After hearing that there was a B&M Bargains in Yiewsley we decided to head over for a look see. It was gone 1000 when we left and came out with £20 of 'stuff'' that we didn't know we needed when we went but 'will come in'. We then walked round to the tool shop that we had been told about to find that it was closed. It was gone 1100 when we finally got off. Mind you we didn't go very far as once passed the Slough Junction we arrived at the services just as a bloke was leaving. We pulled over to fill up wuth water and to dump the rubbish that we had been collecting from our moorings since leaving London. We were soon off again and enduring the boredom of tick over past miles of moored boats. Cowley Peachy Lock came along to break up the boredom. We went up with a boat that promptly stopped for water. There was a voluntary lock keeper there, off duty, who was telling us that he wasn't on over the Bank Holiday, and that no voluntary lock keepers were allowed to be on either as their was nobody in the office in case there was an emergency. Obviously I'm not sure whether this is actually the case, or if it is just this Bank Holiday or this region. It seems unlikely as somebody has to be contactable in case Joe Public has an emergency, surely.
I am mentioned these Lock distance markers previously, and I have read about them in forums etc but have never been convinced by what I heard. The ones I have noticed in the past have been cast iron and of a different design. These ones on the Grand Union are concrete so to appear to have been installed during the enlargement in the 1930's so indicating that they were still in use at the time and not just from the early days of canals. In general it seems to be agreed that the first boat past the mark had priority at the lock, over a boat coming from the other direction I suppose. I have heard that you sounded a bugle when passing the post, or cracked your whip?! I'm not sure how far that would be heard, and the markers do not seem to be a uniform distance from the lock. In any case I thought that there was a lock keeper at each lock during carrying days. I would love to have the definitive story of these posts.
We have passed this boat over a few years now and witnessed the car body being on the room, then just placed in position and now fixed and made weather tight. I was a little curious as to how it is driven as I couldn't see a tiller, and a closer look there doesn't even seem to be a rudder. In therefore conclude that it isn't driven sitting in the drivers seat but acts as a butty with it strapped alongside or on short lines astern.
Before heading into London we came up to the Uxbridge Boat Centre to take fuel and I then realised it is an old place. It seems it was a Fellows Morton and Clayton yard. I'm not sure whether the premises of the Hillingdon Canal Club next door were part of the FMC site or, as the building looks like an old warehouse, it was seperate.
It seems that that the place was active by 1896 when they were building wooden butties. They were mainly named after 'Towns' and 40 were built up to 1912. After 1922 they built 27 boats named after 'girls' the last of which was built in 1933. There is a slip and a dry dock here. They seemed to have a very comprehensive chandlery today too.
All these locks seem to have a water cannon at the lower gate where the rubbing bands of boats have worn away a furrow on the edge of each gate when entering leaving with only one gate open. You would think that it would be possible to devise something that could be easily replaced periodically as it is above the waterline. These doves were billing and cooing on the roof of the lock house at Denham Deep Lock and I thought it looked nice.
After Denham Deep Lock I had the feeling that we had finally escaped London as there was large gaps between boats and there was a much more country feel to the tow path
The lock house at Wide Water Lock looks like it is under restoration, but it seems I remember it has always looked like this when we have passed.
Whilst waiting for Cowley Peachy Lock I managed to pick a punnet of damsons. We have moored up just below Black Jack Lock and there are lots of little apples here. The order of the day will be some damson and apple jelly I think. We also have plans to walk up the hill to the Old Orchard after tea.