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Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hot water, hotels and anticipation.

This week has been a canal free zone as I have been at my Mum's as she has had a new heating boiler installed. The work was quite tidily done but there is the inevitable mess and making of tea and coffee etc. I also had to strip the airing cupboard out as the hot water tank was going. A cupboard also had to be moved in the laundry to make way for the freezer that had to be moved to allow the wall mounted boiler to be hung. Then there was the bricks to find that would hopefully match the house ones to brick up the large vent for the old boiler. It all took three days and then I have been painting and re-installing the airing cupboard to store the stuff in again. Even though the hot tank isn't there now I can vouch for it still being warm in there! I found that the laundry work top wasn't secured to anything so had to fix that before I could place the freezer and whilst I was at it I cleaned out the cupboards to make room for some of the stuff from the one taken away. I am hoping that the new Worcester combi boiler delivers on it's promised 30% savings on gas. I took a meter reading so we will be able to quickly tell. The old boiler was over thirty years old so there had better be some savings!

All these controls are hidden away normally. We have a simple timer for the on and off times and a wifi room thermostat. It all seemed to be working when I left.

As a reward we are off down to London for a few days. We got a good deal With Hull Trains, £15 each return, and we are staying at the Copthorne at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea FC. I am no real football fan so even if somebody famous goes past I probably wouldn't know. As the Canal museum is close to Kings Cross we may well pop in for a visit before coming back. I am sure there will be miles and miles of walking and hopefully a few pubs, and maybe even a brewery tour too.

London Canal Museum built in Gatti's Ice House.
(It looks like they have just got up on the balcony next door?)

Today was week 3 of the 6 Nations and a couple of good matches today I hope we are somewhere that we will be able to see the Ireland v England match tomorrow as all the matches this far have been fairly good. With the run up to the Rugby World Cup people are putting a lot of significance on this tournament.

I don't think we will be getting to London on the canals this year so we will have to make do with this quick visit. I  will have to make the most of it as it is back to the grindstone when we get back.

The reservoirs are reportedly almost full. The winter stoppages are well advanced and the weather seems to be perking up a bit. Tomorrow is March and that means only 30 days until we are off on the boat again. Can't wait for another cracking seven months. I hope that nothing happens for the ides of March (about 15th) to stop us getting away.

Monday, 23 February 2015

ions, eating irons and bronze.

I am now at the stage where I am trying to think of all the things I need to do before we set off for our seven month trip on 'Holderness'. Things will be interrupted this week as major works are going on at my Mum's so I will have to be in attendance. One thing I remembered as we were doing the weekly shop was to buy de-ionised water for the batteries. I got it from ASDA for £1-10 for 2.5ltrs which I didn't think was too bad. I assume that if  you had an air conditioning unit you could use the condensate from that as a free source, but I'm not sure. It seems the difference between distilled water and de-ionised water is that distilled water is water that is boiled and the vapour distilled so that all the contaminants are left behind and de-ionised water is passed through ion exchange equipment. I think that we see lots more de-ionised water these days as the energy required to boil and condense the water would make it expensive for day to day use, where as de-ionised water is made by forcing the 'dirty water' through a reverse osmosis membrane and the is de-ionised. It is certainly good enough for putting in batteries.

I have a few more LED bulbs to buy and then the whole boat will have the halogen lights replaced with LED's. I have three table lamps that need LED's but I am still looking for the cheapest place for them. And I hope that they wont interfere with the digital radio signal.

Helen got a good bargain from what has been a long standing , what they would now call a discount store, Boyes. It is a bit like Woolworth's used to be but cheaper and more DIY and craft stuff. She spotted a 26  piece cutlery set from Viners of Sheffield for £19-99. RRP was £65. However they seem to be on sale all over the place at that price, but some have the RRP of £85. As we have been using some old picnic implements with plastic handles they will be a welcome addition.

I have coal and logs from home to take along with all my tools that I brought home. I have been buying oil for the Beta 43 when I see it at Wilko's as I haven't seen it cheaper anywhere. I get 5ltr for £15. It went up at the back end of last year from £12-50! I'm sure some would say that it would be better to use supposed better quality oil but as it is changed after 250 hours I'm not sure that it is in the engine long enough to get the benefit from a higher quality as it will be over time that a poor quality one breaks down and becomes less efficient. I have already bought all my filters for the coming year's changes from In-Line Filters who charge a low price, are very prompt and accurate for delivery and when ever I have needed to talk to them  have been very helpful.

I do need to contact Crowthers in Oldham to have a chat about our propeller. We seem to have attracted more than our fair share of bent propeller blades that has cost us dearly. I would be interested to know if it is just bad luck or there is something we can do about it like changing it for one with a bit more metal in it, or of a different composition as it is becoming a yearly event. In fact having had a very bent blade on the Aylesbury arm last year on the way back north later on we have slightly bent a couple of blade tips again on the Macclesfield. We didn't notice anything major going through the prop but when I was checking down the weed hatch there were two bent. I was able to straighten them a bit but it isn't ideal is it.

September 2013 bent prop.

August 2014 bent prop.

I'm sure there will be lots of other things we will need but my head is too full already.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Perplexing perspex.

We have been thinking about fitting secondary double glazing to the boat so this week I have been looking about to see what is what. In the past, over the winter months we have used that clear plastic that is like shrink wrapping the window. I really enjoyed using the hair drier and see it contract and become tight as a drum. The problem was it quite easily got dislodged by curtains etc, and was a once only solution. We had found it very cheaply in the pound shops and discount stores previously but this year we didn't find any. It goes against our nature to pay full price and then throw it away. Hence we are looking for a different solution.

Hopper window on our boat. Taken in June 2013 when we were moored alongside the new development and hoarding by Droylsden Marina near Manchester.

The problem is that as can be seen above our windows have the hopper bracket that sticks out. If we covered the whole window with a secondary layer we would not be able to access the hopper window at all and the new panel would only be supported by what ever held it in place. I thought I would test with one window only covering the large lower pane and leaving the opening hopper available for operation. 

The advantages of this are that the secondary panel could rest on the wooden framing at the bottom and that we would have ventilation when required. The disadvantage is that the top bar of the window is not level with the outer surface of the black frame of the rest of the window.

My thoughts are that as it will not be a sealed and vacuumed unit I should be able to make a fair seal with just enough draft proofing material to fill in the gaps at the top. Anyway I am going to test the theory out and buy a  cut piece of perspex and some self adhesive A and B magnetic strip to go round the window and give it a go when we go next time. As the frame is black and the magnetic tape is black the tape shouldn't be seen when in place, or when the panels are down in the summer. All sounds good in theory so far anyway, and every little will help I'm sure.

However when we were at the boat last weekend we didn't notice too much condensation build up when we had the heating and stove lit. The main place it was seen was in the bedroom after a night of two of us breathing out all that wet air! We didn't use the cooker much and I suppose that would be the main other culprit.

Savile Town Wharf, Dewsbury, where we are moored.

I will have to think of something for the side hatch too so that we can have it open for the light but closed off to prevent wind and rain getting in when we are moored. That will need at least three more coats of 'looking at' before I start anything.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Love is in the air as we spend time on the boat.

I wanted to do some thing really nice with Helen for  Valentine's Day so I took her to Dewsbury! We do love being on the boat. We arrived at the boat around lunch time on Saturday and immediately got to warming the boat up. We found that the electricity had run out, but it could only have been a day or two at the most as the batteries were nearly charged up fully. In fact  I was quite relieved as I really wanted  to change connections as we had terrible trouble getting the card  to go in the slot. I moved our cable to a more easily accessible slot, and joy of joys there was still some credit on it too. I checked that that the coldest inside temperature measured was only freezing despite the very low temperatures outside since we had last been. This explains why the electricity had been used up but proved that the heaters we have set to prevent too cold temperatures inside the boat are also working.

We quickly had the chimney on and the fire lit, along with the Hurricane. The gas was the next priority so  we could get a cup of tea along with turning the water from the tank back on and we were soon warmed up and it was all systems go again. After a bite to eat I was going to check out the engine hole but as it was raining I thought I would get a couple of inside jobs done. I couldn't resist starting the engine though and after ten seconds on the glow plugs it started first time with hardly any smoke at all. I don't want to jink anything but the engine as has never missed a beat so far. Now the boat was warm I switched of the controls to the Hurricane and set to moving the room thermostat from near the stern doors to in side the cabin space. I felt the heating was liable to cycle needlessly as the actual temperature inside the cabin, that is the other side of some heavy curtains, would be warm enough but by the colder air by the stern hatch etc. it was registering it was cold. I just extended the wires before drilling holes etc to check that the extra length would have no effect, which it didn't, and then swiftly fitted it. After initially tripping a breaker everything was fine so lets hope that it works.

In the top right corner of the engine hole there is rust on the deck before I painted it last year. The water was just pooled in the same area so only took a little mopping out.

Meanwhile Helen was making a new summer curtain for the side hatch. By now the drizzle had ceased and I got out side to see what the engine hole was looking like. Last time I had taken some preventative action to stop water getting in so I was keen to see if I had been successful. On the whole we had. There was a little water down there but following the downpours we have had in the area there was very little indeed. I checked everything out and all looked good I am pleased to say. I also managed to watch  some the England v Italy game too.

The photo doesn't show any of the curtain but reminds us on a dull drizzly day in February of the lovely weather we are all hoping of later in the year.

We had decided to celebrate the well known saints day by going out for a curry. First we called in to buy an electricity card. At least that was the excuse. As always there was a great atmosphere and some nice beers on. We settled in front of the fire and I supped an Abbeydale from Sheffield. It was tempting to stop but we walked up into town and found the West Riding Refreshment rooms at the station. This was another great place with plenty of choice of beers. I again settled for an Abbeydale but instead of a pale ale, Moonshine, I went for a bitter. We did stop for another as the Indian Restaurant didn't open until 1900. As we hadn't booked we wanted to be early just in case they would be full later on. I had a Wentworth's Oyster stout. We went to Mim's Cafe/restaurant. By day the downstairs is a cafe and at night the upstairs is an Indian Restaurant. It was very nicely decorated with very attentive staff and owner. We made sure he chatted to everybody. The food was excellent too and not expensive. It was a definite find we will go again. We then wandered down into the town and found the Weatherspoon's. I had a pint from Acorn brewery from Barnsley. So all Yorkshire beers this weekend.

On Sunday I did a little measuring and checked the battery levels, but ran out of distilled water. Must add it to my list. We were expecting friends to visit at about 1100. I sailed with Jon about 35 years ago and last saw him more than 25 years. He hadn't changed much other than losing his hair, like me, and looking more like his Dad. It was one of those things that we had kept up with Christmas cards but not met up. Now we are both retired and as we are in Dewsbury and they live in Wakefield the planets were aligned and it was good to see each other and catch up properly. We will meet up again soon. I didn't stock up the stove Saturday night as I really wanted it to die out for Sunday morning. However it was still well alight in the morning. I think that it was some smokeless coal I had taken from home at the start of last year. What ever it was it burns really well and has little ash. I also used some logs that had come form a pruned tree at home. Again they were well aged. I'm not sure what type of tree it is but it seemed to burn like charcoal. There was hardly a flame and hardly any ash. I'm glad it burns well as I have heavily pruned the tree again this year so there will be many more logs for the future.

This was the fire after ten hours with no fuel added and a good riddle through in the morning. Certainly kept the ,morning chill off.

We packed up tools etc and were back home before half time in the Scotland v Wales game which was quite an entertaining game. It wont be so long before we visit the boat again.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Home for Holderness.

After I had returned from home we headed back down to Calcutt to have the modifications to the Hurricane heating pipework carried out.

We stopped for a night just outside Braunston and had a couple of walks around the area. The view from the high ground near the church gives a great view of the canal and countryside and it must be a great area to live. It is a major junction of the canal system and so everybody seems to pass through and so is a great place to meet up and catch up.

This year has been a great one for fruits and I really enjoy foraging in the hedgerows. Down at Marsworth we were able to collect elderberries, plums, bullaces, damson and hazel nuts and on the Oxford we had plenty of sloes, apples, rose hips, hawthorn haws and blackberries. I also picked pears up the Lea Navigation and near Polesworth. I had never collected haws before but it seems that they are an herbal remedy and good for lowering blood pressure. Mind you I made a jelly out of them so maybe not as healthy as a tea but it tastes very good with meat dishes. I also made jelly out of the rose hips. I ran out of jars in the end so I have been collecting them since we got home. I will have to start giving more stuff away but the jams are going well with my morning porridge everyday.

Heating fixed we retraced our route through Braunston, Hillmorton, Rugby and up to Hawkesbury Junction Where we joined the Coventry Canal. As though the Coventry marks the arrival in the 'North' the weather was variable and we got cold and wet as we passed by the old engine house just past the junction. From 1821 it housed a Newcomen steam engine that had been bought from Griff Colliery where it had already been working 100 years. It pumped water from the local colliery into the canal until 1913 when the depth of the mine was too deep. It was left in place until it was moved to Dartmouth Museum in the 1960's.

We kept moving ever northwards, not doing particularly long days but not stopping over at all. The weather had perked up again when we passed through Hopwas Wood which is really beautiful at any time of the year. It is surprising though that no mater how little traffic you see there is always something coming round the corner at the bridge holes through the narrow Hopwas village stretch where it is further restricted by moored boats. We are just approaching Hopwas Wood Bridge in the photo above.

Despite us not stopping for 'days off' on our passage north Helen had insisted that we time our arrival in Stoke for when we would be able to visit Middleport Pottery. It has not long being opened to the public and is well worth a visit. We spent several hours there with a guided tour of the factory and had to come away with a pot made there too. It is easily accessible from the moorings south of the Harecastle Tunnel at Westport Lake. The red/orange building next to it was originally built for the Anderton Boat Company in 1890 as can be seen at the apex of the roof. It was bought by the Middleport Pottery to use to build a long production line. It never got built and the building is now storage for all the hundreds and thousands of artifacts that were found at the Pottery.

We passed through the Harecastle Tunnel without incident and turned left onto the Macclesfield Canal. We moored out in the country before Bosley Locks with a great view of The Cloud. We didn't set off especially early so expected to have all the locks against as somebody from the moorings at the foot of the locks would have set off before us. But no, we were the first and had a lovely run up the first five or so. After that we met boats coming down so it was nice and easy. It is always a good flight to work as they are out in the country and not too much hard work.

After stopping at Bollington to meet up with a niece and nephew and partners we made it to Marple. It is a bit of a slog down, or up the Marple flight but again they are easily done. They are very varied with houses alongside, parks and pedestrians and then out into countryside again. Once at the bottom you meet up with the railway and pass over the aqueduct alongside the railway bridge like at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal.

We turned right at Ashton and headed up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. We didn't see another boat on the west side and there is a great variety of views from hills and woods to villages and m,ills along with overhead gantries and through the middle of an electricity pylon. The locks seemed to be a little better maintained than the previous year and we continued upwards to meet our friend Chris who was joining in Uppermill to go over the top and through the Standedge Tunnel to Huddersfield.

We had the usual low pounds on the way to the summit but it didn't take us too long to get to the top and a couple of Grandpa Green's ice creams to replace the lost calories. We moved up to the tunnel entrance the next day. The railway line is a little close for over night moorings here. In fact the original route of the canal was filled in when the railway was built, maybe from the bend and the tunnel in use was extended to facilitate the change. I enjoy the passage of the tunnel but it seems to pass in a flash as you have to concentrate so hard so as not to collide with every bit of rock above and below the water line.

It was more obvious on the Yorkshire side that autumn was upon us so the wooded valleys had some lovely views. The above was west of Slaithwaite about lock 30 or 31 East. I seems to remember that we saw a couple of boats moving and one at Slaithwaite that was heading for London. The couple didn't seem to have done much planning as the winter stoppages were due to start so there was little chance of him getting there in the month he was expecting. In fact I don't think he would have got to Marsden as he had so much fixed stuff on his roof he wouldn't have fitted under the bridge there. I did suggest that he turned round and went via the Trent but he went to find out for himself.

Our friend left us in Huddersfield and we sped on down the Huddersfield Broad Canal and were soon on the Calder and Hebble. Luckily it was behaving itself as the river sections were nice and quiet with all the flood gates open. I enjoy being on these big old working rivers with the evidence of their industrial use all around if you look. While the gates are large we didn't have any trouble and were soon heading towards our destination.

The turn up the Dewsbury Arm from the bottom of the Thornhill Double Locks is very tight for our length boat but with a bit of hauling the bow round with the rope we were soon heading on our last canal of the year to Savile Town Wharf. We soon found a berth and bought an electricity card at the Leggers pub. We also bought some great beer and cider! It is always sad to have to pack up and leave the boat and one day I hope we wont have to and have try all year round. At the present it is impossible to leave the house too long or it will just fall in to dereliction. We call back every now and again to chheck on the boat and to sup at the Leggers and the Station bar etc. We are looking forward now to the new season and that in only 48 days away.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Moving on to the Midlands.

We only stayed a short time at Paddington Basin before heading north once again, and we were soon out of the congestion of Little Venice.

As there are few places to moor along this stretch it feels like an escape from London. I love this footbridge 4A that connects West Kilburn with Kensal Town. The line of terrace houses beyond are fronted by the Harrow Road at their front door and by the canal at their back door. (If they had one).

As you approach the aqueduct over the north circular you can catch glimpses of the arch of Wembley Stadium to the North. Parts of this stretch of tow path are disgusting with the amount of rubbish that is laying about. Further along as you go through Southall it is even worse. Not a place to linger too long yet there are nice spots around Horsden Hill on the offside and near Willow Tree Marina.

Our first day out of London was spent at Uxbridge and then we moved off to Rickmansworth. We had a nice walk around the town and got a bit of shopping in before moving on once more. We then came across the first fishing match we had come across all year. Maybe it is because there are more alternative fishing lakes down south but I think there appears to much more fishing 'up north'.

We carried on and as we came through Apsley Locks I spied a pallet in the skip there. I had plans to picked it up. Whilst in Paddington I had fished a small builders bag out of the water and thought it would make a great log store as an alternative to keeping them on the roof. I then got the pallet and broke it up and made it again in the correct size to keep the bag off the deck. It fits perfectly at the bow and doesn't get in the way at all. I used the rest of the pallet for kindling. I did all this whilst at Berkhamsted as Helen had gone home for a few days. I also got a few other jobs done.

When she returned we moved off towards Marsworth and did the necessary at Cow Roast Lock. All the way up the Grand Union the locks come regularly. It is always a bonus when you can share them with somebody to ease the load. We didn't seem to be having much luck heading north as most boats seemed to be heading south to join the crush in central London.

We only lingered a night at the top of Marsworth Locks where we had been on a forced rest waiting for our propeller to be straightened on the way south. We shared the locks down with a day boat heading back to Pitstone Wharf. They had several children so once organised it was soon down to the bottom opposite the Aylesbury Arm.

We had been keeping in touch with Marilyn and David on 'Waka Huia' and we would meet up with them at the foot of the Stoke flight of locks. We had met them not long after picking their boat up on arrival in the UK at Burton on Trent and now we headed up the locks together. Marilyn was keen to show us her new boat handling skills and everything when smoothly and swiftly to the long middle pound where we he had a went for a lovely meal, wine and chat.

I am always surprised at how many people do not like passing through tunnels and Marilyn is not keen but we both passed through without incident. On the other side we thought we were saying our goodbyes but eventually the decided to carry on north so we pressed on to the Buckby flight.

We were really putting some miles in on the way up north as we had a deadline to make. The canal from Blisworth Tunnel to the Buckby Locks is very pretty with lots of close by villages but we zoomed though. It is all certainly a change from cruising round London. The green scene above is approaching Bugbrooke around Bridge 38.

We moored at Norton Junction and returned the hospitality with Marilyn and David before going our separate ways. We headed down to Braunston early luckily sharing the load with a Willow Wren hire boat that had a couple aboard that had got many years of experience. It was a pleasure to chat and work down to the chaos that was waiting at the bottom of the lock. Everybody was wanting to get in the bottom lock. We turned left at the junction and headed for Calcutt Marina.

I had a consultation with Dave the Hurricane heating man and although he couldn't fit us in then he suggested that I bleed all the old coolant out of the heating system and replace with new and try to get all the air out of the system. He said that the installation had missed a couple of bleed valves out so he would add those in at a later date. We moved off and found a quiet mooring to drain the system. It took ages but I know how to do it for next time now. The heating worked but it wasn't quite right. I had booked in to Clifton Cruisers as I was going home for a few days so we had to get to Rugby, but we would head back to Calcutt afterwards.

When I got back we had a walk into town to do the last look around and to find a couple of pubs to try out. On the way back we found lovely Regent Street with lots of little unusual shops and Regents Place that apparently was the site of an Ancient British Hill Fort and the site of a Manor House of the de Rokeby family, and this is where the town's (and so the sports) name comes from. There is also a statue of Rubert Brooke there. This furniture looked very real from a distance but  was in fact concrete. They certainly made Helen look like she was had grown a bit whilst I had been away.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Brentford and back.

After arriving at Brentford we found out that the canal north was closed at the Hanwell Locks. We later found out that it was regarding the missing girl Alice Gross. There was no real concrete information so once we were settled I went for a walk to the locks to find out what I could. I got as far as Ontario Bridge when I was stopped by the Police. It seems that nobody had an idea when the canal was to  re-open so we had to sit it out. The next day was beautiful so we decided to go for a walk to Old Isleworth by the River Thames. We passed Syon House on our way there and decided we would come back and have a proper look round another day.

It was just about high tide by the time we got to Richmond Lock and some of the footpaths by the river were under water so it must have been a spring tide. It was opened in 1894 to maintain the river levels up to Teddington. After the old London Bridge was removed the water ebbed and flowed much faster so the water levels dropped. In the photo above under the arches are lifting barrages. Around two hours either side of high water they are lifted and boats can pass freely under the bridge. After this the sluices are lowered and the lock, next to the brick building must be used. It cost £5 for the lock and from the beginning until during WWII it cost 1p for pedestrians to cross. It is free now but closed at night.

Much of the area of Isleworth was still orchards at the start of the Victorian age but slowly mansions and grand houses were built due to the distance from a dirty London and the proximity already of  noble family residences and religious houses. The view above is of the Thames river frontage inside of Isleworth Ait, a very secluded spot. In the distance can be seen All Saints Church. It had been rebuilt in 1705 to plans drawn up by Christopher Wren but was burned down by two school boys arsonists in 1943. The church in the photo locks as though it has been there many a long year but it was built in 1970!. The white building is along Church Street which has many fine examples of Georgian buildings. The building behind the boat in the foreground is the Town Wharf but we had a pint at the London Apprentice just by the white building that is an historic pub with lovely views from the riverside terrace.

I had been talking to another moorer who had to get back to Apsley Marina up the Grand Union and couldn't wait. He was very nervous of going down the Thames himself so I volunteered to go with him. I checked he had all the gear and the boat looked sea worthy so left him to organise everything. We set of and had an unevetual journey until just before the lock at Limehouse when the engine stopped! The floor boards were lifted to see the engine underwater! I spoke to Thames VTS and explained the situation to them. I went for'd and dropped the anchor that fortunately bit quite quickly and we rode to it easily. When then managed to pump out the engine hole but were worried about starting the engine as the water had been up to the air intake. I requested a tow to the pontoons outside the Lock at Limehouse and in about twenty minutes a PLA launch turned up, hipped us along side and quickly had us moored up. During our wait several of the ferries and launches slowed and asked if there was anything they could help with which was good of them. I left him to to it then as I was going to meet Helen and Amy who had been to Buckingham Palace for the day. We had something to eat and then caught the tube and bus back to the boat.

There was still no news about the re-opening of the canal so we went back to have a look round Syon House. We had a good walk around the beautiful grounds with the definite highlight of the Great Conservatory designed by Charles Fowler of metal and glass. It was completed in 1827 and was soon filled with exotic plants from around the world.

Syon Park and House has been owned by the Percy, the Duke's of Northumberland, since 1594 and many great affairs and figures of history have been attached to the place. The tour of the house was fascinating too but the splendour of the conservatory warrants another photo. It would be a magical place for a wedding but you would need deep pockets or a good lottery win to afford it I suspect.

When we got back to the boat there was still no information so we decided to go back down to Limehouse on the Thames. After a quick chat with the Thames Lock Keeper we were off and soon on the way down the Thames again. We were given a deadline at Limehouse of 1800 as they would then be leaving and they would not wait a second longer. It was difficult to judge the speed but we seemed to be falling behind so we had the engine opened up. The real built up area of London seems to start when you approach Vauxhall bridge with the St. George's Wharf development on the South Bank at Nine Elms. St. George's Tower on the right is the tallest residential building in the UK with highest swimming pool too. The 52 floors reach up 181mts and only opened in 2013.

Here we are back at Vauxhall Bridge and the bronze statue this time is of Architecture.

By now I was seriously worried that we would miss our deadline and would have to spend the night ton the pontoon outside the lock, which desperately didn't want. We were flat out and cutting inside buoys and using the inner arches of bridges to make up time we. soon passed County Hall and the London Eye.

The Tower of London looks so small these days compared with all the much more modern structures around. For all that though it is still an imposing sight. We could not see the rivers of poppies that had been started to be placed in the moat, but helpfully there is a sign pointing out Traitor's Gate.

I had maintained contact with the lock keeper with our ETA and I let him hurry me on my approach to the lock so as not to miss the pen and made a bit of a mess of running straight in. All was well really and we were in the lock just before 1800 and safely back on a vacant berth soon after. There was no sign of the boat I had helped down the day before so he must have fixed what ever the problem was and got on his way north.

The next day we headed back up the Regents Canal towards Paddington. There seemed to be a few boats moving and there is always something of interest as you cruise through London. It wasn't until 1821 that these locks were completed and the access to the City Road Basin was completed. One of the items of the opening ceremony was the arrival of two loaded boats from Manchester. In true northern understatement they discharged and then set off back up north straightaway. City Road Basin was much more successful than Paddington Basin that had opened earlier as it was closer to Central London and many carriers etc moved there from Paddington.

Luckily we found a mooring in Paddington Basin, actually in the same spot as previously. Later that afternoon crowds assembled  near the fountain and the new fan bridge that we saw operating. The crowd was for the unveiling of a statue of Sir Simon Milton who was an instigator of the redevelopment of Paddington from his position on the Greater London Council. The fan bridge compliments the rolling bridge that we have still to see working.