Sunday, 17 August 2008

Day Fifteen - Walking the Plank


1 mile, 1 lock (twice)

160+ miles by train and car

River Thames, Kennet and Avon Canal (And the Reading-Paddington main railway line, Circle Line, Bus Route 29, Chauffeured Limousine, Bracknell-Reading railway line, Shank's Pony)

In which the Duck and its crew travel to London, confuse Tube staff, collect their last belongings from London and return to Reading, where the saloon was filled with family and friends, before returning to the Kennet and Avon and unblocking the drains.

The plan for today was to return to London and collect 6+ holdalls worth of belongings- clothes, shoes, books, duvets, and all the other detritus that had been left in London; Amy's lease on the flat runs out on August 25th, and having accepted my mum's kind offer of transport, we took her up wholeheartedly- moving house by train, as we have found out, isn't the most pleasant experience!

Amy and I bought train tickets and headed off to London, with a bagbushka in tow- a Russian-doll style series of bags within bags within bags, ready to be filled in Harringay. We had cheap day returns, to "London Terminals"- note the plural there! We were under the impression that the ticket included transfer by tube between two terminals, and we planned to go from Paddington to Euston to catch a bus. The tickets let us through the barriers at Paddington without any problems, which seemed to confirm this idea. However, exiting at Euston square, the ticket inspector on the barrier was totally unconvinced.

"You can't come through here, this ticket isn't valid"

"Doesn't it include travel between London Terminals?"

"No, only to Paddington"

"But it let us through the barrier there!"

"Well, I can't let you out- you're going to have to pay the excess fare to my colleague over there"

"But I've no money on me- no change, and nothing on my debit card" [due to a bank cock-up...]

[Now it gets REALLY interesting...]

"Well, sir, you'll have to give him your name and address"

"But I don't have an address until September."

"Are you of no fixed abode, then?"

"Yes and no- I have an abode, but it isn't fixed- I live on a boat, and don't have an address yet."

"What...?! Well, give us your boat's name, that's your address"

"It's really not..."

Exasperated sigh*
"Speak to my colleague!"

The colleague gave a similarly exasperated sigh and let us through the barrier without taking any details.

This was the second time that our living on a boat confused people (the first was a doctor's secretary) and, doubtlessly, there will be many more!

Once in Harringay, we set to packing with a will, and soon my Mum and Sam (my 3 years younger brother) arrived with a large car, which we soon filled with our stuff, and we piled onto the back seat surrounded by woks, gaiters, shoes, and flat-pack Ikea shelves. Back in Bracknell, Amy and I got out at the station to head back to Reading and move the boat from the moorings by the gaol to a better, more accessible position by a watersports club on the Thames, so Mum wouldn't have to brave Reading's dreaded one-way system.

We took the boat back onto the Thames with no problems, but unfortunately as we were coming in to land we ran aground, and in getting off to move to a deeper spot we picked up something in the cooling intake; the engine temperature started rising as we slid off the mud, although we managed to move back and get the stern to within a metre of the bank without too many problems, which allowed our gangplank to bridge the gap.

Soon, all the belongings were transfered from the nearby car to the space under the bed, as well as onto the well deck in great piles. It was quite worrying, seeing the amount of stuff, as we wondered whether it would all fit into the boat! Luckily it did.

In addition to giving my grandmother a tour of the boat, some family friends- the Ridgeons- were just passing by chance, walking their dog, and so they too came on board. We all had a round of tea in the saloon before they all headed off, and Amy and I headed back to the Kennet and Avon moorings to overnight.

Once again, we picked up something else in the intake, but this time we could only crawl upstream against the flow; there was nowhere to land and turn off the engine until we got back to Blake's Lock. Luckily, by only idling the engine and hugging the bank out of the stream, we made it back without the temperature climbing too high- although, when switched off, we could hear the coolant bubbling and boiling in the heat exchanger! This blockage was soon cleared and we returned to moorings slightly further down.

The kitchen sink had been blocked, and this time we moored facing the other way so I could get at the outlet with a piece of wire. This seemed to do the trick, and let us tackle the mountain of washing up that had accumulated, before we had a nice dinner of sausages and mash.

Finally, we unpacked some of the bags and boxes, and set up the computer on the desk. To get a good signal for the internet dongle, we've had to tape it in the window opposite the bathroom and gaffer tape several joined-on USB leads across the ceiling to reach- it looks a bit untidy, but it does the job, and speeds up the internet no end compared to having the dongle inside this big steel tube!


  1. Sounds like your cooling water intake problem is getting a bit tedious. Did the previous owner have the same trouble? Would putting a mesh over the intake help by enabling you to clear bags etc. more easily?

  2. Indeed it is. Grr. But there's little we can do until it's next drydocked. The problem comes because we had some slots cut in the baffle plate on our surveyor's advice.

  3. Well technically the guy at the tube was right. London terminals only includes the terminus stations (Kings X, Euston, Paddington, Victoria etc) and not Euston Square. But you got off scotfree because you had no fixed abode. Might have to try that sometime :p: