Sunday, 20 October 2013

Rain and shine

We are safely tucked up now in Paddington Basin after an entertaining weekend coming down off the river and then making our way across London.
We left Teddington yesterday afternoon for the short, five mile trip running with the ebbing tide down to Brentford. It was a full moon the night before so the tides were high - but just how high and how fast we didn't realise until we saw the river lapping right across the towpath and riverside streets in many areas. Then when we did the awkward cut-back turn into the cut to Brentford we felt the full force of the flow as it tried to swing us round past the entrance.
Riverside high tide flooding at Kingston
What a contrast the canal made to the sweet, clean river. The water looked poisonously black - blacker than a rugby team's communal bath after a muddy match and plastic bottles and rubbish floated everywhere. Very depressing. With the Brentford moorings full of hutches already tucked up, nose to tail, for winter we headed on through the first couple of locks towards London, mooring for the night shortly before the main Hanwell flight.
The weather forecast was not good and, sure enough, we woke to pouring rain. On went the wet weather gear ... and the sun came out. Came out and stayed out so I was soon stripped down to tee-shirt for lock wheeling.
Last time through I found the Hanwell locks hard work but after a summer on the Kennet & Avon they were light relief: the paddles all worked, and with none of those silly low geared mechanisms either, the gates, opened easily and leaked only moderately – and we never got stuck. We were through in a couple of hours and the sun still shone.
It rained and rained and rained
But not for much longer. Soon after the Bulls Bridge junction the skies turned nearly as black as the canal water and the rain started falling heavily - and then even more heavily. And kept falling for the three hours it took to reach Paddington. Whereupon it stopped just as we came to moor up in pretty much the last free slot.
Back in the summer the Basin was full of tidy looking narrowboats, going and coming. Today it's crowded with a motley bunch of decrepit plastic cruisers and shabby boats in varying stages of decay. I guess they've all migrated here for the winter.

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