Over the river To The Piano Boat we go !

Today, we trekked out of London, albeit not very far. We headed out west on our all too familiar route, where the speed limit starts off at 30 mph and then 40mph, for what seems for ever. Everyone is very compliant, because there are speed cameras, about 12 of them all along the route.

Himself, hadn’t a clue as to where we were headed, it was the Grand Union Canal. The original canal was built in 1810 and had 18, manually operated locks. It now runs from London to Birmingham, for 137 miles and has a mere 166 locks! Some and perhaps many are from the original canal and judging by the state of some of the lock gates we saw today, have to have been.

We have been on the Grand Union Canal before, as part of it is very close to home. There is the Paddington Basin arm, which is about a 15 minutes walk from us. Depending on the route , part of it becomes the Regents Canal and the rest branches off into the Grand Union. Just after one of our Lockdowns #1 daughter rented a small electric canal boat for an interesting but short ride, part of which was on the Grand Union, which then became the Regents Canal ( presumably after the Prince Regent as in The Regents Park)

But why am I rambling on about canals. Simply because we went to a classical concert and brunch on a type of Dutch barge. Not any old Dutch barge but one that was especially constructed and is just beautiful. And on this barge is a hand made Steinway grand piano, which had to be lowered through the skylight!

It is run by the lovely Rihana, piano teacher and now cook ( and deck hand and hostess) and her partner Masayuki Toyama , who is a renowned concert pianist, with Rachmaninov being his specialty. The boat is also called Rachmaninov!

The boat is just beautiful, wooden floors, brass fittings, air conditioning and / or dehumidifiers. As Masa said, the piano requires certain conditions and as such he will arise in the middle of the night to check on his “Baby”.

We meandered along the canal, heading north with Masa and Rihanna, operating the locks, the boat, the drinks, the food and of course the concert! Who handled the boat whilst navigating the locks? Mr. Remote Control of course !

We moored, listened to our concert, and then a lovely brunch prepared and served by Rhiana. After lunch we, decamped and set sail once again, back down the canal, through the locks to their At Home Mooring.

What wonderful different experience it was. There were just 8 of us as guests on the boat but it is possible for private hire for up to 10 guests or for a really really different experience a cruise for just two of you, for 3-6 nights! Will have to think about that one !

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