Time To Head Upstream. 7th August

Hampton Court Palace to Laleham

With the hope of changing our morning habits the alarm clock was set last night, not much earlier than we normally wake, but this would signal getting up. Instead of our cuppa in bed reading we got up and had that cuppa with breakfast, cutting the morning routine down by at least an hour. We’re on the Thames now and if we want a chance of mooring where we’d like then we need to get up and get going.

The first of todays locks

As we rolled back the covers the boat in front of us NB Freedom also prepared to push off, we’d be sharing the next lock. We waved to Henry VIII and thanked him for a good couple of days at the bottom of his garden and then we were off heading upstream.

There’s another one

Molesey Lock dropped its water and a boat came out, in we went soon followed by NB Freedom. A look over our shoulder as we settled with ropes around bollards and another narrowboat could be seen coming under the bridge behind, the Lockie waited. Chatting to Freedom I realised we’ve come across them a couple of times earlier in the year, once near Leeds and a few weeks ago in London, we suspect our bows will cross again as they are on the Thames for a similar amount of time to us.

Eventually the other boat arrived, a single hander in a bit of a tizzy. He pulled in then flung his stern rope up failing to get it round a bollard, this is a common fault with narrowboaters, more practice required. But then as he tried again he seemed to misplace a foot or slip, we all took a deep breath as he managed to cling on for dear life and pulled himself back onto the gunnel. So so nearly!

There was no rush, just as well really. The Volunteer Lockie came and held his stern rope, he tried to get his bow into the side but all that happened was the stern came out and at one point I thought he’d end up breasting up to us. When eventually the bow did as he wanted he gingerly walked the gunnel to the bow. Here he had stored his rope wrapped around the front T stud at least 10 times just in case it tried to get away!

Fat and fast water hoses on the Thames

Calm then followed as we all rose in the lock. The others headed off whilst we loitered to fill with water, deal with yellow water and dispose of our rubbish. We’d caught the single hander up by the time we reached Sunbury Locks, at least this time he’d not bothered to re-wrap his ropes. This was to be the last lock shared with him as he’d be heading off onto the Wey, hopefully he’ll listen to the Lockie and be okay with the smaller locks.

Bye bye Mr Man

NB Freedom had stopped for the day at Shepperton Junction claiming quite a good spot, we carried on to the lock to get a few more miles under our bow before stopping for the day. We worked up Shepperton and Chertsey Locks in turn, passing the ‘Slum Boats’. These boats have been moved on several times as the local residents complain. One was featured in a BBC investigation a couple of years ago as it was renting rooms out with Airbnb.

The slum boats with large extra water tanks on the backs

Our original plan had been to get to Staines and do some shopping then find a cat friendly mooring, but that was still a touch too far on. We passed where we’d moored on Lillian and then spotted a place at Laleham. We nudged back as far as we could to a little cruiser leaving space for a big boat or two shorter narrowboats.

Chertsey Lock

A quick cat health and safety check of the area and it was deemed suitable. The doors were opened for Tilly and we sat down for lunch. mission accomplished, but will we be able to keep up the earlier starts for a month?

Just by our stern doors was a scrabbly tree surrounded by brambles. A lot of the fruit was plump and black, ready for the picking, so Tilly and I started to fill a tupperware avoiding the lower ones (that might have extra flavour!). Mick came and helped too with a boat hook so that I could reach the juicier fat ones that laid a layer of thorns down. Enough for a crumble which we enjoyed after a curry made with our left over chicken and the remainder of the beans.


Now, just what to do with that courgette?!

Now we are talking. Mooring, 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and a swimming pool. How much?

4 locks, 9.83 miles, 1 straight on, 0 tea in bed for us, 1 slip, 1 near soaking, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 water tank filled in minutes (I love Thames hoses), 1st crumble of the year, 1st shore leave in ages, I suppose it was alright!


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