The Line. 22nd June

The Grove Bridge 164 to Black Jack’s Lock 85

Could we stay another day please?

A chilly start but there was some sun about every now and again.

Just not quite far enough

With not quite being fully into the bank it was hard for me to give the bow a big enough push off to get past the widebeam in front without leaving my legs behind! A blast of bow thruster assisted and we were soon on our way.

At the Cassiobury Park Locks we met a boat coming up them. The chap was on quite a mission aiming for Lichfield as quickly as he could. His estimates were Braunston in two or three days then another couple up to Lichfield! Not sure if he’ll be getting any sleep, slowing for moored boats or closing locks after himself to achieve those times especially as he was single handing! Good luck to him and I hope his family problems get sorted.

Well trodden paths

We took our time going down, leaving the bottom lock empty, well it half empties all by itself anyway. At Iron Bridge Lock we swapped over with an Aqua narrowboat who were pleased to see another moving boat, down here there appear to be few of us. Here the wooded sections of Cassiobury Park show signs of hefty use. By the little weir there is little if any friendly cover left the paths having been widened by many feet over the last year.

Then as we made our way past the lines of boats below the locks we could see numerous seating areas in the woods, all circled around burnt out camp fires. A nice spot to have been locked down in maybe, well until someone decides to do a touch of engine maintenance, leaving it in the middle of the towpath for everyone to wonder how long it will stay there without a vessel to call home! Lack of respect for nature.


Approaching Cassio Bridge Lock we got to see our first tube train on the bridge high above. We’re still quite a long way out but dropping down this lock does feel like we are crossing a line in towards London.

Maybe these were meant for the monkey later in the day

For some reason bananas sat on the lock beam, were they there for anyone to take? Or just sat out hoping for sunshine to ripen them from their green state?

We pulled onto the diesel point at Bridgewater Basin as we’d spied a full cage of gas bottles. Would they be full or empty though? Oleanna carries three 13kg bottles. We’d replaced one in Goole, another we knew was full but the third one had leaked somewhat after our boat safety, so we had no idea how much remained in that bottle. Since being back on board we’d used a full one and the dubious one ran out a couple of days ago. We’ve been hearing of LPG shortages around the system, it’s thought that staycations, people caravanning etc has meant there is a shortage of bottles to refill. Luckily for us the chap here said he had plenty and at £38.50 they seemed reasonable, as up ahead they were quoting over £40. Diesel here was 84p, shame it wasn’t the price painted onto the board originally 48p! We’ll hold out for Uxbridge though.

Common Moor Lock had just brought a wide beam up, the chap apologised to us for there being two widebeams breasted up towards the lock. There was plenty of width here, but as they were the last boats before the lock landing it made pulling in very awkward indeed. The outer boat brand new, the spray foam insulation visible through the windows, well you’ve got to have a nosy especially when someone is in the way!

Two narrowboats were rising slowly in the lock, two young couples taking their boats up to Tring for the week. One of their dogs really wasn’t enjoying the experience so they were hoping someone would take it off their hands so they could have a peaceful week.


Now we got chance to look and see what damage had been done below the last lock where we passed numerous moored boats, which pushed our line of travel over towards numerous branches sticking out into the canal. Mick got Oleanna just a touch too close to them and sadly this now means we have a scratched line all the way down the port side. ‘Well it’s about time someone gave her a good polish!’ I said to Mick. He knew what I was meaning, but I also know who will end up trying to do something about it!

Above Lot Mead Lock several chaps were fishing another crossed the lock gates just before we arrived. He brought out his phone and started to film us , doing close ups of the paddle gear, then long shots of Oleanna entering the lock all the time he was talking, not sure if this was as a running commentary to a friend on the other end of the phone or just to accompany the filming. He didn’t say anything to us, maybe because his first language wasn’t English, but he helped close the offside gate getting a thumbs up from Mick.

Filming on his phone

Living on a narrowboat you get used to having your photo taken, you are asked questions, you are a tourist attraction whether you like it or not and if you choose to be polite you help promote the waterways. But sometimes, just sometimes someone crosses over the line. This was one of those occasions.

More gongoozlers

Mick went to close the paddles on the offside, I was trying to take a photo of the cuddly toys all gongoozling through a window at the lock cottage. Then I heard Mick with raised voice shouting at the chap, who was stepping onto Oleanna! ‘You don’t walk on anyone’s boat!’ He stepped off and carried on filming, we’re not sure if he understood he’d pissed us off, but he had. Our boat is our home, I’m sure he wouldn’t like us turning up and walking into his hallway! This was the first time I’ve ever not said thank you to someone who helped me with a gate, even if I didn’t want their help.

Sorry house

Onwards to Batchworth Lock, the house here had been for sale a while ago and we wondered if any improvements had been made to it. Sadly it doesn’t seem so, dead hanging baskets curtains pinned across the windows, it all felt really quite sad. It’s not the most attractive house and left to decay it is even less so.

More troublesome swans

We worked our way down through the lock, then managed to persuade the local swans not to stay in the lock so I could close the gates. No need to stop at Tescos today so we carried on to Stokers Lock.

Stokers Lock

As we cruised the next pound we waited to see if he was still there, the monkey who’s been clinging on for years to a ruin of a building.

That really must hurt

He was, his arm must ache so much after all this time! But at the other end of the building there was someone new. Hanging high above the cut was a bear in a superman costume, sat in a canoe, fishing for hearts. How do people get these things in such places, these bears and monkeys are way up high?


We made our way down to near to Black Jack’s Lock where there was plenty of space for us. We pulled in and let Tilly off to explore, not seeing her for quite a few hours, I think she found quite a bit to be busy with!

Fishing for hearts

The afternoon turned quite frustrating as I tried to place an order for overalls. Sadly despite Amazon saying the smallest size would be delivered in 2 to 3 days they were lying! The delivery date was going to be at least a week after I needed them. I spent too much time hunting round the internet for somewhere else, but in the end I’ve opted to do more sewing and bought the next size up.

One for Irene!

10 locks, 7.35 miles, 1st tube, 9 bananas, 50ft scratch, 1 trespasser, 3 awkward widebeams, 1 monkey, 1 superhero bear, 3 clueless crew, 4.5 hours of feline busyness, 1 tempting trolley.

One thought on “The Line. 22nd June

  1. Adam

    I never know what a good price for gas is, because we only buy one every year or so — but when we paid £32.45 at Gayton Marina last weekend, I thought that was ok. Seems I was right. They were saying the shortage is if you need to buy a bottle without one to exchange — although I don’t really understand the logic of that.

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