We spent the weekend in Kent, mostly at a family wedding. There was time on Sunday, though, to visit Teston Lock on the River Medway. It's accompanied by an impressive weir; in fact the whole lock is rather imposing, being very large and having massive gates.
Sue from No Problem spotted Debdale at Weedon the other day, and I've taken the liberty of reposting her photo here. It's nice to know where Debdale is when we're not on board!
Yesterday was spent in the Calcutt area on the Grand Union, doing a boat test. It was a lovely sunny day (although very cold), but the towpath was much drier than it had been in August when we last did a test on that stretch of canal.
This morning, I was very early arriving in London for work so I stayed on the tube to Warwick Avenue, walked down to Little Venice, and had lunch in the sunshine. There were no moving boats about, but there were plenty moored down the Paddington Arm, including one called Iron Maiden and another with Ogden's Nut Gone Flake painted on the side. I'm sure another blogger spotted the same boat and mentioned it a while ago, but I can't remember who it was and (so far at least) a search has failed to find the post.
I got the tube to work from Paddington, which gave me the opportunity to try out the new Wood Lane station on the Hammersmith and City Line. It's right opposite work, and so avoids the schlep up from Shepherd's Bush to Television Centre. It's a very smart station. I wonder how long that will last!
I've just finished Narrowboat Dreams, by Steve Haywood. It's perhaps an indication of how much I enjoyed it that I read the whole thing in three sessions: two train journeys and a post-night-shifts afternoon. It perhaps takes a little too long to get to the meat of the journey across the Pennines via the (then newly re-opened) Huddersfield Narrow and Rochdale canals, but even so it's very funny and is full of vividly described characters and places.
I was particularly keen to read it because I've already begun thinking about our three week trip on Debdale next year. At the owners' meeting in a few weeks time, we're hoping to move the boat to a base a bit further north. And depending how far north, the South Pennine Ring is a strong contender as a route (as long as we can fit through the Standedge Tunnel -- the satellite dish is a bit of a worry). But there's plenty of time to find out about that, and despite many of the problems Steve Haywood experienced along the route, the book has increased my appetite for a double Pennine crossing.
Epiphany spotted Debdale in Braunston yesterday. I notice there's another OwnerShips boat, Adderbury, moored up behind: Braunston is a popular Wednesday night stop, as it's easy to get back to Stockton Top for Friday morning.
I've taken the liberty of pinching Epiphany's photo, as it shows that Debdale has had a smart black front fender fitted.
When we were on board in September, we found the front fender in a very sorry state, in spite of being new in the spring. One side was ripped open, and the insides had fallen out (as seen in the photo below, taken on the Edstone Aqueduct).
It's one of the penalties of OwnerShips boats being used so much that things like fenders wear out pretty quickly. So a few days before we were due back at base, we asked for a new fender to be ready to be fitted and suggested that the black ones might be a bit stronger (as well as suiting the colour scheme better). And thanks to Epiphany for confirming that the work has been done!
I like doing locks, but I was surprised what hard work they were on the Stratford Canal, particularly the ones below Kingswood Junction. They're slow to fill and empty, the paddle gear is stiff, and the gates are heavy. Lock 53 was particularly difficult, because the bridge is so close to the bottom gate that there's no room for a proper balance beam. Instead, there's a metal framework attached a right angles, which gives very little leverage and is very uncomfortable to put your back against. Still, who said holidays should be easy?
This is Willow Tree Marina in west London, scene of the boat test that wasn't. Its claim to fame appears to be as the setting of the soap, Family Affairs, on Channel Five. Despite that, it appears to be quite a pleasant place, and its shape makes it feel much smaller than it actually is.
A bumper issue of Canal Boat for me this month, with my boat test of the Reading Marine built Malanne, and a story about John and Cathy on Marmaduke. This was actually written months ago, but was updated with the latest news just before publication.
I set out just before 8 this morning on a trip to west London for a boat test. I thought it would be over by lunchtime and I'd be back home by mid-afternoon. As it turned out, there was a last minute hitch, I ended up driving to Evesham, and didn't get home until gone 7 this evening, having driven 325 miles.
Still, my first port of call was very close to Bull's Bridge Junction, so as I was running early and I'd never been there before, I stopped off at the nearby Tesco to have a look. I took the obligatory photo of the junction bridge.
Andrew Denny of Granny Buttons posted a night-time version just the other day, and linked to an almost identical scene by Bruce of Sanity. I'm rather jealous, because Bruce's sky is bluer, his grass is greener, and his water is stiller. And, of course, Bruce had arrived by boat!