Sunday, 30 April 2017

Wild Life in London

Hampton Court Palace - the golden gates

Good Morning everyone

When you're a country bumpkin from the sticks, it's hard to adapt to life in the big city. In the country, we love our neighbours and never tell them porky pies which might mean they have to spend the night curled up in a Hyundai with only a packet of sherbet lemons for company. I'm perhaps being a little melodramatic as we weren't actually locked out of the marina, but it was very close – another 10 minutes and we'd have been looking through the bars at the Lady Aberlour, unable to get in. The trouble was, having just nipped in by the skin of our teeth, we were locked in and couldn't get out. We had to make do with emergency rations from the back of the cupboard until the gates opened the next morning at 8am. I was first off the grid and nipped up to the nearby Tesco, to stock up for the journey down to Brentford. It was then I realised that I'd suddenly become invisible. Most days, I don't even have to wonder about how visible I might be, Tricky looks at me with adoring eyes and Carl does too sometimes, although that's usually when I make him his morning coffee and peel him a Tunnock Bar. As I unloaded my trolley, I waited to be greeted with the usual 'Good Morning' and 'Do you need any help with your packing?' I realised that the loud conversation between my till operator and her supervisor didn't include me and was so fascinating that it couldn't wait till I had packed, paid and pushed off. Feeling a bit miffed, I delivered the shopping back to the boat and set off for Southall with everything crossed, hoping that I would remember my way back to the Enterprise depot. I wished I'd paid more attention to the route instead of nattering away to the handsome Hassan who collected me 6 days ago. Did we turn right opposite the mosque or was it straight on? Luckily, I'm pretty good at finding my way around and I arrive without getting lost and Hassan welcomes me back like a long lost relative, smiling and arranging my lift back to the marina, refunding my deposit and reassuring me that the tyre pressure warning light won't be anything serious. Phew - that was another close call folks! Tescos should take a leaf out of Hassan's book - his customer service skills were second to non.

Hasn't it been flipping cold this week. I had to find gloves and hat one morning and the stove has been lit night and morning to drive out the chilly north wind. We never miss an opportunity to gather wood at this time of year and it's usually a reasonably safe occupation. I thought nothing of it when I spotted a little track leading into a copse and skipped off into a wooded dell full of bluebells, fallen branches and sleeping bags. The sleeping bags were empty, the owners moved on to a warmer spot no doubt. I'm reminded how lucky we are to have warm beds and hot food on these cold, spring nights. Everywhere around us this week we have seen the extremes of poverty amid the multi-million pound houses lining the banks of the Thames. We've seen every kind of floating home too - each one very different from it's neighbour and anything you might see along the waterways of England. It makes the Thames a unique experience and worth the arm and leg that they charge you to travel along it.

Going out at Brentford

It was a cold, grey day when we set off from Brentford to catch the tide up to Teddington. It sounds quite exciting and I must admit to being a bit nervous whenever we venture onto tidal waters. The life jackets come out from under the sofa and I spend a little time strapping Carl into his before I remember that the long strap goes through his legs and clips back and front to prevent the jacket from slipping off over his head should he (Heaven help us)end up in the drink. I think he knew exactly how it fitted - he was just enjoying the attention! We'd planned to spend the night at Teddington but there was a whole flotilla of cruisers taking up most of the quayside as far as the eye could see. Each cruiser had left a 'privacy gap' between them and their neighbour instead of shuffling up close to get more boats in. We found a 50 foot gap (we're 57 feet)and I lashed the bows to a bollard and Carl hung out in the channel by a big old trip boat while I ran back to the lock office to buy the licence. By the time I returned it was raining harder and I just wanted to get moored up and cosy down in the warm cabin. I rat tat tatted on the roof of the next door cruiser - he was selfishly taking up two spaces with his shiny boat and I asked him, very politely and humbly, if he would be ever so kind and pull back a couple of feet to let us in. He grumbled a bit, and muttered something about leaving at 4am to catch the tide but I was so relieved to get our boat safely moored that I wasn't really listening. It was like Le Mans when the whole flotilla struck up and swarmed off in the middle of the night and our neighbour tooted his horn as he left, just in case we were still asleep.

We hardly managed to warm the engine up on Friday as we couldn't resist the wide empty space of the floating pontoon at Charters Quay, Kingston-Upon-Thames. It was a double treat for Carl as the Claas Olsen store was at the top of the little lane leading into town and it holds many delights for Carl – almost as many as Maplins! The market place was already busy with shoppers and the street vendors are selling all kinds of exotic foods - noodle bars, pretzels and giant pancakes are doing a brisk trade while round the corner there's an elegant display of cupcakes by the hot dog stand. I settle for a cafetière and lemon sponge in the old town hall. The once elegant building is now a vintage craft shop/ tea room which is better than letting it fall into disrepair I suppose and it remains the hub of this busy town. On Saturday we moved the short distance to Hampton Court Palace and spent a happy afternoon wandering in Bushey Park which is just behind Hampton Court through the Lion Gate. The Laburnum Walk was looking particularly spectacular and I hope I've done it justice now that I've got my camera back.

Laburnum Walk at Hampton Court Palace

It's raining here as I tap away on the keyboard - we're rather happy that it is because one of those RIB's has been hurtling up and down all night, frightening the dog, banging our hull against the concrete quay and throwing any unsecured items on the floor. They gave it up when the rain started and left us to listen to the gentle patter on the roof - it's one of my favourite sounds, I shall sleep well tonight .

Thanks for reading my witterings, I'll write again next week when we'll be finally on the Kennet and
Avon Canal. Bye for now

Love and hugs from
The Floating Chandlers

ps I bought the cutest solar sheep – she sits on the roof all day then twinkles all night. I may buy more and have a flock





Street Art

Trip Boat at Teddington

Has this hedge been Trumped?