Catching Ourselves Up. 27th 28th September

Paddington Basin to Three Bridges, Grand Union to Teddington, River Thames

Yellow sticker time

Being right alongside an M&S Food we popped in this morning to pick up a few bits to keep us going. They lacked some things we wanted and we stuck to sourcing things with yellow sad git stickers and I was surprised to find potatoes at £1 for a big bag.

Paddington Basin

Before pushing off we took advantage of the port side being alongside the pontoon and emptied our yellow water into the big container for disposal of later. Always as Mick stands over the hosepipe and container someone comes to talk to him, this time it was Cheryl from next door.

Very good to meet you both, see you somewhere, sometime

Once suitably attired for the wind and chill factor we winded in the basin and returned waving goodbye to Eric and Cheryl, they’d be moving off today too.

In Little Venice a weed cutter was off loading mushy peas into a skip boat. Despite the water point being empty we carried on out of town knowing we’d be by a water point and elsan later in the day. A pause for me to hop off at Ladbroke Grove to nip into Sainsburys to fill in the gaps M&S had left us with and we were soon on our way again.

She wouldn’t let me say what I thought of the flotilla!

Not much further on it started to rain. We were dressed for this just in case, but as it became heavier I made excuses to go inside, well I’d the blog to update and Tilly to talk to. Once it had dried up I bobbed back up on deck with lunch.

At Bulls Bridge we turned left and headed down to Norwood Top Lock. A widebeam skip boat was just coming up and being bowhauled clear of the lock. We pulled in, filled the water tank and used the elsan whilst the two chaps brought up the tug to push the skip along.

At heffing cheffing last!

We dropped down the two locks and pulled in a short distance along the mooring, here was popular today. But we got into the bank and having just emptied the lock behind us we’d not have to listen to water gushing out of the gates all night. There was an hour before dingding, so Tilly got her first shore leave in a week. The trees are pretty good round here!

Pretty damn yummy!

Some Posh Dogs had jumped into our basket in M&S so I used four of them in a toad-in-the-hole, freezing the other two monster sausages for a breakfast sometime. My Mums old enamelled pie tin worked better than the modern one I used to use.

Three Bridges

Wednesday morning and we were on the move fairly early, we’d a flight of locks to work through and the tide catch. First things first though the obligatory photo of Mick stood at the helm whilst passing through Three Bridges, a place he used to come as a child.

Filling the top lock

Hanwell Top Lock needed filling. I glanced down to the next lock in the flight the top gates both open. Sun glinted at a low light as two chaps with long handled strimmers hacked away at the bamboo in the side ponds by the locks. All this noise had distracted me so when Mick came to have a look down the flight I was unaware that the pound below was actually getting on for three foot lower than it should be.

A light snack!

In case the bottom gates of the next lock were leaking like a sieve I walked down and closed the top gates and made sure all the paddles were down. We then ran water down through the Top Lock. Mick rang C&RT to let them know this as the pound above might need filling, he got the answerphone again. A heron considered filling itself up with an eel. Thankfully I think it was already dead as the thought of a full eel wriggling down inside a heron wasn’t a pleasant one, I also think the heron may not have survived as the eel was far too big!

With the level improved we dropped Oleanna down the top lock. Behind I could see a boat approaching, it turned out to be a C&RT tug boat. Entering the lock below one of the chaps came down to ask if we were in a hurry, only that we were booked out through Brentford this afternoon, but we were happy to wait for them. He said we’d be fine as he’d be the one letting us out onto the Thames this afternoon.

Now mob handed with three C&RT staff with us we zoomed down the flight. Someone setting ahead, two at the lock the boats were in and it also gave Derek time to walk back to the top to check the level in the Three Bridges pound. The lower pounds were quite full and emptying one lock it nearly overtopped onto the footpath. At the bottom of the flight we lost one chap, a volunteer who’d be staying on the flight today. Now we were down to two on each boat, passing our normal mooring near The Fox and Mick’s old flat.

We were surprised at how little detritus there was by Osterley Lock. There’s normally so much stuff you have to wade through it to get to the bank, today there were only a couple of footballs.

Volunteers having a good clean up

At Clitheroe Lock a gang from Sky were busy trimming back the overhanging trees and hedges. All the weeds around the lock were being removed, a great effort, many hands make light work.

The C&RT boat over took us approaching Brentford, pushing their way towards the Gauging lock. We pootled on behind. As we came under the Railway Bridge we immediatly noticed something was missing. The old wharf building that used to span over some of the moorings has gone. There is so much more sky in Brentford now, but not for long we suspect as diggers are busy behind fences on both sides of the canal.

Swirly paint job

We pulled in to top up with water again, dispose of rubbish. Sadly no-one was in sight on the boat moored close by otherwise we’d have said hello.

New lock gates going in

Derek the Lock Keeper had told us we’d need to use the right hand gauging lock as the left one was in the process of getting new gates. I could see the stop planks but nothing more as the gates on these locks are low and operated by hydraulics so don’t need big wooden beams. Not able to work the lock ourselves we had two volunteers appear to help press the buttons.

We were early for our booking, but in time for some lunch. Left over pastry from sausage rolls was made into a couple of cheese and onion pasties for us. Very tasty, but the recipe I followed had far too much filling, so I baked it and we had it on the side.

Waiting to come up

Derek arrived and waved us into the lock. As soon as the gates were closed he lifted the paddles and down we headed to the tidal Thames again. Just below the gates we could see someone clinging onto a rope and presumably their boat below. We pointed this out to Derek who said that they’d not booked and had apparently turned up last night wanting to be penned up when no-one was on duty. They’d been directed to where they could moor for the night. Derek’s attitude was that 2000 people manage to book the lock a year, what makes them any different!

Out onto the tidal Thames

Out onto the Thames, not cutting the corner, we were ahead of schedule, but a couple of days behind Plan A. We’d soon catch ourselves up.

Familiar sights. Low flying planes. A boat being towed backwards. A rowing boat doing circles.


Approaching Richmond Lock and Weir the signs suggested that the lock needed to be used even though there were amber lights at one of the arches. This is a half tide lock and holds water in the river upstream as the tide goes out. The writing on the sign was too small to read the phone number, our info on the Thames hunted through, then we could see the drips still coming down from the weir, it was open, the sign was just lying!

Through the weir

On through Richmond and round the final bend to Teddington.

The bridges grey and dull compared to Saturdays bridges

The green light was on for the launch lock, the gates open, so we sailed straight in. The Lockie came and did the honours for us.

Teddington Lock

We tootled up to the far end of the moorings, let Tilly out and then Mick walked back to the lock to pay for a nights mooring £11. The Lockie was just chaining up the lock gates when he arrived as the spring tide this evening was due to be higher than the weir.

Seagull seat

Now back on track, we just need to keep up a reasonable amount of hours each day, hope the weather plays ball!

13 locks, 2 tidal, 9 shared, 24.58 miles, 2 days, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 1 left, 1 right, 1 clean poo box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank twice, 2 pasties, 4 giant toads, 1 eel.