What Did We Do?! 14th September

Stoke Hammond Lock 23 to below Lock 37

Soulbury Three

Plenty of boats moored on our way to the Soulbury 3 Locks, one right by the lock landing that had come past us late last night, would they be awake and ready to share the locks? There was no sign of movement.

There was a boat just entering the middle lock of the three and the bottom lock was all but empty, so I lifted the paddles and waited for it level out. Well that was the idea, except the chap above lifted the paddles filling the pound in between so that it almost over topped , the bywash ran and water bubbled up through the ground paddles in our lock, it took an age for it to level out. What a waste of water! If it had been us coming down we’d have waited for the lock below to start filling before lifting our paddles so that our lock full could fill their lock and not just bypass it going round the bywash! It certainly didn’t make his descent any the quicker.

Leighton Buzzard Lock

When we’d pushed off this morning we could see our breath but by now the sun was starting to peek it’s head out between the clouds. At Leighton Buzzard Lock the sky was turning blue, no sign of anyone wanting to move. The Wyvern Hire base had three boats in, the rest of their massive fleet being kept busy, most of them north of here.

Shopping to the hatch

We pulled in at the shopping mooring alongside Tescos and Mick headed off to see if our click and collect order could be collected early. He returned with the crates on the trolley which were emptied straight in through the hatch. We allowed ourselves a morning cuppa sitting down inside but were soon on our way again, plenty more locks to work through today.

The new surface on the towpath seems to have caused consternation amongst local boaters but from what we could see there was still a good green edge to put your spikes into which plenty of boats had succeeded in doing. A Diamond Resort boat had just passed us, we hoped they’d be carrying on, a locking partner, but no they’d pulled in.


We passed Joules Fuels who were breasted up, a little awkward both boats being on the move for us to top up with diesel. A couple of bags of coal would have been good too. I’m sure they’d have obliged but we’d only just got started again.

Before we got it wrong

As we approached Grove Lock there was a boat descending. Mick held back. The chap opened the off side bottom gate and started to bow haul his boat out. He stopped and started gesturing to us. What was he trying to say/ask? Was he asking if we were using the lock? Surely that was fairly obvious as we’d come past the winding hole. He gestured some more, What? No idea. We tried signalling that we were waiting for him to leave the lock to be able to use it. More gestures. Mick moved Oleanna over towards the towpath as that is what it looked like he wanted us to do even though we were quite some distance away.

He stepped back on his boat and started to move it forward, thankfully leaving us an open gate. As he passed us we got a rather snotty look and then as he went on his way he was shaking his head. What did we do? Or what hadn’t we done? We had no idea. Maybe he wanted us to open the other gate, meaning extra work to close his. We are still baffled.


The flower baskets were as good as ever at the pub, the first Fullers sign, we’re in the south now! The locks from here on come at mile or half mile intervals, not long enough to put the kettle on. We had to be following someone as most locks were full.

Church, Slapton, Horton. The Whipsnade Lion.

We met two pairs of boats coming down in the same pound.

The two Invinghoe Locks.

The three Seabrook Locks. Followed by the swing bridge.


By now we were feeling a touch pooped. Should we tick the next two locks off the list for tomorrow? We waved at the Margees house as we always do, even though Alison and Laura sold it before we even met them.

The decision was made that if the next lock was full we’d moor up for the day. If empty we’d take advantage of it. Thankfully it was full, draining itself, but full. There were a couple of boats moored below the locks, a bit of a git gap going on between them, but enough space for us at the end. As we pulled up Mick made a comment to the chap behind, ‘Looks like you’ve a new neighbour’. The chap just grunted. When Mick asked if he had a dog, ‘No pets on this boat!’ We let Tilly out.

About ten minutes later the chap behind us pushed of, pulling in on the other side of the boat ahead of him. Had we done something wrong again? Had Tilly been for a walk through his boat? Another boat arrived, winded and then pulled up in front of Mr Grumpy, they’d had a rendez vous and it looked like we’d taken the space he’d been saving for his mate.

One very late lunch was had, even Tilly was hungry although we didn’t appreciate her bringing a friend in with her for lunch!

Today we got the official confirmation that the appointment we’ve been aiming for will be going ahead. About a month ago Heather Bleasdale got in touch, she was going to be taking part in the River Thames Reflections Flotilla. Around a 150 boats would be taking part, all illuminated with white lights, the first night time flotilla on the Thames and it was to be part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations. To take part you had to have registered an interest back in May, we’d obviously missed that date when we first heard about it all. But they were short of a few boats, Heather dropped us a line to see if we were interested. Our original plan would have us at Brentford on the day, a slight alteration of route and timings and we’d be able to join the flotilla.

We applied including a photo of Oleanna, it took a few days before we got our Congratulations email from Thames Alive, we’d been accepted. Now all we needed was loads and loads of white lights. First we aimed to borrow extra lights which Ken and Sue kindly helped us out with. Then we ordered more as some of their lights were faulty. Then three locks broke ahead of us. Then the Queen passed away, it was always a possibility. Would the flotilla go ahead?

Thames Alive hoped that with some small alterations to the event that Buckingham Palace would give the go ahead. Today permission was given. Instead of being for the Jubilee, ‘the flotilla will express the river communities’ sadness at the passing of Her Majesty the Queen’. So we have to keep up the hours to reach London for the 24th September.

13 locks, 11.38 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 click and collect, 1 sitting down tea break, 15:45 lunch break, 3 waterside cats, 2 grumpy men, 1 mouse, Act 1 re-read, 1 Royal appointment to keep.


3 thoughts on “What Did We Do?! 14th September

  1. Mike. Nb Duxllandyn

    Your experience with the uncommunicative liveaboard is not uncommon in that area. We spent last summer on the southern Grand Union and fell foul of several ‘mate’s moves’ where someone was (sometimes quite aggressively) defending a space for a friend. Not at all pleasant. Marsworth seems to have become the new gateway to boating habits previous only seen within the M25.

  2. adrian2013

    Some boaters eh!
    And there’s your answer Ade!
    Thats what all the lights were for….
    I kinda knew that when you’d been given the lights by Ken & Sue that was where I should of gone back to look for a clue. I hadn’t got round to it but no need now I know.
    Hope the 24th deadline works out ok.

    1. Pip Post author

      I think Tilly also mentioned a Royal appointment. Getting there is one thing, putting the lights up is another!

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