Category Archives: Birds

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?

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.

Giving Up. 6th July

Above Iron Bridge Lock

We went to bed with it raining, it carried on all night and we woke to it raining, it was cold too! Whilst still in bed it didn’t take us long to decided to give up on our current cruising plan. We have somewhere to be, but that place isn’t dependant on where Oleanna is, we’ll still head to where we’d planned, but in a more leisurely fashion which hopefully will mean we stay dry.

Make it stop

She said I liked this outside. She was wrong! She’s been promising me a sausage day. She said it was a soggy sausage day. She wasn’t wrong! I tried to make her stroke the rain away and make it a lovely sunny outside, but it didn’t work! Only one thing left to try, sit and stare at the wetness and will it to go away. She and Tom left me to try this on my own in the pram cover, they’d just given up! So much for supportive crew!

It didn’t work!!!

Has it stopped yet?

Tilly gave up too and came back inside. Mick headed off for a Saturday newspaper with a brolly, after he’d lit the stove. Sock pair 27 needed their ends weaving in and would then mean I could take photos of the previous four pairs which I could then package up ready for posting. This requires the use of the dinette table, so Mick being out made it a good time.

Labelling socks ready for sending

The boat started to warm up, yesterdays clothes started to dry out. It kept raining.

What shall I paint today?

Time to get my watercolours out. Some photo auditioning was required, a short list put together and then an image selected. By the end of the afternoon I’d drawn out and put the first colours on a painting. The rain also stopped and some boats were on the move. Tilly headed out for an explore., Mick watched the cycling and occasionally flicked over to check the football score.

Why wasn’t it like this ALL day?

A fox! Where was it? Somewhere quite close. Please don’t say Tilly was trying to round it up! The noisy screeching barks put us on edge, time to persuade Tilly to come in. Mick tried, then I had a go from the hatch. Thankfully she was much closer to the boat than the fox and came quite quickly. It’s good here, why didn’t you tell me I liked it!

Mandarin Spring Roll Ducks having a preen

Paprika Pork for dinner, a catch up on the news, pair 28 cast on and then the final of Traitors USA 2.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 newspaper, 1lb jersey royals, 1 floating boat, 4 pairs packed up, 2nd class postage, 1 fox, 1 soggy sausage day, 1 stove, 28th pair cast on, 1 finale, 1 fast moving canal, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval for late afternoon.

We’d Better Turn At Bridge Nine! 3rd July

River Colne Aqueducts to River Colne Aqueducts

After breakfast and spending time convincing Tilly that she didn’t need to go out this morning we got ourselves ready to venture onto new waters. The Slough Arm has only been cruised a short distance further on, to the next winding hole back in 2015, today we aimed to reach the end. As recorded by, I’m not going to say many, some boaters there isn’t much at the end. Mile posts suggest a basin, but that is most probably just a winding hole now. Our map shows a water point, although it does suggest it’s just about impossible to reach. We hoped to see for ourselves.

It was drizzling, but undeterred we got ready to push off. Akeem was getting ready to tow the boat he’d been painting yesterday down the canal to High Line Yachting to go on brokerage, it would be easier for him if we moved first. A check across the way to the chap in his tent, no sign of him this morning, his tent gone, maybe he’d started to walk to Milton Keynes?

Without the M25

Pootling onwards the rain came and went, not too heavy, my waterproof trousers keeping it at bay thankfully. A C&RT weed boat had been going back and forth this morning removing Pennywort, they turned and moved to a wider section of the canal to enable us to pass.

Everyone warns you of how shallow the canal is and about the amount of weed. Akeem said two or three boats had ventured towards the end in the last week, maybe they’d have cut a channel for us, stay in the middle, we intended to do so.

There’ll be enough room to get past

Under the M25. The straightish canal means you can see a long way ahead and up ahead Hollow Hill Lane Bridge looked to be full of boat. I zoomed in, breasted up boats on the other side of the bridge, hopefully they’d have left enough room for us to get through. As we got closer a third boat could be seen, then a forth, the going was quite slow, but we slowed even more and just managed to squeeze past.

We weren’t expecting to see so many boats here. Some four abreast, but mostly two stretching on towards the next bridge. Bright green blanket weed sat on the surface and clung to the hulls. A chap came over to chat as we slowly passed, he was sorry things were a bit awkward for us, but it was boat moving day. A crane on the bank and four boats now stood out on the hard, one having passed us this morning. He also suggested we didn’t try to get to the end, ‘There’s a winding hole after bridge 9’. We took note, we already knew this, but it would be a shame to get that far and not see if we could get to the end.

Most definitely a narrow canal

Once past all the moored boats the going got better. Less weed and a bit more depth, no problem. Then the reeds got closer, just enough room for us to pass through. It was obvious we’d picked things up on the prop, our progress getting slower. Blasts of reverse seemed to do a little to improve things. Bridge 9, then the winding hole, we carried onwards, still not too bad.

Plastic and weed

Then bridge 10, the going slowed more. The depth reduced, bubbles rising to the surface, blimey what a pong!!! Then we could see the amount of rubbish that laid below the surface and the increasing blanket weed. One stop to clear the prop.

As soon as Mick started up the engine, put Oleanna into gear we heard the weed suck straight onto the prop within just a few seconds. By the time Mick had cleared the prop again the water around us was clearing and we could see just how much weed was down there! A full carpet lying about a foot below the surface. As Mick cleared the prop he could have almost pulled the weed up through the hatch, but it would have kept going and going.

Ahead there may have been better patches. Ahead there may just be solid weed. Oleanna sits quite deep in the water, lining up the prop with the weed no matter how slowly we went. If we carried on we’d maybe not get back to where we started today for many hours. If we reversed we’d only have to do a third the distance than if we carried on.

Quite a bit more!

It’s not often we’re defeated, but today we were. With the prop clear we started to head backwards, at a very slow pace. This wasn’t by choice. The barge pole was required as Oleanna had no forwards propulsion to help alter our course and using the bow thruster would just be plain stupid! She could now only go backwards. Our course corrected a few times, the barge pole kept upright and handy at the stern rather than laid back on the roof, then all propulsion ceased. Time to clear the prop again, we’d only managed a hundred feet!

Mick opened up the weedhatch again. The super sharp knife, propmate all useful, but the weed was wrapped around the prop shaft, he’d need a longer blade without the length of the propmate. The not so good bread knife was produced and used to carve his way through the weed. This took forever, blood rushing to his head.

In the mean time I watched Red Kites circling. They’d been visible for the last mile or so, about four of them. Now their numbers had increased, eight, no ten, no Twelve! Were our days numbered? Were they circling with Hitchcock intent? Then I noticed that they were occasionally diving down to a grassy area between houses, they’d swoop down in turn then climb back with something in their talons. What had someone put out for them? I really couldn’t see.

I tried filming them several times, this is the best I could muster whilst Mick was hacking away below the water line.

A further mountain of weed and plastic was added on the stern. We carried on reversing, poling our way straight back to clearer and deeper water. On our way out we’d managed two miles in the first hour, a mile and a half in the next, then 0.1 mile in the third hour! If we’d carried on to the basin we’d have not returned until midnight!!!

Pretty in parts

Once we reached bridge 10 the going got easier. Shame the blackberries are not ripe yet as we’d have managed to pick bucket loads as we went. Back to the winding hole we turned to face the east. Forwards propulsion now possible again.

You can wipe that smile off your face, you’ve not been down the far end!

Slowly past the long line of boats, Akeem had not long arrived to deliver the boat for sale. He asked how it had gone, we just sighed and waved goodbye. There was plenty of space back where we’d started so we tied up to the big posts, opened the door for Tilly to have an hour and a half shore leave.

Within again!

After a couple of hours a motorbike zoomed along the towpath, time for Tilly to be home, no sign! Half an hour later after the motorbike had returned I tried again. Mad cat woman on the towpath! I called and called, was that Tilly? Called some more, was I going to have to trust her to come home. Then MEOW!!! I’m up here you numpty! Up on the bridge across the canal she stood and proceeded to run across towards the other side! Come and see what’s on this outside Thankfully when I got up on the bridge she came running, she’d obviously finished what she was doing. As much as it would have been nice to explore with her it was everyone’s dingding time! Time to get back on the boat.

0 locks, 7.2 miles, 0.1 mph, 1 mighty mountain of weed, 1 pole, 2/3rds of a mile from the end, 2 boaters defeated, 12 red kites, 1/3rds mile reversed, 1 wind, 1 bridge, 1 extra hour, 1 seduction refused.

Does anyone know what time of year the weed is less? Plus, is it due to be dredged anytime in the next few years?

Early Again. 26th June

Hanwell Moorings to Ballot Box Bridge, Grand Union Canal Paddington Arm.


Another early alarm! Today we hoped we’d make better progress than yesterday, Nebolink was turned on at 5:15, we pushed off towards the locks slowly and quietly to avoid waking our neighbours. If you are part of the St Pancras Cruising Club Tideway cruise this weekend the moorings are already reserved at the bottom of the flight.

Starting up the locks

The bottom lock was just about empty as would be all but one chamber be up the flight. The lower intermediate pounds seemed to be level this morning, not much of any water running over the bywashes. As I filled the bottom lock the level dropped above, this is of course how they should work, enough water to get over the top cill, but would the pound be sufficiently deep to traverse across. With all but one lock empty this morning I wouldn’t be able to drop water as we went to help.

Heading up the flight

A dog walker crossed the gates, the occasional runner ran down the flight, then back up, but other than that we had the flight to ourselves.

The pretty Lock Cottage

The low sun made it hard to look back down the flight at times, but all was calm and sunny with the world, even my migraine seemed to have subsided to not really be noticed.


There is one pound that has nearly always been low when we’ve gone through Hanwell, the risk of setting off early and why we were cautious with levels. However this morning all pounds were full before I filled the locks. It must have been the easiest ascent or descent of the flight we’ve ever had.

Three Bridges

As always I walked along the towpath to reach Three Bridges before Oleanna did, a photo here is more than obligatory for us as the flight and the bridge is where Mick’s interest in the canals was kindled at an early age.

No spaces where we’d wanted to be last night

The pound was full of moored boats, only one we’d seen pass us yesterday. So maybe if we’d carried on we’d have found a space to moor for the day, but with zero shade. We’d made the right discission to call it an early day and not try to battle onwards.

As Oleanna rose up Norwood Bottom Lock we could see something was happening above at the top lock, was there a boat coming? It looked as if the lock was emptying. I spotted a blue t-shirt, someone was litter picking around the lock, 7:20, blimey that’s an early start for a volunteer!

Is that a man in blue?

The chap was an Explorer volunteer, part of C&RT education team. Today he was expecting a school group, so was giving the top lock a bit of a spruce up whilst he ran some water down into the intermediate pound which can get quite low. I said that this had been our best trip up the locks, no water issues on the whole and where there might have been he was already letting water down. I asked how far the school group would go down the flight, he might want to fish out the dead cat we’d come past, bloated and giving off quite a wiff.

Coots taking advantage as they do

A top up on water, disposal of rubbish before we made our way to Bulls Bridge. A weed boat, a sunken boat and one boat sat in some good shade on the visitor mooring outside Tescos. We just managed to squeeze in between them and the sunken boat. Time for breakfast and then a top up shop.

By the time we came out of Tescos the sun had started to crank up on the warming front. To catch up on ourselves we still had a few more miles to cover before we could stop. Two boats turned onto the Paddington Arm, we followed suit and started to head north eastwards in towards London.

Bulls Bridge

It was way too hot and bright for me today, I retired below to be with Tilly. Side hatch open and sheet over it hoping for a breeze inwards. The occasional high landmark would catch my vision, one such at Willowtree Marina. There having just had a top up of diesel was Nb Waka Huia.

I bobbed back on deck as we neared Black Horse water point, the moorings before it used to be chocka, today only a couple of boats. Round the bend however seemed to be more popular, maybe more solar there. The new buildings on the offside , we’d last seen being built, are now all inhabited.

Ooo Hello!

Several lengths of concrete edge keep moorers away, then the thin grassy edge returns as we approached Ballot Box Bridge. We pulled in a bit before we normally do, some trees overhanging for a touch of shade for an hour or so.

Tilly was given four hours and extra rules about not getting run over by the electric scooters and bikes. As she went off to try her best to find a gap in the fence and mesh we sat down to a late lunch. At one point we heard Tilly scurry across the towpath followed by the zoom of a bike. Mick went to open the back door, closing it quickly in Tilly’s face as she’d brought someone home for dinner!

She’s got the right idea

We were joined by another boat a while later. Tilly seen returning from one of the gaps was startled first that we had a neighbour, secondly by there being two cats on board! It turns out they actually have four cats, the two Tilly had seen she’d scared off with just the flick of her bushy tail. With speeding commuters mounting up in number on the towpath we decided to curtail shore leave today, better to be safe.

A quinoa, chicken and bean salad had been put together gradually today, all the hot bits done before the mercury had risen too high. Clothes washed and drying inside to help reduce the temperature. Knitting socks really quite slow. We tried to watch some of the main leaders debate on TV, but gave up and watched different people squabbling instead on Traitors USA.

8 locks, 8.8 miles, 1 right, 1 early start, 9 hours nebo, 1 full water tank, 1 volunteer, 2 pills, 1 cat, 1 bird, 1 paraquet feather, 1 block vegan butter, 2 types sugar, lots of moorings places, 4 cat boat, 1 ex blogging boat, 1 friend, 0.25 sock, 1 hot day, 1 weekends plan coming together.

We’ll Let You Know On Monday. 14th June

Double Bridge Visitor Moorings to The End to King John’s Castle Moorings

Rain! What’s new! As we had breakfast and Tilly explored for a while NB Olive came past, brolly up sheltering them from the rain. We put on our waterproofs, hoped for a lull in the rain, which came and made ready to push off perfectly timed with the next downpour!


Today we’d see more sky, fewer trees blocking it from view. When the sun is shining through the canopy the canal is magical, natures own break up gobo. But when it’s rainy and dark the trees feel a bit claustrophobic and the potential for rain to drip heavily on your roof guaranteed to keep you awake at night.

As we pootled along the Hampshire pound Mick got a phone call. ‘Yes that’s me’ ‘Oh Blimey!’ ‘If we were to turn round now would that….’ What was the conversation about?

It was someone from the Basingstoke Canal Authority, there was a problem at Lock 27. On Monday they would lower or drain a pound to investigate what the problem is. It may be a reasonably quick fix, or it could be something more substantial, a new lock gate could take 6 weeks to make and fit! Oh Blimey!!! When Mick had suggested turning round now and heading that way it was in the hope that maybe we’d get assisted passage past the lock before the investigation, but that was sort of ignored. ‘We’ll let you know on Monday.’

Water coming into the canal

We passed a paddleboarder, a group of canoes. We discussed our options. What options did we actually have, but to wait until Monday. If we were to be stuck, we’ll get to know the area well, explore further afield. Things we’d planned on doing elsewhere we could access by train, just a shame not to get there by boat. Maybe we’re about to relive NB Legend’s visit to the canal, hopefully not or as long though! Although that would be handy for an appointment in this part of the world in October! Maybe we should head back to Frimley Green and see if there’s an opportunity to go through the troubled lock at short notice, our booking not for a few more days? What will be will be, it’s just where to be when we find out.

A Kingfisher stood still on a branch as we passed, today I had my camera just about ready. Then a pair flitted about ahead of us.

Hello to you too!

The song of Woodpeckers, one flew across to a tree by Barley Mow Bridge. My camera tucked away from the rain. A fledgling was being fed by a parent, what an opportunity to have missed!

Some pretty houses with well tended gardens. A group of ducks loitering outside someone’s back door for some tasty morsels. Instructions to proceed at Tick Over, some banks saved from erosion. Plenty of big trees that at some stage have fallen to block the navigation.

Approaching Colt Hill Bridge we saw the Authoritys trip boats, a hire boat base, NB Bramble having passed us in the last couple of days. A chap stood on the stern of the trip boat John Pinkerton said ‘You’re not from these parts are you!’ Then a short distance further on a smaller trip boat with jolly waving folk inside. ‘You’re the second boat we’ve seen today!’ That would have been NB Olive.

North Warnborough Lift Bridge, a possible mooring for the day. A boat was moored at the end of the bridge landing, was that the mooring on our maps, or could we get away with mooring on the posts? NB Olive was guaranteed to be on the last mooring before the end of the canal ahead, maybe we’d return. I hopped off, read the instructions on the bridge. The barriers, drop down and were manual. Pulling out the pin and lowering them, then with the key of power turned I could press the lift button, holding up four walkers in the process. A cable was wound in, lifting the bridge.

Someone heading for an explore

Sure enough there was NB Olive, a ginger cat spotted on the towpath. The side hatch open and Josh appeared another cat in his arms. Had we heard about the lock? He’d been thinking about our friends on NB Legend and how bad luck also follows them around.

This is the end

Not much further was the end of the navigation, no big sign, just a few buoys strung along after the winding hole. We winded and then pulled in behind NB Olive, a second cat spotted on the towpath, Sorry Tilly! They most probably wouldn’t mind sharing with you, but the feeling would not be mutual. We’ve reached this years destination! From now on we’ll be northbound, that’s if we can get down the locks!

Greywell Tunnel

In the afternoon we walked along the towpath to have a look at Greywell Tunnel. It was built between 1788 and 1792 and is/was 1230 yards long. With no towpath boats had to be legged through the tunnel, an information board suggests it would have taken up to 6 hours! The tunnel collapsed in 1932, there were no attempts to revive it as commercial trade on to Basingstoke had already ceased. Canoeists could still get through until the 1950’s when the blockage became total, possibly a quarter of the length of the tunnel blocked.

Chalk springs in the tunnel provide much of the water for the canal, shafts were drilled into the tunnel sides of chalk to encourage water to percolate into the canal. The tunnel is now home to many bats, during the winter months it is home to the second largest hibernating population of Natterer’s bat in Europe. We didn’t see any.

We now followed the paths over the top to see if we could find the western portal. We crossed a field of cows, who were very interested in us before heading down a path through woodland which eventually brought us to the disused entrance. A bit of a scramble down to the caged off entrance, the brick archway just visible, all very dark inside.

A wonderful tree with signpost beneath it

We’d considered walking further along the disused canal, but the towpath looked in bad shape so we headed back to the cow field where we followed a sign to a bridleway which would return us to the canal further along. This did mean wading our way through a field of broad beans, those in pods not big enough to be eaten.

The castle now and how it would have been

A walk up to the castle, King John’s Castle. The ruins are all flint today, but at one time they would have been dressed in stone. King John had a castle built here between 1207-14, it was built as a stronghold but mainly used as a shooting lodge, there is still a deer park around Odiham. In 1215 the English Barons persuaded King Philip of France to pressure John into creating fairer land and taxation laws. Under duress King John rode from Odiham Castle to Runnymede to sign the Magna Carta, however little changed and Louis (son of King Philip) and the French army invaded England.

After the French siege King Henry III had the castle repaired. In 1236 he gave the castle to his sister Eleanor of Pembrokeshire, she married a French noble Simon de Montfort, he was invested as the 6th Earl of Leicester and they transformed the castle into their home. Simon died in the battle of Evesham and Eleanor was exiled to France.

A little drafty inside

Seven years later Edward I came to the throne and made improvements to the castle. There was some toing and froing, the castle passed down to son then son, Edward III granting the castle to his queen Philippa of Hainault.

Chats with Josh and his Mum regarding everyone’s plans for the next few days. They were in need of a pumpout so would head to Galleon Wharf in the morning, Tilly would then be able to have some shore leave. We were still in two minds whether to head back to Frimley Lodge Park so as to be close to the lock flight should there be an opportunity to go through if a longer closure was needed. Should we curtail our time at this end of the canal, or carry on as planned?

Having a sit down on a handy tree bench

During the afternoon we checked on tide times on the Tidal Thames for our planned date. Thames Lock at Brentford would need booking in advance. The day we wanted was not available, we opted for the day before, checked the times and then rang Teddington Lock to see what time they suggested penning down. Brentford was booked for late afternoon, but Teddington was suggesting we leave late morning, the passage only takes around an hour. We’re fairly sure the Teddington Lock Keeper was out by a few hours.

Now we just have to wait to see what happens on Monday.

0 locks, 5.8 miles, 1 wind, 6 cats at the castle, 2 tunnel portals, 1 squeeze through broad beans, 1 miffed Tilly that we hadn’t got there first, 1 problematic lock, 1 finale of The Responder.

Royal Jodhpurs. 3rd June

Dorney Lake Bend to Shepperton Village Visitor Moorings

A much quieter day on the river, we’d made a wise decision to stop early yesterday, but today we’d need to make up for it. As we pushed off the lady from the hire boat in front popped her head out to thank us for helping yesterday, they’ve boated before but not for five years, they’ll soon get to grips with things again.

An empty river

We winded and headed for Boveney Lock, a Lock Keeper on duty penning us down, we paused at the bins below the lock before carrying on. Yesterday I’d have been able to take sunny photos of the castle, but today was just grey, the Castle a shadow of itself. Plenty of space to moor on the Brocas with only a couple of cruisers tied up, the bank seemed to be straighter than I remembered. This is where I used to come with my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Peter to feed the swans when I was little. Then as I got older we’d stand on Windsor Bridge to watch Concord fly over, my cousins joked about hearing the sonic boom ( they were both pilots by then).


Two boats were coming up in Romney Lock when we arrived, a day boat operating the sluices, a volunteer chatting away to the cruiser at the back of the lock. The chaps pushing the buttons couldn’t believe how long it was taking to fill the lock, but it is nearly 260ft long, you could easily fit 12 Oleannas and have space for a few cruisers in there. The volunteer volunteered to push buttons so I could hold the bow rope and down we went.

Royal bottoms

Between Victoria and Albert Bridges, around Home Park there has been a hedge planted, currently only a couple of feet high, but will it in time block out the view of the castle from the river here? Four ladies two on horse back the other two on a carriage appeared from nowhere. Were they royal family members, half term activates? Beige jodphurs. We kept up with them for a while but then they disappeared. Two people rode towards us out for a yack, black jodphurs this time. Might there be a royal hierarchy of jodphur colours, more senior royals in darker colours? They gave a wave to us, not quite a standard royal wave, so maybe they were just patrolling the perimeter.

Holders of a Thames Key Power

Old Windsor Lock was just being opened by one of the trip boats. The two crew, as you’d expect, had their ropes in handy locations resting on a canopy and hooked up on the cabin sides. They tied the boat off and one chap headed up to the Lock Keepers hut a special Key of Power in his hand, he turned it in a box enabling the extra buttons on the control panel, this meant they could lift the sluices quicker, their boat almost being as wide as the lock hardly moved about as it rose.

Under the M25

The panels are older than those further upstream, so you have to push and hold the buttons for the sluices for ten seconds, then wait for two minutes before you do it again. It took us a lot longer than the trip boat, but by the time the lock was nearly empty boats were approaching from below so I could leave their crew to open the gates for us.

Quite a tree for a cormorants drying perch

Runnymede is still on the ‘next time’ list. We’ve not had time to touch the list on this trip, other than a wander around Wallingford, maybe we’ll have to come back and spend a lot longer on the river ‘next time’. We pulled in for a lunch break at Staines upon Thames, Tilly was kept occupied looking out of the window hunting for trees above the high concrete edge. Hopefully we’d get a mooring today where she’d be able to go out.

Within the M25

At Penton Hook Lock we descended with the assistance of a Lock Keeper. As the sluices rose I saw a spurt of something angled upwards to the walk way. Was this a hydraulic leak? I was going to mention it but got distracted as we pulled out of the lock, a Le Boat rounding the bend from the marina and a house for sale. Reports later on Facebook were that the lock had a hydraulic problem with a sluice and was awaiting engineers, I think we may have been the last boat through!

Details for the house on the left. Details for the house on the right.

The hire boat was making VERY slow progress downstream, they let us overtake but joined us in Chertsey Lock. The Lock Keeper quickly sussed it was their first lock and gave them directions as to how to hold ropes on bollards.

To the left details. To the right, they have a big structure going up next door and an interesting wallpaper in the hallway!

There were so many houses for sale today, I think I took at least 14 photos. Many were small old one story houses in need of renovation. A few more modern properties, one household were obviously moving as their next door neighbour was being up sized to twice what had most probably been there before.

Then the end of Pharoah’s Island is for sale, the opposite end to where a posh house sits, plenty of land and planning permission for a three bed modern house with 130m of waterfront! Yours at a snip for £999,950.

Last lock of the day

Shepperton Lock our last for today, then the hunt for a mooring started. Opposite at the end of the Desborough Channel there wasn’t enough room for us. Time to look around the back of Desborough Island, we went left down stream, the flow quite surprising. The first mooring was taken, but it wouldn’t have been very good for Tilly anyway. Then the Shepperton Village visitor Moorings. Three boats were already moored up, but space for at least two more, one being us! We winded and pulled in to moor. The flow necessitating a bow spike as soon as possible.


The doors were opened and Tilly went out onto the grass. WHAT! Where is my island outside and friendly cover? This isn’t good, it must be troublesome needing so many boats to tie it up! And look there are people! It’s rubbish, I’m going back to bed! Oh well you can’t please everyone all the time!

Pushing against the flow

7 locks, 6 manned, 16.5 miles, 3 winds, 1 tree, 1 lunch pause, 6 royal trousers, 1 prince or princess wave? 1 key of power, 1 disappointed cat.

A Drip On The Inside. 22nd May

Chisnell Lift Bridge to above Dashwoods Lock 37


Rain was forecast and rain is what we got. Only one Stream Increasing on the Thames this morning, but would it stay that way? We could have headed onwards like the hire boat in front of us, but that would certainly end with dripping waterproofs all about the boat, we opted to stay put and hope that a window of opportunity would arise in the afternoon.


The engine was run, Archie and Cary still working on equalising each other out, suspect they’ll do this for a while. We pottered away the morning, Tilly didn’t even bother requesting shore leave It really is a disappointing outside this one. One chap was actually having a very good singsong about the day, Micks app suggesting it was a Great Whitethroat.

Where’s that come from?

The rain changed it’s intensity but didn’t stop all morning. We pottered, watched more Narrow Escapes, knitted. By early lunchtime things seemed to be easing. We ate then popped our waterproofs on ready to see how far we could get. As I opened up the front door I noticed a little puddle of water on the inside. Had something been brought in this way this morning that had been wet? I looked upwards at the door frame. Between the oak and the darker wood of the doors I could see glistening wetness. We have a leak up there. Rolling up the covers I looked around the cratch board. My suspicion is that water is getting under the wooden support for the cratch and finding it’s way in to where the electrics come out from the steel shell and enter the wood. Drier conditions are required to investigate fully, hopefully a bead of silicone and some more varnish will do the job.

An easy lift bridge

This stretch of the Oxford has a really dodgy patch for phone, internet and TV signal. We could either stop before it or we’d need to carry on through to the other side. The rain would determine which we would do.

Close the bridge!

When we came through Chisnell Lift Bridge in June last year there was a group of C&RT chaps debating it, today we got to see why. This bridge was quite often left open to boat traffic, but also could be closed, pulling it open and closed by use of body weight and chains. It now is windlass operated from the towpath, under 20 turns lifts the bridge to pass below. It obviously still has people leave it open as several signs ask for it to be closed including one with a couple of replies .

A touch tufty round the edges

Next Sommerton Deep Lock. It of course was empty. Positioning my windlass to aid extra umph to lift the paddles worked and the chamber was soon filling. For Sale signs were still on the fence by the lock cottage, a glance at the estate agents website suggests it has sold. We were a touch concerned that there were upstairs windows open allowing the elements in.

Some tlc required

Around the lock it looked as though nobody gave a monkies about the length of grass, it’s the shaggiest we’ve ever seen it. Have to say if we owned the lock cottage we’d almost certainly cut the grass around the lock. We’ve seen the towpath being trimmed elsewhere, the GU has had a trim and north of Banbury the cow parsley and iris’s were being mown down as we came along. A shame in some respects, necessary in others.

Just as I got back on Oleanna a boat showed itself up ahead, too late for me to leave the big single gate for them, it was already shut.

Now we had to make our minds up, moor on the meadows or carry on for at least another two hours. The precipitation wasn’t too bad, just constantly light, we carried on.

Heyford Common Lock has for sometime had a temporary lock beam on it’s bottom gate, a frame made from pine that flexed as you pushed it. This last winter the lock was given two new gates, it’s nice to lean against a beam and know all your effort is going towards opening it rather than bending it.

He he!

At Allens Lock someone has been creative with a marker pen. Below a boat was heading towards the lock, the chamber being just about empty I walked up to open it for them. They pulled in behind a moored boat. I lifted a paddle to fill the chamber, they pulled out again, I closed the paddle. They moored up closer to the lock, I lifted the paddle again and filled the lock for us. The paddle gear on the bottom gate didn’t want to close with the gate open, so I waited to close it and it was still reluctant to close, but with some persuasion it went down.

Key of Power bridge

I thought I’d stopped a car at the lift bridge, but it had turned into a drive. Now past the moored boats, we couldn’t be bothered to stop for the bins or water, the tap here incredibly slow. Onwards now to find signal away from the railway if we could.

‘Oses and baby ‘oses

Dashwoods Lock. I walked down to see if I could see if the Muddy Slipper mooring was available. I climbed onto the bridge below the lock. I really needed my camera to zoom in, but that was inside due to the rain, the cow parsley too high to be certain. I waded my way back to Oleanna through the grass and flowers. Above the lock we’d be able to see better what we were doing to moor up, we pulled back as far as we could, got the nappy pins out and moored. Damp around the edges, especially at foot level. Another drip on the inside of the bow doors too!

Oh drip!!

Despite it being quite wet outside Tilly made the most of it. The picnic area a little too overgrown so I decided to retire inside. OUT!!!! We’ve become too complacent with the doors!

Hmm, that way or that?

A look at river levels again and C&RT notices. Nells Bridge was now closed behind us, Bakers Lock and Shipton Lock Amber rising, boats advised to moor up. The Thames also on it’s way up, Dukes Cut and Isis Locks closed. The pair of socks I’d packaged up for hand delivery tomorrow may be with us for a little while longer.

3 locks, 4.5 miles, 1 very wet morning, 1 drip on the inside, 1 damp afternoon, 1 lift bridge, 1 pair packed, size 9 ready to turn the heel, 1 stove lit, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 very overgrown South Oxford Canal.

Goodbye And Hello Old Friends. 17th May

Gibraltar Bridge 20 to Priors Hardwick Bridge 123, South Oxford Canal

Our next and final rendez vous with Clare and Graeme was to be at Calcutt Locks. They had spent the night in Ventnor Marina just before the locks, so I sent a message as we pushed off from our mooring, thinking it would take us about twenty minutes to get there. It actually took thirty and they’d already helped a boat down the locks.

Hello again!

Today Graeme and I managed to open both bottom gates making the transit between the locks easier for the two boats to come in kissing each other. The sun was out along with the banter at our final three locks together.

The Grand Union Team

At the top Graeme and I swapped sides over the sterns of the boats. We needed water but they didn’t. A final hug, only just about possible, a final group selfie not. Instead Graeme showed his true colours, well he is from New Zealand!

How rude!

The last two weeks it has been lovely to spend time with Clare and Graeme again. Supporting each other down and up the broad locks from Birmingham to Napton Junction. So glad we managed to make our cruising plans coincide. Enjoy Crick show and the rest of your time on NB Lottie Jane.

That’s better!

It took a while for the water tank to fill, by which time another boat had arrived wanting to top up too. We chatted away, they had been heading towards the South Stratford. Once we mentioned that Lowsonford Lock 23 was closed they decided they’d not head that way, maybe spend more time in Leamington Spa where they’ve not stopped before.

Napton Junction

I popped up to the bow to check the way was clear, it was, two boats passing each other just in view towards Braunston and the back doors of Lottie Jane open, moored by the junction. We waved our final goodbye and turned right towards the Napton flight.

Hello old friend, we know the South Oxford rather well, it’s a bit like coming home now, except I won’t be working my socks off on panto this time, I’ll just be knitting and delivering some. Hire boats were being made ready, we wound our way round the hill of Napton towards the locks. Should we stop for lunch before, part way up or wait til the top? A space right on the end of the moorings showed itself, we pulled in.

Napton Bottom Lock

By the time we pushed off again the sun was out and quite strong, time to slap the suncream on. A volunteer quickly set the bottom lock for us, but we pulled into the services mooring. Here sat on the low wall was a group having a rather nice looking lunch with a glass of wine each. As I stepped off I apologised straight away as we were in need of emptying our yellow water, the gunnel fitting right in front of their delightful lunch! They chatted away as we did the necessary, they were heading for a week on a hire boat, picking up this afternoon from Napton and heading in the same direction as us, one chap seemed to have done a lot of research.

Bottom Lock

Then onto the lock flight. A volunteer reappeared to help at the bottom lock, a second volunteer a touch further up the flight. They normally just loiter around the bottom lock but maybe on busy hire boat days they spread themselves out a touch more.

Mum escorting her little ones past the lock before flinging herself off a 6ft high wall

At the second lock a chap opened the bottom gates for us then walked back to keep an eye on his boat which was waiting to come down. The third lock was where we met the second volunteer. A long term hire boat waited above to come down, the crew chatting away mentioned that the bottom gate at lock 12 didn’t want to stay closed. The volunteer said it’s done that for the last few years, I added that it’s done that for at least seven years and thank you for reminding me which lock it was.

Views of green

Downhill traffic was busy, I think there were only a couple of locks where I had to close the top gate and there was quite often someone there to help close the bottom gates, a nice easy ride up.

What noise do Water Buffalo make?

The Water Buffalo were having a good lie down, chewing their cud, muddy heads and horns seem to be the fashion this year.

One boat was stopping to visit the tearooms by Lock 14. Another travelling with friends, they were heading back to the Chesterfield Canal on their last cruise before putting the boat up for sale, it sounded like they’d had an eventful cruise!

The cow parsley is very fine on the Oxford

At Marston Dole Top Lock the top gates were open and both paddles up. A boat was moored just round the bend, I wound down the off side paddle, the chap now panicking that I was about to steal the lock from them. It was obvious that they were quite new to boating, a lot of running back and forth, one person knowing what to do and when the other looking a bit lost with a windlass in hand. The chap started to wind a paddle to empty the lock, I made sure I waited for him to get back on board before lifting mine too, a slight language barrier between us not helping. They were soon on their way and after doing the flight they’d be used to going downhill.

Plenty of cars to try to identify today above the top lock as always, then we started our meandering along the summit. Yes THAT boat is still there, now accompanied by some sheds that looked a touch like kennels or chicken coops. They weren’t there in August last year when we last passed.

I’m going for a cheeky walk dear

Not many walkers along this stretch today. One chap came striding towards us, everything swaying with each stride, he certainly wasn’t wearing any strides! I wondered if he wore sun cream instead?

A nice mooring on our own

Just how far should we go today? Just where had we stopped last year? That was a nice spot and suitable for a barbeque. Mick was certain it was the next bridge, I thought it was a touch further on. For once he was correct and the arnco was empty. We pulled in, tied up and gave Tilly two and a half hours shore leave. At first she wasn’t too certain about it, to be honest the noise of farm machinery behind the hedge and a sheep dog being called made me uncertain too. But it all soon calmed down and Tilly vanished for at least an hour.

During the afternoon the sheep came for a nosy. Mick put our chairs out and unpacked his Christmas present from Tilly, the new barbeque. Sitting in the shade was very pleasant, a jumper needed later on when we started to cook. Must remember that fleeces are not useful for moving kebab skewers when very hot though!

Our first barbeque of the year, salmon steaks with ginger and soya sauce, veg and haloumi kebabs (which got a touch too hot) and a potato and cabbage salad with some lime and chilli mayonnaise from Charlie and Ivy. All very yum. Even though I’ve now finished my antibiotics I’m not allowed alcohol for a few days, so I made do with a squash made with lemonade, not quite as good as a Pimms. Mick was very supportive and drank one of the alcohol free lagers we were delivered by mistake, only another 11 to go!

Charred veg, I’m out of practice

Tilly eventually returned a while after her shore leave had expired. Ding ding was provided and the doors closed. We were then told in a very loud meow SO unfair! Why are you allowed to be outside and me NOT!! I fancied some salmon too! Thankfully we wouldn’t have a repeat of last year when she stayed out till 10pm at this mooring.

12 locks, 3 final locks shared, 7.3 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow water tank, 1 right, 1 final wave goodbye, 2 volunteers, 4 smelly picnics, 2 bum cheeks, 2 salmon steaks, 4 kebabs, 10 potatoes, 2nd sock cast on, 1 more change of mind, 1 new lodger, 1 quiet evening, apart from Tilly, 1 mooring demoted from thumbs up to side ways TV, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

A Wave To BBC. 10th April

Canal Wharf, Littleborough to above 1st Laneside Lock 54, Slattocks


Alarm set for before 7am! All because of the weather which we were hoping to beat today. No time to lie in bed with a cuppa, we were up and having breakfast, listening out for our Sainsburys delivery between 7:30 and 8:30. The beep beep of the van reverseing towards the canal caught our attention at 7:45, time to stow our purchases.

Goodbye Littleborough

By 8:20 we were ready to push off leaving the squabbling, nest sitting geese to it, time to head to the next mooring in towards Manchester.

New houses look like they will be going up soon along the south east bank heading to Smithy Bridge, two geese stood guard ontop of the earth works. Apparently there are plans to build 1000 new homes around Littleborough. Past Clegg Hall with a terrace of workers cottages, a long line of windows on the top floor for good light in the work rooms.

Stopped these two chaps who didn’t understand why the bridge went nowhere

This must be the longest pound on the Rochdale, around an hours cruise with no locks. But to keep you on your toes there are a couple of swing bridges. I went with my handcuff key and key of power just incase, just as well as they both got used.

Propmate kept out should we need it later

The canal at times was shallow, aided by supermarket trolleys, eroded banks, picking places to pull in took a bit of time. Then picking up some plastic on the prop required a stop. We tried pulling into the side but didn’t succeed, electing to just pause in the middle to get the prop mate out and clear the prop. No passing traffic so we weren’t in anyones way.

For the last few miles I’d been spotting what look like metal flowers attached to the off side. Outlines of three white petals with a yellow centre, at one lock this was accompanied by some leaves. On one of the bridges there is a mural of the same flower. Maybe a canoist has put these up where the plant growns?

Hello Rochdale

Just as we pulled in towards Rochdale, our slightly slower progress then planned, meant we got the first rain drops falling, we’d not beaten the weather! The empty lock looked to have wet sides, were we following that boat that had been on the water point? How much further had they got yesterday before they gave up? Would we catch them up and maybe have a partner for the rest of the locks into Manchester? We’d see.

I filled the lock, spotting that a bottom gate paddle had been left slightly up. Gongoozlers came and watched, three young chaps asked Mick for a lift. I think this is just a standard thing to say for youngsters, a little like when I’ve got my painting clothes on and people say ‘You’ve missed a bit’. Very original! They helped with the gates though.

Another chap arrived at the next lock promising to help with the gates, which he did. Well he helped with the top gates, not the bottom cranked beams! He was wise in this decision. Wet underfoot there was nowhere to push your feet against. Despite my slip resistant shoes it took forever to push the bottom gate open and then close it again behind us. There obviously used to be some other means of opening and closing these gates as there is a curved track in amongst the stonework.

Below Moss Lower Lock

Just below the lock there is an arm heading off to the north. This led to Drake Street where three arms were kept busy. In it’s hay day the Rochdale Canal saw around 50 boats a day transporting goods to and from the mills. I wonder how many boats cross the summit in a year now? On the Rochdale Canal facebook group there seems to be a campaign to pursuade the council to redevelope the warehouses and arms and get them reconnected to the canal. This would be wonderful, but would need to get an instant good reputation as somewhere to moor. It would be nice to feel you could explore Rochdale.

Culvert to the left, new tunnel to the right

Another longish pound. Some of this is a new channel. The canal had been built over and culveted for road building, so a new course was required along with the roundabout having to be rebuilt when the canal was restored. You can see where it used to go before you head into Edinburgh Way Tunnel. Mick remembers the road works lasting forever, the route to Anne (his sisters house) from the M62 affected for months.

Artwork alongside the lock

As we came into Castleton the lock ahead was just about full. Either the top gates leaked masses or a paddle had been left up. This is lock 51, the Lock Keepers had been called to it the day we crossed the summit. The offside gates are worked with your windlass and chains as a carpark for a mill now gets in the way. This does mean that access along the off side of the lock is for very skinny people or those who don’t mind limboing! I am neither of those. I closed the near side paddle and then noticed the rack went a lot further down than the one on the off side. If the offside paddle was still up by what might be inches then we’d be waiting an age to empty the lock.

I hopped onto the bow of Oleanna and Mick moved her up to the offside gate, here I could step off. Sure enough the paddle was up by a good few inches. I hopped back onto the bow and we headed for the lock. The lock beam has notches cut in it so that it goes over the top of the ladder handrail. We’d nudged the gate coming in, it needed to be opened again and then things aligned properly once more. With one bottom paddle lifted it was taking an age to empty, time to try to access the offside paddle. I managed to position myself in amongst the beam chains and lent over. I could have engaged the pawl if I’d flicked it with my windlass, but then there would have been no way of taking it off. So I just wound it up and held it until the lock levelled.

Hello somewhere over there

At Blue Pits Middle Lock I waved to Anne’s old house. Ten years ago you could just about see it, five years ago new houses blocked the view, now trees hide everything. I waved none the less.

Under the M62, the pontoon towpath was in situ today. This is also a new channel, the original used to pass a little further west with the Heywood Branch heading off to the west. If you look behind you you can see the way boats used to travel. Blue Pits New Lock 53 is a concrete affair, nothing old about it. It takes ages to fill and it’s surroundings were very bog like, I was quite glad the gates didn’t leak at either end which meant I didn’t have to wade through to operate the paddle on the off side. Puzzling why the bottom gates have these signs on them, they are usually on top gates.


A boat was moored on the next bend, a perfect mooring for spotting trains as the line sits at a height a field away. If we’d been half an hour earlier we’d have been treated to a steam train!

Not much further we reached Slattocks, bollards marking our destination for the day. We quickly unrolled the covers, headed inside to give Tilly the disappointing news that there’d be no shore leave today, but more importantly it was time to dry off.

Tension ans stitch swatch

The last pair of socks I’d frogged were finished off this afternoon. A swatch was knitted with the new blue yarns for the next pair. I was considering giving Broken Seed Stitch a go, but I think that would be better suited to two solid coloured yarns rather than varigated. Instead they will end up being very stripy socks.

5 locks, 6.6 miles, 2 swing bridges, 1 man and 2 dogs held up, 1 almost tunnel, 4 boxes wine, 1 pork joint for the weekend, 2 hours early, 1 orangutan, 0 shore leave, 1 annoying towpath cat, 14th pair started, 12 meatballs, 2 soggy boaters yet again, 1 boat ahead still not caught.