the voyage of friendship
part 7: I make it to London
Good morning friends and family.
I won't keep you in suspense any more - yes of course I made it to London and I'm sitting writing to you from my cosy boat, moored in Primrose Hill near Regents Park. Nevertheless, a heartfelt thank you to Chantal who offered to come and get me from a cold dark bridge in Watford!
Last Monday morning and a series of mobile phone calls heralded the arrival of Mamie and Lyndsay Girvan, my practical, straightforward farming friends from the north of Scotland; if anyone could cope with this cold weather it was them. My spirits lifted as I saw them striding down the towpath with smiles on their faces.
The canal was icy and made steering difficult, but the Voyage of Friendship "Duck to Water" prize for the person who picked up narrow boat driving most quickly must go to Lyndsay.
As we got nearer to London, the scenery became less and less rural. We were passing by gas works, several aggregate sites, lots of factories and deserted former factories of firms such as Guinness, Heinz, Lyons and Hoover. However, our guide book suggested that this is the most exciting way to enter the capital, "even the most sceptical, country-loving canal explorer's adrenaline will be pumping by the time they reach Ladbroke Grove". And I have to say that
coming through Maida Vale and Bayswater, through Little Venice and into the Paddington basin was really exhilarating, if only because I was amazed to actually be here.
We found a pretty mooring in Little Venice, took team photographs and patted each other on the back. I said goodbye to Mamie and Lyndsay and called Ewan to let him know that I was at last in London.
Next day I pottered about on my bike, stocked up with food and tidied the boat. At lunchtime a group of teenage boys were gathered outside smoking and I heard someone say "who wants a bike?" I went outside to protect my trusty means of transport and we got chatting. They wanted to know about the boat, if I lived on it, how much it cost, if I had to pay to moor up and for electricity. They said they thought it was a sick way of life (teenage speak for good or great). I let them look in the windows but didn't I invite them on board as I could hear Ewan’s warning ringing in my ears telling me to do no such thing!
On Friday my daughter Jenny visited with my grandchildren Edith and Thomas, along with Ian Tattum, her uncle. It was years since I'd seen Ian and it was lovely to see an old friend again. Together we cruised up through Regents Park, past the zoo and moored up at Primrose Hill. We spent a lovely day at the zoo, before going back to Waterloo to put Jenny and two sleepy children on the train home.
I can hardly believe that I made it, but now I'm looking forward to exploring the London canals.