Saturday, 30 October 2010

Our trip via public transport.

Armed with our Travel Cards we set off at 9.40am from Paddington underground on the District Line to Wimbledon.

IMG_0001 tram from Wimbledon

A short walk took us to board the tram for Croydon. It was a wonderful first trip for us on one of these. It wended it’s way through the colourful autumnal countryside, then out into the busy streets of Croydon amongst all the traffic. Amazingly the driver only had to use the horn once, to alert a chap who was walking along the tramline, of what was behind him!


The tram stops right outside East Croydon Rail Station on a level with the pavement with only an  inch gap between the two as you step off. That’s precision for you! We went to catch the bus nearby for the rest of the journey.

IMG_0006            IMG_0011 Grants frontage








As the London buses are quite frequent we didn’t have long to wait. The building on the right was just part of the ornate frontage to a posh department store called ‘Grants’. A few years ago it was going to be demolished, but they had the foresight to keep the unique frontage. This was achieved by supporting the front wall with scaffolding while they attached the new-build  shops cleverly behind it. This was probably a very expensive operation, but the end product is very appealing. Sorry the image is a bit fuzzy, but the upstairs front window of the bus was rather dusty.

IMG_0012 The Edge

There are still a few nice old timber framed buildings surviving among all the new concrete shops and offices. After a short walk from the bus we arrived to visit Bottles parents who greeted us with a much needed coffee. Anyway the Travel Card saw us complete our journey in two hours with hardly any waiting in-between the changeovers, luvely jubbly!

We spent a lovely day with them catching up on all the family news . When we left Bottles Dad accompanied us to the bus stop to wave us off.

A little information for anyone visiting London and planning to use public transport, if you have a bus pass (over 60’s) then it can only be used on the busses. To use the Underground, Docklands Light Rail and Trams then either an ‘Oyster’ or ‘Travel’ card is required. Ours (Travel)cost £7.50 (each) for unlimited travel for one day after 09:30 on all forms of transport. The tfl. (Transport for London) office at Victoria Rail Station were very helpful.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Today we thought we would go by shanks pony across the parks over The Serpentine Bridge to the Natural History Museum.

IMG_0003 Monkshood

We were surprised to see Monkshood in bloom with the Bumble Bees busy squeezing themselves into all the flowers. We crossed the bridge over the Serpentine to see the Princess Diana Fountain which was busy with families enjoying themselves.


           IMG_0024 Albert

Leaving Hyde Park we crossed over into Kensington Gardens and saw the memorial that Queen Victoria had erected for her husband Prince Albert.


On all four corners of the monument there were interesting animal groups. A Bull, a Buffalo, a Camel and this Elephant which was my favourite. Albert sits facing the Royal Albert Hall which is a very spectacular building.

IMG_0028 Rpyal Albert Hall

Moving on we passed another building with an ornate frontage which was The Royal College of Organists.

IMG_0031 Royal College of Organists     IMG_0040 Natural History Museum

Eventually we arrived at the Natural History Museum only to find that the queue was about a mile long! Well I suppose it is a popular venue for the half term holidays. Anyway, we didn’t fancy spending the rest of the afternoon stood in a queue so tried the Science Museum where we were able to go straight in.

IMG_0049 Rover

We managed to cover half of the ground floor before stopping for a well earned cup of coffee and a rest. There were all types of ancient transport and industrial engineering displays. This old Rover with aluminium bodywork was one of Bottles favourites. It was the first Jet Car to be built, I wouldn’t mind a spin round in that, would you? After seeing the other half we thought we had better leave the other five floors for another time.

IMG_0061 Squirrel perch     IMG_0065 view from cratch

There were plenty of Squirrels bounding about in the park eating and busy burying their winter hoards of nuts. We arrived back at Oakfield to find that we had a new neighbour. This is now the view from our cratch.


On Wednesday we ambled across Hyde Park to Victoria Station to pick up train/bus maps and find out about Oyster Cards at the information centre there. The chap was very helpful said it would be cheaper to buy a Travel Card for £7.50 each so we can travel by Train, Underground, Tram or Bus anywhere in a day. We thought this was very good value and easy to use as you just show it to the machine as you enter and depart, anyway we will see how we get on!

IMG_0001 Paddington Station This is Paddington Station which is still under wraps as it’s restoration continues. There are fourteen platforms here and people are swarming in and out of here like ants all day long.   

IMG_0007 Barkleys Cycle Hire                IMG_0008 101








We noticed that there are many racks of these bicycles sponsored by Barkley’s for hire quite cheaply. They seem to be in use quite frequently by riders with nerves of steel weaving amongst the busy traffic.  I rather liked this round building, but wouldn’t want the bill for cleaning all the protruding windows. 

IMG_0018 Hyde Park Garden Mews    IMG_0006 London Eye          

On the left is the lovely cobbled lane that is Hyde Park Garden Mews. Once stables for horses and carriages, but now a very desirable place to live these days, as it is peaceful with no through traffic. The Millennium Wheel or London Eye was just visible in the distance from Hyde Park.                        

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Bulls Bridge to London.

Tuesday was  one of those cold grey ‘missley’ days as we set off from Bulls Bridge up the Paddington Arm.

IMG_0002 Engineers Wharf We passed many wharves which were probably bustling with activity in the past. Like Engineers Wharf, many of them have been made into residential complexes now.

IMG_0010 Footbridge         IMG_0011 feeding time

This new footbridge was a complicated metal structure, put in ahead of yet another new development. Someone didn’t finish their sandwiches at lunchtime and flung then into the canal causing birdie mayhem. We passed over the buzz of traffic on The North Circular Aqueduct which also passes over the River Brent.     

IMG_0019 autumn leaves IMG_0018 Kensal Green gasometer

The trees are beginning to change into their Autumnal colours in places. This stretch of the canal is a very industrious area still, with Acton Power Station, Old Oak Wharf recycling centre, Old Oak Common Railway Depot (a sort of graveyard for trains) and North Pole where Euro Star trains are maintained. The three gasometers seemed to be rather low. (No it’s no leaning that was me). We then passed Kensal Green Cemetery where Isambard Kingdom Brunel is a permanent resident.

IMG_0025  canoe storage idea This is where the old and the new can be seen together. I like the canoe stored on the wall overhanging the canal, I wonder if it gets launched from up there? There’s no prize for guessing how many chimneys are atop this row of houses though!

IMG_0029 Gone

Someone was having a smashing time today and completely demolished this little hut while we were cruising slowly past.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Bulls Bridge.

Saturday we had a lazy day, but had a walk down to the Slough Arm looking at the boats along the way. There are no signs at all telling boaters that this was the junction and to turn here for Slough. We spotted this lovely horse busy sharpening her teeth on a wooden post. Not quite so funny as the sheep on nb Balmaha’s blog though!

IMG_0160e IMG_0160f sharpening her teeth

Sunday saw us strolling down to The Malt Shovel to see what they had on their roast lunch menu. They had a deal on for just under a tenner, roast turkey with a starter or a pudding. Well it was excellent roast with fresh vegetables, but rather too big for me to finish, so I took some home for tea in a doggy bag. Luckily we were back on the boat before 4pm and the sun was still shining brightly, but suddenly we had a very heavy hail storm which created a rainbow.


Today was another nice sunny day, but quite cool as we set off, filled with water, then went down through the lock. Hooray, no more locks to work for quite a while now. We stopped outside Tesco's and popped in for a snack in their cafe before seeking out Food supplies. It is a real multi cultural store and had a special display of Dewali lights and foods as well as Halloween pumpkins, costumes and goodies. There are also a great variety of world foods that I haven’t seen in other Tesco stores. The afternoon was spent cleaning the roof of the boat and changing the oil in the generator. We then lit the fire and settled down for the evening.

Saturday, 23 October 2010


We pulled the pins and set off on a bright, breezy Friday for Uxbridge.

IMG_0191 narrowpaddleboat

En route we passed this peculiar little narrow boat with a large paddle wheel at the back. Looks like the helmsman of this arrangement must have got sprayed with water while cruising, as a sheet of polythene has been placed over the wheel.

IMG_0192 Demolishing Flour Mill Uxbridge

As we approached Uxbridge Lock we heard loud banging noises from afar. Demolition of William Kings Flour Mill was in progress with three wrecking cranes busy on the site. The one you see here was the one causing all the rumpus by lifting a very large metal drum in the air and continually smashing it down on the concrete to break it up. As I operated the lock I could feel the ground shaking beneath me as he did so, the noise was not good for the ears either! Soon there will be 150 new homes on this site. I wonder if they will re-use any of the bricks from the old buildings?

IMG_0193 Uxbridge Boat Centre

These boats were moored outside Uxbridge Boat Centre. The town seems to have turned it’s back on the canal and doesn’t seem a very inviting place to moor. We tried to pull into the recommended moorings here but found it was too shallow. We carried on down to Cowley to moor on the 14 day moorings near the bridge. In the afternoon we walked to Uxbridge Pavilions' and Chimes indoor Shopping Centres. M + S provided us with coffee, snack and much needed rest in readiness for the long walk back. We did find however one little unspoilt street with some quaint little shops and pubs though.    

IMG_0194 Uxbridge sculpture

We went into the underground station to pick up a tube and bus map. This family group statue stands in an open space in front of the Tube Station, with the picturesque old Three Tuns pub in the background.

IMG_0195 Fuelboat BARON

The fuel boat ‘Baron’ looked fully laden as it visited all the permanently moored boats delivering much needed coal, diesel and gas for their boats.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Denham Deep Lock.

On Wednesday we left Rickmansworth on a beautiful sunny morning down through Stockers Lock. Nearby stands Stockers Farm, a listed building, with its lovely unspoilt old wooden barns and stables where they did some filming for ‘Black Beauty’.

IMG_0161 figureheadHow’s this for a wide beam boat complete with figurehead?

IMG_0162 Black Jack's MillAs we were waiting for Black Jack’s Lock there was a nice old mill alongside which had this idyllic painting on the wall. All the way down this part of the Grand Union are rivers and flooded gravel pits forming wildlife parks. The edge of the canal is too shallow in places for us to moor, but we managed to find a place just above Denham Deep Lock. After a wander around we lit the fire as it turned rather chilly and settled down with our evening meal.


We were woken quite early on Thursday by the lock being operated and Oakfield moving around on her ropes. Some boats went past at quite a pace, so after getting dressed I poked my head out of the cratch cover to see what was going on. It was a very cold and frosty morning with mist rising from the surface of the water. Two more boats were just coming out of the lock, Dove and Purton. I called out to the steerer of Purton who told me they were on ‘The Jam O’le  Run‘ heading for Braunston by Saturday, hopefully.

IMG_0171         IMG_0185

                                                                                                     So we got the fire going and had breakfast, then decided to have a walk through Denham Country Park. There are paths leading everywhere, anyway we ended up in the old part of the village. The painting on the Falcon Inn sign was nice as was the flowery frontage.

IMG_0180 John Mills lived here                 

Many of the houses have Dutch style gabling and this one was once lived in by the actor Sir John Mills.

IMG_0175The old mill still has the stream running underneath it, although it  now forms two private residences.

IMG_0186 Blacksmiths Cottage IMG_0183 The Old Cottage

There are some lovely old timber framed cottages too. The one above was once the village Blacksmiths.



There is a small green in front of a rather grand old manor house. As we walked back along the lane there was a chap with a noisy petrol driven leaf blower ushering all the leaves into great piles. Bottle wickedly said, shall we scuffle through them? I thought, wouldn’t it be easier, cheaper and quieter to use a brush to sweep them up! After all the one that Trigger used in Only Fools and Horses was as good as new, having only had five new heads and four new handles!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Aquadrome stroll.

As we were about to set off on our wanderings the fuel boats were just pulling alongside out neighbour, so luckily we were able to buy some diesel from him. It is good to keep these boats on the canals as they offer a friendly service to all in need. Especially as there are many customers who are living on permanent moorings along this canal who do not move their boats.

IMG_0004 helping Argus Bletchley through lock

We then helped him up through the lock with his two boats, Bletchley and Argus which were lashed together.

IMG_0006 Ape 50

A little way down the towpath we spotted this sweet little three wheeler which had ‘Ape 50’ on the front of it. Anyone seen one of these before? I expect it is very economical on fuel.

IMG_0009 Stockers Lock cottage displayOutside Stockers Lock Cottage there was a variety of interesting canal ironmongery on display. Probably items that have been collected over the years by the lock keeper.


This is part of Stockers Farm, This scene is rather reminiscent of Constables Haywain painting. The farmhouse is a large rambling old place and is surrounded by stables and horses in the fields.

2010_1019Rickmansworth0020004      IMG_0020 Aquadrome sailing              








Stockers Lock bottom gate was rather like the hanging gardens of Babylon. We then turned into the water park with several lakes, woodland and wildlife walks all around them. This area is known as The Aquadrome and on one of the lakes there is a sailing club. A few little boats were out tacking back and forth in the breeze.


We ended up at busy The Cafe in the Park which served delicious little snacks. The  fresh flowers on the table in there looked as if someone had painted them. We watched the squirrels outside doing acrobatics to reach the berries on the ends of the branches while we ate our cheese toasties and drank warming mugs of coffee. On the way back we called in to Tesco to see if we could buy a Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake, as the one that Dave brought to share with us was so nice. However we couldn’t find one in the chilled cabinet, never mind eh.