Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Goodbye Little Venice

Friday 18th June


We went for a goodbye coffee at the Dutch barge, before leaving Little Venice. Big sister says she will really miss Barge Mum. Barge Mum and I decide to plan a meet-up of all the boat families we know. We untied our ropes and cruised past the Dutch barge to turn our boat in the direction of Camden. This is called ‘winding’ the boat. As we turned we could see the coot’s nest in the tyre fender of the Dutch barge. This is why Barge Mum and Dad don’t have to move on. They are outlaws – outside of the British Waterways law of continuous cruisers, which states that you must move at least every fourteen days.

Big sister helps me with the rubbish and recycling when we stop for water and pump-out at Little Venice. I climb out the window to rig up a torch on the roof of our boat, as The Doctor says the tunnel light isn’t working. We make do with stuff that is broken because a) we’re skint and b) we’re not very practical DIY people.

Big sister doesn’t like travelling on the boat because Daddy is steering, and cannot play with her. She’s watching the Jungle Book DVD indoors. Baby sister is on the back deck in her ‘Bumbo’ baby seat squealing and happy, chewing her teething ring.
In Camden we tied up next to the boat that we previously moored beside in Paddington. I called out to Mrs Jones, perhaps she has the missing part to the washing machine that she was going to find? A tattooed boater bloke comes out on to the towpath and explains,
“That couple were on the run!” They didn’t pay their rent. The boat owner (who is a nightclub owner) paid some heavies to get them off the boat.
“Threw all the plants off of the roof and into the cut. They were selling things that didn’t even belong to them!”

We’ve not moored in Camden for over three years, it’s so difficult to get a space as it’s popular, and double mooring is no longer allowed (because of those pesky trip boats). So we’re pretty happy to find a mooring space, until Tattooed Boater says that there was trouble on the mooring last night – some boats got smashed up. Bless those Camden teenagers. So we untie the ropes and keep on cruising.

I begin multi-tasking again: Baby crying, get her up from nap, kettle on, do dishes, help Doctor with lock, Big Sister asleep on sofa as the Jungle Book credits roll. Baby is on the roof in the ‘Bumbo’. Tourist takes photo of her. I’m pushing the balance beam of the lock gate, red sandals slipping on stone paving slabs. Doctor steers the boat into the lock. Camden teenagers smoking a bong by the lock gate offer to help wind the paddles up. But doing locks is the only exercise I can get. Locks are exciting to me, I muse as I push, but not to the boat wife of yesteryear, who may do seventy in a day!
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