immaculate lawns. We hadn’t been there long when No Problem bumped into us (you know what that means Sue) but we couldn’t persuade them to stop, not even for coffee.
no problem

But we weren’t lonely because little tuppies congregated all day, at least until sun-down when we found ourselves alone again.

Monday
Pootled up to Chertsey lock for water, our furthest point upstream on this cruise.
I first thought this Egyptian goose was being friendly but it wasn’t me he was after, there must have been another goose in the bushes. She never showed so she couldn’t have been that impressed.
flasher

Returning downstream to Hampton Court we passed Dave Gilmour’s place where I thought I saw him doing a spot of dusting in his yellow marigolds. V says it’s so obviously not him. It thought it could be.
cleaner

After mooring V took a walk and came back with something for dinner (venison in mushroom sauce).
hampton deer

fungi

From early evening the boater behind us ran his engine until half nine. I think he was off the River Wey but don’t they have the same byelaws as BW and doesn’t the 8 til 8 rule apply to the Thames too?

As many have pointed out to us this week the BBC ran a programme on canals where the sharp eyed caught a glance of Balmaha during the shooting of a scene involving Keith and Jo on Hadar. There might have been a scene with Jo delivering coal to Balmaha one frosty morning but I’m afraid that went on the cutting room floor.

Tuesday
Continuing downstream we stopped at jolly old Kingston spotting this unusual wind vane on the way.
windvane

I’m afraid I paid another visit to Clas Ohlson and Maplins, I just couldn’t resist.

Wednesday
We’re not going far today so I had time to walk to Clas Ohlson and Maplins again, what is the matter with me?
Back on the island of Steven’s Eyot we found our friendly coot had produced another two eggs.

She hasn’t been alone while we’ve been away because there’s now an abandoned nest of twigs with three pale green eggs in it. Not wishing to waste food I was all for eating them but there was a question of timing. How long do you boil a goose egg? Should I add a minute for each day it’s been incubated?

Thursday
Another short cruise back up to the town moorings outside John Lewis for essentials before heading downstream to Tedders to await the afternoon tide.

You can see the effects of passing boats on the paintbrush when you look at this boat. He must have been so cross when he was painting the horizontal stripes along the side panels.
boat

We’re booked in at 4pm near the turn of the tide so that we pass Richmond without having to use the lock and should arrive at Brentford before the lock keeper goes for tea.
We had an easy journey down following one of the many boats called Festina Lente, probably not the one you are thinking of.
I guess we were on a spring tide because the roads leading to the river were all flooded. We even watched one powered dinghy leave the river and cruise half way up the main street to the shops.
cut off

I guess the locals get used to it and don’t park near the river bank at times like this but it is funny seeing people return to their cars and not be able to get at them.

The weir at Richmond half tide lock fascinates me with its barriers that lift up and store on their sides under the footbridge. I’ve never seen them rising or lowering but maybe one day I’ll visit without the boat and see it in operation.
richmond weir

Sadly we left the Thames and as the tears began to fall we rose all of 6” onto the Grand Union Canal at Brentford. We’ve loved our time on the Big T and will miss its width, its flow and its lovely boats, some of which we’ll buy in another life.

We’ve enjoyed our stay there and will no doubt go through a period of withdrawal so be patient with us if you catch us on the canals doing 6mph.

Friday
From Brentford to Bulls Bridge we shared locks with Ted and Heather on nb.Ternstaw. Ted was flying the Blue Ensign but on this occasion I decided not to shake my fist and instead discovered a lovely guy, ex RN pilot, flying the overhead propeller sort.
ternstaw

Ted and Heather are selling their 60 foot KG built boat, fully tricked out by all accounts. A bit more than I’d pay but her paintwork is still very, very shiny after 11 years so you think you’re getting a much younger boat. They’re off across the Wash in July and I’m so envious. If you’re interested in the trip and who’s on it Google ‘Ternstaw’ and you’ll find a blog entitled Tidal Trip.
We finished the day on the Slough Arm, not far from the junction, just along from the marina.

Saturday
It’s not bad down here on the Arm. One or two boats are moored nearby with very few visiting boats during the day. Not a popular canal I suspect, maybe it’s the way the canal peters-out in shallows and weeds that puts boaters off.
You can tell no one comes down here by the way ducks, moorhens and coots run when you throw bread.
Cats are curious by nature and our neighbour’s cats are no exception. They had checked us out by yesterday tea time and by this morning they were introducing us to their friends. A mouse was brought so that everyone could admire hunting skills and then taken away, presumably to be eaten.
cat+mouse

Tis a lovely day measured in sunshine and not too bad when measured in sound pollution. The motorway is audible, more of a ‘waves breaking on the beach’ than vroom-vroom and Heathrow is directly south of us so we rarely hear landings and departures.

A brilliant day for sanding and varnishing the saloon floor ended in a barbeque on the stern, a perfect Saturday.

Sunday 22nd
We’re surrounded by lakes (V told me after her walk) and high bushes or low trees with ferns and stinging nettles to keep out the exploring walker. The towpath is fairly quiet with a stone rut in the middle of a grassy path which tells me it gets used but nothing like the busy-ness of London’s cycling routes.

Pointing west to east The Arm suffers from wind (don’t we all) and appears to be flowing but of course it isn’t, it’s only the top inch that moves. The sun hits the solar panel from six til late which is really useful and we seem to have plenty of that at the moment.
I must be careful not to praise this canal too much or everyone will want to come here and ruin the place.
The best place for boating is in the west. Having said that we’re off to the east.

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