Cobblers! 12th October

Froxfield Bottom Lock to Wire Lock 76

At least the
fungi are enjoying the weather

Another morning with no cuppa in bed, another morning putting on waterproofs, another morning feeling to see which pair of shoes are the driest, another damp soggy day. At least it wasn’t as windy as yesterday had been.

All the locks ahead of us were empty some requesting to be left so, others maybe leaked over night or were we following someone down? It didn’t matter we were at least back on schedule which necessitates a four hour cruise each day.

Cobblers!

At Cobbler’s Lock our third of the day a chap busied himself outside the cottage. He’d been chopping logs, inside a big screen TV showed a marathon somewhere. A paddle at the bottom end needed dropping before the chamber could be filled, the pound below looked to be a couple of feet down from it’s normal mark, the bywash ran into it. We’ve certainly seen worse levels in the past.

Mick had a look, the chap from the cottage had a look, he’d never seen it so low! No lift for me to the next lock, I’d be walking so that Mick didn’t have to bring Oleanna into the side and risk getting grounded.

Going down

In she went and the water drained out as usual. I opened a bottom gate, but Oleanna was going nowhere. She’d developed a jaunty list at the bottom of the lock, she was sat on something and wasn’t going anywhere fast. Only one thing for it to try to flush her off whatever it was. I lifted a paddle above hoping the surge of water would help push her free and give Mick chance to move her a touch to be able to get out the lock. This worked after a while and she moved over to the other side of the lock. Next thing was to get her over the bottom cill, more water was needed. A couple of minutes and she was free, into the next pound.

Sitting at the top gates as the lock fills

Mick kept her central and slowly made his way to Marsh Lock another that has to be left empty. The bottom gates were open as were their want. so A top paddle was cracked open to hold them closed as I walked back to the top to fill the lock. Mick brought Oleanna in to meet the top gates, hoping that here she would stay afloat as the lock filled. Off to a slight angle and she grounded, it took a bit to get her off all the time the level dropping to fill the lock.

No water going over the bywash here
How inconsiderate!

Once level I opened a gate, the bow came over the cill it was time to open the swing bridge that sits over the lock. This was also easier said than done. The big bolt was already undone but it wouldn’t shift. I crossed over and tried starting it from the other side, it moved thank goodness. Oleanna came into the lock now with a decent amount of water underneath her, we were free of the troublesome pound.

Mick leaving the lock, bridge back in place

Oleanna dropped down to the next level, a pair of walkers swung the bridge back for us now that Mick’s head was low enough in the chamber. Onwards to the next swing bridge that was also too stiff to move at first, but I got it going in the end.

There was a space on the 24hr visitor mooring. Here I’d identified as a good spot for gunnel painting. We were facing the right way with starboard side to the towpath, but the constant rain put paid to any intention of getting the paint out.

The couple from the boat in front made sure we knew where Tescos was as they emptied their ash into the hedgerow, good job it was raining! They’d also had difficulty the other day when they came down and had managed to get their rear button stuck between the top gates as the lock emptied! The chap was pleased that he’d secured a mooring below the lock that they could move onto on Monday. Good for him but that meant another 48hrs on the 24hr mooring, but it did mean they only had one more chance to sink their boat!

A stock up on fresh items in town and a pork pie for Mick’s lunch from the nice butchers. We were still soggy so decided to carry on to where we hoped to moor for the day before having lunch, it was still early.

We’d just missed going down Hungerford Lock with a hire boat so had to reset it and as we were opening the bottom gates another boat appeared behind us wanting to come down. The service mooring was occupied so we carried on without topping up the tank, we could do that tomorrow.

Sharing again

Towards Dun Mill Lock we could see we were being followed by the hire boat, their bow wave visible before them. The lady waved to attract our attention as I crossed over to open the other gate for them. Mick hopped off to hold Oleanna into the side making room for them, they still pulled into the lock landing to drop the lady off and then proceeded to crash into the lock approach.

Off they go

Yesterday they had been caught out by a lock towards the summit being locked ‘early’ at 3pm so they were in a rush now to get back to Aldermaston for Monday morning and they’d just found out that the canal in Newbury would close at 4pm today for an event. A shame the hire base didn’t seem to have mentioned to them about the locks up to the summit being locked at 3pm and there was no chance they’d make Newbury before 4pm.

We shared two locks with them and then parted company as there was space below Wire Lock for us. Here the railway line is on the off side meaning Tilly could have an explore.

New and old versions

During the afternoon I finished my new bridge and luckily found time to make a new chair. This has now been put inside a box to keep it way from the feline assistants jaws!

With the constant rain of the last couple of days we have started to think of contingency plans should the Thames go onto Red boards and us not be able to make it to Oxford in time for me to go to work in Chipping Norton. Trains from Reading, but then the Kennet may go into flood too. Mick asked on the local facebook group for local knowledge. The first few answers suggested all the things we already do, like keeping an eye on levels and getting C&RT notices. Then at last a couple of people gave us useful information and not just about getting through Woolhampton lock and swing bridge.

New and old versions

If the rain keeps coming Mick may be left further upstream than Reading. But for now we’ll carry on as planned, getting wet every day.

7 locks, 5.01 miles, 2 obstinate swing bridges, 1 lumpy lock, 2 ft down, 72 hrs, 24 hrs, 1 newspaper, 1 joint of pork for 10! 1 pork pie, 0 card, 1 new bridge, 1 new super poisonous chair, 2 soggy days in a row, 2 soggy boaters, 1 muddy cat.

Fruit Salad. 11th October

Woolfhall Bridge to above Froxfield Bottom Lock 70

Still needing to catch up, the alarm was set again this morning. Not sure what time the locks were unlocked, but we took C&RT at their word and waited until 9am. Well it did mean being able to upload a blog post and check through emails whilst we had signal, unlike this evening!

The far paddle does it’s best to sneak closed whilst nobody looks

All the Crofton Locks are left empty which meant each and everyone one of them needed the bottom paddles and gates closing before we could start to fill them. This all takes time. I walked down to get the second one filling whilst the top one did too, but all the others were just that bit too far to walk to set ahead on a muddy towpath.

I love the ties holding the gates into the wall

You are asked not to moor in the flight, but two cruisers have tagged themselves onto the end of lock landings. One was there when we came through a month ago, but neither of us remembered it being half sunk. I wonder if the C&RT notice went on it before or after it took on water?

Wessex Rose hotel boat and the sunk cruiser

Coming up in the last lock was Wessex Rose a hotel boat. Very smart it was and it’s thrusters proved to be useful as they let us past before carrying on up the flight.

The weather was foul, wet and very windy. I’d put on my padded waterproof trousers thinking it would be cold, but these made me just the wrong temperature whilst working down the locks. Later on I did feel the benefit though as the locks got further apart.

Plenty of water in the river next door

The engine pound was only six inches down today but no boats were taking advantage of it. This is where we should have been last night, so we still had some distance to go today.

A nice but noisy mooring now full of water

No train obliged for THE photo as Oleanna moved thorough the pound. Maybe be a touch of manipulation for our Christmas card would be required!

A nest nestled on a lock wall

The distance between locks now grew, the first few needing to be left empty still so necessitated being filled first. As we got close to Bedwyn we could see a paddle was up, then the figure of a less than enthusiastic person opened the gate and walked back to get their boat. I walked up to close the gate for them and shouted hello down to the helm. Concentration however meant it fell on deaf ears. The chap carried on as usual, once the center line was tied up he turned towards the gate and did a double take at me being there. We helped him up the lock and compared notes on available moorings before we carried on in our opposite directions.

By now we had bywashes, each of them only just coping with the amount of water flowing down them, it wouldn’t have taken much more water for them to back up.

At Burnt Mill Lock ( ?) sat on the curved structure where a swing bridge once sat was a floral tribute to a Grandad. Green wellies some roses and runner beans, he’d obviously been a keen gardener.

A DIY
Fruit Salad

As we filled the lock we spotted a banana and a pineapple, we could make our own fruit salad! Why people throw their unwanted fruit and veg in the canal baffles me, earlier I’d seen half a butternut squash!

Lock 67 and another boat was heading uphill, they kindly opened the gates so I could hop onto Oleanna, the drop down onto her only just manageable still as the lock emptied.

Dropping down

Rain came and went. Emails regarding safety deposit boxes in the vault of the Bank of England came to and fro from Plymouth. My shoes squelched, we were damp and ready to stop. With fingers crossed we dropped down Lock 69, a couple of boats in view but long lengths of Armco available.

The wind had been very strong most of the morning so we chose a spot with the least amount of tree cover, found our nappy pins and moored up for the day. Internet intermittent at best, phone signal none existent and TV reception very poor, but Tilly was happy.

I spent much of the rest of the day making a new supposedly simpler version of the transporter bridge. My first attempt failed, but by the end of the evening I’d made the two horizontals, that would do me.

Funghi

Mick found things to watch from the PVR and managed to find the 2 hour programme All Aboard showing two hours of cruising along the Kennet and Avon Canal. He thought it might be interesting now that we’ve been there. It certainly was. Starting at Bath Top Lock 13 it slowly moves it’s way towards Bradford on Avon. Sadly our internet coverage didn’t help and we gave up with it after half an hour. It must have been filmed on an electric boat as there was no engine noise, did Paul from Waterway Routes have anything to do with it? Amazing how many boats we recognized including the first one that came into shot on the Bath moorings, NB Chapmans Rusty!

Today we found out about those blue topped posts near Bradford.  They have been put in for contractors, volunteers and staff to be aware of habitats in between the arrows. This could be newly planted small trees or quite often glow worms. It helps workers to not strim right back and decimate them. This explains why some of them have photos of insects stapled to them.

15 locks, 5.28 miles, 1 soggy day, 0.5 butternut squash, 1 banana, 1 pineapple, 2 wellies, 0 train when you need one, 2 many trains when you don’t, 2 horizontals, 0 internet, 0 phone, 0 TV, 3 hours of great fun!

Catching Up. 10th October

All Cannings to Wolfhall Bridge 103

Yesterday we’d stopped short of our planned destination for the day, today we needed to catch up. So the alarm went off, we had breakfast and were ready to push off into the chilly morning. At least the sun was out and we might be able to see the views that the cloud had shrouded on our way west.

Sun’s out

There are so many boats moored along the Long Pound, progress was very slow but at least Alton Barnes White Horse was in view for much of our way. Then we skirted round the Wiltshire mounds to our north were ancient terracing is very evident.

Mounds

Under Lady’s Bridge and past the wide water where a chap was just coming out of his boat full of the joys of spring!

Terraced Pickle

Just before Pewsey Winding Hole a chap pointed at us from the bow of his boat and then three others waved.

The Rustys

The Rustys had winded this morning and managed to get their boat just about into the side to moor so that they could go for an exploration. our boats were finally pointing different directions and our paths wouldn’t cross again. Hope their trip back to Hilperton is good. There was a bit of banter about meeting up next year, maybe Bingley.

Boat cat keeping an eye on us

We considered stopping to dispose of our yellow water but by the time we realised that the service mooring was actually free it was a touch late, so we carried onwards. The chilled medication emporium wasn’t open anyway!

Birdies

Approaching Wooton Rivers Mick took it very slowly, we didn’t want to get shouted at again. The boat in question seemed to have moved since we’d come the other way a month ago, by a full boat length! Maybe he’d been all the way to Bath and back having returned to the same spot, or maybe not.

At the bottom of the locks we disposed of all our rubbish with the handy recycling bins and then started to make our way up to the summit pound.

A chance photo paid off

Work emails kept me busy when not winding my windlass. Difficulty finding the paint I was after, where’s the drawing for the ladder, would I like an extra painty pair of hands in Chippy. This was all panto stuff, then the emails regarding Houdini started flying back and forth between the writer and production manager. All the time I was aware we would be heading into a black hole of communication once over the top.

Wooton Rivers Lock

Even though I was busy trying to respond to everyone there was still time to buy some eggs at our 2000th lock on Oleanna. I picked out the larger ones from the bottom tray thinking that they would be fresher than those on the top. I’d make use of these in the quinoa quiche I was making for tonight, we were a couple of eggs short before and now we had several very large eggs in hand.

As we pulled out of Brimslade Lock an abc hire boat came from the lock above. We left our gate for them as they closed the gates ahead of us. We all said hello and then we watched them pull into the lock landing to drop off crew, followed by having difficulty getting into the already open lock.

Last lock uphill

Cadley Lock was our last up hill. Sadly the plums by the top gate were now well past their best, most rotting on the floor making it very slippy under foot. But I was surprised at the number of butterflies here. About four fluttered their way around me, one hitching a lift on our roof for a distance. I’d have thought it was way past butterfly time.

Rotting plums

The locks up to the summit and down the other side are still being locked overnight at 3pm. We’d been caught out by the very low pound heading westwards and just made it to the top in time. With two more miles across the top we knew we wouldn’t be down the first set of locks by 3pm, so we’d find somewhere to moor instead. At least we’d caught up some of the time we’d lost yesterday, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get back to where we should be.

Hitching a lift

Through Savernake Tunnel we started to look for a possibility, the railway now very close by but on the off side, so Tilly would be safe. A short distance fro where we’d moored last time we pulled in by another boat. The water deep enough at the stern to get close, but the bow sitting a long way out. Here would do us for the day.

Out of the tunnel into the eastern side

Tilly jumped to the bank with ease and headed off to make friends. I then spent the next three hours trying to catch up on the Houdini emails about Kabouki drops and video footage, finally chipping my ideas into the mix that had been going back and forth all morning. My drawings were scanned and shared. Food put in the oven and after eating I finally got chance to do some model making. Four hours later I had a new version of the proscenium finished, it was now well past bedtime.

4 locks, 2000th on Oleanna, 11.96 miles, 1 final farewell, 1 white horse, 1 must have galloped away, 70 ft in a month, 6 giant eggs, 10 litres paint, 1 ladder, 20 pairs castors, 1 or 2 kabouki drops, 10 scanned drawings, 18 toing and froing emails, 1 prosc, 12 midnight finish., 1 black hole ahead

Finding Signal. 9th October

Devizes Wharf to All Cannings Visitor Moorings

Our suicidal cat managed to survive the night, A model Edwardian chair can’t be as poisonous as a bentwood or Chippendale. I still need to make a new one though as what was left by Tilly is only slightly useful for lighting the stove!

Nice pie shop
Plastic free dry ingredients

Before our order arrived from Sainsburys we took advantage of a later start and had a cooked breakfast. Then I popped out to have a ‘girl look’ around Devizes for some card. Sadly Mick’s boy look yesterday had been correct and he hadn’t over looked any. I found the bakers that sold him some pies yesterday, both gluten filled and free which were tasty. Several nice looking independent bakeries and The Healthy Life Co another shop where you can shop plastic free to add to the list, think I might start a separate page of these for easy reference.

The drivers brother runs one of the pubs in Stoke Bruern

Back at the wharf the Rustys were filling with water and heading to Pewsey today, this was also our goal, hopefully by 3pm when I was to have a phone call with Vienna. At 10:15 a Sainsbury’s van backed up to the boat, a very handy mooring for such things. Once off loaded and the perishables stowed we wanted to fill with water, but the Rustys were still there.

Mick went to check if all was okay. The red light had come on on their toilet, they needed a pump out. The hire base had said there was a pump out card they could use on board, but there was none to be found, someone was coming out to them, so they were staying put for the time being.

Bye bye White Swan maybe see you again next year

Talking of toilets. Since Mick unblocked our yellow water pipe on our toilet I can only just count to 6 when giving it a rinse. Just before it was looked at I could get up to 36! I think this is now better than when we first got the boat.

Then all got quite confusing. The boat in front of us started to reverse to the winding hole where he winded. So Mick set off thinking we’d get water further on. But as he pushed out the winded boat started to reverse past us. This took a bit of doing, as reversing does, we were most probably in their way and them in our way. He reversed to the bridge and then pulled into the now vacant service mooring, where had the Rustys gone? This should have been the end of boat manoeuvres but the chap on the reversing boat had hopped off with a centre line but left his boat in gear making it impossible to pull it into the bank. Mick had to get on board and put it in neutral. All was well and we could continue on our way.

Drawings for Houdini

I decided to stay below taking advantage of few obstacles on the Long Pound and continued with my technical drawings.

The Rustys. Would this be our final farewell, no they passed us later in torrential rain

There seemed to be lots of boats moving today, bottle necks at bridges, wide beams to pass both moored and moving. At the winding hole by Devizes Marina the Rustys had turned and waited for us to pass before heading back into town. They’d been told once the red light showed they would have ten flushes left before the tank was full. Two each with a couple spare, at least nobody was having to cross their legs!

We pulled in at Horton Bridge to make use of the water point, the washing machine had been in use, so a top up was required. No sooner had I started back at work and there was a swing bridge, after which I only had a bit more work to do managing to avoid a sudden downpour outside.

Working hard to get through the reeds

I’d timed my work quite well as we were now starting to cruise through the moundy landscape of Wiltshire. Plenty of reeds lined the way, a hire boat looked like they were ploughing their way through as they approached.

The bridge that nearly got away!

Showers came and went, the occasional strong gust of wind causing slight problems at the second swing bridge. Here I swung it back into position and as I crossed to secure the big bolt the wind caught it pushing it round, I managed to run back to dry land before I had nowhere to go. I pushed it back and then dashed across to get it secured before the next gust caught it. Mick said he’d have rescued me if needs had been.

Time was ticking on, we wouldn’t reach Pewsey by 3pm. Would there be space at All Cannings or Honey Street but more importantly would there be phone signal? We decided to stop as soon as there was space.

Now where are my friends?

At All Cannings there was a gap just made for us and phone signal too, even inside the boat. Tilly set off to find more nutritious food and I set myself up in the cratch for my phone meeting. Juggling a laptop, sketch book, plans and a scale ruler took some doing all whilst Tilly appeared from the friendly cover with friends to munch in front of me.

Horse

90 minutes of discussion later and my work drawing plans up hadn’t been wasted. Some clarification was needed from the writer and director about a few things in the show as there was some confusion over a few scenes. More emails to be sent, dinner to cook, chicken pancakes, one day I’ll get chance to finish knitting my cardigan!

0 locks, 6.2 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 card, 4 boxes wine, 59 ft space, 2 crunchy critters, 2.5 hours behind schedule, 90 minutes phone call, 1 red light, 9 pancakes.

The Training Paid Off. 8th October

Caen Hill Bottom Lock 29 to Devizes Wharf

Morning!

Alarm set for too early and we were up having breakfast and just about ready to push off as the Lock Keeper came down on the quad bike to unlock. Steve from NB Chapman’s Rusty suggested they enter the bottom lock first as they didn’t have covers to roll back etc, so they led the way.

First lock of 22

Oleanna’s bow entered the bottom lock of the flight at 8:10am. With four of us on the bank and the locks ahead empty it was easy going. I loitered to make sure everyone remembered how to work the locks before heading on up to open the gates on the next one. This meant arriving as both paddles were busy filling the lock below so I needed to raise the bottom paddle a touch more to keep the levels equalised to be able to open the gates.

After a few locks we were starting to find a rhythm, not quite as efficient as it would be with more experienced crew. People walked up to the next lock to open it and wait whilst others took photos whilst the boats rose in the locks.

Moving from lock to lock side by side

Mick had suggested to Steve to leave and enter the locks together. The flight is a straight run, so this should be easier than going one at a time. Steve looked a little apprehensive at first but very quickly could see the advantages. This worked well although one lock has a narrow entrance so it was back to single file there.

Kai opening the gates above

The sun was out warming us all as the first volunteer appeared from above at about 8:30. He walked up the flight and would open the gates ahead for us whilst we worked our way steadily upwards.

The boys in blue

A while later another couple of chaps in blue walked down the flight, Mike one of the chaps who’d helped us down hill came to say hello and see if we’d enjoyed Bristol. Then a boat was spotted lower down the flight, we were mob handed so the boys in blue walked down to lend a hand where it would be needed more.

A pair of herons flew over, gulls balanced on the booms and flocks of Canada Geese came into land. We’ve not seen much of these noisy birds for a while. The number of locks was just starting to show as we got closer to the top. I still had quite a bit of energy so stepped in to wind a few more paddles and help with more gates,whilst keeping an eye out as when people get tired that is when mistakes happen.

Gaining height

Yesterdays 12 locks had paid off, we reached the top of the main flight in 2 hours 10 minutes. We all wanted a break so stopped for a cuppa and a slice of toast.

Fuel

Once refreshed it was time to push on up to the top and to the wharf. The last six locks are further apart but our rhythm continued. Tea and toast had pepped us up a touch and conversations picked up again.

Lynn
Janet

The Rusty crew all originate from Hong Kong, 50 odd years ago. Janet said she can’t bare to watch the news anymore, what is happening there is so frightening.

Steve and Mick

Jollier conversations followed turning to how we would spend Christmas. For us it will be just the three of us, but for them they may have as many as 20 for lunch.

22nd lock

The top six locks took us 1 hour 8 minutes. So a total of 3 hours 18 minutes, not bad going. Maybe with a more experienced crew we’d have done it a touch quicker, but being safe was more important than speed. The Rusty crew can now certainly go up hill!

Almost done

We settled down, had an early lunch, let Tilly out. Then as the rain started to fall around us we watched the next few boats come up the locks. We’d timed it very well this morning managing to keep dry.

With the drawing board out this afternoon I started to draw up A Regular Little Houdini. I’m still waiting to hear back about some questions regarding my design from Vienna, but time is also running low. So I just hope I don’t have to change much when I get to talk to the Production Manager out there tomorrow.

Waiting for a dry spell

Mick went out to hunt for some more card for me, but sadly came back empty handed. But he did come back with news that the 48 hour mooring on the other side, by the car park was free. Here we’d be able to get a delivery and Sainsbury’s had given us more vouchers the other day, triple points and an extra 2000. He quickly checked that there was a delivery slot for the morning, secured it with a few boxes of wine. Tilly was keeping cosy by the stove so Mick pushed us over to claim the space. Plenty more shopping was added to our order as I worked my way through my drawings.

The rain now came down in torrents. This along with being alongside a car park meant Tilly wasn’t going out. The consequence of which meant we then had a bored cat. A bored cat who proceeded to poison herself, by eating a model chair!

Someone’s bored!

Suicidal cats don’t get fed, it’s a waste of food apparently. Suicidal cats get stared at for very long periods of time, longer than a cat can stare. Suicidal cats don’t get Dreamies. This suicidal cats has taken away an hours worth of She’s life! Apparently she hasn’t got enough life for everything at the moment. Maybe I should give her one of lives.

22 locks, 1.57 miles, 1 push across, 6:40 alarm, 6 crew, 2 boats, 3hrs 18minutes, 1 slice toast, 1 cuppa break, 4 sheets drawings, o mount, 4 boxes on order, -1 chair, 1 cat with a death wish!

Two Tillys. 7th October

Seend Bottom Lock 17 to Caen Hill Bottom Lock 29

A slow start this morning, no alarm, a cuppa in bed and a slow breakfast. We were just starting to get ourselves together when we heard a boat above the lock, someone was about to empty it for us. Mick headed outside to start rolling back the covers and met a lady walking towards the lock with a windlass, there was a boat coming that we could join to go up the locks. Great timing all round.

Getting soggy

We got ourselves ready and joined NB Chapman’s Rusty a hire boat in the lock. There was a crew of four and it was their first narrowboat holiday. Yesterday they had been through two locks today they would be doing a lot more.

As we started at the first lock the rain started. We’d hoped we’d missed the worst of it whilst having breakfast and maybe we had. Showers came and went meaning it was worth keeping waterproofs on all the way up the locks.

Mine!

When asking our lock companions where they were from we’d expected somewhere like Shenzhen or Beijing not Bristol and Weston Supermare! Lynn and Janet are sisters and their other halves Steve and Kai were enthusiastic locking partners. It being their first time on a boat was obvious at times, but we have all been there. The chaps stayed on board and the ladies worked the locks. After a few locks I felt I could walk ahead to set the next lock and leave them to close up after the boats.

After five locks we had two swing bridges and then both boats pulled in to fill with water. Steve and Kai had been looking down the side of their boat puzzled as the shower gulper pumped out the water, I left them to work it out.

Waiting

We chatted to the chaps, would they like to share the next seven locks with us, the bottom locks below Caen Hill. The decision was left to the ladies and they chose to accompany us. So we left them filling with water and headed to the locks.

Here they come

The bottom chamber was empty but we loitered on the lock landing until their blue boat came into view, enough time to finish drinking our cuppas.

Janet, Kai, Mick, Steve and Lynn

Kai joined the crew on the ground, so there were four of us working the locks, leaving Steve and Mick to bring the boats into the locks. The ladies by now had got the hang of windlasses and when to lift paddles, Kai had a little bit of catching up to do, but after the rest of the locks he’d got the hang of it.

On to the last lock of the day

The third lock looked like it was full, it was with the top gates wide open. I walked ahead to set it, noticing the next lock was the same, we were following someone leaving the gates. Soon I could see a chap on a bike stopping and closing gates, he was either a kind soul or had just come up the locks and was closing up behind him.

Crew were sent ahead and instructed that if nobody was coming down to empty the lock and open the gates. There was a little confusion over this but we got there in the end. After the seven locks we were at the bottom of the main flight at Caen Hill. The locks are now on winter hours and locked up at 1pm. So even if we wanted to carry on up we couldn’t.

Tomorrows task, plus a few more

Both boats moored up and arranged to set off early in the morning to climb the locks together, taking advantage of them all being left empty overnight.

Arriving later than we’d thought we let the cat out and sat down to a late lunch of the last of the pasties I’d brought home. I can recommend the cheese and leek ones.

Our Tilly doing her best to be invisible by the back doors

At around four thirty we had a couple of visitors arrive, Duncan and Tilly. Tilly was very excited to be coming to see our boat and to meet Tilly, who of course was out finding friends. There was a full guided tour, well as full as a four five year old would be interested in. I was told she didn’t like our bedroom because it was too dark, I soon sorted that by opening the curtains.

But I’M Tilly

Dreamies time. But hang on! How can this be Tilly?! I am Tilly. This was all a bit confusing I had to have a couple of drinks to help it compute. That didn’t help. I decided that being in the outside might help. She made me wait though so that I could be in a photo with everyone, apparently I wasn’t being very helpful!

Tilly and Tilly. One hoping to make a friend, one hoping to eat a friend!

Duncan and I tried our best to get photos of the two Tillys together, the best one I got was with a window between them both. I decided that it was maybe best to stay outside and avoid any more photo calls, returning home well past dark time. She and Tom didn’t seem too pleased with me.

The two greats

12 locks, 3.25 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 held up, 4 novices on a boat, 1 full water tank, 1 damp day, 0 work done, 3 teas, 1 apple juice, 1 handful of raisins, 2 Tillys, 2 greats, 8pm!

Green For Go. 6th October

Bradford on Avon to Seend Bottom Lock 17

Not a bad view to wake up to

A cuppa in bed with yesterdays paper with a pretty good view out of the window, bliss.

Once up, breakfasted and enough layers on I popped down to have a look at the Tithe Barn. Both it’s doors were wide open inviting the light and myself inside.

What wonderful shapes

The amount of timber in there and the number of joints! Very impressive. The roof beams have been analysed and the timber dates from 1334 to 1379. In the 1950’s major work was carried out to preserve the building by the Ministry of Works, now English Heritage.

More Tithe Barn

Time to get moving, I’ve a panto to get to.

Green for GO!

As I’d just pushed the bow out a chap walked by with a windlass, a hire boat heading back to Foxhangers, we could team up with them to do the lock. A day boat was just coming down so our two boats came into the prepared lock. A gongoozler was concerned that someone’s shoes were getting wet in the bow of the hire boat, I indicated to Mick that they should nudge back as they were right up against the cil. The paddles were raised and we were on our way up.

Bradford Lock

More boats waited to come down and one chap asked, ‘Is there a reason this paddle hasn’t been lifted all the way?’ This was said in either an I don’t understand manor or that I was a woman so therefore didn’t know what I was doing! I pointed out that there was no more paddle to lift to which he just said ‘Oh!’

Reserving your space on the visitor moorings, we were tempted to pull in

Mick had stocked up yesterday, but one or two things were still needed. This was luckily remembered before we left the lock, so I hopped off and walked up to Sainsburys picked up what was wanted and returned to the canal at the next bridge where Mick had pulled in just behind NB Sanity at Last, who we’d shared locks with on the other side of the summit over a month ago.

Fill her up please

Onwards to Hilperton where we pulled in to top up the diesel tank, we only needed about 30 litres but at 72p it wasn’t to be missed. A couple more bags of coal and we were on our way again.

Traditional pasties, mine smaller at the back!

I’d brought home some pasties so 30 minutes on gas mark 4 and they were nicely heated through for a lunch break at the bottom of Semington Locks. As you can see Mick’s pasty was far bigger than mine!

Semington Bottom Lock

As I walked between the bottom and top lock there was a chap trying with all his might to prise his boat off the bottom. Blimey it was on a list, the only thing to do was add more water to the pound, a boat was about to come down so hopefully that would help. With the lock emptying the chap used his gang plank to try to shift his boat. In the end he managed to back it off with large clouds of black smoke coming from his engine. As he moved off you could see that his boat had quite a list to it anyway, he pulled in on the offside before the lock, breasting up to another boat, presumably fully afloat.

Swing

From here I walked on ahead to open the next three swing bridges, the weather was lovely, a great day to be back boating again, even if my legs were starting to complain.

Good name, they even have a red cows face on their licence

The visitor moorings below Seend Locks were empty so we pulled in, hoping someone might come down before the morning to empty the bottom lock. Tilly headed off into the undergrowth and we put a roast chicken in the oven. What a lovely Sunday.

Such a colourful boat with red eye lashes

3 locks, 7.15 miles, 4 swing bridges, 2 traditional pasties, 500grams prunes, 1 box oat cakes, 27 litres, 40kg excel, 1 roast chicken with all the works, 1 pooped Pip.