Sunday 24th March
Black Horse, Greenford to Brentford
We knew that we couldn’t get to Brentford in time to catch the tide to Teddington – this took the pressure off us and we were able to have a more leisurely day. Just as well, the Black Horse moorings had more overnight factory noise than we remembered from previous visits. But Ty slept through the night and felt relaxed enough to have yet another wee in the morning – this is progress!
We made coffee, layered up then set off along the canal. The day was grey and bitterly cold, with flurries of fine snow which stung the skin but didn’t melt, so we stayed dry – a considerable improvement on yesterday’s conditions!
Richard took the first shift on the helm, then I took over while he researched canalside battery shops. With great reluctance, we’ve had to admit that our domestic battery bank is on its way out. The batteries are not dead yet, but they have become so erratic that there’s no option but to get new ones. Richard had hoped that we might get a Halfords fitter to install some new batteries for us. Frustratingly, by the time we googled Halfords, we’d just passed one. Mind you, we had forgotten that it was Sunday and it was only 9.30am – they wouldn’t have been open! There was another Halfords at Bulls Bridge but they only do MOT’s and didn’t have anyone who could fit batteries to a boat. While Richard was finding that out, I wandered across to Tesco to top up our supplies – but they didn’t open ’til 11am!
We spent a bit of time at the Bulls Bridge moorings just drinking tea and eating bacon sandwiches while Richard did some more research on batteries. There are very few people who are willing to come to fit batteries onto a narrowboat, but the RAC does! But the only proviso that they could only do it if the batteries were part of their catalogue inventory – sadly the sort we need were not – curses, another cunning plan foiled! Now I should explain that Richard is technically capable of fitting the batteries himself, but the connections are tucked away in the engine bay where only someone of 5′ 9″ or less can comfortably reach; Richard is 6′ 4″ and a bit!
We didn’t get anywhere with our battery research and it was time to move to meet up with fellow boating bloggers Simon from nb Tortoise and Carrie from nb Blackbird. They had offered, with great enthusiasm, to help us down the 10 locks to Brentford. We were delighted to see them – as well as being mega-efficient locking crew, they are also great company. Of course, Carrie is in thrall to our hounds, who exploited her mercilessly for ear rubs and tummy fusses. Ty went for a walk with Carrie and spent so much time leaning on her legs I though she might be left with a permanent kink – he’ll weigh a substantial proportion of her bodyweight! 🙂
With Simon and Carrie’s expert help, we flew down the flight. Unusually, didn’t pick up any debris in our prop – the water was surprisingly clear of trash – this is a vast improvement. Many of the lock gates were also new – those that weren’t leaked like mad, which may explain why some of the pounds (stretches of water between locks) were so low. I was amazed that the pounds were low – it seemed inconceivable when every other waterway seems to be in flood!
The canal wasn’t entirely clean – Simon did pull something from the water – from a distance is looked disturbingly like a boneless body! However it was a spiderman “model” – child sized! We weren’t sure what to do with it – it was a bit too big and sodden for us to carry to the rubbish point at Brentford but you wouldn’t want it round your prop – the sight of it would give you a heart attack! In the end we put it out of reach of the canal, though no doubt it will end up back in the water at some point.
We soon arrived in Brentford and were relieved to see a few unoccupied visitor moorings which was a relief as we had read somewhere that the moorings were very busy. We moored up and settled down for a late lunch and some serious chatter. This went on for some time – it was so lovely to catch up with them that I said goodbye with great regret. However Ollie was most disgruntled when they left – Carrie had found the magic fussing spots on his ears and chest but she’d only been rubbing them for an hour or so – that’s not half enough 🙂
Richard left with Simon and Carrie – he needed to get the train back to Limehouse to pick up the car. This took a lengthy few hours, giving me time to take Ty and Ollie for a walk, pack up the boat and make supper in time for Richard’s return. Ty did not enjoy his walk – everything was just too scary – from the “schlup schlup” of the joggers’ shoes, the beeping of car horns on the M4 and even the raucous alarm calls of the coots – he did not have a wee, though Ollie more than made up for it.
We eventually got away from the boat at 8pm and had a great drive home. Ty absolutely rejoiced when he arrived home – he ran round the garden, rolled around on his beds, paraded around the house with his tail up and grinned – you’ve never seen a happier hound! It was a relief to see him so ecstatic – this is the big difference since we first rescued him – although he’s traumatised by many things, it doesn’t last once he gets back to his safe place.
So we’re booked to lock onto the Thames on Wednesday – the plan is to transit first to Teddington then do a dash up to the River Wey. There’s only one, no two, complications – the Thames is closed to navigation because of heavy water flows and so is the River Wey. If they don’t come down by Wednesday/Thursday then we won’t be able to join the Basingstoke convoy. Keep you fingers crossed for a 3-day drought – the ground is so saturated now that any rainfall in the Thames’ vast catchment area will go straight to the river 😦
Update: As of Good Friday, the Wey came down to normal on Monday but the lower Thames stayed on red boards until Thursday evening – too late for us to make the transit to the Wey and catch the convoy along the Basingstoke. So the latest plan is to have a little mooch along the Grand Union before we come back for a potentially VERY exciting convoy in June…
Battery Update: Having been exercised a bit the batteries are less feeble but charge still seems to disappear at an alarming rate. They are of an age that they are going but what to get? Our excellent independent garage in Croydon (A&A Autoelectrical) can source a Lion battery for a fantastically cheap price, only has a 1 year guarantee but has the terminals the right way round (positive on the left). The choices so far vary in terms of Amp Hour rating and guarantee but actually don’t differ too much in terms of price per Ah if you exclude the rather nice looking AGM and gel batteries:
Lion 11o AH: was £92 but currently on discount so may be cheaper. 1 year guarantee
Numax CXV35MF 120Ah £105, 3 year guarantee (500 cycles)
Enduroline EXV135 Calcium Battery Marine and Leisure 135Ah: £140, 4 year guarantee. Not sure who actually makes it, can’t find a spec for number of cycles
Well perhaps I should mention a gel battery. eg this Elecsol 135ah battery for a mere £214 with a 7 yes SEVEN!!! year guarantee, though I have read some complaints about trying to get Elecsol to honour guarantees which were offputting. That said there seems to be a bit of small print in every company’s guarantee. The only company I have read about so far that comes out well on guarantees is Halfords but their 100Ah battery costs £130 and only has a 2 year guarantee.
Ah stop press this battery has just had a price drop: Exide ER550 115Ah: Now £90
I gather that Midland Chandlers are having a freaky Friday discount day next Friday but sadly they don’t seem to stock Numax anymore and their other batteries don’t compare so well on price.