Up With The Dogs. 16th September

Berkhamsted to Apsley Sainsburys Mooring

A boat that had pulled in behind us last night was still very much asleep this morning as we pushed off, no chance of sharing locks with them. The paths were busy, the occasional runner, but mostly dog walkers. One lady was a dog runner, although she only got to do the occasional bit of running as her dog had plenty of other ideas!


Brentford had been our original planned route, but to get up to Teddington we may only end up using the Tideway. When we re-joined the Grand Union at Gayton Brentford was 77 miles away, now 33.

On past the familiar landmarks of Berko, the totem pole, the lovely house with all the hanging baskets and an owner who last year asked if Oleanna was named after the David Mamet play.

Today the lock cottage looked particularly fine, the edges of the grass around the lock very trim. A lady popped out to say hello, she loves the boats going by and commented on Oleanna. I returned the complement as the cottage looked so fine, had it had a new coat of paint? The lady said that it had and that they’d only been moved in a month. I don’t remember it looking a state before, but now it looks totally loved and immaculate.

What an immaculate house

The landlord of The Rising Sun was one of the dog walkers returning home as we dropped down the lock. It was chilly out there this morning, one chap by a lock, walking his dog, in his pyjamas and dressing gown, hope they were fleecy lined!

Filling at the Rising Sun

I’ve noticed that my breakfast doesn’t kick in until we’ve been cruising for an hour. Working the first locks of the day I wonder how I’ll be by lock ten, twelve, sixteen! But this soon fades as breakfast filters through to my muscles and brain.

That’s a good one

Down the locks where you should leave a paddle up, the gods of the southern waterways bequeathing us a fat fender. The locks had already been used, the sides wet, no paddle left up, maybe someone new to these parts. Sewer Lock smelt ripe today and we wondered who paid who for the clean water to come into the canal below the lock.

Bourne End Lock seems to have had a change of identity, now Winkwell Top Lock, followed by Winkwell Middle Lock and Bottom Lock (which has retained it’s name). Winkwell Swing Bridge now has one of the small control posts with two illuminated buttons. A pause for the traffic to clear and I turned my key of power, four held up today.

What a pretty hull

New houses are being built behind the moorings, I wonder what the boat owners make of their new neighbours? Lots of activity at Hemelmarina, a new high up poly tunnel protected a Tjalk. Some work having been done on it’s hull and a new lick of paint, what pleasing shapes these boats have. It seems as if Tjalks are a speciality of the yard as there are quite a few on hard standing and below the lock, one for sale at £22,000 in need of a fitout.

Sharing again

At the lock we’d caught up with the boat ahead a single hander, he waited for us at Boxmoor Top Lock. He’d bought his boat in Wigan and had spent the last three or so weeks cruising 12 hours a day to reach Watford. He’s a builder and has been bored of commuting across London to site, so he’ll move his boat to be close, we’re not sure he’s aware of the continuous cruising rules.

Fishery Lock

We soon got into a rhythm and worked our way down the locks towards Aspley. At the top lock we’d filled the chamber, just opened the gates when a clicking noise was heard from the bottom end of the lock. A chap had started to lift the paddle. Lots of shouts from all three of us stopped him in his tracks. He’s only been a boater for three days and is heading to Wigrams to a mooring for a year before he sets off to explore the network.

Plenty of C&RT boats

The Sainsburys mooring was available so we waved goodbye to our builder partner and tied up at the far end. We were stopping before 3pm, it was time for lunch. A shopping trip to stock up on food for a Leckenby get together at the weekend and enough supplies to see us into London. Mick went off in search of spare bulbs for our nav lights. Oleanna being five years old it would be sods law for a bulb to go just before the flotilla.

Click image for more info

Yesterday an order for some magnetic nav lights had been placed. For some reason when Oleanna was built the white stern light was omitted. Heading out onto the Thames at night we really should have the correct navigation lights as part of the flotilla. Yes no-one will be able to miss us because of the 1000 plus fairy lights, but we still should show a white light. One day we’ll get one fitted by someone happy to drill into Oleanna’s hull.

Blue Moon

Preparations for the family meal were started today. The menu has been planned out to fit in with our cruising. This afternoon I made a big pan of bolognaise sauce, Which has just fitted into the packed fridge, tomorrow I’ll make some buckwheat pasta dough and a pudding.

16 locks, 5.13 miles, 5 locks shared, 1 C&RT nod, 1 paddle, 1 big fat fender, 0 shore leave, 1 full fridge, 1 big vat of bolognaise sauce, 1 boater heading for London, 1 boater heading away from London, 4th props list on it’s way.


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