Magna Carta Island to Laleham, 4.5 mile, 2 locks
A late start today, mainly because it's grey and overcast and the forecast is for rain, but it keeps not raining and I keep putting off leaving. To pass the time I bake one of Herr Aldi's Ciabatta's and have a bacon sandwich for breakfast. Eventually I decide I'm going to go and get everything ready, and it immediately starts to rain. This is the rain I've been expecting and it's my cue to go back below and abandon the day. By now it's lunchtime so I have a cornish pasty with a bit more Ciabatta and a cup of tea.
After lunch I notice that the rain has stopped and the sky looks like it might brighten up. The weather's been so variable recently that it's hard to tell what is going on, so I wonder whether I should take a chance and set off, but not doing so is driving me insane so I get togged up and go.
I'm just round the bend at Runnymede and through Bell Weir lock when the rain starts. Just after the lock is the M25 bridge, which I utilise as cover while I put my waterproofs on After that, you're inside the M25. When I used to go places by car, the M25 was always significant, because once I was within it, it meant I was practically home. It's not quite like that on a boat, though—the M25 being 2-3 days away from Battlebridge if you go up the Grand Union, or 2 days if you nip down the Slough Arm or up the Lee Navigation. Either way, as I'm on a boat, I'm not near home yet.
After the excitement of the M25 bridge, there's Staines. I'd been warned not to moor in Staines on Halloween, since the locals might get rowdy, but it all looks very modern and impersonal and it's not long before it's behind you. The rain is starting to get unpleasant now, but I press on to Penton Hook lock. Neither me nor the lock keeper wants me to be there, but it's a tiddler at 4ft (1.2m) and I'm soon through it. I'm pleased, because the rain is very heavy and there's really no point in going any further. There are supposedly moorings nearby at Laleham and I hope they're decent. I'm in luck and it's a proper concrete wharf with decent mooring posts. There's a little plastic cruiser tied up, but there's still plenty of room for me. I make my approach and tie Oothoon up with the centre rope, then try to get her hard against the wharf with the bow and stern lines. The problem is that I should really be facing upstream, but there's no way I'm going to attempt to turn her round in this weather and after a couple of goes I eventually get her tied up properly. I leave the engine running to charge the batteries, since it hasn't run much today and head below. Everything is dripping and I'm pleased I'd put my waterproofs on, however I'm still very cold. I get changed into dry clothing and stoke up the fire, and after bowl of soup with the last of the Ciabatta and a sit next to the stove I'm feeling better.
I notice that there's a drip-drip-drip from the ceiling and it's once again the ring where I attach the centre rope. I want to ignore it but it's too insistent, so in the end I venture out in the rain with silicone sealant and try to bodge it up. I half succeed, in the sense that afterwards it drips about half as much. I stuff some kitchen roll in the hole to absorb the water which dams the flood. I could really do without this at the moment.
I'm not really all that hungry, but in the end I make Scumbalina Fish Pie Deluxe for dinner. All I really want is something I can just shove in the oven and then eat, and while this requires me to mash potatoes and sauté courgettes, it is as close as I can get. By the time it's ready I'm actually in the mood for it and it's very warming and comforting.
Paul txt's to remind me that it's Saturday night and that means only one thing: off to The Roost in Animal Crossing to hear K.K. Slider play. Apparently the song Paul heard was called "K.K. Folk", so that's what I request. It's another one of those where the bootleg that K.K. gives me afterwards is better than the proper song. I've recorded it on the computer anyway, which means I'm building up a nice little collection of songs, but I'm told that there are over 50 in K.K.'s repertoire so I've got a while before I've heard the lot. I'm a bit astonished that it's Saturday already though. Where did the week go?
The rain stops just before I go to bed. I've done very little travelling but I feel completely exhausted. About the only good news is that I've checked the map and if I have a good day tomorrow, I'll be at Teddington and only a short distance from the Grand Union canal at Brentford. Frankly, it'll be a relief to be back on canals again.