Saturday, 18 November 2006

Big improvements

Kingston on Thames to Grand Union Canal 3 locks and 8 miles.
Our plan had been to stay on the Thames until Thursday or Friday but the weather forecast on Wednesday morning for the next 2 days forced a change of plans. Even though we had a 15 day licence for the Thames and could have stayed longer we did not want to get caught on the Thames in flood condition which is always a possibility at this time of year.

We set off from Kingston early so that we were in plenty of time to be able to lock through Teddington lock at 9.30am. Once through Teddington we had the whole river to ourselves. The closer we got to Brentford the more we could feel the resistance of the incoming tide and at one stage the wind was creating a bit of a swell reminding us we were at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Along the way we saw some very strange live aboard accommodation on the river one of which we photographed and attached. It was all made from anything that would float as a base and then all sorts of timber framing covered in all sorts of plastic sheeting to keep the rain out. Power came from a bank of old batteries on the back connected to 2 solar panels. Basically it was mostly recycled refuse but what an eyesore and what a way to live.

We were warned that there is a sand bar on one side of the entrance to Brentford lock but our arrival at Brentford went without a hitch. The lock keeper let us into the lock but thoroughly checked our paper work before allowing us to pass through and was very keen for us to stop at the new moorings and check out the new facilities block which had only opened earlier in the year.

As we had last been here in March 2004 when the re-development had barely got started we were keen to have a look to see what was on offer. First thing was to try out the showers which after a bit cursing we mastered and enjoyed a rather hot and high pressure shower. Next to get the once over was the laundry. With 2 washing machines and 2 driers it is well provisioned. It cost us £8.40 for a wash and dry as each machine costs £4.20 per session. We have checked out the pump out system which costs £12.50 but have not needed to use it. All in all, BW can take pride in the whole set up. May they build many more.

We have found Brentford railway station and the shortest route to it. We plan to go into London to see the Xmas lights in the next day or so before we leave here on Tuesday to move up to Winkwell where we hope to base ourselves until January.

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