Friday 6th May
Here I am on Friday evening, moored up in Limehouse. I thought the last few days were going to drag by, but they passed very quickly indeed. The weather has been superb and I found a launderette close by to Little Venice to do a week’s washing. I even heated up an old cast iron No 7 flat iron, made by J and J Siddons of West Bromwich (they are still extant), on the gas ring to iron my embroidered Sunday Best shirt. I remember my grandmother using one of these when I paid her a visit on D-Day in her Clapham house. I even remember her spitting on the iron to test the temperature, because my mother had an electric iron and I had never seen this done before. I would have been 8years of age then. I visited a pub that has been on my bucket list for the last four years and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Called The Victoria in Strathern Place, just a short walk from the front of Paddington Station, it is one of those Victorian heritage pubs, with loads of etched mirrors, mahogany bar and cast iron pedestal tables. The beer was good too, being a Fullers pub with plenty of choice. I had a mobile phone problem, not being able to connect to their wi fi, but the staff were very willing to try and help, even though I solved the problem myself eventually. I only wish it was my local. I spent quite a time talking to my neighbour Mike, who was also a teacher in London and comparing notes with him on favourite pubs in the area and beyond. He is going to take a similar route to me later, so we may meet up again . My breasted up neighbour was a South African plumber, obviously a liveaboard, but appeared to be adhering to the CRT rules and moving location every two weeks. It didn’t seem to bother him very much, as he cycled to work.
So time passed very easily with never a dull moment until this morning, when it was time to move on to Limehouse for the Thames Barrier Cruise with St Pancras Cruising Club. They organise several Thames excursions in the year and are considered to be the reigning authority on Thames cruising. There was an invitation in the boaters pack when I reached Little Venice and later a personal email invitation from Andrew Phasey, most probably because I went on the Olympic Park cruise two years ago. Brian Oliver volunteered to crew for me on the run down the Regents Canal, which we commenced at 10.00. It was a sunny day with no wind and an uneventful trip to Limehouse. I had arranged previously to meet up with Andy Clarke on Gertrude in the Battlebridge Basin area and caught him up at the other end of Islington Tunnel, so locking through the next eight locks together. After mooring up, Brian and I had a pint in The Grapes, which is my customary watering hole when here, after which he caught a bus back to Paddington. I just had time to erect my VHF aerial and ready the anchor, chain and warp, before it was briefing time in the Cruising Association Club house. Plenty of information to take in, with appropriate paperwork reminders – the usual Andrew Phasey efficiency. An excellent meal was available there too, accompanied by a pint of Bombardier or two.
Back to the boat to clear the blades down the weed hatch, which I had forgotten to do beforehand, but only bits of plastic bags to be raked out. Initially, I had opted to go solo, but on thinking about the long day ahead, about seven hours total, I accepted Andrew’s offer of crew for the trip in the form of Kenny MacIntyre, who I had initially made arrangements with to go on the cruise. Early start, locking out at 06.45, so time for bed said Zebedee.