Saturday, 19 April 2014

Celebrity start to the Easter Weekend

On Thursday evening, as a fitting start to the St Pancras CC Easter cruise, we went to ‘The Grapes’ in Limehouse for an evening with some of the locals.

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Cindy the barmaid was a ‘ten out of ten’ hoot. Everyone needs a Cindy somewhere in their lives!

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Sir Ian Mckellen heard we were there and popped into the pub for chat. (It just happens to be his pub!)

Friday dawned bright and a bit chilly but everyone was eager to get out on the Thames for the days trip up through the city to Brentford.

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Gary and Yve, who we met on the Ventura cruise a few weeks ago, came to join us for the day.

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With an hour to go before the ‘off’ there was time to open the Champagne and make a toast to a safe and enjoyable trip.

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At 1 o’ clock sharp we were flushed out of the lock at Limehouse and, with horns blaring (a requirement as you enter the main tideway), ‘Chance’ got its first taste of Thames water this year.

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Two Champagne powered people happily sighting Tower Bridge.

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We follow the lead boat ‘Doris Katia’ with Andrew and Frances on board as we head towards one of the worlds most iconic sights.

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Gary and James on the ‘blokey’ end of the boat while Yve and Doug get the drinks and nibbles ready inside.

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Safely through Tower Bridge and we pass probably the oldest building in the city – the Tower of London …………

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………. and then soon we pass two of the newest buildings – the ‘Walky Talky’ and the ‘Cheese Grater’.

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Two happy bunnies approaching the seat of government.

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All’s well on the Westminster waterfront.

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Nb ‘Doris Katia’, in the distance, leads us up towards Battersea.

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With Vauxhall in the background our additional crew for the day – Yve and Gary, thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  Gary took the tiller for the best part of an hour as we got into quieter waters.

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The delightful Albert Bridge – always a treat to look at both for its architecture and paintwork.

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After a fantastic trip up through the city again – a bit choppy in places but that only adds to the fun of it all, we got onto the Grand Union Canal at Brentford and made our way up to Hanwell and moored up for the night. It wasn’t long before we met up in The Fox to enjoy a drink or two with St Pancras Cruising Club Commodore Andrew and his wife Frances who, as always, are responsible for the safe organisation and planning of these terrific tideway cruises we so enjoy.  Frances, Doug, Eve, Gary and Andrew all wrapped up against a chilly evening.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tideway tomorrow.

Yesterday was another great sunny day and another relaxing one for us.  We filled the day with a bit of boat cleaning and a walk into “town”.

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In the morning a group of French youngsters paid homage to the roll up bridge just outside our front door.  It seems to be a great favourite with many visitors.

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Further along from the boat, in Merchants Square, local workers play table tennis in their lunch hour…………

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……. and during our walk along the Victoria Embankment in the afternoon we came across the monument to the great Sir Joseph Bazalgette whose skill and foresight gave London its fine and, as time has proven, most capacious sewage system.  Like most Victorian engineering it is still working very well. 

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Today we left Paddington Basin and headed down the Regents Canal towards Limehouse Basin where we’ll be meeting up with a number of other narrow boats for our first tideway cruise this year with the St Pancras Cruising Club. We passed a rather unusual “residence” as we left Little Venice ……….

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……. only to find much grander ones as we travelled down the Regents Canal!

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The canal looks a real picture with all the spring blossom…………

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The canal system throws up some very quirky things sometimes: at the bottom of someone’s garden this floating oasis with three bench seats set in each corner.

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Today we travelled with Heather and Roger on nb ‘Celtic Kiwi’ who were also heading for the tideway cruise.  Together we made good progress down to Limehouse and we know it’s not far to go when we turn the corner and see Canary Wharf in the distance.

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We caught up with the St Pancras Commodore, Andrew, and his wife Frances on nb ‘Doris Katia’ just before we reached Limehouse and it was a jolly good job we did.  At the last lock, while James was holding ‘Chance’ into the bank with the centre rope, he wasn’t able to hold it against the strength of the wind and Frances (and her extra muscle power!) came to the rescue and saved the day.  Thanks Frances we owe you a drink tonight!  Arriving in Limehouse this afternoon in very good time we took on some fresh water and moored up against the wall before any of the other boats arrived. A good day and a good job done – and we look forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Work and Pleasure.

On Monday we had a spring cleaning and maintenance day on ‘Chance’.

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While Doug was working hard inside the boat James was working “for Cunard” down in the engine room - changing the engine and gearbox oil and doing a general service before we take on the series of tideway cruises with the St Pancras Cruising Club.

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Today (Tuesday), with the weather still remaining superb we decided to enjoy more of the city.  Shakespeare still continues to look over the crowds in Leicester Square as he has done for a hundred or so years ……..

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…… and he never tires to remind us of one of life’s fundamental adages. 

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We had lunch in one of our favourite pubs – The Chandos, just off Trafalgar Square, and then took a walk down to Covent Garden and immersed ourselves in the atmosphere there.  Doug had an hour in the sunshine while James ……..

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……..popped into the nearby St Paul’s Church (the actors’ church) to listen to a concert given by the Merchant Taylor’s Girls School, Liverpool.  They delivered a marvellous selection of music from Brahms to Lloyd Webber.

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After the concert James took a few moments to look at some of the many memorial plaques to some of our best known and loved actors.  Richard Beckinsale was a huge loss – a great talent for such a short time ……..

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………. while Margaret Rutherford gave us so much for such a long time.

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St Paul’s, Covent Garden, built by Inigo Jones in 1633 is a fabulous bit of architecture and contains many memorials to past actors – it’s well worth a visit.

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The sun and the Easter holidays brought the crowds out in force today.  This is Leicester Square this afternoon as we walk back to the tube station at Piccadilly.

Monday, 14 April 2014

A Marathon Weekend!

Saturday was a glorious sunny warm day and we spent most of it just wandering and enjoying the general buzz of London Town ……

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….. “watcha cock!”

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The rest of these pics relate to Sunday though – another wonderful warm and sunny day and a day just right for the London Marathon.  We left ‘Chance’ in the morning and headed towards the city where all the fun was to be had ……. 

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…….. and we found a great place to watch the event, with great views of the Palace (and the TV screen), and as close to the finish line as possible.  

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It wasn’t long before the winner of the partially sighted group sped past and onto the finish line.  Some of this exceptional group had guides with them and some had tethers to their guides. What courage!

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Then the winner of the Elite Men’s section…………

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………. and, following in 9th position, the great Mo Farrah!  It was quite emotional to watch these superb world athletes run past, having covered 26 miles and looking as if they were just our for a Sunday jog! 

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Leaving the finish line we had lunch in an old pub in Parliament Street (watching all this running made us hungry!) before seeing the main group and fun runners come through.

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Moving up towards Westminster Bridge we watched the runners leaving the Victoria Embankment and head down to Parliament Square.

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There were a few competitors a bit worse for wear having covered 3/4 of the route but most were well able to acknowledge all the cheering and encouragement from the huge crowds of supporters.  We take our hat off to all of them!

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This couple of runners, supporting the RNLI were a bit hot! ………..

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……….not so “Foamy the Fire Extinguisher”!

 

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It had been a fantastic ‘first’ for us and a great day day for runners and spectators alike.  The crowds were huge and the atmosphere terrific but we left them all behind, ………….P1020788

…….. and headed across Westminster Bridge and into the relative peace of ‘normal’ London to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.

It was a brilliant day and we’re very glad to have been in London for this major national event – another one to tick off the list.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A rocky start to our ‘Chance’ summer cruise.

One of our last “tasks” before leaving Selsey for the summer on ‘Chance’ was …….

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……. to walk to the end of the road and inspect the repairs and improvements to the sea wall.  We now have a new path and a cast concrete wall with curved wave breaker top to it and topped with a bit of railing to stop us falling in.  The landscaping is being completed so by the time we get back in the autumn the grass will have grown (and the first of the winter storms may have taken it all away again!

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A JCB has put the beach back where it belongs so we now have a clear path to walk on.

On Thursday morning we packed all our stuff in the car and set off for Packet Boat marina in West Drayton.  Early in the journey, three miles from the Peugeot garage which supplied the car (lucky!), it decided to throw a wobbly and, with a bit of gentle coaxing, we managed to make it to the garage.  Cutting along story to a reasonable length the car needs four new fuel injectors (which are on back order) so they can’t give us a date for when the car will be fixed!  However, the good news is that the car’s still under warranty and they set about providing us with a replacement car until they can fix ours.

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The not so good news was that we had to transfer all the boat stuff (and all boaters will know how much stuff that can be!) into the new car – and it was a new car, with only 20 miles on the clock! Here we are - all our stuff, so neatly packed in the first place, now bundled unceremoniously into the replacement car so that we could continue the journey.  We got to the boat four hours late but as we were not intending to leave the marina until Friday things didn’t work out too badly in the end.

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Over the next few weeks on ‘Chance’ we are taking part in the St Pancras Cruising Club’s tideway events so, at first light today (Friday) we set off towards Paddington where we hope to be for a few days before the first tideway event.  Arriving in Little Venice, who should we bump into (not literally!) but Jaq and Les on nb ‘Valerie’.  Delighted as always to see them it was a short chat as we were going in opposite directions.  It was lovely to see you both looking so well and we look forward to seeing you both later in the summer.

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Getting into Paddington Basin there were several empty spaces so we chose the one with the grandstand view of the role up bridge (which gets tested each week on Fridays at mid day).  The first job was to finish cleaning the boat (which James started as we journeyed down from West Drayton) to get rid of the after effects of the dust storm which plagued London a couple of weeks ago.