Sunday, 31 July 2016

Kew Gardens

Hello again, I hope you're well.

We've spent the past week down on the River Lea. It's not a river I'd rush back to as it's incredibly difficult to find moorings. All of the visitor moorings are taken up by continuous moorers who moor two and three deep and shuffle about every 7 days or so, in their attempt to beat the mooring restrictions.  It's also extremely weedy although these guys were trying hard to keep it under control.

This is what happens when the weed takes hold. It's an unused lock and the weed is at least a foot high.

When we came back up onto the Regents Canal yesterday we didn't expect to get into Paddington Basin but we timed it right and managed to bag the last two vacant spots.  Some of the moored boats were here when we had our abortive attempt to moor in the basin over a week ago.  Roger spoke to one lady on a boat who admitted that she'd overstayed by several days, as had the boat she was travelling with. She knew she'd been "clocked" by CRT last Monday so was going to move round the corner for a while before coming back for another 10 days.

Today we took the train and went to Richmond for lunch before heading back one train stop to Kew Gardens.  We've never been before and I'd really recommend it if you're looking for something to do in London. I took hundreds of photos, here are a few.  I'm still having problems with black spots in my photos but Roger's on the case and is hoping to fix it soon.

This is the Tropical House

The tallest banana tree I've ever seen. When we've seen banana plantations on holiday they've been quite short trees, presumably so the bananas are easier to pick. This one must have been 20 feet tall.

Beetal nuts, used as a narcotic

Black pepper tree

 Ginger plant, we eat the roots


Vanilla pods

Coffee beans

and my favourite - cacao pods, the seed of which make CHOCOLATE

All of the flower beds were immaculate and the grass was so neatly trimmed it looked artificial.

This was the cactus house

They had many different species of Aloe plant, although they only had one small Aloe Vera specimen which a sign told us is now almost extinct in the wild. It is heavily farmed for its medicinal properties but Kew are trying to arrange Crowd Funding for a project to reintroduce it into the wild.

For the hardened drinkers among you, here is the blue Agave plant that is used to make Tequilla

I'm glad these water lilies aren't native to the British canals and rivers!  To give you some idea of their size, the white "spot" on the pad at the bottom of the photo is a 50 pence piece.

After walking all around the gardens we finished off our visit by climbing up onto the Tree Top Walk.

It's certainly a different view of the arboretum and we also saw lots of parakeets flying about. You can hear them calling to each other but because they're green you don't see them until they take to the wing.

That's all for now, please come back soon for another installment of our visit to London.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Thames Barrier trip with a difference

Hi, welcome back

Gosh, doesn't time fly when you're having fun?  I didn't realise it was a week since my last blog.  We've done a lot in that week too.

After leaving Staines, we did the tidal bit of the Thames from Teddington to Brentford. It was flat calm and very underwhelming and nothing at all to be scared of. Going the other way from Brentford to Teddington last year seemed much more fun.  I can't wait to do the "proper" tidal section past the houses of parliament next week.

The locks up from Brentford were almost impossible for me to operate so we tied the two boats together again and I drove while Roger and David did all the work.  After spending the night at Bull's Bridge and stocking up at Tesco, we cruised into Paddington.  Unfortunately the basin moorings were chock a block so we ended up breasted up right outside the station.  It was a good mooring but SO noisy as we were directly opposite a building site which started work at 8am and had huge earth moving machines and piling machines working right through until 5.30. The dust was pretty thick too.

London was HOT!  35'C by day and 23'C by was noisy and there were thousands of people everywhere......but it was wonderful and we had a great time.

One drawback of this hot sunny weather is that it's made the duck weed grow exponentially.  It's really thick everywhere and even though they dredged over 70 tons of the stuff out of the Regents Canal yesterday you'd never notice the difference.

On Thursday Roger and David took a trip out to the Thames Barrier on a
740 HP V8 rib.  I would have liked to have gone as well but they won't take anyone who has or has had back problems, so I went walk-about instead.

The original trip they were booked on had to be cancelled as the boat had broken down, but once a replacement had become available they had a great time and got some good views of the major tourist attractions.

The Eye

The Houses of Parliament

The Shard

Tower Bridge

The O2

and The Barrier

They were still grinning when they got home.  Boys will be boys.............

We've now left Paddington and ploughed through the weeds to Camden Town.

It's one of my favourite shopping places, but I was good and resisted the urge to jump ship and dive into the Doc Martens shops.................Once we move onto the new boat I'm going to make sure I've got lots of space for more boots,   just don't tell Roger...

Bye for now, see you soon

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Old Friends and Hampton Court

Hi, nice to see you

Leaving Windsor on Wednesday we sailed past the castle but as there was no-one home we didn't bother knocking on for a brew.

Instead, we stopped off in Staines so that we could meet up with friends Paul & Lin.  We'd built their boat "Inaminit" 13 years ago and haven't seen them for a long time so had LOTS to catch up with. We had a good craic over lunch in the Swan Inn and have promised to keep in more frequent contact.

It's been such a glorious day again that several of the riverside houses had their patio doors folded back to open up their interior spaces out into the garden.

Some of them looked like they belonged on "Grand Designs"

We were lucky and managed to get a mooring at Hampton Court, although the last space was only just long enough for David's boat along the wharf so we had to breast up on the outside. It's quite awkward getting Chico on and off but it's only for one night so he'll have to manage.

David wanted to go and visit the Maze so we tagged along.

This was a rare shot with nobody else around. The maze was teeming with tourists of all nationalities.  The little children were having a great time. I suppose if you're only 4 or 5 the hedges must look huge!

We made it to the centre and took the compulsory selfie..........

before going off in search of ice-cream.

Bob & Nicola who were travelling with us have changed their plans and gone off up the River Wey. We were all supposed to be doing the tidal Thames tomorrow from Teddington to Limehouse but as they've gone their own way we've decided to go in at Brentford and then head for the centre of London for a couple of days before doing the trip the other way from Limehouse.

It's one trip I MUST do before we hand over the boat to the new owners. It's been on my bucket list for years, so keep watching and I'll share it with you very soon.

Bye for now

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Onwards to Windsor

Hello again

Someone up above must have taken offence at me bragging that we were having glorious weather and got us big style yesterday.  It absolutely chucked it down and we were all soaked despite wearing full waterproofs.

We were packed into the lock when the heavens opened with a thunderstorm and there was nowhere to take shelter as we were all holding ropes while the boats descended the lock. It did brighten up later once we'd moored up in Cookham and it's been much nicer again today

We're now moored in Windsor near the castle and have been out and about this afternoon. We were in Windsor at this time last year and got drenched in a thunderstorm while we were going round the castle so I wasn't taking any chances this time and took a brolly and a rain coat!

We had a nice surprise a couple of hours ago as the Royal Barge Gloriana sailed past.  She's simply stunning!

Bye for now, see you soon.

Sunday, 10 July 2016


Hi, Happy Sunday

We had our first couple to view Fizzi yesterday. They already own one of our early boats and wanted something newer and bigger and decided Fizzi fitted all their requirements. So, subject to our new boat passing it's out of water survey, Fizzi is going to have new owners. Once everything is finalised I'll introduce you to them.

We celebrated with coffee cake

If you need an excuse you could always quote this.........

In the meantime we're still cruising and have moved onto the Thames. We're currently moored at Tesco and have been vetted by the local mooring wardens

Catch you later, take care

Saturday, 9 July 2016


Hello, nice to see you again.

Weather-wise we seem to be in the right part of the country again. It's warm and mostly sunny, as opposed to the cold heavy rain some of our friends and family have been having further north.

Sunsets have been quite spectacular too.

The black mark isn't an alien spaceship, it's on the camera lens and I can't get it off.

We're still experiencing some "interesting" locks.  Road swing bridges are common and usually very close to locks.

Weird shaped locks abound

and here's another grass sided lock

more weeds and blackberry bushes than grass though

and a corrugated sided lock as well.

We're now moored in Reading, right outside the prison.  The last lock before the town was interesting.  There was a strong river current which made it a bit tricky getting into the lock mouth and then we couldn't leave the lock without pressing the button on a set of traffic lights and waiting for the green light!

I think we're going to stay here for the weekend as the boys want to go shopping again.  I'm beginning to think that their idea of "going shopping" actually translates as "going to the pub" !

Bye for now, see you soon