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cribBlog is meant to complement the handwritten account of Cribbit's travels which we keep on board and rather euphemistically call 'the ship's log'. This will have a briefer narrative but will include more photographs than make their way into the paper log.

 cribBlog 2011

  Autumn trip to Limehouse Basin 2011

Terry joined me at Willowtree and we moved down to Limehouse where Jim joined us. The return journey took us along the Limehouse cut to Bow, the Lea Navigation to Ford's Lock and then Duckett's cut back to the mainline, past the Olympic park.

Dropped Terry at King's Cross Station, with Jim staying for a further night before abandoning ship at Perivale.

  Saturday 12 November

Early to Willowtree to move the boat off her mooring, through the bridge, to the bistro moorings. This was to give us sufficient time to move down to Greenford in daylight after lunch.


On the Bistro moorings

Margaret and Terry were joining me for lunch so set to, to get that ready. I had already decided that we should have a 'proper' lunch for which a suitable pheasant had been bought from Clay's of Thame.

Pot roasted the pheasant using Mackeson instead of red wine but otherwise following my Cooking on Cribbit pheasant recipe.

Then off for our first night by the Black Horse at Greenford.


Terry takes the helm to Greenford

Next day we head East, crossing the North Circular Road.


Diesel fumes rising from the North Circular

Met up with Zoe, Peter, Oscar and Eve on the towpath by the zoo and moored for the night by the Constitution pub, above St Pancras Cruising Club. This is practically on Camden High Street but turned out to be a quiet mooring until the early morning commuters rattled their bikes over the wobbly and noisy concrete covers to the towpath fibre optics ducts.


Settled in for the evening near Camden

The plan for the next day was to meet up with Jim at Limehouse Basin, but first.....


Through the Islington Tunnel


Past Zoe's old house by Victoria Park

Sj is a big 'puzzle event' fan and has recently taken part in The World Henchmen Organization game in Seattle, aka 'The Game'. The competition involves driving all around Seattle finding clues and solving [difficult] puzzles [with style and panache]. Her team had a small bus and their team logo was affixed to its door.


The team


Team logo on the door

Not far past Zoe's flat is a wall covered with graffiti. Look the World Henchmen Organisation has been here too.


Wall graffiti


Detail WHO hacked!

Met Jim just as it was getting dark and soon put him to work lighting the fire.


Jim lights the fire

The evening spent in the Prospect of Whitby and the Captain Kidd. Both Terry and Jim being habituees of the Prospect in the late 50s and early 60s, Terry going there on Sundays with Margaret and Jim whenever he could after his ship had been berthed in London Dock just behind it. The Captain Kidd being the goal for one of my short long walks.

An early start the next day to enable us to visit the Olympic site via the Limehouse Cut, returning to Victoria Park and the Grand Union Main line via Duckett's cut.


Athletics Stadium


Jim and Terry on Duckett's


Cribbit gets a Movember moustache

Soon we are back on the main line heading north but still with hazards to negotiate. This filming crew had just picked up the girl in black, sitting in the bow, who appeared to be wearing spray on leather trousers. Crew probably justifyably distracted.


Hazard on the cut


Terry's last lock before he heads for home


Camden top lock

Jim and I managed to get a mooring on the Camden visitor moorings which was very unusual as they are nearly always full. An advantage is that the towpath gate is locked at night so you must remember your key. We had a beer in the Lock Tavern before going for a Caribbean meal at Cotton's in Camden. And very good it was too.

Next day we took a little detour at Paddington Basin to see the classroom barge that Jim built. This time I got a photo of it.


Classroom barge

 Cribbit Log for October 2009

Journey from Willowtree Marina to Brentford and back.


Moored for provisions


Jim at the helm


Cowley lock


Cowley lock




Jim writes up the first day's log

We carried on to Denham Deep Lock where we stocked up on gas and diesel before moving up the lock for the night. In the morning we winded and headed back down the cut.


Denham Deep Lock


Jim ready to get back on board


Mike and Jason join me


Help from the diesel barge's boy


tw arrives on the growler



The growler thrown on the roof


The three of them settle in


They settle in some more!


Down to Brentford for beer and billiards





Olivia and George




Finally we make it to the Brentford Tandoori


The Growler in the morning light


On the Hanwell flight


Jason goes solo


Jason goes solo


Moored at Southall before M and J leave for the train


Such excitement, magnet fishing


Out come the boathooks




The Paddington arm of the Grand Union canal, Yeading to Greenford

Now this might seem a strange length of canal for an e-eulogy but it so happens that I travel it regularly from my home moorings at Willowtree Marina  to the Black Horse pub  at Greenford. The reason for this is that I meet up with friends at a 'mutually inconvenient' location, The Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street which is just about a 45 minute rattle along the Central Line from Greenford Station.

My plan is to try and take a few photographs each time I do the trip and will put them up here. I have also started what I am rather grandly calling Wildlife 2010 which is really a collection of photographs of coots nests. So far it has one other, rather spectacular entry, the BIG CAT! which just goes to show what you can do with a bit of imagination and a blurry photograph.

I'm also intending to include some bits of the land journey from the Black Horse to The Cheshire Cheese . Both canal and rail follow or cross the A40 which was my regular route into London when I was working, so there are several landmarks which were familiar from my journey to work, which now seen from the other side so to speak.

There are lots of links to the Paddington arm, most concentrate on its 'more interesting reaches', further to the East. This one describes walking its full 12.5 mile length.

I will try and keep the sequence of pics geographically correct though they may be taken on the outward or inward passage which I hope won't be too confusing.

March 20 2010

The journey starts at Willowtree Marina,


Cribbit on her home mooring

She is moored in the 'inner basin' which means that the first operation is to raise the bascule bridge move through it and then close it again afterwards.


More of the inner basin


The bascule bridge and marina office


Tied up to lower the bridge


Entrance to the marina


Engineer's Wharf


The soon to be demolished factory


Crane constructing yet more flats


Backwards view showing the factory


Open view towards the A40


Southall gasometer seen above the houses

The Southall gasometer is one of my landmarks which I like to use it to orientate myself.


Multi-use of the towpath


Multi-use of the towpath




BW barge Limehouse gathering garbage

The cut is particularly messy at the moment with a winterful of miscellaneous rubbish. Had to stop at almost exactly this same spot on the way back as the prop was well fouled with plastic bags. Remains of black, white, blue, orange, as well as printed ones, almost a full set.


Its good that they are getting it cleared


Bridge carrying the A40 over the canal

Tried to get the Oxford Tube in as well but they are gone in a flash. The Oxford Tube, or more likely the X90 were my regular conveyances in my days as a 'dashing commuter' to London from Oxford but that I only did it for the weekends.


Highline Yatching's moorings


A long length, doubled up


and still they go on


I'm always pleased when I reach the end

NB Balzac is the last boat and his bust graces the towpath, he is also my sign to speed up again at last.


Here he is in all his glory


Actually managed to get onto the visitors moorings, well almost!


All appears green here but it is deceptive

That is the journey to Geenford and my intention is to make up a similar set of photos each time I do it. I'm missing several this time as the memory card slipped in the camera.

I'm also going to do a similar one of wildlife. I have pics of 4 coot's nests which I will hope to follow as the spring develops AND for once only I suspect, I have one blurry pic of a BIG CAT!

April 8

Headed for London as the weather forcast for home was dire but slightly better there. I was expecting a big change since my last trip but was somewhat disappointed. It was a lot warmer operating the boat though and I returned from Greenford wearing just a tee shirt.


The blackthorn fully out


The footbridge


Must be warmer! Traffic on the cut


Moored for the night in BIG CAT country


Footbridge before the A40


The Central Line and Highline moorings

April 28 2010

A quick trip down this time, mostly to have a beer at the Cheese on wednesday as usual, as heading up to Sheffield for baby sitting duties on thursday.


Out onto the cut


The flat development sign, all but hidden by leaves


Big cat country, dull day so no gasometer


Managed to get a pic of the Oxford tube at last

Probably I'll still keep trying, at least until I get one where you can see a little commuter's face pressed against the glass gazing longingly at the cut like I used to do.


Could it be that spring is here?


The Central Line and Highline moorings


Central line heading, like us, to Greenford Station


Approach to the Black Horse, Greenford, visitors moorings, Wembley arch just visible


Greenford Park


Visitors moorings AND a place for me to moor

This week we are taking the camera into London with us, a different perspective.


The Black Horse from the other side


The Hovis factory, one of the smells of the cut


Greenford Park from the other side


Auriol Drive

Now I always have a problem with the name of this road, and the next one, Ockham Drive. Just where do these two names come from? They don't actually mean anything, and this might be the point, but they ALMOST do. Each time I see them they occupy a few minutes of my tiny mind exploring where they might take me.

Auriol Drive: Is it that my hearing isn't very good perhaps? Or is this, 'not a 'very good areal for aeriels' as Ann was once told in Bristol when her TV didn't work. {Bristol was originally called Bristow, but its inhabitants even then, put 'ls' on the end of words and so it became Bristol.

Perhaps they mean that they keep herds of extinct cattle, or paint their likeness on the sides of their buildings. [aurochs].

Or is there a great fake biscuit factory there making counterfeit Orio cookies? To those of you who don't know, Oreo cookies are round biscuits made by mixing chocolate floor sweepings with sawdust and then drilling a hole in one of them before sticking them together with a mixture of cement and sugar.

And then there is always the Baltimore Orioles but that baseball isn't very popular in the UK.

Of course it could be the other sort of Baltimore Oriole but they are not a common bird on the cut.

Just what they have against seriffed fonts I don't know but that sign looks like it might be in Arial font.

Perhaps an aerial view of the site would be more enlightening than the canalside view?

At one time, I used to hanker after an Ariel motor bike.


Ockham Drive

Ha! You thought I had forgotten about Ockham! Not so! I think that Occam holds the solution to all my musings, though the spelling is a little variable. Occam's Razor was first posited by Occam and states that the simplest solution is usually the correct one. This is a much used principle in physics and makes me think I am just trying too hard and it could be that those names were devised especially so that they didn't mean anything.


Chip shop opposite Greenford Station


Southall gasometer from Greenford Station platform


The other side of the Hoover Building from the tube at Perivale station

The Central line and the A40 follow much the same route up to Marble Arch, so familiar sights from the bus on the A40 are seen 'from the other side' from the tube.


Exiting from Chancery Lane Station


Heading for the Cheese

Some Autumnal pics


Leaving Willowtree, remember the blackthorn blossom of springtime?


Autumn on the cut


Moored in Greenford


The sign for the Railway pub!

February 11

They are making progress knocking down the factory. For a short while, the new flats will have a glimpse of the canal. So much for the marketing hype!


Down it goes



A brief view of the new flats

February 18

One week later. I used to use this view to gauge the onset of spring by how much of the factory I could see through the verdant greenery. Soon it won't have anything to hide.

Look back to the pics from last year for comparison.




I'm not the only one obsessed with this! Little Old Men sit on this wall and watch the destruction all day, every day


But not for much longer

February 25

Another week and there isn't a lot left



Someone will soon be very disappointed

I've seen him so much, we are becoming old friends.




March 23

Nothing to look at and no-one to look at it.



March 2011

Central Line bridge

The Black Horse has quite a few photographs on its walls of scenes around old Greenford, including this one of a bridge across the canal. Now I am pretty certain that this where the Central Line crosses the canal, about 1km west of the Black Horse and at the end of the Highline Yatching moorings and NB Balzac. In those days, it was one track working, and when you go under the bridge you can see that one section of it is older than the other, though both have the modern superstructure. So, what do you think? northoltold.jpg

The old photograph


March 23 2011

August 17

Now I am rather pleased to be able to report that I have had an e-mail about the railway bridges. This is much more complete than my usual rantings so I have pasted it in full below.


Just enjoyed your pages along the canal at Greenford. Happy memories of the smell of coffee from Lyons everytime it rained. The picture of the bridge in 1920 of the old GWR line, just a comment. The 2nd bridge was built just before WW2 as part of the extension of the Central Line from Acton to Denham. The 1920's picture bridge was built about 1902 as part of the Great Western Railway and Great Central Railway Joint project. From the GWR's point, the line was to provide a shorter route to the Midlands and beyond than their existing route through Oxford. The line was, until the 1990's always double track and could take Kings & Castles, and in later years the Blue Pullman services.

Best Regards

Chris Smith

Below is a pic of the bridge taken from the other side. They have been re-painting the bridge all year so this is the first chance I have had to get a photo of it without the scaffolding and covers.

In doing the job, they left a lot of rubble in the cut, on the tow path side. This is a bit of a hazard to navigation, especially in the dark as I have found out,the hard way.


The bridge from the other side

Wildlife 2010

I'm collecting together some wildlife pics in the hope that we can see them develop along with the spring

There are also some blurry pics of a BIG CAT!


Nest 1 March 20


Nest 1 April 8


Home nest April 8

The male had just proudly brought the piece of soggy polythene bag that the female is busy incorporating into the nest.


Nest 2 March 20


Nest 2 April 8


Nest 2 April 8


Nest 3 March 20


Nest 3 April 8


Nest 4 March 20


Nest 4 April 8


Nest 4 April 28

I normally do the coot nest pics on my way back to Willowtree, they are all on the off [non towpath] side of the canal so the keep right rule makes the boat closer to them on the return journey. The danger of this is that the camera battery might not be fully charged, flat even. Thats why we only have one pic of nests this trip. Not quite sure what is going on with the nests though, nest 3 had 5 nice yellow fluffy coot chicks in it, but no sign in any of the others. Nest 2, by Balzac appears to have been completely destroyed


The first duck chicks on the cut

Of course watching the coot nests is a very Swallows and Amazon, Arthur Ransome sort of thing to do. By looking at these pics you are enrolled as an honourary member of the Coot Club. I got to know coots quite well when I lived at Poplar Dock and they had the admiration of all, as they were the only birds which were able to breed there. One pair made their nest in the stern fender tyres on cribbit one year, but I stopped their antics the next year with some plywood as it meant I couldn't take cribbs out for the duration, which was long. That pair, laid an egg on the stern deck as a peace offering. I think they are a bit random.

Poplar Dock was difficult for them because the water is so deep and because there is a shortage of nest building materials. The Poplar coots were marvels of the DIY world, constructing their nests out of McDonald's cartons, kevlar tape, insulation sheets, plastic bags, in fact anything that they could find. All day, the male used to bring bits of detritus to his mate, she scorned some and incorporated other bits.

One thing you do notice about them when you live at their level is how loud and penetrating their calls are. Especially at 0530 on a sunday morning. That's when they get called the 'bloody coots!'

They also have lovely furry feet, they are veritable hobbits, and to be treasured all the more because of it.


On the Cherwell in 2004

Yet another example of my expert punting, almost as random as the coots, still we did get to see the nest up close.

Some autumn birds



When we are down at Brentford, we often see the ring-necked parakeets that have taken over the eyot there. Now I am seeing them around Willowtree and this one investigating a hole in an oak tree near Greenford.


Ring-necked parakeet


I'm still not sure what this is, at first I though it was a fox, London foxes are very dark, almost black, there was a dead one floating in the cut near to where I moored and I was able to get a good look at its colouring. It is an adaptation to city life I believe.

Then I decided that it was too big to be a fox and when I saw its tail this was confirmation enough so I decided that it was a dog though it didn't move like a one.

I walked this length at night once before and noticed the smell...definately CAT. Anyway, see what you think. I have informed the British Big Cats Society .




The same pic including background for scale


My first photograph of it

By the time I got the camera out it had moved so it was difficult to distinguish and then it moved along at about the same pace as the boat so I never got closer to it. I did get one glimpse of its head which appeared to be squarish.

BIG CAT update April 8

I decided to spend my second night moored near to where I saw the cat. No sign of anything similar, though I did find two fox holes.

As the weather was good, people were out walking with their divers dogs, none a facsimile of what I saw although a black greyhound did look similar but with longer legs.


Bloke on a bike at about the same spot


View from the bow


The bramble patch


Fox hole in the nettles


Second entrance


See the eyes shining in the dark?

No nor can I!

BIG CAT update June 24

I'm beginning to have a little sympathy for people who get fuzzy pictures, that could show anything, of the aliens they claim have abducted them.

All the more so as we seem to be accumulating a mighty collection of fuzzy duck photographs, although it is fairly obvious that they are of ducks and not anal probe wielding aliens. When it comes to the BIG CAT though fuzziness can't be tolerated so I broke down and bought a new long focal length camera in its honour and in the interests of picture clarity.

On my next trip down to London for boat maintenance and Cheshire Cheesing, I arrived armed with my new camera resolved to try to get my head round its rampant features.

In the evening of 24 June, after a busy day on boat electrics, I decided to head back towards Willowtree and I had the camera ready but did not expect to use it. Just before the A40 bridge I saw this small domestic cat on the tow path and decided that it would make a good comparison shot to the one I had of the BIG CAT before. Switched on the camera and when I judged it to be at about the same range as the previous shot took a pic at high zoom. As I got nearer to it, it got bigger and bigger and I'm beginning to think that this is rather large for a domestic cat, with a very square head. By the time I had decided that it was unusual it had its head in the bushes and the moment for another photograph was gone!

There was a bloke riding a bike on the towpath and as it passed the cat it spluttered in a most un-domestic way and shot off deep into the bushes.

I gauge that its back was just about level with the hub of his front wheel. Just past the footbridge on the other side of the A40, I did see a domestic black cat and it was minute compared with this one with a triangular head, quite different.


Its hard to helm with one hand and photograph with the other!

BIG CAT update October 2010

Well I have passed its haunts many times but no more sightings though we did see this one when Sj was with us in June!

Narrow boat 'Tiger Princess' passed us at the bottom of the Hanwell flight and later we saw them moored up at Bull's Bridge Tesco.


Narrow Boat Tiger Princess!!!!

When the princess saw tw and I looking at the tiger, she called out 'oi tiymed hym moiself' which tw not being deaf and from Birmingham worked out easily, it took a little longer for the penny to drop with his father.

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