Sunday, 18 August 2013

A weedy wasteland

First impressions of being back on the canals were not good and the mood of depression on board continued as we struggled into London through a rubbish filled and weedy wasterland.
The long climb up the dozen locks from Brentford to Bulls Bridge was a curious mixture of well kept locks interspersed by rubbish filled pounds. But worse was ahead as we turned into the Paddington branch toward London.
The hot weather and the absence of locks had clearly proved ideal growing conditions for weed and in the half submerged green stuff was all the usual canal detritus - old plastic carrier bags, waste bags of garden rubbish, the odd shopping trolley and even, once, a motor scooter! I found myself reversing as much as I was going forwards to try and shake it all off (Harry's weed hatch is almost impossible to access unless you're a contortionist and weightlifter.) When moored up I hacked off the rest with the boat hook.
Clearly there are more 'continuous cruisers' in London than there were when we were last here five years ago - local boaters we spoke to agree that numbers have soared. And you seen some strange - and often sad - floating homes as you pass the longer than ever line of moorers on the 14-day site by Kensal Green cemetery. See below...
The whole situation is a mess; it's been allowed to develop over the years and now I can't see an easy or fair way to move people on who've been allowed to make their homes in places they arguably shouldn't have been.
I guess I'd tighten up the policing of Visitor Moorings (and probably reduce the time allowed on very popular ones) but also increase the number of permament canalside moorings with some sort of charge and some sort of control over boat standards - if only for safety - and rubbish. (Stands by for flak from all sides!)
Little Venice, always crowded, was also home to two and three deep boats that the cynic in me couldn't imagine having moved far from this honeypot mooring site in recent times.
A rare chance to see Tower Bridge being lifted and the traffic halted to let a sailing barge pass
Fortunately we did find a slot in the more rigorously policed Paddington Basin and here we've been for our allotted seven days. It's a bit clinical, pretty windy and can be noisy but it's central and it's free so who's grumbling. Not us for sure. We've used the time to meet family and walk or bus around central London, even finding ourselves on Tower Bridge for a rare close-up view of the bridge being lifted to let a sailing barge through.
Brian takes to the buses for a sightseeing trip in the big city
Tomorrow we head off through London on our way to Limehouse Basin for a trip back up the tidal Thames on Wednesday. Having seen how busy the river was with huge trip boats and catamarans at the weekend that's something we're approaching with a certain amount of apprehension!


  1. What time are you due out of Limehouse on Weds? I'm at work in London that day, so I'm just wondering whether the timings might allow me to watch you from a bridge...

  2. Not the best of adverts for the boating world. I have some sympathy with some who long term live aboard as a necessity (even if they thought it would be a short term solution) But others choose that way of life and seem to love living in squalor.