Category Archives: Architecture

Hoola Hoop Dreamies. 21st July

Milepost 54 to milepost 52

Shore leave was granted, I didn’t want to smell their cooked breakfast anyway, I’d far rather find my own thanks. I did however make it back in time, 1 hour 15 to be exact, to show myself on the screen. Everyone was there, they talked about slimy slugs, squerls eating strawberries again, the big steps in Nottingpants where Toms play with hard balls not bedoingee balls and cheesy flavoured hoola hoops, they sounded like round Dreamies, interesting.

Not the full works

Yellow water was dealt with, Tilly’s pooh box refreshed, and rubbish taken to the bins. As I rolled up the covers the boat in front of us NB Tamarisk, Over the yarnarm, was also making ready to move off. We had a locking partner.

Fishing match to our stern

A group of fishermen had set themselves a match, no-one was having any luck though, no fish biting. The thatched cottage still looks very snug and hunkered down by the bridge, very appealing.

The Marsworth cottage

The Marsworth bottom locks were empty, Mick hopped off to set the top one as Helen and Carlene joined to work the locks, we were mob handed. NB Tamarisk used to be moored on the Bridgewater, Mike and Helen having owned her now for 18 months moved her down onto the Kennet and Avon where they spend much of the year. They are on a summer exploration cruise, possibly up to Birmingham if they have enough time before they want to return to their home waters.


Round past all the boats on the boat club moorings. We waved to the Margees house, even though Alison and Laura haven’t lived there since we’ve known them, but we still wave. Under the big railway embankment and on to Seabrook Swing Bridge. It’s very odd being on the boat at such times as it’s usually me who operates it or I’m ready with a windlass to set the next lock, but Carlene did the honours.

It turns out that Carlene used to live at Cooks Wharf on NB Mozart. Mike her brother remembers the Margees house being built. If you are reading this Alison and Laura, Carlene said to say Hello! The large grassy area alongside Seabrook Lock 35 was where Carlene and her friends used to come and socialise at weekends, her trip bringing back memories, I think Mike is doing his best to persuade her to move back onto a boat.

Carlene and Mike reminiscing

At our last lock I felt a touch useless. I’d normally be the one opening and closing gates, lifting paddles, setting ahead. Helen had set the lock and opened both gates, I managed to step off and hold Oleanna’s centre line whilst Mike brought their boat into the lock. But there was no-one to close our gate, paddles were about to be lifted and I had to stop everyone. I most probably could have closed the gate, but my instinct at the moment is to do no pushing and pulling of heavy things.

Time for us to find a mooring, we said our farewells and pulled in a little past some boats. This morning our side hatch had looked out at milepost 54, this afternoon it was 52. Tilly was given another four hours, coming and going. Mick sat outside to listen to the end of the test match and I watched The Courier (2020) whilst knitting away at my scrappy sock.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Greville Wynne a British Businessman who was recruited to carry information from Russian Oleg Penkovsky in the 1960s. Both men are arrested, after months of interrogation Wynne is allowed a visit from his wife who reveals that the information they had passed to the British and Americans helped to de-escalate the Cuban Missile Crisis. A good film but a few too many subtitles for ease of knitting.

Tilly checking out our mooring

We finally got round to swapping over our duvet today. Summer one unpacked and the winter one stuffed back into a vaccum bag with some thick jumpers and popped back under the bed. It may be back out in a few weeks time, who knows!

4 locks, 2 miles exactly, 1 sharing boat, 1 summer weight duvet, 2 fat jumpers, 0.5 of a sock, 1 film, 2nd test match won, 1 day we’ll be moored at County Hall in Nottingham for a test match, 2 Walsall Turkey Schnitzels, 46th President not to stand again, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval for this morning’s mooring.

Getting Younger By The Hour. 12th July

Berko Visitor Moorings to Cow Roast Marina

Yesterday I thought I’d managed to fend off a migraine, this morning I knew I’d failed. Sadly we needed to keep moving. Dark glasses and a slow pace, aided by hobbling anyway, would be the way forward and upwards today.

Old lock gates nearly as old as I felt

At the two Gas Locks I was very pleased to see a volunteer, who set the second lock for us and closed up too, saving crossing gates. Blimey I felt rotten. Should I opt to be at the helm instead? Less walking, but guiding Oleanna into locks was not something my brain wanted to deal with. Thankfully by the time we reached our third and forth lock the Co-codamol had kicked in and I started to feel a little bit less than 97 years old.

The second Gas Lock

A single hander jumped onto his roof. Two boats approached Northchurch Lock from above, advance crew about to lift the wrong paddles. Mick corrected them, then I corrected them again. I apologise if I was a touch short, by now I’d reached 87 years old and was turning a touch crabby. Two more boats followed these guys.

At Dunswell Bottom Lock we could see someone filling the chamber, shame I’d have appreciated an extra pair of hands. I managed to chat to the chap with his dog, they were on a mission to do 24 lock miles a day to reach Limehouse in time, not sure what for though. He made comments to the lady at the helm via walkie talkie, I could only hear her side of the conversation ‘That’s because I wanted to do it that way!‘. The dog dictated that they wouldn’t go down the steps to get on the boat, but would walk over the bridge to get back on, leaving his gate open for me to close along with mine which I’d opened so Mick could come in on my side. Maybe aged 82 now I couldn’t be bothered with the chap. He apparently ordered the lady to pick him up from in front of Oleanna, she’d been hovering waiting for Mick to move into the lock. She was then told off for coming in too quickly, the dog fell in and was hoiked out on it’s lead.

I just love the mixture of brick, render and timber

Now 80 I could appreciate the cottages on the other side of the road, the sky was blue and they made a pretty picture, I’ve always liked them. I hopped on board to get to the next lock, here I noticed for the first time the hills and fields around us. Of course they’ve always been there, just grey days and aiming for the summit clouding them from view. Today at the good age of 77 I had time to admire them.

It’s mine, all mine I say!

A Heron preened itself sat in a tree, hunched over as if it was miserly counting it’s pennies, keeping them out of view from thieving prying eyes.

Boats lined the final pound up to Cow Roast. Where did the name come from? Well according to wikipedia the village lies on an ancient drovers route through the Chilterns and here was where cattle could be rested in pens on their way to market, Cow Rest which over time became Cow Roast.

Cowroast Lock

As always at this time of year a group of Duke of Edinburgh award walkers came past, rucksacks on their backs. As we rose up the lock they came past us again, they’d gone wrong somewhere and were having to retrace their steps. Quite a distance to the next road or two, if their route was meant to stay alongside a canal, they’d have all the way back to Bulbourne to walk for the Wendover Arm! Good job they were teenagers.

A narrow entrance

At 75 we turned the steep turn into Cow Roast Marina, steeper than we remembered it being. Camera zoomed in to check the numbers on the end of the berths, there was ours just to the left. Blimey they are narrow! All three of us held our breath as Mick did his best to straighten Oleanna up so she wasn’t jammed against the next boat and the pontoon at the same time. Finally we could go straight in, just enough room for fenders on both sides of us.

At 73 I accompanied Mick to the office, hobbling along, maybe a colourful walking stick might be a good accessory! We’d just caught the chap before he disappeared into the attic. A key fob and instructions on how to top up the post with electric were handed over then we were left to ourselves.

Not our natural habitat

Lunch then the finishing touches to my painting. I also wanted to scan it and our printer/scanner wasn’t playing ball. My 72 year old brain just couldn’t cope so handed it over to the IT department, after a while a new program had been downloaded and a decent scan of my painting scanned. I’ll show it to you in a couple of days, someone else needs to see it first.

A quiet evening of being in my late 60s. Pair 28 were cast off. Now I just need to make up my mind on what yarn to use for the next pair, purple, orange and turquoise, or scrappy socks of many many colours? I decided to leave that decision for when I’m back in my late 50s.

7 locks, 2.7 miles, 6 downhill boats, 1 soggy Pekinese, 30 years in a day, 1 heron, 1 disappointed cat, 1 fob, 1 tight squeeze, 1 more lodger booked, 1 risky plan paid off, 1 painting scanned and packed, 2 boaters hemmed in.

TV had to be watched via the Roku this evening as there was no signal to be had. I now have a question for ourselves. Is it worth continuing to post thumbs at moorings anymore? Or are they now redundant?

Prescription Architecture. 11th July

Sharpes Lane Bridge to Berkhamsted 14 day moorings

Thankfully Tilly had a quiet night, one or two requests this morning to go out were greeted with a ‘No!’ from us. It was time to keep moving anyway.

A boat came past before we were ready, we’d be following them. Last night Mick had pushed us out and loosened off the ropes a couple of times as we’d been developing a list. This morning we were listing again, the level dropping following on from rising with the recent rainfall. It took a bit of jiggling to get off the bottom, then we were on our way towards Sewer Lock where water from the sewage works comes in below the lock.

Brian chatting to Australian gongoozlers

As I opened up the bottom gates I could see a boat coming up behind, we had a locking partner. NB Louise Abbey has been out from Crick for the last 7 weeks, Brian is on what he calls his retirement gap year. They headed down the oxford, Thames then the K&A before returning back towards base. Originally from Lymm on the Bridgewater they moved their boat to Crick recently to be able to explore further afield.

Lock walls worn away no wonder you have to leave so many of them empty

It was nice to be able to share, we’d head off ahead to open up and they would close up behind, lifting a paddle at just about every lock now to empty it. Some of the chamber walls are not faring well at all.

Between Sewer and Bottom Side Locks the level was low, by about 2ft. We’ve been this way before when it’s been low, necessitating dropping crew off from the bow. On one occasion the level above Bottom Side Lock was even worse and on leaving the lock Oleanna grounded, a call on that occasion was put in to C&RT who ran water down as Oleanna crept along the bottom. Today the pound above was nicely full.

The Rising Sun

Turning into The Rising Sun Lock we had caught the boat ahead up, but we were already sharing, so they went on ahead. From here Berko shows it’s pretty self, this was Brian and his wife’s (sorry didn’t get your name) first time through here. I listed the things to look out for, totem pole, the lovely lock cottage, the wharf building and the castle where the railway cuts through it, the cinema, the roses and castles.

Look at how pretty that is

At Ravens Lane Lock the lock cottage, which I think a couple of years ago had just changed hands, is now looking splendid. Hollyhocks and lots of other lovely flowers along with the picket fence, chocolate box.

The Wharf house looks like it needs a bit of weeding and the hanging baskets are not as abundant with flowers as normal, but an Orangutan sits and watches boats go by and a naked lady reclines on a sofa waiting for her next cocktail to arrive. If you fancy being their neighbour next door is for sale at £2,250,000. I think it might have been for sale last time we passed too.

Click the photo for details

One more lock for us to share, Broadwater Lock. We’d caught up with the boat ahead now, they snaffled the last mooring having asked a widebeam to close a gitgap by the looks of things. We kept our fingers crossed for at least the shopping mooring to be free, it was. Time to wave our locking partners goodbye as they intended to carry on for a while longer today.

Moored up we had lunch, the chap from the boat next door said we’d be fine there overnight, the last boat had stayed for a week and got away with it, it’s a 4 hour mooring! It appears Berko may be returning to how it used to be with boats putting down roots. We saw the boat we’d been following pull away, they’d only stopped for lunch. We quickly untied and reversed back to their space, leaving the 4 hour mooring for a widebeam to pull into, we’d not have to continue cruising today if we didn’t want to.

A lovely front

Mick needed to collect a prescription, he’d arranged for it here in Berko. There had been a choice of Chemists, he chose the one with a wonderful original shop front, curved glass etc. The original shelving was filled with modern creams and lotions, topped off with a modern ceiling, bit of a shame. He made sure they knew their chemists had been chosen purely because of their architectural interest.

A wonder around Waitrose selecting yellow stickered items, these will keep us going for a couple of days before we’ll need to start defrosting food.

Tilly was kept in, I got on with some knitting in front of Red Joan (2018). A true story based on the life of Melita Norwood who worked at the British Ferrous Metals Research Association as a secretary, she supplied the Soviet Union with nuclear secrets which hastened the pace at which they developed nuclear bomb technology. A good afternoon film whilst knitting. Mick listened to the cricket and filled the stern greaser.

6 locks, 2.1 miles, 2 moorings, 2 sad git meals, 1 pretty chemists, 1 headache, 1 hobbling boater, 14 days? 1 bored cat, 20 rows left on pair 28.

Flippin’ Fishery. 9th July

Apsley Sainsburys to above Fishery Lock

Shopping list compiled this morning, Mick headed off with the bags, leaving me to not have to walk too far. Maybe we should have done a click and collect, it would have meant we’d got moving earlier. Never mind we only plan on cruising for a couple of hours a day.

The lock overflowing at night can be really quite noisy

We pushed over to the lock landing and I walked up to chat to the boat that was on the water point above. They’d not long started to fill their tank, might be an hour. We also needed water so we decided to ascend the lock and then breast up to wait, all in the rain!

How many bottles?!

Lunch was had whilst we waited for their tank to fill then we do-ci-doed as they entered the lock and we pulled onto the water point. Yellow water dealt with whilst the clean water filled, Tilly had a refresh of her pooh box too. All chores now done. As we were about to push off a car arrived by the services, two ladies brought out loads of plastic water bottles to fill at the water point. I’m not sure the boot of their car was going to be big enough once they were all full!

These houses make me think of beach huts

The smell of coffee wasn’t so strong at Apsley Top Lock, maybe the rain was keeping it at bay. Onwards. We really must visit the farm shop one of these days! But today was not that day again.

Watching our every move

At Boxmoor Bottom Lock a heron stood by the top gates, beady eye on us and the boat. It stayed put for quite sometime before it realised the lock wouldn’t be available for fishing for a while. This is another lock where holes have appeared. At the bottom end the towpath side the steps are cordoned off, a large hole obvious and parts of the concrete top looking to be slowly moving!

Fishery Lock is one that is kept empty, the paddle up waiting for us. I pushed the gate, not even a glimmer of hope. I crossed the gates in case the off side was holding the near side in, nope! I crossed again. Tried again. Mick gently brought Oleanna’s bow fender to the nearside gate and leant a hand. Flippin heck this took some doing! No handy walkers to lend a shove due to the rain, me trying to keep straight as I pulled to avoid aggravating my knee. Eventually it started to move, thank goodness.

Heffing jeffing gates!

Our plan had us moving up to nearer Winkwell, but there was a space with no tree cover, we pulled in, the mooring suitable for feline shore leave. Just as the spikes had been forced in the heavens opened fully, a major downpour. Tilly wasn’t impressed, but made sure she came and went as many times as possible demanding the door be opened frequently.

More painting, maybe it’s a bit too busy? I left it to dry and I’ll look again at it tomorrow to see how I feel.

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be a touch drier.

Something prettier than the rain

4 locks, 1.6 miles, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 boxes wine, 3 big beetroot, 1 red risotto, 2 much going on, 5 boats moving, 1 soggy day.

You’re In Our Mooring! 8th July

The Grove Bridge to Apsley Sainsburys Mooring

A widebeam went past as we had our breakfast, then a narrowboat, I wondered if we’d catch the narrowboat up to be able to share.

Today was thankfully much drier than yesterday and the day before, the flow on the canal reminiscent of a river today, I don’t think we’ve ever noticed it along here before. As we pushed off the chap on the boat ahead of us was emptying water from containers on his deck. Several plastic bags filled with cans were piled up on the towpath, were these of his own drinking? Or is he a Womble?


Lady Capel’s Lock needed emptying. I looked for the hands in the garden behind the fence, they were still there, greener with age, still both right hands.

As I opened up the top gates I spotted dates all over the place. 1878 in the metal by the top gates, 1913 in the concrete topping to the lock. Then as I looked down as I pushed the beam there were date stamps in the raised black bricks, 1909, 1910, how many dates does one lock need! 1161, blimey that last one was old!

I never realised the Grand Union was SO old!

Below Hunton Bridge Bottom Lock a widebeam sat waiting their turn, the one that had passed us was rising in the lock. Maybe the narrowboat had overtaken them both. I walked up to help, both widebeams being single handers and an extra pair of hands to open and close gates would be welcome. The second widebeam really didn’t want to go in the lock. As the chap walked along his roof to climb off and tie her up she drifted backwards, stopping my gate from closing fully. She was pulled forward, my gate now able to move. She needed nudging another couple of times before both gates could be closed and the lock could be filled. When it was Oleanna’s turn she was much better behaved, but then Mick was stood at the helm to keep her in place.

I helped again at the top lock, time to admire the red roses and look at the cottages. The towpath side looked as if there are two houses, one with old windows, the other UPV double glazing. The double glazed side was on the market last year, not many interesting features. Today it sounded like work was happening somewhere inside, hammering and sawing. As we waited our turn our neighbour from last night walked past, a litter picker in one hand and a large plastic bag the other gradually being filled with cans. He is a Womble.

More help was on hand at North Grove Lock, a hire boat was waiting to come down so the chap on the widebeam was speedily raised and on his way. Then a charity widebeam arrived above, advanced crew walking the towpath suggested I hop on board Oleanna. Thank you but I’d rather be at the lock seeing my boat up and chatting to people, I get to talk to Mick all the time, why would I turn down the opportunity to talk to other interesting people. I helped the hire boat down, then it was our turn. Now there were many crew from the charity boat. They were obviously used to their widebeam, so I quickly requested the paddles to be lifted in the order we’d do them ensuring Oleanna wouldn’t biff about in the lock. One chap said ‘Our widebeam bumps about all over the place!’

M25 for the last time?

Time to cruise under the M25, possibly for the last time this year. Hang on a minute! There was no scaffolding! Was this the first time we’ve been under with no scaff? A look back to 2014, scaffolding, not much of it, but still scaffolding. So I think yes this is the first time we’ve been under the M25 without scaffolding. We’re heading north properly now.

Home Park Lock

A helping hand to the widebeam again at Home Park Lock, the one in front of him had already pulled up. We both agreed it was most probably time for some lunch. Just as we were about to push off again a narrowboat came past, Mick asked if they could wait at the next lock, we’d not be long, but they already had a partner just coming into view.

Time to chat with the crew of NB Cheswold who were from Strawberry Island, they’d been to Henley and were now on their way back to Doncaster, their partnering boat would be mooring up in the next pound so they’d wait for us.

Boats fast approaching the top lock

Above the top Nash Mills Lock a boat had just pulled up to fill with water, an awkward tap right by the lock which is on a bend. I checked that he was filling with water and that I wouldn’t be stealing the lock from him. He was a little bit puzzled that I wanted to use the lock and was not willing to wait. I did say we’d reset the lock for him whilst he filled his water tank as Oleanna and her partner were fast approaching from below. Once we’d risen we left the gates, the chap was still filling with water.

Boat filling with water above

One more lock to share then we’d be looking for a mooring. The ideal place would be Sainsburys. Damn the mooring was full, three boats. However there was a space opposite, not quite so handy but hey! As we made manoeuvres to moor up a chap popped out from opposite. I could hear Mick say ‘Your in OUR mooring!’ How rude of him! That was until I heard the replying voice, it was Paul the boat mover. Our summer is now complete after seeing him, although we may cross paths again before the year is out.

Paul, you’ve made our summer

He and the boat behind were about to move off after topping up on shopping, 4pm far too early for a boat mover to stop for the day. We had chance to chat whilst we do-ci-doed, slotting in where they had been. Always good to see Paul.

Nash Mills Bottom Lock temporary repairs on both beams

A small shop was required for something to eat tonight, we’d stock up properly tomorrow. Mick picked up a Roku box to add to our TV set up. Our TV now 7 or 8 years old, hasn’t liked using the internet if there is no terrestrial signal, it turns out that it is one of a few TV’s that you’ll never be able to watch live BBC on iPlayer, something we’ve noticed through the years but didn’t know when we bought it. The new box should enable us to do all the things the TV has been reluctant to do. Mick has plumbed it in, so far so good.

Small boats to the left please

This morning my knee had been feeling just about back to normal. A few days resting coming out from London, then working locks at a steady rate must have done it some good, or so I thought! On the last couple of locks today it had started to twinge again and walking round Sainsburys it really wasn’t happy! Time to sit down and rest it after all there’s still 66 locks to Braunston, plus a detour planned!

9 locks, 3 shared, 4.5 miles, 2 widebeams, 1 busier canal than of late, 0 shore leave for Tilly, 1 interesting email thank you Mike, 1 slow day cruising, 2 pizzas with extra toppings, 4 pairs of socks in the post, 1 annoying knee, onedrive full!

Not A Day For A Thumbs Down! 4th July

River Colne Aqueducts to below Black Jack’s Lock 85, Grand Union

Goodbye Slough Arm, maybe we’ll give you another go sometime

A boat whizzed past us this morning, they were aiming for the end of the arm. They apparently made it….. but did they make it back?!

We pushed off just before 11am, things to do today and a minimum three hour cruise. Left at the junction and we were heading northwards again. Another stretch of moorings where there was plenty of space. Where have all the boats gone? If we’d wanted we could have moored up below Cowley Lock, however Puss Puss’s boat was moored there so we’d have chosen to move on anyway. Puss Puss is now quite an old cat a stray who adopted some humans. He quite often used to head to the pub with them giving woofers little leeway!

Cowley Lock

A volunteer at the lock saw us coming and set it for us, bunting zigzagging above. He said how quiet the canal was, a lady had walked down to see if there was room below the lock, room for at least twelve boats today. The cafe here now seems to be gone and the pub is having a serious makeover, Mick wondered if it will still be a pub or a private house.

Rubbish dealt with and the water tank refilled we were on our way again. Slow going to start with past all the moored boats. One of the Uxbridge boys was on their mooring, we’d played leapfrog with them and another boat early in 2015 as they made their way up to the Lancaster Canal.

A long length of towpath is being worked on, all the permanent boats moved elsewhere. Now when I say all the boats moved elsewhere, there were still a couple tied up, one most definitely sat on the bottom not capable of moving anywhere. We turned onto the service mooring at Denham Marina, time to fill up with diesel. 138 Litres later at £1.04 we reversed back out onto the cut and headed up the lock.

The curvy building of Uxbridge

Mick climbed up to help with the gates, these have short beams and are weighted to help, but they are rather heavy for a painful knee to do both. The lock cottage is for sale again, or is it still for sale?

Good luck Larry

It felt apt to take a photo of our Larry for PM banner with Uxbridge in the background, we’d once been in town when the ex PM was buying himself a pasty from Greggs!

We pulled in for lunch a short distance on from NB Old Nick, waving as we passed. We’ve never met but read their blog. A short break as more miles needed to be ticked off today.

Denham Deep

Denham Deep was set against us so required the top gates to be closed and then emptied. Caution required as the lock is so deep, but keeping Oleanna back and adopting out GU paddle routine worked and brought her up quite quickly. A couple sat and watched, aghast, it was their first lock as Gongoozlers.

The older railway bridge

Now I had to be ready for photos. The HS2 viaduct could be seen stretching off into the distance across the lakes, but only glimpses could be seen from the canal between trees. Then high above us we were dwarfed by concrete overhead. A glance to the west revealed a rather pleasing curve, plenty of air around the structure.

We wondered for a while what the extra bits were and why there were only two of them. Now looking at my photos closer it is obvious that they were the next concrete sections heading along the viaduct to be positioned.

Another section making it’s way to be added

A chap waved from above, his tiny size emphasising how big the hole thing is. I wondered who the engineer was who designed it.

The Bear in the Barge is now called The River Garden, a shame as I used to like their pub sign, the new one is easily forgettable, in fact I forgot to take it’s photo! Wide Water Lock was set ready for us, new paint work just about dry! Up we came deliberating on a return trip to London, sadly not to be.

Now we wanted a mooring, one suitable for Tilly, TV signal and the internet. We should have checked the blog for thumbs up or down at our planned for mooring today. Plenty of room below Black Jack’s Lock we pulled in to a gap between trees. Tilly was given a couple of hours, which she used pretty well. Mick set about tuning in the TV.

Hello all the way up there!

I now checked the blog, on one occasion there was a upward thumb, good tv, another a downward thumb, no tv signal. Oh blimey what a day to be without live tv! Mick worked his way round things, thankfully we had good internet coverage and it was a relief when we got more than just ITV. Sometimes our tv won’t even use the internet if there is no terrestrial signal!

We settled down to watch an episode of Traitors. Then turned over for the election coverage. The family whatsap group constantly pinging with anticipation. I decided to turn the heel of a sock just at the wrong moment as the exit pole results were announced. Once turned I realised I’d knitted it in the wrong colour! Out it came and was redone whilst watching Blyth and Sunderland rushing to be the first to declare. Once nine or ten seats had been declared we headed to bed, Tilly had already given up and realised the fishing rod game would not be happening until much later today.

4 locks, 6.4 miles, 1 left, 1 right, 138 Litres, 1 full tank water, 1 very long curvy concrete line, 1 high up wave, 2 hours shore leave, 0 live tv, 1 cat outdoors, 1 internet, 1 traitor, 9 seats, 1 late night but not as late as others.

Free The Paddington One! 2nd July

Ballot Box Bridge to River Colne Aqueducts, Slough Arm, Grand Union Canal

The diesel tank hasn’t been filled since Pyrford Marina, the gauge showing quarter full. Mick doesn’t like the tank to be so low, in fact it may only have been so low once and that was when we picked her up from Finesse in Sheffield, just enough diesel put in her tank for test cruises. The question was, how accurate is the tank gauge? Did we need to seek out diesel today or could it wait for another day or two. The tank was dipped, 10 inches, plenty to keep us going.

Serious clearing up by Ealing volunteers

We made our way back to Bulls Bridge, the moorings by Tesco empty today, well apart from the sunken boat! We pulled in, had lunch, made a shopping list, moved the Larry banner to the cratch for it to be seen better and then went shopping.

A better position for Larry

With everything stowed it was time to get Mick away from chatting to a chap doing his best to avoid polishing his boat, leaving it to his wife. We winded at the junction and started to head northwards. In the last two years quite a lot has changed. Today numerous cranes sat to the east, the start of some buildings. Tower blocks that were going up are now full of people and the landscaping we saw being put in is now tall with plants.

Three miles or so on is Murderers Bridge (Colham Bridge) where in 2015 we said our final goodbye to our first second mate Houdini. Today Tilly was shouting on the top step Free the Paddington One! Tree filled outsides for boat cats!! Friendly cover for all!!! This election has really gone to her head!

Cowley Peachy Junction

At Cowley Peachy Junction we turned westwards onto the Slough Arm. We only cruised the first stretch back in 2015 when we couldn’t get further due to ice. I’m not sure where we moored for the night back then, today we tried pulling in just after the entrance into Packet Boat Marina, Mick managed to get off with a rope, but that was it, Oleanna wasn’t going to come in any more.

The moorings further along looked busy, we chanced it, hoping for a space. Several boats moored up, most looked like they were busy doing jobs. One space between boats might have been long enough, we carried on, a space at the end, better for Tilly. A chap chatted and helped with ropes. A fellow came over from his campsite on the offside for a cuppa. Akeem, I think that was his name, was very chatty, he was busy doing up a boat ready for sale, a coat of red oxide going on the exterior today.


When asked where we’d come from he said, ‘Oh you can’t moor in Paddington anymore!’ We explained that we’d paid and were quite grateful to know we had a mooring waiting for us. Through the years we’ve taken our chances in London like everyone else, reserved moorings when they were free, squeezed onto the Eco moorings when people have overstayed and paid to tie up in Paddington. I suspect we’d still visit London no matter what the mooring situation was, as we’ve both lived there and have friends and family we want to see. But now it’s reassuring to know we’ll have somewhere to tie up on arrival. Time will tell if there are now too many bookable moorings. Many visiting boaters won’t flock to London until they know the system is working, hearing tales of booked moorings being occupied on arrival doesn’t help the situation. London boaters choose to look when the moorings are empty. Yes they are not as full as they were when they were cheaper and the locations fewer. Only C&RT will know the true figures as they can see the bookings and get feed back from their mooring rangers.

A very vocal Tilly today

We settled in and Tilly was given a hours shore leave, at least it stopped her charging back and forth shouting about her rights and how once Larry was PM things would change, Salmon and real real chicken for dingding every day!

0 locks, 9.9 miles, 2 lefts, 1 wind, 2 boxes wine, 1 hour shore leave, 26.5 pairs knitted, 1 very political cat, 1 card returned, 1 knee improving, not much walking being done though.

Would You Like A Bigger Table? 27th June

Ballot Box Bridge to Pontoon 6, Paddington Basin

A lie in, wonderful! First boat went past at about 7am then it was quite a while before anyone else was on the move. The boat behind us spent some time in setting up their sun shade over their bow, this involved lots of banging of metal locker lids and a touch of swearing.

Just round the bend on the other side of the bridge we found all the moored boats, closer to transport links, that is unless you have an e-bike or scooter as then your location doesn’t matter as you can zip along the towpath at great speed!

Out on the hard

Bright blue skies to start with warranted sun cream, but after half an hour cloud covered the sky, a wind whipped up and we even considered putting jumpers on.

A really awkward Elsan

At Alperton we considered pulling in to deal with our yellow water, but the railings around the elsan point would make this a really hard job, so we just hoped we’d be fortunate to be able to do it later. The Keep Out sign did amuse us, has someone tried to get in the Elsan?

The narrowboat up on the bank surrounded by new office blocks now sells crepes, more building work continues further along. Today long stretches of the towpath were being dug up. The concrete topping lifted which covers cables. Temporary pontoon towpaths carried pedestrians and cyclists around the works.

Towpath works

The aroma of Buddleia filled the air, almost totally masking out the spices from the food factories along the canal bank. One lady on a work boat trimmed sections of it away so she could tie her boat up on the off side.

Buddleia tastic

The number of moored boats along Ladbroke Grove seem to have reduced, but then the towpath being worked on is making it difficult. The area that for some reason says No Mooring had been taken over by boats.

A timber store? Workshop?

We’ve been here at roughly the same time of year before. Today we were surprised at the reduced amount of weed in the canal, we only had to clear the prop once and that was due to urban jelly fish near Little Venice. Also the type of London boater seems to have altered, there are far more cruisers than we remembered. Where the Westway hovers above the towpath, where once there have been cafes, art spaces, there now seems to be something like a carpentry shop, one cruiser had a rooftop extension made of sterling board and was that chap gaining access to his wood store via a canoe? There do seem to be more and more boats reusing house windows in their extensions, I quite like some of the effects.

Heading for Paddington Basin

This year C&RT have increased their pre- bookable moorings in London. Some which were once free are now chargeable, others that you’ve paid for for a few years have increased in price. The London boaters have been up in arms as more places have been designated for pre-bookable moorings and often you see photos of areas empty of boats. The idea is to be able to open London up to cruising boats and make the capital more accessible to all licence payers. We’ve done the turn up and with fingers crossed and hope to find a mooring, remembering where there was a gap to breast up should there be nowhere else. The last few times we’ve been into London we’ve made use of the bookable moorings and are very glad they exist for peace of mind. Booking this week had been a touch hard and I think we were only left with one option at the cheaper price which we booked. There seems to be lots more availability of the £35 a night moorings, not hard to guess why. A shame that many of these are the old Eco-moorings with electric. Maybe C&RT have priced these too high, or is there not enough demand yet for so many spaces? Only time will tell.

Passing the restaurant boats

A boat was on the service mooring at Little Venice. We wanted to fill with water so chanced being moved on and pulled up at the water point just through the bridge, tucking in as close as we could to the cafe boat. The tap is very slow, but before we could be in the way to anyone, we’d topped up and made our way across the pool towards Paddington.

There’s our mooring, ready and waiting for us

We’ve heard tales of pre-booked moorings being occupied when boats arrive and mooring rangers having to be called. But none of that for us today as we sailed straight into our space on the pontoons. Having the hatch face the bank means we get a lot of ankles walking past and snippets of phone conversations ‘Well the aorta is 85 years old!’ a particular favourite from today. We joined two other boats on the moorings, another had gone for a cruise around and returned later on. Paddington Visitor Moorings, also pre-bookable, stretch from the pedestrian entrance into the station to the basin on the hospital side. By the station was chocka, only one boat made use of the hospital side today.

Tilly was shown the outside, filled with lunch break workers. A wheelie suitcase put her off getting off the boat, hopefully she’ll accept we’re in Longbum and spend her time watching through the windows or asleep.

Paul’s got his eye on the ham, egg and chips!

Late afternoon we headed to catch the No 27 bus to Camden to meet up with Christine and Paul. For the first time in many years we have managed to catch up with all of our siblings within a few months. This evening we met up at Jamon Jamon a Spanish Tapas restaurant in Camden.

Plenty to choose from even if it was a little bit confusing for me at times with the allergens menu. Once our order was taken the waitress asked if we’d like to move to the far end where there was a larger table. We ended up needing this for the number of dishes we’d ordered. The Gambas were very fine and the Spanish version of Ham Eggs and Chips looked like it had come from a glossy comic. Very nice food and very good company as always, thank you both.

When eventually our No 27 bus arrived and brought us back to Paddington we decided to see if we could walk back to the boat a slightly different route. A large white tower block that was being built last time we were here now appears to be complete. Outside the front door was a very large orange stone with a small yellow one on top. Human? Who was the artist? Nothing to inform us of anything. A hunt round on the internet later and the artist is Ugo Rondinone. It’s certainly big and bold! On the wall of the hospital there was a rather pleasing painting/photograph mural of diving swimmers which I think is by Catherine Yass. More can be found out here.

Sun set

0 locks, 7.7 miles, 1 snub, 1 bag on prop, 0 weed, 1 straight on, 1 full water tank, 27 twice, 1 disappointed cat, 1 little girl at 11pm peering in, 1 sister, 12 dishes, 1 big table, 1 olive doggy bag, 1 lovely evening, 5G less frustrating.

Is There A Festival Going On? 24th June

Shepperton Village Moorings to Footbridge 207A, Grand Union Canal

Just the ticket

A lie in at last, with Saturdays newspaper, followed by a bacon butty. It’s felt like we’ve been getting up extra early forever! With covers rolled up we pushed off and winded a little before 11am, a rower appearing from nowhere, Mick had to call out to him so we didn’t collide.

Round the rest of Desborough Island and then joining back to the rest of the Thames we made our way down stream. As we pulled into Sunbury Lock I said to the lock keeper that we’d be needing a transit licence, a small rib was following us into the lock so we were to pull in on the lock landing below and return for our licence.

Hampton Lock and the first hollyhocks we’ve seen in flower

The EA no longer do transit licences so we had to buy a 24 hour licence. The lockie took pity on us and reduced Oleanna’s size so that she fitted into the next category below, still £50.50 for a day! A week had been £79. My inner Yorkshire voice shouted ‘OW MUCH!!!!’

Onwards down stream, the river wider and thankfully quieter than yesterday. Contrasting neighbours opposite each other at one point.

Knitting whilst passing the Palace

We shared Hampton Lock with a couple of cruisers and a small rib, everyone would be faster than us leaving so we waved them on. Today I was a little bit behind on last weeks pair of socks so my knitting was out on the stern keeping me busy. Only a few rounds to knit before the cuff, the casting off had to wait until we were moored up.

Willing for there to be a gap big enough for us

Approaching Teddington the moorings looked chocka block. Was everyone just staying one night? Not everyone could be waiting for the tide down to Brentford! Several gaps not big enough for us, then one that looked hopeful. A chap from another narrowboat waved from his hatch and then came out to catch a rope, the pull from the weir making it a little hard to pull into the made to measure mooring. He had just been to see the Lock Keeper we should make our way up to the lock at around 16:55. He had a similar story to us about when he’d called them a week or so ago to check what time he’d be needing to leave, he’d been told 11am. We reckoned the Lock Keeper had been looking at that days tides not those of the 24th of June.

Cranes and pontoon at the locks

A late lunch then we walked down to chat to the keeper ourselves. There were cranes and pontoons in front of the Launch lock, this is the lock we’ve been through the most at Teddington, it’s almost big enough to take nine Oleannas. We’d not be using that lock today as there is a £4.5 million refurbishment taking place, funded by Defra. So instead every boat is going through the Barge Lock. The full lock measures 198.12m long by 7.54m wide, big enough to take 33 Oleannas. However there is an extra set of gates a third of the way down the lock, these were in operation today, a small cruiser heading through.

A wise precaution before cruising the tide

We pottered away the time waiting for the tide. I wound some yarn for my 26th pair of socks. The boats about us were preparing themselves for the tide. I suggested Mick should check the weed hatch, he lifted the cover and found cloth and weed wrapped round the prop shaft, it hadn’t felt like there was anything there, but best to be clear before heading out onto the tide.

There seemed to be quite a few narrowboats going. One chap seemed quite nervous asking if anyone had done it before. Well we had several times but not in this direction, however we would know where to turn in. We were let out from our mooring to go ahead of the surrounding boats, third into the lock, another three following in behind.

We nudged up as far as we could behind a long hire boat, passed our ropes around the bollards. As I looked behind us I could see the last boat on our side had pulled in. The lady at the bow was just passing her rope around a bollard and the chap at the back was trying to do the same, except the boat was moving out. Oh blimey he suddenly vanished behind his boat, a leg into the air. I shouted ‘Man Over Board’ and pointed. Only for the Lock Keeper to take it as a joke, he then suggested it was someone jumping off the bridge behind the lock! Very thankfully the chap had been clinging on tight and managed to haul himself up out of the water, only his bottom half wet. Have to say I was very surprised that the Keeper had just joked about the whole thing and not even gone to check if anything was happening!

Richmond Hill ahead

Quite a high tide, we didn’t drop much, maybe just a foot before the bottom gates were opened. Six narrowboats came out of the lock, several cruisers below having to manoeuvre themselves out of the way. Fourth in line we followed on slowly. The boat ahead had said his engine wasn’t that powerful so he wouldn’t be going that fast, he was right. Oleanna was just about tick over, she really wanted to go faster and so did we. We waited for some rowing boats to be clear before making the move, another rowing boat quite close behind us. You should always keep an eye open behind you as boats can appear from nowhere.

That felt better, we’d need to be a distance away from each other by the time we reached Brentford anyway to make the turn.

£2 million minus £1

The view is always different going in the opposite direction. An house for sale on Eel Pie Island £1 short of £2 million! This afternoon the sun shone on the buildings high above the river on Richmond Hill as we rounded the bend towards Richmond.

Time to paddle

Here you could see how high the tide was , lapping it’s way up the streets, some people having to paddle to walk the bank of the river.

The line of narrow boats was causing a bit of a stir on the river. A chap with some rowing boats asked if there was a festival or something going on, he was used to seeing maybe a couple of narrowboats, but not six!

Richmond Weir

Around Richmond half tide lock and round to the east side of Isleworth Alt. I tried to see if I could see the moorings behind as a friend of a friend had been interested in buying a boat there recently. We also passed Isleworth Drawdock where you can hire a section of the river that dries out at low tide. There may be a problem with our bowthruster, possibly weed from the Basingstoke Canal in the tube. Mick had considered stopping here, but it can wait a while the fuse has been changed and another is on order.

Just as I was getting ready to take the compulsory photo of the lion on Sion House Mick requested a photo of a plane flying overhead coming in to land at Heathrow. Oh blimey, both things requiring a photo and limited time to take them. I only just got the old BEA livery in a photo, the lion still isn’t wagging it’s tail! There were several cranes outside Sion House with lights, something was being filmed.

Waterway Routes, it’s handy knowing exactly where you are

We checked our maps, we were soon to turn in at Brentford. The lead boat could be seen making the turn, the hire boat following soon after. Rowing boats were heading up stream, Mick made the turn earlier so as to avoid them, the tide now dropping and taking us with it, the gap between boats just enough.

Boats turning in towards Brentford

The C&RT Lock Keeper was waiting and waved the first two boats into the lock, we were to wait, the second chamber not in use. We trod water below the lock and were soon joined by the next two boats and then the final one made the turn in.

Only room for two boats at Thames Lock

Above Thames Lock is also tidal water, so the difference in height when we arrived wasn’t great, the paddles required lifting before the gates could be opened for us to go through. On up to the Gauging Lock where a C&RT volunteer was waiting for us. He asked how many more boats were coming, two more, he’d wait and pen them up.

A good mural we’ve not spotted before

We pulled in to the services, our yellow water tank on the right side to be emptied, it didn’t take too long before we were ready to push off again. Our next job was to find a mooring. Of course by now we were the last boat of the six. The first two had carried on up to below Hanwell, but there were still four boats looking for spaces. Room right by the railway bridge wasn’t appealing, we moved onwards and found a space just big enough for us round the bend. Here we had to play woofer shit hopscotch and deploy our big buoy fenders. It was way past cat curfew, so Tilly had to make do with fresh air coming through the hatch.

Tomorrow we’ll be up early early, the aim to get up the Hanwell flight before the temperature rises and hopefully find a mooring where Tilly can go out.

5 locks, 17.1 miles, 2 lefts, £50.50, 1 late lunch, 6 narrowboats, 4 first timers, 1 lovely passage, 1 space left, 0 shore leave, 1 very warm evening, 2 many bright lights, pair 26 cast on.

Dead Good Mates. 19th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre

Ascot ready

A couple of people had told us how we must visit Brookwood Cemetery whilst we were in the area, with a couple of days to wait for our lock passage we decided to head there today. A walk over the canal to catch the no3 bus to Ash Vale Station and then the train to Brookwood. The train journey was much longer than I thought it would be, but then the bus had taken us further away before we’d started.

The gate

The station has an entrance into the cemetery, but just where was it. Station staff asked if they could help and we were told to go down the stairs to the barriers and ask a member of staff there, they would let us out. We did this and the chap pointed towards a gate through a subway, when we got there he’d buzz us through.

Brookwood Cemetery was conceived by the London Necropolis Company in 1849 to house London’s deceased when the capital was finding it hard to accommodate both living and the dead. In 1854 it was said to be the largest cemetery in the world, it is now the largest in Western Europe. It was consecrated on 7th November 1854 and opened to the public six days later when the first burials took place.

The military cemetery

Next to Waterloo Station in London a dedicated station was built giving access to the cemetery. Trains with passenger carriages reserved for the different classes and Hearse carriages arrived at the cemetery on it’s dedicated branch line. The original London Necropolis Station was relocated in 1902, but this was demolished after being bombed in WW2.

There were two stations in the cemetery, one serving the none-conformist side (North) and the other the Anglican side (south). Apparently the southern platform still exists in the ownership of the St Edward Brotherhood. Wakes would be catered for at the stations.

I really hope his tomb contains him and not Hops and Malt

The first grave we came across was immediately of interest. Gates and a wall surrounded the memorial of Ramadan Guney (1932-2006). Originally from Cyprus, he emigrated to Britain in 1958 where he set up a music business. In 1983 he purchased the burial rights for over 19 acres of Brookwood Cemetery, he subsequently acquired Brookwood Cemetery in 1985 from it’s owner Mr DJT Dally. His aim was to restore the cemetery back to it’s original park like setting. More can be read about him here. An interesting sack covers part of his memorial.

Facing Mecca

We walked around the north west boundary, colourful and interesting graves none very old. Many sat skew wiff in their allocated plots, presumably facing Mecca.

Through a gate in a high fence, cordoning off the military graves, fencing keeping the dead in. Here Commonwealth graves all chalky white line up, immaculate grass between them. Next the graves of the Americans, crosses standing still, bright green grass, stars and stripes fluttering from a high flag pole, eagle above the door to the chapel where those who’s bodies were never found are remembered. All had died either in the UK or the surrounding waters. 69% of American bodies were repatriated at the request of their families.

More lines of graves, 1st and 2nd World Wars. Some dates from after the wars, presumably died from injuries. The wonderful cottage garden plants around the graves wonderfully kept. We walked up to take a look at the lines of Chelsea Pensioners, the majority passing away in the 1960’s.

No upvc windows here

Lunchtime, but where could we get some food? None of the residents would require refreshments. We should have thought about this! We walked down The Gardens, a line of semi detached houses built in 1897. Were these built for gardeners in the cemetery? If there hadn’t been several vans parked outside and workmen in modern clothing I’d have thought we’d been whizzed back in time.


Behind The Cricketers we found the Yurt Café where we enjoyed a slice of Lemon Drizzle cake and a lovely cuppa, far cheaper than a posh pub lunch! Now it was time to find our way back into the cemetery, after all we’d not even started to look round! No pavement along the road that splits the cemetery into it’s two halves, I was relived to arrive at the entrance.

Now with a vague plan on who we wanted to see and a route to maybe follow we walked on down Avenues. A real mixture of graves.

Why was Private CE Wilburn (from Gosport) in a corner with no-one near, his commonwealth grave stone much akin to those we’d seen this morning.

Elephant trunks of trees

Large boughs of trees surrounded the grave of the Peyers family, Adrian Christopher had been a tenor opera singer, appearing in several productions with Opera Scotland and at the Royal Opera House.

Penny Privett who’d died in 2022 sat amongst some Victorian graves, the lay out far more haphazard than in the northern cemetery. Huge large trees give the dead shade on a sunny day, a deer appreciated it too.

It took a while for it to spot us

Mausoleums were dotted around. The family Wood perfectly positioned for a film shot. The metal door partially open behind a gate, a slab of stone missing from the roof, no coffins to be seen inside, all so atmospheric.

A Hammer House setting maybe

Nearby John Singer Sargent (1856 -1925) rests, best remembered for his Victorian and Edwardian society portraits. His grave is Grade II listed even if it is far less elaborate than many others in the inner ring, the most expensive place to be laid to rest in the cemetery.

John Singer Sergant

Heading towards St Edwards where monks will show you round, sadly the church doors were locked and we didn’t have enough time for a tour so we didn’t knock on their door.

Some of the graves are now surrounded by trees, framing them so wonderfully. Were they planted with this in mind in decades to come? One family upstages itself, a simple knot on one gravestone, 6ft in front a huge angle spreads their wings.

This is the side I’d rather be laid to rest. The thought of having so many dead mates around you for company, the long grass and shade from the tall tall trees. Such a mixture of ages and eras. You could come to visit everyday of the year and see something different.

We crossed over the busy road again to the north cemetery. Different nationalities remembering their loved ones in different ways. One lady had so many fake and real flowers around her grave it was hard to see who she was. A sultan in his own plot had become overgrown with thistles, we’d not seen thistles anywhere else!

We headed back to the gate into the station. Pressed the bell to be let back in.

I do like an atmospheric graveyard, but what a place! We’d only really scratched the surface.

Large and small headstones

We came away wondering who was the first to be buried there. On 13th November 1854 the following burials were recorded. Mrs Hore’s two still born male twins from 74 Ewer Street, Borough. Elizabeth Costello aged 3 months from St Saviours Workhouse. Henry Smith aged 31 from St Saviours Workhouse. Charlotte Edwards aged 74 from Chelsea. An interesting article can be found here. I wonder how many people lie there now.

Some shore leave when we got back

Thank you Heather and Mick for suggesting we visited and John for telling us about the railway.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 2 trains, 1 gate, 5 miles walked, 1 dodgy knee, 56745645634789 graves maybe! 2 slices of cake, 2 pots of tea, 1 hour of accompanied shore leave, that’s a touch better!