Saturday, 29 May 2010

Gaza convoy: boating of a more important nature

Whilst the Dunkirk renactment is in the news, what is barely mentioned is a real life rescue mission, here and now. Eight (at last count) ships of various types are crossing the mediterrean in an attempt to bring much needed supplies into Gaza, another underreported ongoing disaster. These include MV Rachel Corrie from Ireland, named after the activist killed by Israeli police some years ago.

Isreal of course plan to prevent the convoy reaching Gaza by whatever means - this convoy carries not only aid and activists but international politicians, in an attempt to prevent violence.

Main ways to follow progress are twitter, and


More gentle bumbling - Friday the main priority was filling the water tank and emptying another one, so I moved up a couple of locks to the facilities point and did what needed doing. The moorings there were full, so I carried on a little and found myself a lovely offside mooring just above bridge 152, by a small public park entirely serving the local dogwalkers (and apparently children disposing of maths worksheets):

Today proved to be largely wet, but I did manage to explore Hemel Hempstead. The 'old town' is so well hidden I had to go back to the boat and use the internet to ascertain it even existed, and when I did find it - well, a bit of a backwater of estate agents and curry houses - sadly people seem to prefer the monstrosity that is the shopping centre. I did find some MR16 eyeball mounts in the 99p shops though, which may well come into use with LED lights - I'll see. The second exiting thing about the town is the the roundabout where the traffic goes around both ways at once, a less than welcome surprise to a boater on a custom shopper bike.

I was just thinking about moving when another boat came past - only the second I'd seen moving all day - so we got to share a few locks (and the electric swing bridge, thankfully) up to Winkwell - where we may well have a half or two in the pub later.

Understandably it's only 48hr moorings here (I do wish it would occur to Nicholsons that such information would be useful to boaters) so I'll probably carry on to Berkhamstead in the morning...

Tuesday, 25 May 2010


My 2008 trip was marvellous, but more boating than seeing - I passed through many places rather than being in them. A potentially busy summer at work and a desire to take things in means that this year I want to make slow, gentle progress when I can, rather than measuring days in numbers of Nicholson pages covered. It'll of course also be in hops of a few days rather than a big block of time.

(I must say of course there's nothing wrong with long days and hard work, and I'm sure there'll be plenty for me too. If you want to read how it's really done try Dove, , who did the run down to Rickmansworth in record time and now are on their way back up...)

We picked up Tortoise in Rickmansworth (still many, many boats there after the festival, unless they were just there to start with), and made time to wander around more, explore the town (I mean charity & fruit/veg shops, funadmentally, and the odd pub) and the lakes more or less alongside the mooring. The following day we did a gentle hop up to Cassiobury park - more woodlands & greenery, albeit no pub.

I'd never really explored Kings Langley; I now have, it didn't take long. We were amused though, having watched The Bargee* in the previous few days to spot the star of the film moored at Kings Langley, cloths shyly reminding people of it's fame... ;-)

On to stop at Apsley, paying a small fortune for Crabbies ginger beer in the Paper Mill pub (horrible large Fullers pub with no bottled Fullers beer, I'm best off sticking to my local, I think) and a wander, including spotting Herbie's imposter, albeit having the good grace to display a '2' on the side to show it's secondary position.

There's a nice looking veggie cafe as part of the largely unatural looking development & marina - Woodys (interesting comments on the link, mind) - we had coffee, sitting in the sun, before catching a train home, and it was fine.

Probably heading further up at the weekend, distractions permitting. ;-)

* more dedicated bloggers would make that into a separate post, but it was fun to spot locations as well as actors, and well worth a watch.

Monday, 17 May 2010

We didn't mean to go to sea...

... or even Rickmansworth Festival.

Leaving Uxbridge heading north on the Saturday, it was kind of inevitable really. A strange day, following a single boat through locks for much of the day, so in the end I retaliated and waited for the boat behind me in the next one, which took all of the time required to make myself a cup of tea, so no great worry there. I was wondering if a boat would actually avoid sharing with a single hander - most of whom, in my experience, are keen to do more rather than less of their share of the work.

I vaguely planned to find a mooring way before the festival site, but the reserved moorings went as far back as Stoker's Lock. Nevertheless I found a wee slot, which apparently had been too small for the boat booked into it, so that was that - and yes, I did find someone and pay an entry fee. Later on I found a few refugees from Northolt and later still a campfire singalong that didn't mind a bit of mandolin noodling from me, so all was well.

Sunday I got to see the event itself - a pretty big local do with a couple of stages, the smaller of which was pretty close to Tortoise. I spent most of the afternoon watching the boat tug of war contest - kind of fascinating, very laddish, and not really something Tortoise would have much of a chance in. Mike of Victoria seemed to be video-ing most of it, so I'm sure they'll turn up on youtube soon.

it all got a bit wet, but I did manage to see Ed Keene (links to youtube video of what he does) on the Owls World stage. I've seen people using looping boxes on stage before, but this was great - true multi instrumentalism, I was drawn to the tent by the sound of some kind of balkan orchestra, and like many people was surprised to see one person on stage. Good music, rather than just a gimmick, I think. Reminded me of some jamming with friends years ago, that sadly never got further than my front room. ;-(

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ten miles from home

I bumbled from Kensal Green over to Uxbridge today; a pleasant enough trip, even when sitting behind a boat doing tickover - very much my problem, not theirs. I stopped to make a cup of tea, and by the time I caught up with them, they'd moored. ;-) It was strangely easy to straight past the entrance to the Slough Arm, still not signposted, although I shoudl know where it is by now. ;-) I moored just in front of a very very sweet 30' boat; didn't really see inside, but it seems to be a back cabin with loo setup and then a kind of faux-clothed front hold containing the bedroom. I also admired the extended hold on 'G's Cargo', where Glenda makes her cratch covers... ;-)

Tucked away in the verge, just by where I'm moored was this small old milestone - 'To the Thames - 10 Miles'. I can't help suspecting it used to be a lot more prominent...

Friday, 7 May 2010

Little Venice pics

Tortoise, in 'fender' mode for the other boats, on Rembrandt gardens:

A lovely tiny push tug, Stanley, basically a sawn-off cruiser deck; Jim Shead's site reports it to be 14' long:

Community boat 'Opportunity' - I'd love to have that hold as a workshop, and still have more or less the same cabin space as Tortoise:

A lovely mobile chandlery boat; I was embarrassingly fascinated with the hingeing panels on the side, I'd put these on Opportunity (or equivalent) in an instant ;-)

finally, an interesting flue installation:

You're spared a picture of the looming prow of Victoria heading straight for Tortoise, partly 'cos it's scary, and mainly because Amy has blogged one already. ;-)

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Social Networking

I hardly need to write anything about Little Venice this year, it's been nicely documented already by Neil & Kath, Sarah & Jim and James & Amy , part of the consistantly fine company I had all weekend. I did consider some kind of charity swear box for every time James said 'B*linder' on Monday, mind. ;-) I've also highly amused by the picture taken of me that makes me appear to fit in more than I've possibly fitted in anywhere, at least visually. ;-)

One thing I would like to praise though was the Puppet Theatre, resident in Brownings Pool (albeit going on tour on the Thames in the summer - it would be great to see them on the move). We saw a lovely show of performing monkey marionettes - not something I'd want to see with real animals, but a charming, innocent yet knowing half an hour. They're doing 'The Hare and the Tortoise' in the summer, which I think has to be seen. ;-)

I do like the gentle camaraderie of boating blogs, and the little circles, peer groups we make that often overlap, but I wonder if there were similar meetings of other bloggers, there or elsewhere, like a series of walled venn diagrams, or a kind of maze where you sometimes peer over the hedges and read a few other blogs too. Anyway, I'm honoured to be part of it, with my peculiar little ways and just as peculiar little boat. ;-)

Speaking of which, summer plans are largely being made for me, framed by work projects and PA gigs, but I hope to able to wander slowly up the Grand Union with Tortoise, making gentle rather than rapid progress, being in a place rather than just passing through it. I'm looking forward to it.