Saturday, May 21, 2016

How many gongoozlers does it take...? (cruise retrospective)

That was a very strange place to moor. Throughout the rest of yesterday afternoon and evening, the footpath immediately outside the boat (no grass verge here - look left and right before stepping out from behind the cratch cover!) was very busy. Walkers, joggers and cyclists walked, jogged or sped past by the drove. It calmed down a bit after dark, but at 2:00am there were two or three people chatting just yards away from us. They sounded entirely sober. They were just standing, chatting. But, despite the close proximity to people on the move, we didn't feel the least bit insecure.

A bright, sunny day greeted us when we woke at 7:00, and again, out came all the people. We set off. The sun didn't stop it being rather chilly all day long, but it was a lovely day. And it seemed as though everyone else thought so, too. Sturt's Lock, City Road Lock, St Pancras Lock. Gongoozlers lined them all, watching us pass through, and some rather unkindly taking delight in the shaky steering of a small red boat which shared the locks with us. The owner only got the boat yesterday, and was under tuition from a friend. She was more than a little nervous, and I can't blame her. But for us, it was good to be back in proper locks, proper, double-sized locks with gates you can walk across safely, locks in which a single boat can enter or leave through just one open gate.


Camden Lock was crazy. It's always busy here at weekends, with folk eating and drinking at pubs and other eateries, overseas tourists taking photos of this iconic location - and of each other. Locals and visitors rubbed shoulders, everyone enjoying the weather and the buzz of the crowd. Wisely, there are railings on both sides of this pair of locks, and these create a working space for boaters. Of which I was very glad! And the crowd - those actively involved in watching us, asking questions, taking photos and videos of us - stood along the railings on both sides of the pair of locks, and along the overlooking balconies of the adjacent pubs, and right across the bridge above the locks. Two or three deep in places. And they numbered in the region of 300! Grace and I both had time to do a rough head-count, and the guy from the little red boat did, too, and our figures agreed. We were all like actors on a watery stage, and they were a very appreciative audience. It was brilliant!

We parted with the little red boat after that. It had been good for both of us to share the locks, but there were now no more locks for some distance. So on we went through Regent's Park. Six terrapins paddled around at the side of the canal, and parakeets flew overhead. It's strange to think that these are native here now, having at some time in their ancestry escaped from the zoo.

Finally, Maida Hill Tunnel, the wonderful Little Venice, and into Paddington Basin. And for the second time, we were lucky, and found two empty moorings. We chose the best one, next to the boat from which various small pleasure craft can be hired. We moored, and enjoyed a peaceful night.


  1. Gorgeous photos, Roger! Really they are. It must be great fun going through Camden by boat. It's a lovely vibrant area, so I think I'd really enjoy it! Another great post. Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Val! I'm sure you'd love this part of London, probably most of it, as we did. Camden was something of a highlight, though!