100th post here, they tell me, although some of the older ones were transferred over from the previous incarnation. Appropriate for the last little bit of the summer's trip?
I left Brentford with a couple of neighbours on board - both actually co-members of Brentford Recycling Action group and headed for the locks along with Jerry on Roanoake. A certain amount of excitement on the Hanwell flight - firstly we got filmed by Chris Jones (who was in my work department a little before my time, thirty years ago) & friend who were making a BW corporate video - apparently the people who do the maintenance on the lockside are winning an award. If they were the people who dumped several branches and a binbag of clippings into the canal which of course got jammed behind the gates further up, then, well - to be fair they may not have actually dumped them in the canal, but they didn't do anything else with them either...
Pretty shortly a BW guy comes down and asked us to pick up their dummy in the lock. Eh? Turns out that following an incident where someone fell through the lock water intake ('claimed to' the BW man said), they were doing tests with a weighted dummy to see what was possible. It was, and the dummy was happily floating around in the bottom of the lock. As far as I could see, however, no-one had thought to bring either a boat to collect it with, or a boat pole, or even a windlass so they could at least fill up the lock... so seemed to be waiting for a boat to do it for them. Hey ho. I blame management.
We did our civil duty collecting all the non-degradeable rubbish from behind the lock gates; I'm sure it's completely deliberate there's a rubbish point at the top of the flight. Nevertheless I still managed a fairly colourful prop clog:
Red cloth, blue carrier bag and white poster thingy - shame I'm no patriot, really.
Food and a pint at a forgettable pub just before Bulls Bridge; Jerry stayed for a second pint, my crew spotted a 195 bus home and I set off west, pausing to watch one of the gravel barges squeeze through an old bridge hole; inches to spare, and certainly no space for me to pass.
I'm actually quite fond of the section of the Slough Arm from the junction back to High Line; yes, there's the gravel factory place and passing under the M25, but it's largely as pretty as anywhere on the system. Shallow, and a bit rubbish laden, but nice. It'll never really get the traffic, not unless they ever build the Thames link to Windsor they talk about occasionally (but no-one will ever pay for), but it's a nice stretch few people see.
And then home, back alongside Benbulben to catch up with the fuzzy line between news & gossip for a bit, and then of course walking down the towpath to the station meeting my 'old' mooring neighbours for a chat and a beer, and a train an hour later than planned. ;-)
It's nice to be back, but it does underline the big difference in having a static boat and touring - a new view every morning, new places to explore, and hey, even a different pub. I understand that those who live on a boat don't get the opportunity to do extended trips in the way us weekenders do, and there's also the feeling in some that actually this is their home they're shoving around (and would rather not damage) and all that - but they are missing out, they really are. The other thing for liveaboards is the community that a static mooring gives, there's pros and cons left right and centre, of course, a thesis worth, but for me - it's about being out there, seeing the world (albeit the bits near canals).
10 miles, 7¾ flg and 10 locks
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