Monkeys and Parakeets. 20th September

Bridge 182 to Ballot Box Bridge, Paddington Branch

Yesterday evening we’d had quite a few people stop to chat as we set up the lights on Oleanna. One lady had been concerned that Denham Deep Lock (the next one) may be closed as the bottom gates were open a little bit and in front of the top gates there was a mass of weed, surely we’d not be able to get through! Neither of us were concerned at what she said and when we got to the lock this morning it was nothing compared to the amount of pennywort we’d come across at Wide Water Lock and the bottom gates were just open because that was they way they rested when the lock was empty.

Filling Denham Deep

Denham Deep is very deep, but thankfully with fairly new gates it doesn’t leek so it filled in no time compared to the shallower locks we’d recently come through.


Below the lock the floating dry dock was giving a piggyback to another boat.

Onwards to Uxbridge. Here two boats were breasted up on the lock landing and the last people to have gone through the lock had left both bottom gates open with the paddles up! We are now in the land of not giving a monkeys and the number of parakeets way out numbers blackbirds, robins and kingfishers. Thankfully we weren’t a widebeam, as some of the broader boats would have had difficulty getting into the lock and there was space on the off side for me to hop off to set the lock.

Only 29 litres today

We’d arrived shortly after Denham Yacht Station had opened for the day. A top up of diesel was required and Mick had dug out our 5litre can which also got filled. Going out onto the Tideway you want a full tank and we knew we’d not be at St Pancras Cruising Club at the right time to top up there.

Volunteers waiting for a boat

At Cowley Lock three volunteers stood awaiting our arrival, we were to be their first boat of the day.

Quite a house boat

Below someone is building themselves quite a large house boat. New stainless steel tanks sit in the water and a wooden structure is going up above.

Now we were on the level with Paddington. We pootled along passing large building sites, two fellas working their way through a pallet of turf.

Under Murderers Bridge where eight years ago we said a final goodnight to Houdini my old cat.

A plant peeked up out of the hold of a boat, was it what we thought it was? Yes, most probably. Soon we were at Bulls Bridge where the Boat of Fame is currently moored in it’s Mind The Gap coat of paint, very whimsical.

Left onto the Paddington Arm. All sorts of boats. Jolly dogs and grumpy cats. Heftily insulated boats. You see everything down here, some we now recognise each time we’re here.


A sunflower has reached up for light at the edge of the towpath surrounded by new builds. A cormorant took advantage of a high up post.

surrounded by new builds

I ducked below to have a catch up with Jo the props lady for panto leaving Mick to cruise us onwards to near Ballot Box Bridge at the foot of Horsenden Hill. Almost two hours later I finished chatting to Jo and could finally have my lunch. Then it was out with the buckets and cloths, time to give Oleanna a bit of a wash before the flotilla. The starboard side seems to have caught the sun more than the port side, so hopefully a wash might make her look better. Who knows if the starboard side will get washed it depends on time and on how busy our mooring in London will be, at least that side looks a touch smarter.


Mick busied himself attaching the cratch lights. These haven’t been on Oleanna for two years, they are our normal arrangement for Christmas. These will stay on now for Saturday, a little less to do.

3 locks, 12.92 miles, 1 left, 1 tear, 1 tube boat, 3 volunteers, 2 hours talking props, boat 71, 1/10th of lights fitted, 1 clean bow for the first time in years.