Work in progress! .............. coming to a laptop near you shortly.
For a lone ranger, without the company of another boat, The Hanwell Flight is a bit of a climb. Arriving at Three Bridges from below is a hard day's work and a good excuse to tie up and admire the genius of a very famous Victorian Engineer, who contrived to pass a railway line UNDER a canal which had a road passing OVER it. Wikipedia says Three Bridges (a transport intersection designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel) is an "ancient monument".
Located where the north-south aligned Windmill Lane passes over east-west aligned Grand Union Canal, the canal goes over a railway line aligned NE-SW. There are in fact only TWO bridges at "Three Bridges" (road-over-canal and canal-over-rail) but the road the canal the railway and the bridges are stacked, one above another, with the road on top of the canal which is on top of the railway which is in a deep cutting below the canal.
It was a nice day, sunny and light, ideal for a spot of house-keeping and even sleep over. The morrow morning, up early, we met Lengthsman Chris heading towards Northwood Top. Enquiring whether we were going up, he kindly offered to set the lock! I have great time for the canal people "on the ground": people like Chris who are the salt of the earth. We took his offer and this being the last lock for quite some time, We could get milk for a late breakfast at Morrisons in Yiewsley where Pentargon Springer has it's very own mooring device [picture].
After the Yewesley breakfast we moved on and around the corner discovered a whole hew housing development incorporated into a 'new' Tesco of maybe it's vice-versa. Astounded to find RINGS, we tied up and decided to advance a little "inside carpentry". With a a day or two in hand before our date with Sarah (who was,we now had established, at "Highline" down the Slough Arm and not "Highline" on the Paddo as we'd expected.
Sometimes our past comes back to haunt us. In the nicest and most expected way. Bringing with it a bottle of wine! They call it "Serendipity". You'll recall yesterday we moored for the night at GlaxoSmithKline by the A40 and before bed had set the first lock (Clitheroe) for the morrow. On Sunday then, it was away at 'first light', shortening days mean dawn is about 7am. The passage from Brentford to Bull's Bridge is only about three miles but contains the infamous Hanwell Flight. Ten locks in all and requiring much prior knowledge and pre-planning if you don't want to take all day. The Hanwell Flight itself runs behind Ealing Hospital and is, I believe, a listed momument and former lunatic asylum.
Clitheroe is the first lock out of Brentford and from there to Osterley the canal runs very close to the M4. There is a weir and the whole area is covered with trees which cause leaf-mugging and slowly fill the cut with vegetation which becomes silt and impedes progress. C&RT have lost the plot in canal maintenance and in few places does this show as clearly as the vicinity of Hanwell.
Between the two locks, we came upon a small flotilla of tupperware sporting Dutch Flags which we'd last seen in Limehouse lock on Saturday. Smiles and waves were traded and it occurred to me to wonder what exactly they were up to. Arriving at Hanwell bottom, setting the lock took a few minutes when out of the gloom appeared the flottila. Realising they could all go up together and get on with their day, I waved them through. Not only that but helped them work their way up the first part of the flight and showed them how to plan forward. More smiles and chat. They were Walloons and quite chuffed to find an Irishman on a narrowboat they had last seen in East London in Limehouse Lock.
Out of the blue appeared a bottle of wine, which was accepted with good grace for Pentargon's meagre wine cellar. They had trailed their boats over by ferry from Belgium to Willowtree Paddo, slipped them and did a London Ring before the closures at Vicky Park. All that remained was for them to complete the loop back to their cars, hitch up and head home. So I suppose they were pleased to be 'let through' and shown how to work Hanwell!
For me nothing changed by being nice. The flight had been against me anyway. But there was one more pleasant surprise. Coming opposite was a dark fat-boat of Pedro Fernandez. Pedro is an old farceburk friend, but apart from meeting him very briefly on the Lee Navigation, I'd not 'met' him in the real sense. Pleasantries were swapped and we proceeded, he with a big smile knowing it was likely that every lock to Brentford would be set for him. Pentargon got just one lock, the next and so I slogged away slowly, to "Three Bridges"
Arriving short of midday and having done a day's 'lock-miles' it made sense in the warm sunshine to moor up. There was plenty house-keeping to do and Three Bridges is quiet and pleasant.
An ongoing project inside the main cabin is somewhat disruptive, to make massive amounts of storage space in what will later become the spare bed. The area designated as The Mess came originally as more than a mess, having been lashed together with all sorts of mis-matching timber and marine ply sheets, completely unsuited to the needs of a constantly moving boat where it needs to alternate between office, dining area, map table, electronics work bench, rest area and a usable double bed.
I've worked with ship's carpenters and found them highly skilled,meticulous, inventive and lateral thinkers who can always produce a tasty solution to any challenge. I'm happy to advise that I have never seen a ship's carpenter's work on a canal boat, apart from Pentargon. Most of the mucking I've seen on canal boats is copying someone else's bodging and I was determined not to perpetuate that nonsense. Some time ago I had a large number of wooden drawer/trays made (By a ship's carpenter!) and these were to mount in aluminium rails to provide sliding storage trays. and the complete units would act as a base for seating or sleeping. This work has been ongoing whenever it has been possible to moor up and advance the work. Today at the top of Hanwell was to be such a day.
23/12/2016 Work in Progress