Category Archives: Birds

Catching Up. 10th October

All Cannings to Wolfhall Bridge 103

Yesterday we’d stopped short of our planned destination for the day, today we needed to catch up. So the alarm went off, we had breakfast and were ready to push off into the chilly morning. At least the sun was out and we might be able to see the views that the cloud had shrouded on our way west.

Sun’s out

There are so many boats moored along the Long Pound, progress was very slow but at least Alton Barnes White Horse was in view for much of our way. Then we skirted round the Wiltshire mounds to our north were ancient terracing is very evident.

Mounds

Under Lady’s Bridge and past the wide water where a chap was just coming out of his boat full of the joys of spring!

Terraced Pickle

Just before Pewsey Winding Hole a chap pointed at us from the bow of his boat and then three others waved.

The Rustys

The Rustys had winded this morning and managed to get their boat just about into the side to moor so that they could go for an exploration. our boats were finally pointing different directions and our paths wouldn’t cross again. Hope their trip back to Hilperton is good. There was a bit of banter about meeting up next year, maybe Bingley.

Boat cat keeping an eye on us

We considered stopping to dispose of our yellow water but by the time we realised that the service mooring was actually free it was a touch late, so we carried onwards. The chilled medication emporium wasn’t open anyway!

Birdies

Approaching Wooton Rivers Mick took it very slowly, we didn’t want to get shouted at again. The boat in question seemed to have moved since we’d come the other way a month ago, by a full boat length! Maybe he’d been all the way to Bath and back having returned to the same spot, or maybe not.

At the bottom of the locks we disposed of all our rubbish with the handy recycling bins and then started to make our way up to the summit pound.

A chance photo paid off

Work emails kept me busy when not winding my windlass. Difficulty finding the paint I was after, where’s the drawing for the ladder, would I like an extra painty pair of hands in Chippy. This was all panto stuff, then the emails regarding Houdini started flying back and forth between the writer and production manager. All the time I was aware we would be heading into a black hole of communication once over the top.

Wooton Rivers Lock

Even though I was busy trying to respond to everyone there was still time to buy some eggs at our 2000th lock on Oleanna. I picked out the larger ones from the bottom tray thinking that they would be fresher than those on the top. I’d make use of these in the quinoa quiche I was making for tonight, we were a couple of eggs short before and now we had several very large eggs in hand.

As we pulled out of Brimslade Lock an abc hire boat came from the lock above. We left our gate for them as they closed the gates ahead of us. We all said hello and then we watched them pull into the lock landing to drop off crew, followed by having difficulty getting into the already open lock.

Last lock uphill

Cadley Lock was our last up hill. Sadly the plums by the top gate were now well past their best, most rotting on the floor making it very slippy under foot. But I was surprised at the number of butterflies here. About four fluttered their way around me, one hitching a lift on our roof for a distance. I’d have thought it was way past butterfly time.

Rotting plums

The locks up to the summit and down the other side are still being locked overnight at 3pm. We’d been caught out by the very low pound heading westwards and just made it to the top in time. With two more miles across the top we knew we wouldn’t be down the first set of locks by 3pm, so we’d find somewhere to moor instead. At least we’d caught up some of the time we’d lost yesterday, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get back to where we should be.

Hitching a lift

Through Savernake Tunnel we started to look for a possibility, the railway now very close by but on the off side, so Tilly would be safe. A short distance fro where we’d moored last time we pulled in by another boat. The water deep enough at the stern to get close, but the bow sitting a long way out. Here would do us for the day.

Out of the tunnel into the eastern side

Tilly jumped to the bank with ease and headed off to make friends. I then spent the next three hours trying to catch up on the Houdini emails about Kabouki drops and video footage, finally chipping my ideas into the mix that had been going back and forth all morning. My drawings were scanned and shared. Food put in the oven and after eating I finally got chance to do some model making. Four hours later I had a new version of the proscenium finished, it was now well past bedtime.

4 locks, 2000th on Oleanna, 11.96 miles, 1 final farewell, 1 white horse, 1 must have galloped away, 70 ft in a month, 6 giant eggs, 10 litres paint, 1 ladder, 20 pairs castors, 1 or 2 kabouki drops, 10 scanned drawings, 18 toing and froing emails, 1 prosc, 12 midnight finish., 1 black hole ahead

River’s Rising. 24th September

Ferris Railway Bridge to Green Park Visitor Moorings, Bath

Not wanting to get stuck on a rising river for days we needed to move. As we had breakfast the rain hammered it down outside, even more reason to get moving! We don’t know how the Avon reacts to rainfall, is it a quick rise in level or a slow one that can sneak up on you, or does it just about stay constant unless there is a lot of rain.

Off we go

Mick checked Gauge map, the levels had gone up a bit but it looked okay for us to leave the pontoon. With full waterproofs on we rolled back the covers and got going, the rain starting to ease.

Swineford Lock the weir on the left behind the lock landing

At Swineford Lock the weir was gushing, it had been a bit like this on Saturday, just a bit more so today. I looked around below the lock for a levels board to see if we were in the green/amber/red. But there was no board to be seen. The river level above the lock looked like it was up by a couple of inches as I could see where the usual line was below the surface. On most rivers a rise of this much would bring it into amber, but hopefully not red.

Blue skies!

The rain started to come and go, bright sunshine lulled us into removing our coats and waterproof trousers.

Hardly a trickle on Saturday over this weir

The weir at Kelston Lock on Saturday had hardly been flowing, today it was matching the others lower down stream.

One of two spotted today

Weston Lock took forever to fill due to there being only one paddle working, the other wrapped in a plastic bag. The weir was running fast and it looked like the flood gate was slightly lifted too.

Slowly

Once we’d got to within a couple of feet from the top of the lock we both got distracted by our phones. Two boats headed towards us but winded through the next bridge, then the bow of a hire boat appeared, I’d be able to leave the gates for them.

Dark clouds gathering behind

It was lunchtime. Should we take advantage of the sunnier weather and work up the locks. Should we pull in near to Sainsburys and have lunch, Mick needing some bread. The decision was made for us as the rain clouds burst again over head. Coats quickly back on and we made our way to the 48hr mooring nearest to Sainsburys.

No need to water the plants today

No rings or bollards to tie to here, just a fence which is just at the right height to give you a soggy crutch. Mick headed off for a few supplies and returned with vouchers we would have to use. 3 x nectar points and if we spent £100 we’d get an extra 2000 points, we decided to stay put for the day and go and do a big shop that we needed to do anyway.

My new sour dough loaf was mixed and left to rise for an hour and a half then baked. The smell from the oven so yummy. Once it was out of the oven cooling and the news had finished we headed to stock up with shopping. Four boxes of wine brought the bill to over £100, but the check out didn’t want to accept the voucher, assistance was needed. The chap tried several times but failed, he just gave us the points manually in the end.

Oat and Chestnut bread and chocolate chip cookies. Who says gluten free is dull

As we ate our evening meal a batch of chocolate chip cookies went in the oven. I’d made the mixture a few days ago in case we had any visitors, now it was needing to be cooked. The smell through the boat meant we just had to have one each for pudding. Yummy!

4 locks, 6.77 miles, 2 Houdini questions, 2 kingfishers, 4 busy weirs, 3 downpours, 0 prorogation, 4 boxes wine, 1 box Tilly food, 0 shore leave AGAIN!!! 1 oat and chestnut loaf, 6 choc chip cookies, 2 full boaters.

A Double Stamp. 27th August


Eaton Hastings to Chimney

Grafton Lock

The water needed topping up and our black yellow water container was full so we needed to use various services. The first water point was at Grafton Lock, we pulled in and started to fill the tank whilst the Lockie filled the lock for us, he then pushed open the gates ready and waiting for us. From a quarter of a tank to full in about five minutes, I love these Thames hoses.

Tepees

A mile further on and the number of tents had decreased dramatically at Radcot Bridge and all the tepees were closed up. Not even a faint hint of bacon in the air this morning.

Would the lock be in our favour?

Another mile on and two boats came towards us from Radcot Lock, would that mean it was in our favour. As we approached the top gates were being closed and I could see the Lockie winding up the paddles. I walked up to help with the gates. A large chunk of reeds was in the lock with the boat, the Lockie was determined to get ride of it. She hoped it would exit the lock but it stayed put. So up it came again where she could hoik it out.

Trying to fish the reeds out

As the top gates opened and Oleanna went into the lock another clump came with us. With Mick and the Lockie working in unison it was pushed to the side and she managed to lift it all out. No chance of it getting round anyone’s prop now.

Yesterday the Lockie had seen 62 boats through Bascot Lock, so she was pleased that today it was far quieter on the river and spotting Tilly sat in the window made her day.

Two miles of wiggles to Rushey Lock where we pulled in with another narrowboat who’d been using the services and giving their boat a wash. Rubbish and the elsan for our yellow water. We’d both forgotten that there had been signs saying that there was no rubbish at Rushey. There was a large skip, but it was locked. A few people had left bags of rubbish on the top of it, but we decided to take ours with us to the next bin.

A photo of a swan with her cygnet instead of the walker

By the time we were finished we pulled in alongside the other boat and the Lockies dropped us down to the next reach of the river. There weren’t as many people about as yesterday, maybe that was just as well as around the next bend a chap came striding along with only boots and glasses on. I do hope he’d applied some sun screen! We waved and he waved back.

Tadpole Bridge

On my phone I’d marked several places that were possible moorings for us today, so when the first came into view on the off side we gave it a go. Just long enough for us, a grassy garden all to ourselves for the afternoon, with plenty of friendly cover to keep Tilly occupied.

I was given until 7.15. Loads of time. Great. I came back a couple of times. Tom spent the afternoon with string hanging out of his ears, apparently he’d been listening to England winning again. It wasn’t any different but apparently knowing the outcome he could hear different things.

She got the big board out. I could have stayed in to help keep an eye on the back of it for her, but there was far too much to do in this outside. So whilst she drew up bigger things I made full use of my surroundings.

Complicated drawings of bigger things

Here there are holes, very handy holes to put friends in for safe keeping. I managed to find several of them quite quickly. No trees, but so much friendly cover. I came back at Ding Ding time and had a few biscuits, but because Tom and She were eating outside I would have to wait for my Ding Ding so I headed back off into the cover.

Our own clearing all to ourselves

Being on the off side meant we had no passing footfall, no woofers to disturb our little thug. It’s nice to find such places and let Tilly come and go, but when dusk hits I’d rather she was indoors. We finished our barbecue, pork and veg kebabs with some almond rice, and tidied up. I could see a large white bird, an owl maybe, swooping low over the field behind us, but I couldn’t see a cat! I called and meowed with no response. The light was now fading, I tried again. Nothing.

Patience was what was needed and trust that she would return. The torch was used to scan the fields once it was dark, still nothing. Another look outside at 10pm. Still nothing. Patience and trust. I popped her litter tray out on the stern in case she’d gone deaf and couldn’t hear me.

By 11pm Mick had put long trousers on and was wading through the friendly cover with the torch. I stood and called. I stood and listened. Nothing but the faint rumbles of farmers in their fields. Mick waded his way to the nearest best looking tree, then back again along a small ridge sweeping the torch too and fro across the field. Nothing what so ever.

Back inside we both sat in silence the TV making it’s noises, both of us not taking any notice, listening elsewhere. What if this had happened? What if that? Our patience and trust slowly disappearing.

Both of us flinched at a single small noise outside. Nothing followed it.

Then I heard another two similar quiet noises, followed by three more. I opened the back doors and went outside. This outside was very dark and my eyes were not accustomed to it so I couldn’t see if there was a white tipped tale. Four paws landed on the stern and fur brushed past my legs. Thank f****ing ……..

I really don’t know what all the fuss was about. I came home when they wanted me to and then they didn’t want me! So I’d just been amusing myself. Tom put down some Ding Ding, the gravy was nice, but I’d filled myself up already. Time for a good nap I think.

3 locks, 8.21 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing washed, 1 load washing dried, 2 cheeky pink cheeks, 1 perfect mooring, 6 hours extended to 11! 4 friends that we know of, 2 pork loins, 4 veg kebabs, 1 AWOL cat, 2 very concerned boaters, 1 torch needing recharging, 4000 zzzs needed now, 2 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 confiscated by She!

Tranquil River! 25th August

Kelmscott Manor to the Cow Mooring, Lechlade.

Our view this morning

Shortly after pushing off this morning we came across an Anglo Welsh hire boat. A chap stood on the bow as look out and possible navigator. He signalled to us that they would be passing on the wrong side, well we hoped that would be what was going to happen! Luckily for our gunnel it was, we checked that they were aware of which side to pass on. They were, but on this occasion it simply wasn’t going to happen.

As they went past the chap at the helm was having a major work out, pumping the tiller. You quite often see work boats doing this to help bring the stern around when turning, more modern boats tend not to need such a technique. Perhaps some of this had been needed to get round the hair pin bends that they’d just come through, or maybe they had something around their prop! But this poor chap was certainly getting a good cardiovascular workout.

Big twists and turns today

Two hairpin bends ahead, the full 180 degrees. Meeting a boat here would make things difficult, but we turned them without difficulty. Sue and Vic on No Problem XL had been hoping to get up to Lechlade this year, we now totally understood why they had turned round.

Bucsot Lock had Lockies on duty, they got us ready to ascend but then we had to wait whilst they sorted out a day boat that seemed to have no idea what was about to happen. The Lockie wanted them tied up to the landing before they started to fill the lock with us in it, she apologised for our delay. I think she’d given the day boat such strict instructions they didn’t dare move when it was their turn.

Don’t run the nephew down!

Another 180 degree bend where we managed to avoid running over a nine year old in a canoe, the whole family out for a jaunt.

The last lock on the Thames

Soon we reached St John’s Lock, the Lockie from yesterday was on duty and who should we come across waiting to go up, the mute canoeist! Except today he actually talked to Mick before clinging onto our gunnel.

Hooligans

The last few twists of the Thames and we could see the meadow mooring at Lechlade stretching out ahead of us, along with the bovine hooligans that everyone hears so much about. These cows are well known for eating your ropes, plants, boat covers, anything they can get hold of. Sue had suggested mooring at The New Inn just before the bridge, but sadly these spaces were full, so we pulled in on the meadow, the cows were way down the other end of the field.

Another pill box and Lechlade church spire

No shade again, we closed the curtains and waited for the boat to become an oven. Tilly was too hot to want to explore and just became a long cat on the bed for much of the day. With the radio on we listened to the cricket, the possibility of an England win gradually went from zero to quite high. Mick was staying in, so I went for a nosy around Lechlade on my own.

Plenty of space to moor

I’d imagined the moorings to be a lot busier than they were, a few narrowboats and two or three cruisers, leaving plenty of space on a Bank Holiday weekend. The river itself was quite busy, lots of canoes, paddle boards and swans who were having a major feast of weed from the river bed.

At Ha’penny Bridge the world got even busier. The tables at the bottom of The New Inn were filled with drinkers, glad we didn’t moor there in the end, and the Riverside Inn was heaving on the otherside. Is it as busy as this the rest of the week. Crossing over the bridge to reach the town it felt like I was in some sort of resort, traffic backed up, people enjoying the sunshine and booze and lads jumping off the bridge inbetween the swan peddle boats and paddle boarders. The tranquil Thames no more!

Only four months away

Lechlade has a lot of pretty buildings, but a lot of traffic too. A strange collection of shops, Tarot reading, bric-a-brac, bath bombs and of course what every town needs a Christmas Shop. As it’s four months to the big day I decided to go and have a look. Lots of sparkly glittery things, lights and nutcrackers filled the shelves. I wondered if there might be anything to add to my homemade wreath that gets added to the cratch each year, but no, nothing that took my fancy.

Not a cloud in the sky

Across the way from the church is a Londis which seemed fairly well stocked, but only plastic bread, so I carried on and walked up to the Co-op a good half mile further on. The butcher as I thought was closed and still will be tomorrow, a shame as it looked like a good one. The Co-op had bread but no newspapers, so I took a different route back to Londis picking up the last Sunday paper to make up for not being able to get one yesterday.

More people were in the river now, alcohol and sun burn made them noisier. Back on board England only had 44 runs to get, Tilly sat on the back deck in the shade attracting passers by. The tension mounted in Leeds until Ben Stokes hit the ball for another boundary four, winning the test.

There’s some yummy weed down here

A pub meal was called for this evening, stocks low and an urge for chips. Only one pub still serving food on a Sunday evening the New Inn. Their menu had Gluten Free alternatives for various options, but when Mick checked what the GF option was for one of their burgers, it was a disappointment. Yes it is an option to have a burger without a bun, but a burger should have a bun, other places manage it. So I opted for my second choice a Blade of beef which came without chips, Mick kindly offered me one of his. Have to say I’d have been disappointed with the chips as they were the ones that taste like they are made from mashed potato. Where have all the handcut triple cooked chips gone in this world?

Having said that we had a nice meal and headed back to the boat for a second glass of wine. As the light dimmed the cows moved closer. A post by the bow was very useful for a scratch and the grass was certainly going to be kept short, just hope our paintwork lasts the night.

The hooligans at close quarters

2 locks, 3.21 miles, 1 exhausted hire boater, 180 degrees twice, 1 talkative canoeist, 98 hooligans, 3 giant swans, 1 Stourport on Thames, 0 candyfloss, 0 chilled medication, 30ish degrees, 1 shy Tilly, 359 to win, 0 bun, 1 blade beef, 1 gammon, 1 pint of T, 1 glass of wine, 1 very hot day.

A Jumper Day. 12th August

Henley to above Sonning Lock

Henley

The first rower went past before 7am today, no need for an alarm clock. At least it must have been a scull as all we heard was the slide going back and forth and the oars sweeping through the water and not the instructions that are normally shouted out in pairs, fours or eights, some of these rowers do like the sound of their own voices.

Just after breakfast it started to rain, not inviting but our hope that it would clear up was granted and we set off in the dry. Today is the first day we’ve worn an extra layer for what feels like months, the temperature having dropped to a little below 20 C.

I’d like to sit on that balcony

Some of the boat houses in Henley have accommodation above them and some are as pretty as the wooden boats that are moored up outside.

Slowly reaching the lock

We’d just missed going up with two other narrowboats at Marsh Lock so waited our turn to rise to the next reach of river.

Twisty chimneys

Numerous islands give you the choice of which way to go, so we decided to have a nosy at some of the houses. The bigger ones sit back with large lawns, these houses have views across the river. The smaller ones, more modern, face wooded islands which stop their views short.

Test driving the new waterproofs

It started to rain so waterproofs were donned as we wound round the big bend past Wargrave to Shiplake Lock. Back in 2016 as we arrived at this lock there was a queue, a big one that wasn’t moving, all it did was grown. Boats held back but in the end had to pull in down towards the weir as a hydraulic pipe had burst on one of the gates. After two hours wait the queue started to move again. Today we’d just missed the two narrowboats ahead again so waited our turn.

No big queue today

We pulled in at the services to empty the yellow water, top up the water which took all of five minutes. Between here and the lock were large tents the sort you see on American films, both ends open and a large fly sheet spanning right across the top. Each tent had wooden beds in them and then what looked like a garden shed. The island was purchased in 1891 by the City of London Corporation for camping and bathing. In 1914 the island was let to the Thames Conservancy and divided into 18 plots, the wooden huts were built by the tents for cooking. At the time no women were allowed to sleep on the island, it was men only. Sadly today it was raining too much to have my camera out as we went past.

One legged goose

The rain now stayed with us all the way to Sonning Lock where we rose up (a little too quickly for my liking) and then found a suitable place to moor. Tilly wouldn’t like it here in the slightest!

Now this more than made up for the lack of trees yesterday. 6 hours! I’d only just started to survey today’s outside when another stupid woofer came to spoil my concentration. This one even ran up to me! Woofing and woofing. I stood my ground, arched my back and my tail nearly took off, that stopped it in it’s tracks! Stupid rude woofer. Once it had shut up I could get back to what I’d only just started.

A wooden chair

After a couple of hours I had to be reminded that I was meant to show my face every now and then, so from then on I bobbed back to say hello every now and then. One time She wasn’t too pleased to see me and my friend, even though She thought it might be a mushroom I had in my mouth. The hatch was closed in my face, so I just had to turn back round towards the trees with it. If She didn’t want to me to share it with her then that was her loss.


Property Game

Now this one is in Marlow. How much?

3 locks, 7.34 miles, 2 jumpers, 2 waterproof coats, 0 blue t-shirt, 3 lock keepers, 1 a bit heavy on the buttons, 10 year old hollyhocks, 6 hours, 1 mushroom, 2 work emails, 1 useful buoy.

Yesterdays Answer

£3,500,000 A Tudor Style Country residence with 50ft of water frontage. It has a garden room, indoor swimming pool and a snooker room with a baize coloured carpet!

Joa, I think the slipway along with the baize carpet added another million.

Southern Woofers Have NO Manners! 20th July

Pyrford Basin to Send Church Footbridge

Rain hit Oleanna’s roof for much of last night, but by first thing this morning it had dried up. Mick headed off on a bike to find a Waitrose for a free newspaper, along with £10 of shopping. He was fortunate as when he returned we had a couple of major down pours, the sort that would soak you to the skin despite waterproofs.

Paws crossed for finer weather

10% chance of rain! Well we’d got that 10% and we weren’t going to set off whilst it was at it’s worst. By midday the sun was trying to make an appearance so we made ready to push off. A boat appeared from behind, we had a locking partner.

The Anchor Pub was already attracting customers and would be a handy place for a delivery should we need one on the way back. The crew of NB Montana were setting the lock when I reached them after dropping off some rubbish.

The Anchor

I’d set the bow rope on the port side roof, but as the boats came into the lock we ended up on the starboard side, I’d be needing a boat hook to get the rope. The hook we were left with at little Venice is nice and light weight with an aluminium pole so easy to handle.

We tied up as we’d done yesterday using the yellow post at the stern. NB Montana tied up using all three ropes, but not one of them round the yellow post. There was a lot of rushing around trying to stop their boat from surging forward and backwards, the centre line getting tighter and tighter whilst Oleanna just rose up the lock gracefully. I mentioned to the lady about the yellow post, she wasn’t aware if they’d been told about it at Thames Lock.

Time to turn the engines back on, not a rumble from NB Montana! He tried again and again, still no joy. We said we’d wait for them at the next lock, for a while anyway and left them to bow haul out of the lock making way for a boat to go down.

Pretty summer house

The next stretch was narrow and slow going. We think it was both the depth but also the current as we were heading upstream. A quick look at a map showed us that RHS Wisley isn’t too far away and to keep an eye open for an Elizabethan Summer House. There it was nestled in amongst the trees.

Walsham Lock Cottage
You don’t get bells like that anymore

The lock cottage at Walsham Flood Gates watched our progress, Mick was impressed by the telephone bells by the front door.

Moorings

Now we were back on the river, wider and deeper. The moorings by the lock looked like they’d be fun to reverse out off and not get drawn towards the weir!

Waiting, but for how long?

A boat was just coming out of Newark Lock leaving it all ready for us. How long should we wait? We decided on ten minutes or until a boat came the other way. The sun was now out, layers could be removed as we waited. After eight minutes a boat appeared above the lock, oh well we’d have to ascend as we were in the way.

A lady came to help and we left her with a message for NB Montana that we’d wait at the next lock, they’re on a mission to reach Guildford today for dinner.

This looks a good place for the way back

I’d seen that NB Huffler had moored at Papercourt Meadows a few days ago, this had to be those meadows. Wide grassy, perfect place for a barbecue, maybe on our way back. We noted a couple of places that looked deep enough to moor as boats were already tied up.

Very pretty

I hopped off just before we reached the bywash from the weir and walked up to the lock, pausing to take photos. What a picturesque scene in the sunshine with the cottage and stepped weir, chocolate box.

Family

A family of Egyptian Geese were preening themselves by the top gates which kept me occupied as we waited. NB Montana could be seen making her way through the meadows, as they got closer I spotted a second boat hot on their tail. Should we go up on our own or wait. We waited saving them an extra ten minutes emptying the lock.

This time they used the yellow post and both boats sat calmly as they rose, affording everyone chance to have a chat. Paddles were wound in unison. They’d had a chap this morning lift a paddle straight up which had sent the plume of water straight into their bow and inside the cabin. She got him to quickly close the paddle and avoid them sinking, they still had a wet floor that needed mopping up. Have to say we never go up hill with our cabin doors open just for this reason.

Nearly at the top

We led the way for the next two miles. Pretty rural turned into offices/factory at the cut side. Another flood gate at Worsfold where the National Trust work yard is. Nicholsons mentions a turf sided lock here, but we didn’t spot it, we’ll have a better look on the way back.

Bar on a chain to stop you leaning over

The river now winds and twists towards the next pretty lock, Triggs Lock with another fine cottage. The bottom gates when open lean over the channel so, as on other gates, there are chains and a bar to help you pull them towards you from a safe distance. This was to be our last lock of the day, so we waved NB Montana goodbye and hoped they had a lovely evening.

Triggs Lock

Through the next bridge was a trimmed stretch of towpath, we arrive just as a group of canoeists did, they loitered exactly where we wanted to pull in but they got the message in the end. The wind had been doing it’s best to aid us in mooring when the canoes had been in the way, but now had disappeared. Oleanna just wouldn’t go into the side, Mick hopped off but no matter how he pulled on the centre line she just wasn’t having any of it. A blast of reverse to get her back close enough for Mick to jump back on and we headed off to try the next place.

This was also too shallow, a shame as there would have been a great view of Send church from our bedroom in the morning. The next trimmed length we were determined to moor in. The bow came in close enough to hop off, but the stern wouldn’t. Any further along the river and we’d be too close to roads for Tilly, so here it was to be. Spikes banged in and plank deployed, the first time since the Lancaster. This reminded us that we really need to get a longer one very soon!

What is this?!!!

Excuse me!!! Just what were they thinking? This outside had water everywhere! How was I meant to be able to get to it? Tom showed me this sloping thing, it smelt like ours but really! No thank you!! A thin slice of tree is no good for anyone!

Tree!

However the trees here were good. Good for climbing. I soon discovered that I could jump the gap over the water and onto the roof when a rude woofer came to see me. It didn’t stay long when I showed it what I was made of.

I really wasn’t sure about this outside, so She came out to go for a walk with me. I like this, both of us discovering new things, mostly trees and friends for me. Today however we discovered that most Southern Woofers are very rude!

One came running from quite a distance, so I decided to head up a tree. Here I had to cling on whilst it shouted at me for ages. It’s Tom just smiled and walked by calling it’s stupid name. In the end She had to risk her life and stand in between us as the woofer just wasn’t going to leave. Have to say I was glad when it did my claws were starting to ache!

Action shot

I discovered that I could jump onto the side hatch with relative ease which came in handy later on when the stupid Tom came back with his exceptionally rude woofer. Doors were closed very quickly on the boat locking it out. Why was the Tom stupid? He had a lead and knew I was there so why hadn’t he used it?! Stupid and selfish, if I’d been a little kid running away I bet he’d have apologised. Maybe he is scared of his woofer and can’t keep hold of it or is even afraid that it might bite him. Anyway my Tom was so not impressed! I now HATE woofers!

Last night I’d prepared a sponge for a loaf of Sour Dough, this had been getting frothier all day. So once we’d moored up I mixed in the other ingredients and added some yeast so that we wouldn’t have to wait until midnight to bake it. It rose nicely over a couple of hours. Then as I popped it in the over I happened to give the tin a slight knock against the grill pan. My recipe warns against this as with no gluten the loaf can collapse, all those hours of rising gone immediately to waste.

The loaf looked okay as it went in the oven, but when I turned the temperature down I had a look. It had sunk by about a quarter, a big dip in the middle! I toyed with abandoning it there and then, not wasting gas. But baked it in the end, we’ll see how it turns out for toast tomorrow.

Sunken!

4 locks, 2 flood gates, 5.19 miles, 1 summer house, 1 broken boat, 1 meadow mooring noted, 3 shallow moorings also noted, 0 outside close enough, 2 rude woofers, 3 woofer incidents, 1 freaked out cat, 1 totally selfish dog owner, 1 sunken loaf, 1 migraine brewing, 1 property game put off till tomorrow.

Cake! 28th June

Pixes Farm Bridge to above Iron Bridge Lock Cassiobury Park

The alarm went off and we were out of bed, our morning cuppa accompanied breakfast instead of being enjoyed in bed. There was far too many locks and miles to cover today to laze around. We were ready for the off at 8am, an hour too early to be joined by Sue and Alan on the boat behind, they were only heading into Hemel so there would only have been a few locks to share.

Breakfast time

A heron seemed quite happy for me to fill Bourne End Bottom Lock. He stood over the boiling water looking for his breakfast, but as soon as the gates were opened he flew off to try elsewhere.

That boat again!

On the moorings below Winkwell Lock sat a couple of boats, one being Tyseley. A boat had just come through the swing bridge and was pulling in below the lock as we left. Towpath side of Tyseley was all closed up, but the hatch was opened so Mick had chance to say good morning to Marianne and the company. They were having a slow morning and wouldn’t be setting off until 10am as tonight’s show is at Fishery Wharf in Hemel only a few locks away.

There were waves all round, then Chris appeared with a present for us. They had been given a lot, a lot of cakes and biscuits a couple of days ago and had been boasting about them on Facebook. I’d suggested that we should catch them up and assist by alleviating them of some of their cake ballast that had given them a list. Chris had with him quarter of a very fine looking vanilla and raspberry three tier cake (the filling being nearly as much as the two sponge layers). Blimey! Thank you!!

Cake!

Tyseley will pass us once more most probably after the weekend when friends of Mikron will be moving her down onto the Thames whilst the actors have a week off.

Pretty boat

Once down Winkwell Lock we kept our eyes peeled on the moored boats. Our friends Viv and Micky have recently bought themselves NB Little Layla and she is moored here for a while. Very pretty she looks too nestled in amongst the other residents.

Pulling up towards Boxmoor Top Lock a figure was approaching from below pushing a Brompton bike. This was Jen an old college friend of mine who lives in Hemel, we’d last managed to meet up on our first trip to London on Lillian in 2014/2015. Fridays is a day off and we’d planned on having a cuppa and catch up, then we’d ended up with a bit of a mission for today. Only one thing for it she’d have to help us through the locks to Apsley.

Jen at Fishery Lock

Plenty to talk about as she had her first experience of being on a moving narrowboat. She was given a windlass and had the basic principles explained then we worked our way down the locks into Hemel. There was a lot to catch up on, so the locks would be set to fill or empty as required and then conversations continued.

Tea and cake for the new crew

After an hour and a half we’d reached our tea break stop, the mooring at Sainsburys in Apsley. The kettle went on and was accompanied by a big slice of cake. Jen was nice apart from not letting me out, but she gives a good chin rub so I didn’t mind too much. A guided tour of Oleanna and then it was time for her to get on with the rest of the day. It had been a lovely opportunity with the sun out, Jen is now considering a narrowboat holiday.

Wine delivery right to the stern

Our pause here was of course to stock up on cat litter and a few boxes of wine to replenish the cellar. This was followed by a quick lunch and application of sun cream before we pushed off again, our destination still quite a distance away.

Within the M25

The scaffolding on the M25 has been cleared away from the spans near the canal. Where once boats were tied up underneath there is now a high fence and security cameras.

Sweet
smelling
flowers

Just quarter of a mile further on is North Grove Lock. We were last here 2 years and 8 days ago very early in the morning trying to avoid cruising in the heat of the day. The flowers are still wonderful around the lock cottage and in the sunshine they were giving off quite a heady perfume.

A group of lads were fishing at the next bend. We slowed as normal and kept to the centre. Instead of them reeling in their lines they just ducked their rods down into the water. Mick said the usual ‘thank you’. Then it appeared that we’d been caught by one of them. Mick went out of gear, the line still caught. Nothing was said by the chap at the other end. Nothing much we could do. The line stayed taught then eventually pinged as we drifted. ‘Are you going to pay for that!?’ the first words the lad had said. ‘Well no!”

Miss Haversham’s dog

There followed an exchange of words, he suggested that we shouldn’t run our engine past fishermen, we refrained from suggesting that if his float and hook were so expensive he was stupid to leaving it in the water as boats passed engine running or not! We remained polite and apologised, he didn’t.

That pretty white roving bridge

More locks, each getting a little bit harder in the heat. Groups of boats lined lengths of the towpath, but others which have always been full were empty. A mooring we’d used a couple of years ago opposite The Grove Golf Course was occupied, that boat will only get an hours direct sun tomorrow, we were hoping for somewhere similar.

The two Cassiobury Locks

Two more locks into Cassiobury Park, then we had our fingers crossed for a deep enough mooring with shade. NB Yarak had found a good spot, we tried further along. I stood on the bow looking into the shallow water shaking my head. The depth around 8 inches at most, we continued. The reason no boats were moored was evident. But before the next boat I couldn’t see the bottom, did this mean it would be deep enough? Mick swung the stern in first, still floating at the edge. The bow pulled all the way in too. Towpath side plenty of tree cover, off side a couple of big trees, we’d still however get direct sun in the middle of the day, this would do.

Which one first?

The back doors were opened and Tilly headed off into the trees to explore. A quick check in at Oleanna after an hour was a mistake. As I stepped back off the boat an unwelcome sight greeted me. A black cat with white toes! My white feet and tip of my tail far out rank just toes, but this cat was far heavier than me. I stood my ground, should I need to make a quick exit I was going to be far more nimble than that fat thing!

Our fender collection is growing again

The stand off was curtailed, we don’t want any vets bills thank you. Tilly was encouraged inside and I chatted to the visitor. He gradually walked away down the towpath. Later on Mick was sent outside to discourage a return visit, heavy paws had been heard landing on the stern. Hopefully tomorrow both cats will have shore leave, leaving each other alone whilst we bake in the midday sun.

19 locks, 8.44 miles, 1 swing bridge holding up 4, 1/4 of a cake, 1 Jenos Esplos, 5 locks catching up, 1 new friend, 6 boxes wine, 10 litres cat litter, 2 fenders rescued, 2 trip boats, 0 boats to team up with, M25, 1 cobwed woofer, 1 twonk head, 1 float, 1 last mooring deep enough, 1 fat lard cake, 1 less slight cat.