Category Archives: Cats on the Cut

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!

Hello!

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.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/n3ipPQKZqqYbWmiS7

Let Him Eat Pie. 13th June

Fox and Hounds to Double Bridge Moorings

Roofers at work

A pottering morning. The flat roof at the pub was being re-felted, this was keeping the pub cat busy being clerk of works from the top of it’s rather large cat tree. A very good vantage point on a normal day.

Overseen

At 12:30 we were dressed up and ready for visitors. We kept a keen eye out for a grey car, only to see our visitors arriving on foot. Marion, Mick’s sister and husband John had got the train up from Eastbourne then a bus out to find us, perfectly timed.

Ann-Marie and Dave had sung the praises of the Fox and Hounds steak and ale pie last week, the menu had looked good with plenty of options for all. It was certainly popular, thank goodness we’d booked as every table was full!

Mick was the only meat and gluten eater, so it was down to him to see if the recommendation was true. A new beer was sampled by Mick and John, it got the thumbs up. I tried a gluten free larger which was nothing special apart from it’s strength, I certainly wouldn’t be having a second one.

Christmas time!

Plenty of time for conversation whilst we waited for our food to arrive. A trip to Shetland, the most northerly bus stop and the shortest scheduled passenger flight in the world had all been enjoyed. There was also the delivery of our Christmas present, far too heavy to post, so it had to be hand delivered. A Baked Potato Cooker that sits onto of your stove and given time will bake your spuds.

Marion had the most generous jacket potato with cheese and beans I’ve ever seen. John’s Haddock and chips looked very cripsy. I had a gluten free burger with bacon and a choice of cheese, I chose brie, possibly the best burger I’ve had in a long time, definitely homemade.

What a pretty looking pie

Mick of course had the steak and ale pie. What a pretty looking pie, pastry top and bottom with a crimped top edge. A gravy boat is always a good thing, I personally don’t like my food swimming in gravy but others do, it’s nice to have the choice. Served with green beans, broccoli and chips. The greens were a touch over done and we both agreed later that the chips although nice could have been triple cooked then it all would have achieved a full five stars from us.

Pip, John, Mick, Marion

A lovely lunch was followed by a cuppa back on board Oleanna before the south coasters had to head to catch the bus, hoping to avoid busy trains leaving London. Thank you for visiting and for the present.

Time to do a bit of cruising and find a suitable mooring for Tilly. Covers were rolled back, Nebo clicked on, today put on top of the cratch board. Yesterday I’d joined a Nebo group on Facebook. Two people had already mentioned they were having the same problem as us. We’d also received an email from customer support which said.

There was an error in the feedback we gave you previously, the errors are due to your SIM card trying to join the wrong network, so it is an issue with cell tower signals. We are not sure why your SIM can not get a lock on a suitable network provider, it is a roaming SIM that has full coverage in the UK and about 40 other countries.

They still thought positioning it with a clear view of the sky should improve matters, hence being on the top of the covers. We of course can’t do anything about the amount of trees, or being in the bottom of locks, the nebolink having first been developed for use on a cruiser in Australia out at sea.

Towpath strimming

We pushed off about 3pm. More and more trees. Surly we must run out of them soon! A touch grey today and jumpers and waterproofs required. We passed a chap trimming back the towpath, just a strimmer along the edges of the path not a full cut back.

A swing bridge to operate. I got myself ready to hop off just as we passed a Kingfisher in a bush, just at arms length away, you could almost have given it a stroke! I wonder if it’s a very good fake so the Lock Keepers can say ‘Did you see it, its always there!’

Zebon Copse Swing Bridge took quite a bit to unlock. The padlock awkwardly positioned but in the end it sprung open. A stone mile marker faced the offside.

Round down to the furthest southerly loop of the canal. Here what looked like tank traps lined up into the trees and partly across the canal. A pill box a good vantage point in both directions. We wondered how the occupants would have stayed warm, possibly a paraffin stove.

Our most southerly point this year

Just after a narrowing where Coxmoor Bridge once was we reached the most southerly point of the canal, also the most southerly we’d be cruising to this year, not enough time to head to Godalming.

Nice house, sadly not for sale

NB Olive had been on the previous mooring, one handy for their van. We hoped the next mooring would be free and just far enough away from the road for safe Tilly exploration. Plenty of room when we arrived and some very good woodland (surprisingly!) for Tilly to play in for a couple of hours before cat curfew.

Quite a nice mooring so long as we’re not under trees when it rains

The stove was lit, by now it was raining and Mick popped our Christmas present on top of the stove so that the paint could cure. We watched Heidi’s (The Pirate Boat) go at cooking an omelette in hers from 2 years ago. She got bored and bunged it inside the fire box for 8 minutes. The omelette charred around the edges, but what was edible was very tasty. We’ll have to wait for when the stove is lit all day before we try it out properly. As the weather is going at the moment that might be next week, we’d best get some potatoes in.

Right, Where to start?

The nebolink worked today, one patch missing and a straight line rather than following round the bends of the canal. Tomorrow I think we’ll try it back where it was under the cratch board.

0 locks, 2.7 miles, 1 swing bridge, 2 pints, 1 bottle, 1 orange, 1 fish and chips, 1 jacket spud, 35678 baked beans, 1 burger, 1 very good pie, 1 lovely lunch, 1 slightly damp cruise, 2 hours shore leave, not quite enough to judge it for a stamp.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/Vwte1NmzoiEEK5yX7

Removing Her Smile. 12th June

Frimley Lodge Park to Fox and Hounds

Seriously slow going this morning. Within a hundred meters it was time to lift the weed hatch lid and see what could be found. The canal being quite clear helps with this operation as you can see rather than feel what might be around the prop. On most canals we’d pull into the side to do this, but as we’d already had another boat come past heading towards the Deepcut Locks we doubted we’d be seeing anyone on the move for a while today.

The end of the railway

Plenty of chaps were out doing work on the miniature railway, the track leading way off into the woods. I watched as a chap did a test run whilst Mick battled with weed, a rag and some steel cable around the prop. All clear we carried on, only to have to stop another short distance further on. Was the canal going to be this slow all the way to the end? We hoped not, but it could be, maybe our lunch date tomorrow would have to change venue as we might still be fighting our way along the canal!

The services at Mychett were just up ahead. We slowly got closer, hopping off at the bow easier to go and work the swing bridge. I had to wait for two ladies walking six dogs to cross the bridge before swinging it open. Next task was to find the water point, were the moored boats in front of it? I checked my map for the location, it was further along on the offside, past the rowing boats. Those 5 digit grid reference locations Paul uses on his maps really help in such circumstances to find taps etc.

The muddy weedhatch

Tied up we started to fill with water, pumped out the yellow water for disposal at the elsan, Tilly’s pooh box got a refresh and we headed off to find the bins, a code needed for access available from the visitor centre. We had a quick look round at the information boards, a longer visit planned for our return. A chat with Andy on NB Olive, he was busy doing an engine service and it looked like they were busy touching up the paintwork.

There was still time to clear the prop again before the water tank was full. One of the chaps from the visitor centre came to chat, checking what type of weed we’d found. Thankfully not the invasive weed that we’d find further along.

Smiling at the new position of our nebolink

Today we’d positioned the nebolink ontop of the cratch board, so nothing boatwise in the way of it and the satellites, or sim connection. Still no email to say we were on the move. Looking at the map of the country I could only spot a couple of boats on the move, shown by a boat not a dot. Could this be a problem others were having? I sent a message to Tim from the Doggie Boat, knowing they use Nebo (without a nebolink). His journey tracking was working fine, he did point me to a face book group for Nebo users where I might be able to ask the same question.

Opening out into the lake

Mychett Lake gave us some respite from the trees, seeing the sky above us a change. Here there are moorings that may well be good for Tilly on our return. An oncoming boat signalled that they were going to moor up, NB Rum A Gin who had dashed down the country to take part in the Fund Britains Waterways campaign cruise on the Thames.

Coming into moor

Plenty of back gardens to look at, more and more trees. The sky opened up again as we passed over the A331 aqueduct a walker stopping to take photos of us, old transport going over modern, we were now on an embankment, stop gates at both ends should there be a breach. It was strange to think that we were high up but soon we’d be climbing the last lock on the canal to the summit pound.

The aqueduct

The canal makes two big loops to the south, here on the embankment was one of them, would this be the furthest south we’d make it on the Basingstoke Canal? Or would we be able to cruise the other loop to be the furthest south, only possibly by a matter of feet, but still! Soon we’d find out.

Ash Lock

The bottom lock gates were being closed by someone at Ash Lock. We bipped the horn, but weren’t heard. I walked up to see what was what, no-one about and no sign of a boat either. Up Oleanna came to the summit pound, Hampshire Pound. Here a handy mooring on the offside was pulled into. Now to make preparations to give us the best chance of cruising to the navigable end of the canal. Ahead lay three very low bridges, 5ft 10″. We think Oleanna measures 6ft 2″ to the top of her horns. Taking them off is possible, we did this for Standedge Tunnel, but would the brackets they rest on need to come off too, would the bigger metal support require removing also? The top of the chimney was taken off, easy. Poles brushes etc laid off the rack lower down the roof, well below the line of the mushroom vents, our aim for the highest point on Oleanna to be the vents.

Oleanna’s smile was removed, the horns sat on the top of the cratch for a while all sad and forlorn before being popped inside for safe keeping. The brackets were well and truly fixed to the metal support. would we be better off trying to remove that? We pulled the cratch cover away revealing six screws holding the support to the wood, these thankfully came out easily. However cables to the horns and tunnel light would have to be undone so as to be able to remove it fully. We opted to leave them connected and see how we faired at the bridges.

Look to the right!

My phone started to bing at me. Email after email that Oleanna was on the move! Hooray! Had we done something to get the nebolink reporting again? I checked her location on the map, a boat not a dot. After a while she had moved to last nights mooring, after a longer while she had just about caught up with her actual location. Were things resolved?

The depth of water and lack of weed made our progress much better, normal canal cruising speed again. For what felt like miles we were surrounded by fences, keeping soldiers in their camps, even footbridges were enclosed with barbed wire.

Farnborough Road Bridge

As Farnborough Road Bridge came into view I moved down to sit in the well deck, spreading our weight hoping to keep the bow low enough to not have to remove the tunnel light support. From my position I couldn’t see if things looked okay, but as Mick had only slowed down and wasn’t stopping it felt favourable. The horn supports cleared the bridge by a good few inches, maybe the horns would have been alright being left on. I glanced back to the chimney, glad we’d had at least 9 inches removed from it a few years ago as it would have been a problem. Then Mick crouched down, still able to just about see above the boat. Oleanna who sits low in the water, hunkered down had made it through with plenty of space. We’d not have to reverse a mile to the nearest winding hole, phew!

Farnborough Road Bridge does however sit at an angle, was the 5ft 10″ at the lowest point? The next low bridge was noted at the same height!

A worrisome tree

Should we carry on and get all the low bridges done today? A mooring at the end of Farnborough airfield was available, we decided to carry on and get the bridges out of the way.

Pondtail Bridge

Pondtail Bridges next. I headed to the bow again, this bridge leant the opposite direction, still plenty of room above the horn supports. Reading Road Bridge at 6ft, I didn’t bother going to the bow, we knew we’d be fine. Hooray we’ll be able to get to the end of the canal! Tilly however wasn’t too please as our late arrival and proximity to a road means there’ll be no shore leave whilst we are here!

Moored by the pub

The Fox and Hounds pub mooring, Ann-Marie and Dave had said how good their steak and ale pies were. We didn’t sample them today, instead I made up a couple of my own pies, chicken, tarragon and mushroom in little pots, pasty both top and bottom to use up some of the roast chicken from the other day. Very nice they were and a more sensibly sized portion than I normally do in the big pie tin.

Chicken pies ready for the oven

Mick busied himself putting things back together on the cratch board. Oleanna’s smile reinstated. We’ll approach the low bridges carefully on our return but hope that she’ll be able to smile at us all the way.

1 lock, 9.8 miles, 13 nebo moving emails, 1 report, 1 report to find from two days ago,1 very slow start, 4 weedhatch visits, 1 full tank of water, 1 rollered cabin side, 0 rubbish, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 2 moving boats, 3 very low bridges, new measurements required of Oleanna, 1 smile safe inside, 1 smile restored, 1 bored cat.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/8q3ALFmoiTDeJjak6

Basingstoke Bouffant. 11th June

Frimley Lodge Park

A day to rest, a day standing still was the plan.

We enjoyed our cuppas in bed. Enjoyed a cooked breakfast that only just fitted onto our plates. I caught up with blog writing, new waters always have loads of photos to sift through, I think I’d taken around 200 yesterday!

Yummo

Other things needed to happen too, the engine needed a service. Not a full 750 hour service. The engine oil, gear box oil were changed along with the air filter. The diesel filter will be changed another time, we need to get one before the next 250 hour service.

The engine needs to be warm for a service, but not too hot. We thought of moving up to the next mooring a short distance further on. I went to do a recky. A clearer bank to moor to, it also looked as if the depth was better. It was just the abundance of school kids playing hookie, or appearing to be that put me off. Lots of squealing from one girl about the geese, the lads being overly unsupportive. This wasn’t the main part of my report back, they would move on soon, well the goose freaked girl ran a mile when one of them got out.

Frimley Lodge Park

Just by the mooring is the Frimley Miniature Railway, not in operation today, but the sheds were a good place for youths doing deals and the aroma was quite pungent! We’d leave them to it and stay put for the day. They did move on as I walked back through the park, at great speed in a car!

So Mick ran the engine for a while, then donned his overalls. He gave the new oil pump a go that we’d bought in Lidl a few weeks ago, all good.

Servicing

I caught up with writing cards, mostly condolence cards sadly. There have been too many deaths in the last couple of weeks. Several not unexpected of ninety year olds, but also Jack Brady a large quietly spoken actor who used to work at Hull Truck, still in his fifties.

Then I turned my attention to lighter matters, a retirement, on-line card needed signing and photos sending and then reminiscences to add to a 60th birthday book.

Mick had been in touch with Nebo regarding our none working Nebolink, this didn’t work yesterday to record our journey up the locks. They suggested that the position of the unit may be at fault, gaps in our tracking suggested this. Well up till yesterday the majority of our journeys have been recorded, a few gaps, mostly when in the bottom of locks, or so we thought. So Mick ran through the trouble shooting that they suggested, each one requiring an hour between them. The unit was unscrewed form under the 20mm thick wooden cratch board and popped on the roof. Turned off then on again. Nothing, not even a change of location. He then tried checking the sim was in properly. Nothing. Followed by a hard restart. Nothing.

Yarn selection for the next pair of socks

Another email was sent with screen shots showing satellite locations that Mick’s phone had picked up from under the cratch board. We’ll see what the next step is tomorrow when Australia wakes up.

Frank fancied our cheese, so a catch up chat with him and important key identification, we’d given him one a few years ago, just in case. Phone signal in the boat wasn’t so good, so I opened up the towpath side of the cratch, just flinging the cover onto the top so I could sit comfortably on a locker to chat. There were a couple of things we’d forgotten to put out at the house so Frank was to call when he got there.

A moving boat!

Tilly and I had a bit of a play on the towpath. We inspected what Mick was up to in the engine bay. A glance down the towpath and I spotted a woofer off the lead. As we’ve now had at least two moments of woofers rudely running up to Tilly and barking I suggested that maybe we should both get back on the boat. The bow a little bit away from the bank. I stepped on, so did Tilly. She then decided that she’d rather watch the woofer from a higher position and jumped up to be on the cratch.

WHAT THE……..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My calculations had been correct. My potential and kinetic energy perfect. Despite my landing being on the top of the cratch, the cover slipped under my weight, slipped over the edge, slipped over the edge with me on it. I slipped over the edge and then downwards the mutual attraction caused by gravity pulled me towards the water. SPLASH!!!!!

Oh crikey. I turned to see Tilly, head above the water facing the boat, I had to adjust my position to assist, by which time there was nothing to grab onto. Turning towards the bank there was nothing there either!!! This way Tilly, this way. Thankfully she swam towards me, I managed to get both hands under her and hoiked her out and into the welldeck. Rescue successful. Now attention turned to the amount of water there was in Tilly’s fur and everywhere in the boat!

Soggy Moggy

One continuous puddle from the welldeck through the bedroom, bathroom, across the sofa and floor, across the dinette to the drawing board slot, where she’d managed to soak a little into the towel there. The towel and Tilly were picked up put in the bathroom both doors closed and given as much of a towel rub as I was allowed to do. I apologise to other boaters for soaking up SO much water and reducing the canal depth by at least a paws worth!

Encouraging her to sit on her bed to dry off took a bit of time, but we got there in the end. Then the mopping up could start whilst Tilly licked herself dry. A full hour, thank goodness the canal is an SSSI.

Gradually Tilly dried out, under her collar always remains slightly soggy for a while. At least the water had got rid of all the dust she’d been rolling in on the towpath. In it’s place was super soft bouffanted fur. The locals pay a fortune for this look, mine was all DIY!

For the rest of the day Tilly stayed in, not wanting to venture far. The afternoon was cold enough for us to light the fire, so the damp one took up her position to make the most of it. We got soggy bums from sitting anywhere, thankfully our bed had missed the tidal wave she’d brought in with her.

This outside will NOT be awarded a stamp of approval, the woofers can keep it!

A pause to clear the weedhatch

A few boat movements today, a patrol boat that looked like it was picking up rubbish. Later on a boat pulled up on the mooring ahead of us and an hour or so later another boat came past. As it approached I was busy stripping a chicken, the bow looked familiar. We both said at the same time, ‘Is it Jubilee?’ Sure enough stood at the stern were Jan and John (Halfie). Mick waved to them as they passed.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 recky trip, 2 many youths, 1 interesting railway, 5 messages, 2 condolence cards, 4 photos, 10 litres oil, 1 air filter, 1 pattern designed, 1 new stitch practiced, 24th pair cast on, 1 very soggy moggy, 1 clean boat floor, 1 hour drying, 1 stove, 1 free bouffant, 1 t-towel and towel, 1 cloth, 1 pint milk removed, 1 cheese block donated to Frank, how were your beans on toast?

6 Through 17. 10th June

Brookwood Country Park to Frimley Lodge Park

Last night putting the spare bedding away under the sofa I pulled it away from the wall that bit more than I’d done a day or two ago. Some bright blue! My Bumbag!!!!. How had it got there? Before heading to Scarborough I’d lifted the sofa to select some yarn for a pair of socks revealing access to the secret passageway. This is irresistible to Tilly, so I think between the two of us my bumbag had been in the right place to be assisted into the depths of the passageway. I’m pleased as now my camera and phone can be with me whilst cruising, plus I have my bank card back!

An awkward mooring

No time for tea in bed, we still had a little way to go before reaching our next booked locks. Kath had said it would only take us five minutes, but the depth of canal might have a different idea, we allowed half an hour, just in case. It took us 12 minutes, better to be sat waiting for a keeper than be late.

Just before the bottom of Brookwood Locks there was a boat moored on the offside. Their plank at full extent and ropes way off into the friendly cover. Spied through a window was a second mate of the feline variety. Activity soon followed, the plank being lifted, aerial laid flat on the roof, we had locking partners.

Into the first lock for today

Mick’s phone rang, the Lock Keeper had a flat tyre, someone else would be with us in about quarter of an hour to unlock the locks. By the time I spied a van pulling in up ahead NB Olive had joined us in the lock, it took a little bit of doing as the depth was shallow, we’d grounded out and the boats wanted to go the way they wanted to go rather than the way the tiller was encouraging.

Josh and Andy (Dad) have lived aboard their boat for three and a half years with (Mum) Diane. Some of you may have come across them Taylor’s Aboard A Narrowboat on youtube, we hadn’t, but then again we’ve never really got into youtube vloggers and it was only the cameras at the bow and stern and Josh filming the scenery that gave it away. I asked Josh what the name of their cat was. Which one? We have five! Well that made for six cats in the lock together. I hoped Tilly didn’t spot any otherwise there’d be hissing through the windows at locks and we had quite a few to do today!

Chris on his way to unlock

Chris the Lockie from yesterday arrived and walked down to unlock one paddle, the other out of use. Josh wound it up, the bottom gates hadn’t wanted to close fully and they still didn’t. A pull and push hadn’t helped even with two of us. Chris headed off to get a keb from his van.

Chris on the lock gate fishing out debris

Four poles were put together with a keb on the end, first he dragged along where my gate met the bottom cill, quite a bit of branches and gunk. The gate wouldn’t close still. More gunk was moved and removed, still no. Chris came over to my side of the lock and dragged it again, still no! He then climbed onto the gate and crouched past the paddle gear, balancing as he dragged along the cill (please don’t try this at home!). After several goes the cill was finally clear and the gates would close. Hopefully that would be our only problem today.

The morning had started off wet, but thankfully the rain didn’t return and we’d have some rather wonderful sunshine at times, the temperature however required the wearing of jumpers for much of the day. Andy and Mick chatted away at the stern, Josh and I chatted when we could be heard over the water. We soon got into a rhythm as we worked our way up the first three locks of the day. As yesterday there would be a boat heading downhill, so we were to leave the top gates open for them.

Deepcut Bottom Lock cottage

There was a gap in locks for about twenty minutes, time to make a cuppa and have a piece of flapjack, far too early for lunch but with 14 more locks to do today keeping the fuel levels up would be important. There was time to make that cuppa but not drink it despite the use of the electric kettle!

The start of the Deepcut Flight was more open, but the sky soon disappeared, more green canopy and dappled sunlight, how wonderful.

Mike explaining things to the helm

When we reached Lock 16 another Basingstoke Canal van came towards us, this was Mike, now with a new tyre. Another warm greeting. This time we had different instructions to follow once we’d passed the downhill boat. Mike decided to give instructions to Mick and Andy at the helm, some of the information they needed to know, but the whole crew could have been briefed at the same time, saving Chinese whispers. I managed to catch the tail end of the instructions regarding closing up and that some of the top gates won’t open fully. Mick filled me in on the rest.

Mike headed back up hill, the next time we saw him he was getting ready to follow the downhill boat, ashing up the top gates of the locks. A long pole as Chris had had but with what looked like a plastering trowel on the end, he also had a big bucket of whatever they use to ash the gates up. This gets sucked into the gaps around the gate by the water and bungs them up.

Mick waiting for Josh to lift a paddle to close the top gates and then give a big blast of the engine to lift the silt.

At the next lock we met the downhill boat, now we needed to help with the ashing of the gates. Once the two boats were up and out of the lock, Josh and I were to close the top gates but leave a gap of about 2ft, then one of us would lift a bottom paddle, which would make the top gates close by themselves. Once they were closed and the lock emptying, one of the boats would have loitered in line with the stop plank slot above the lock, they were now to give a big blast of the engine, this would pick up silt on the bottom of the canal and push it towards the top gates, doing part of the job of ashing them up.

Josh and I got into the rhythm of this, whoever was left on the offside of the lock would lift the bottom paddle before they walked up to the next lock.

What tranquil views, all that green, beautiful. What a shame it was accompanied, almost constantly by the sound of gunfire and artillery. The whole length of the locks is bordered by an army shooting range, or ranges. Looking at Google earth you can see the long lines, the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, there’s also Bisley Shooting Ground and the National Rifle Association.

Third lock from the top had it’s bottom gates closed and was obviously part full. Time to lift the paddles to empty it, the top gates obviously leak a lot. This was also the case at the very top lock. Here picnic tables are reserved for cream teas on Thursdays and a chap appeared from nowhere to sit with a cuppa, it only being Monday this was allowed.

He chatted away telling me about the lock cottage and how Peter Munt the old Lock Keeper used to keep a book with comments from boaters about the Deepcut flight and on Sundays served cream teas by the lock. How in the dry dock you weren’t allowed to make any noise, yet the planes flying into Farnborough and the shooting ranges were exempt. About the new huge housing development being built and how the run off water was having to be stabilised in a lagoon before it could enter the canal. That the SSI status of the canal was to do with the weed in it, I think the last one might have been a joke as the higher we got today the more and more weed appeared around our props. It was nice chatting to him, but by now both boats were out of the lock and it was time to lift a paddle, everyone was waiting for me.

The chatty chap

As agreed with the crew of NB Olive we would be mooring in different places today because of the feline crew. There is only one more lock on the canal which we can do at anytime without booking it, so we may or may not meet up to ascend Ash Lock. They took the lead and we slowly followed, long gone is the speed of the Thames, welcome to the speed of shallow weedy canals reminiscent of the Chesterfield Canal. Patience.

Deepcut cutting

The cutting is bordered by more tall trees, a jumper definitely required in the shade at the bottom. A reservoir headed off to the north then the canal turned towards the south again, under the railway and soon the first mooring came into view alongside Frimley Lodge Park. A lady sat and watched as we came in, a bow rope thrown over a bollard at the bow and the stern brought in as close as we could get it, bunches of nettles between the two points. Once we were settled our position noted, the rules were read and Tilly was given a couple of hours shore leave.

Woofer stamps!

Tilly shouted at me for having walked into the park talking to the lady who was recommending the cafe. Well you were glibly walking away from the safety of the friendly cover to a huge manicured grassness. I could hear you so you had to hear ME! Anyway have you seen that sign there! That is not the right stamp of approval! That stamp is the wrong shaped paw print! Is this woofer land?!

Tilly got over her initial concerns and made use of the outside not returning for quite a while. She’s still deliberating as to whether it should have a Mrs Tilly stamp of approval pasted over the woofer one.

Pah!!!!

This morning when we came to set off I flicked the switch on the nebolink as normal (the voltage relay switch not as yet connected, I can’t remember why). Usually within the time it takes to roll up the covers I have received an email to say Oleanna is on the move, this morning no such email arrived. I tried turning it off, then back on again, still nothing. On the map Oleanna showed as being stationary. I left it switched on in case signal was poor. By the end of the day it still hadn’t moved. Mick undid various things to see what he could see, the red flashing light flashed, power not a problem. He tinkered some more, still not working. A message was sent to Nebolink support, we won’t hear back until tomorrow as they are based in Australia.

It no working!

To celebrate our reaching the top of the locks today we enjoyed a roast chicken and a glass or two of wine.

£650,000 click photo

17 locks, ?miles, 6 second mates, 20ft of pole, 1 keb, 1 trowel end, 1 downhill boat, 1 flat tyre, 2 Lock Keepers, 1 none stop chatting man, 64716316569665896668836116449 rounds of ammo fired, 1 none working Nebolink, 2 paw prints!?! Hmmmm

https://maps.app.goo.gl/L86HKce4BWQ3fBTF7

The First Boat. 9th June

Domino’s Mooring to Brookwood Park, Basingstoke Canal

Last week Mick rang the Basingstoke Canal to buy a licence and book our passage up through the locks, this needs to be done in advance. Back in 2019 when we came onto the River Wey we tried to do the same, only to be told the canal was closing that Friday, for the rest of the year, they’d run out of water. So ever since we’ve had a plan to return earlier in the year in the hope that they would have sufficient water. However this time Mick was not able to book over the phone for another reason.

The booking system was in the middle of transitioning from phone to on line, maybe later in the day it would be up and running for us to book. We tried it and it wasn’t there. However the following day it was, Mick popped our details in for a licence. The canal is run by the Basingstoke Canal Authority but owned by Surrey County Council and Hampshire County Council. Later in the day we got an email back from Louise.

Thank you for completing the on-line visitor application form.  You are also our first boater to use this brand new system 😊’ Oleanna has made history! There was a link to pay for our licence on line followed by, ‘We realise there is a glitch with the form which should ask you to let us know which dates you are going through all of the flights? So if you could email back the following information I can update our system.‘ By the end of Thursday last week we had paid for our licence and were booked to do the lock flights. This morning we just had to get there on time.

Turning away from the M25

Breakfasted we pushed off to cruise back to the junction alongside the M25. We’d left a few minutes later than planned, but turned Oleanna’s bow onto the Basingstoke at 8:57, at least we’d be in view should the Lock Keeper be waiting for us! Well in fact we were early, the locks would be unlocked at 9:30 not 9:00 as Mick had thought.

Lock 1 was sat empty, a paddle raised on the bottom gate, we opened the gates and pulled Oleanna in to wait. This did mean that when Chris the very enthusiastic, incredibly welcoming Lock Keeper arrived Mick missed out on all the spiel. What a warm sunny morning to start on new waters.

Waiting for Chris the Lock Keeper

Chris gave Kath and myself instructions about the locks and unlocked the top paddles so we could start up the Woodham Locks. Normally on the Basingstoke we would ascend a lock, close the top gates, lower the paddles at that end and then lift one of the bottom paddles, leaving the lock empty, Chris would then follow us up the flight to ash the top gates shut. This is done to help reduce the amount of water leaking through the gates, therefore holding back as much water as possible. However today there was a boat also coming down the flight, so until we passed them we were to leave the top gates open for them with all paddles down. Our normal C&RT windlasses would also work on the canal, no need for anything different. Instructions received and understood, we got going.

First lock done

Having an experienced extra pair of hands was good, not that the locks today were hard. Most paddles lifted easily, most gates opened up easily too, plus being able to leave the top gates open was also a bonus. At 10am Mick joined the Geraghty zoom for us all to wave to everyone else, then we got on with the job for the day, locks.

A passing boat

Such a leafy green corridor, very pretty and with the sun shining it was glorious. Kath and I soon got into a rhythm. Then Chris returned, getting ready to ash up the locks as the boat coming down the locks left each of them. It may have been between locks 4 and 5 that we passed MSC Frodsham a replica Manchester Ship Canal Tug. They had to slow right down and wait whilst Mick brought Oleanna past a line of house boats.

Chris on the right

From now on today we’d be closing up the lock gates and lifting a paddle at the bottom end for them to drain.

Leaving the bottom flight behind us

We were soon up Woodham Locks and pootling our way along the long pound. Our map suggested it would take getting on for two hours before reaching St John’s Locks which we also planned on ascending today. Time for a cuppa and some flapjack.

Yummmmm!

After passing Monument Bridge I popped down below to finish off preparing some sausage rolls, sliding them in the oven hoping to have timed them well to be ready for a lunch break.

Kath knows the area quite well so could point out certain landmarks to us. We had a nosy at gardens, one with a good sized slot perfect for a narrowboat mooring, another with a bar and bunting where two ladies were sat enjoying a Sunday tipple and gossip.

Hit for 6

After Cobham Road Bridges we passed the Lightbox which is an art gallery and museum. Then a footbridge with a bowler and batter at either end. Unfortunately the view of the bowler from the canal was impeded by trees, so we’ll have to have a walk on our way back to see him.

The first stretch of moorings came next. Space for Kitty the trip boat and a cafe boat and then there were three visitor boats, two of which we’d been told to keep an eye out for by Heather Bleasdale. Christine appeared at the hatch of NB Katura, I think to apologise for one of the boats being double breasted. Instead she got a ‘Hello, you know Heather!’ We had chance for a short chat as we passed. NB Katura had managed to get to the very end of the canal under three very low bridges. I did a quick compare of cabin heights and I think we are maybe a little bit lower, so there is hope we’ll reach the end. We waved goodbye and carried on.

What a beauty

Now that booking is done on line there is no need to display a licence apparently. It felt a bit weird passing boats showing theirs. NB Bobcat’s second mate watched us closely as we passed, a ghostly face behind the pram hood.

Shop bought pastry so not up to normal standard

The sausage rolls were out of the oven and cooling by the time we reached the first service mooring. As we were ahead of where we needed to be and with an hour before we should be starting on the next flight of locks we decided to stop for lunch to refuel. There was also the opportunity to dispose of fishy rubbish too, just so long as it was bagged up as the bins here are emptied by hand.

The second flight

Five more locks in the St John’s flight, more leafy green and dapples of sunshine. Closing the top gates at Lock 8 proved difficult, my side didn’t want to go further than half way. But with Kath and myself both giving it a push and pull, then a running push whatever had been the problem was shifted and it closed.

Will the rope be long enough?

Plenty of gongoozlers today. Several little children being shown by Dad how the locks work. One lady suggested that you only get locks when the water is uneven. Kath and I wondered how many children are shown the locks like this and how many then go on to live onboard boats like Mick did after being taken to the Hanwell flight as a young boy.

New gates

One down from the top lock the gates leaked quite a bit, the date carved on them 2024. Presumably the oak hasn’t had enough time to expand with the water or there’s just a lot of crud on the cill. It did feel a little odd to fill the lock and then empty it after we’d finished, the pound above gradually draining into the lock and then downhill. Should we send Chris a message to say we’d finished on the flight? He’d been very good with his instructions at the beginning of the day, so we were sure he’d have told us if we needed to. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before he arrived to lock up anyway.

Possible aromas of garlic, but not cat friendly

On now to find a mooring. The first one had space for us, but was alongside an Italian restaurant, quite a busy road with buses that would take Kath back home. Not very good for Tilly. Mick had spotted in the guide we’d been given that there was mooring at Brookwood Country Park where there was a water point. This altogether sounded much more like it and would be closer to Kath’s house.

Not Kath’s house, click photo for details

The canal got shallower. Was our extra ballast not helping matters? Did having three people on the stern not help? Kath and I decamped to the bow, things seemed to improve a little, then not so. Oleanna ground to a halt, Mick turned the engine off, time to discover what goodies had caught themselves on the prop and hope that improved things. Plastic and some weed. The canal was still shallow, but gradually things improved and our speed grew without increasing the revs.

A long blue house boat

The water point at Brookwood came into view, a wooden pontoon, rings! Ah except the pontoon didn’t actually have a top to it. That’s why it wasn’t shown on Waterway Routes! There was unlikely to be anywhere else to moor in the pound so we pulled in as best we could. The far end at least had solid ground under it. The bow came in quite well, but the stern needed help, maybe an Andy was needed.

I passed my rope round the wooden edging near some bolts, Mick put some power on and pushed the tiller towards the bank, she came in, but only by a couple of feet. Maybe we’d be able to pull her closer in. I hopped off and caught a rope, a touch closer but not much, this had the effect of pulling the bow out too. How to tie up was going to be the next problem due to the lack of solidity close to the wooden edging.

It was further out than the photo suggests

Between Kath and myself , with use of the boat hook and some careful dangling we pulled the rope round the wood and passed back to tie onboard. We all agreed it was very unlikely that a boat would come past us tonight as we’d only passed one boat facing the same direction as us, plus the next flight of locks hadn’t been open today so no boats would come from the other direction.

Time for a cuppa and more flapjack before we said goodbye to Kath. It’s a shame she has to go to work tomorrow as she’d have really liked to join us up the next flight.

Tilly spent quite a bit of time outside, once she’d managed to get past all the woofers. What a holey outside they’d tied up! I had to be extra careful as I claimed the edging. Once that was done I got across the woofer highway and into friendly cover it improved greatly. I managed to use up all my hours shore leave before returning bang on time for dingding.

11 locks, 8 miles, 1 left, 25 minutes early, 1 karabiner to keep phone safe, 1 jolly welcome, 1 sunny tree filled lovely day, 12 sausage rolls, 3 left, 2 of Heathers friends, 1 batter, 1 bowler, 1 park mooring, 4ft mooring guidance, 3ft6 maybe 5ft, 6 flapjacks, 1 sister out law, 1 bumbag found behind the sofa! Tilly?!? 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/QojLesfRyi4PvwBt5

Missing BumBag! 8th June

Pyrford Marina to Domino’s Mooring, River Wey

Mick was off again this morning to return the hire car, he also stopped off at Tescos for a few things. The menu for tonight had been changed so some fish pie fish was required.

Half this years crop!

Whilst we’ve been away we’d moved our wild strawberry plants into the cratch, the first berries had been just about ripe when we headed to Scarborough and we wanted to be the ones to enjoy them rather than birds! By this morning about half of our crop was ripe, I picked and rinsed them to be added to our cereal. They may be small, but they don’t half pack a punch of strawberryness.

As we were getting ready for the off, I couldn’t seem to find my bright blue bumbag. I keep my phone and camera inside whilst we cruise for ease of access and safe keeping. It normally gets put there or over there when we’ve finished cruising, but this morning it was nowhere to be seen. I’d done a bit of a tidy up for when Ann-Marie and Dave came, but where had I put it. The boat was searched top to bottom, inside and out. No bumbag! Places were double checked, Oh Bumbag! Still no bumbag!!! Recently I’ve also taken to having a bank card in it, that was frozen straight away. I’m hoping that ignoring it’s absence will soon bring it out from hiding.

Push back

Once we’d breakfasted and filled the water tank it was time to get moving. Push back, wind, just as a big widebeam was heading towards it’s mooring, then a little narrowboat came into the entrance winded and backed back to it’s mooring, blimey things were busy! We pulled out, turning right onto the navigation again, pulling up immediately on the posts, time to empty the yellow water tank whilst we were port side to the bank.

Our extra crew also arrived, Kath Mick’s sister who lives quite close by. Buses hadn’t been as expected, but she’d made it to the rendez vous point in the end. Time for a quickish hello and then it was time to wind and head downstream. Not far, just far enough for Tilly to have some shore leave away from roads.

Nearly there

A mooring marked on our map had been free when Mick had passed it earlier and thankfully it still was. We pulled in and tied up. In amongst the trees was a plaque in memory of Domino the boat cat. Not even a year old Domino had been attacked by a dog earlier this year. I always knew the woofers round here had no manners, now they have even less anything! Was the dog in question still walked along the towpath? What was the likely hood of the same thing happening again? Domino was a young boat cat, would Tilly’s eight human years serve her better? It would have been very unfair to keep her in especially as the mooring had serious stamp of approval potential.

Poor poor Domino

The afternoon was filled with chatting, snoozing and food preparation. I made up a batch of apple flapjack, some sad git’s puff pastry was defrosted and rolled around sausage meat ready to be baked tomorrow and a large fish pie was put together to feed the troops, very tasty it was too.

The locals came to say hello

A very pleasant evening with conversation whilst watching the sun go down. A very nice mooring despite being so close to the M25.

Mesh in the side hatch as the sun went down

0 locks, 0.7 miles, 2 winds, 0 bumbag, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 2 packs fish pie, 1 car returned, 1 sister, 1 lazy afternoon, 1 lovely mooring, 1 black pawbanded Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/4YsTj7LffLZ6t7fB8

Increasing The Ballast. 7th June

Pyrford Marina, River Wey Navigations

The bears left in charge again

Final jobs in the house. Making up beds, a nice shower required the cubical to be squeegeed down again, hovering, sandwich making, crumbs from the toaster etc. Mick was finished before I was and stood waiting to take the bin out. I then ran round the house to do an idiot check and make sure everything was ready for our next lodgers, the car was packed and we were on our way at midday. Just a shame we’d left a block of cheese and some milk in the fridge! Frank would you like some cheese?

Our blue pompom bush has gone bonkers

We stopped off for some more cat litter. Tilly uses a mixture of wood and odour control litter, we in our separating toilet use wood litter to cover our deposits. Recently we’ve found that we prefer using a wood cat litter from Pets at Home. This is paler than the supermarket version and when some water is added it fluffs up nicely without being sticky for sprinkling. So we paused to purchase a bag as we left Scarborough.

An A1 sock

Our route back was slow, Mick chose to head southwards on the A1, our route north had been on the M1, lots of road works! It being a Friday afternoon plenty of people were also on the move. Not so many road works, but we did have quite a few slow sections, one where a car had pulled onto the central reservation under a bridge and then decided to get back into the line of traffic, causing the slow moving traffic to do an emergency stop! Why they couldn’t have signalled and waited to be let in, who knows! This route follows the River Trent, Nene and Great Ouse.

Turning off the M25

Only one comfort stop was taken to eat our butties we’d made and seven hours after leaving Scarborough we were at the marina gates in Pyrford, I’d almost knitted a complete sock!

I think someone was pleased to have us home

First things first, give Tilly a cuddle. I gave the usual meow as I walked up to the boat and could hear excited relieved paws charge through Oleanna, then shouting took over. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!!???!!! You said it would be two BIG sleeps, well it was 6! That means you owe me 4 more meals. I had to save those biscuits just in case you’d gone FOREVER!!!!

Plenty of frantic head nudges, so many that I lost my glasses. I don’t think she’d liked the neighbours NO! They have woofers! Food was required, a top up of biscuits and some whitefish tonight. Tom came in and gave me a good ear rub, he also had a LOT of bags with him. I apparently can go in my box a lot now, but not too much yet as they want my litter for extra ballast. The wine cellar was filled up and most of the cupboards. Then Mick headed back out, this time to Tescos for a click and collect of fresh things also picking up a few more bits that we thought might be good to have, including some more cheese. Four more bags of shopping to stow!

Here’s hoping we don’t eat our way through all this extra ballast too soon. Where we’re heading in the next couple of weeks we’ll be needing to be as low as possible in the water!

0 locks, 0 miles, 253 miles by car, 3 bags litter, 6 boxes wine, 1 bag cat biscuits, 2 boxes pink food, 1 chicken, 3 loaves bread, 4 pints not 2! 2 bottles vinegar, 1kg potatoes, 0.75 of a sock, 6 sleeps not 2! 2 beds made up ready, 1 block of cheddar, 1 ecstatic cat.

On The M25. 5th 6th June

Before breakfast Mick was heading off on the Brompton to pick up a hire car from Enterprise. So much for their slogan ‘The company that picks you up‘! Mick had called them yesterday to arrange a pick up from the marina. The website had suggested that the Weybridge branch was the closest so he’d chosen to book with them, after all they were only 3 miles away. Sorry we don’t cover that area, we’ll need to move your booking to Woking. This apparently was going to happen, so Mick called Woking to arrange a pick up, however because he’d prepaid the booking couldn’t be moved! We’ve come across this before. It just ended up being easier all round to keep the booking with Weybridge and either get the bus or cycle to pick up the car. The later was chosen.

Magic food bowl filled and timer set

As bags were packed with overnight things, Tilly got twitchy. Oh blimey not the super fast outside! She needn’t have worried, she was being left in charge of Oleanna. The magic food bowl came out from under the bathroom sink. Cod and Tuna please. And I got to select toys from my toy box, it smells so good in there!

Now where’s that fish gone, oh and snowman!

Once breakfasted and the car was packed we were on our way, back to Scarborough. At times the going was slow. The satnav took us on what we felt to be a long route to the M25, but looking at the map it kind of made sense. On the M25, rather than under it we spotted canal landmarks as we passed them. The big road viaduct across the Grand Union, we stopped at Watford Gap for a jacket potato lunch, Long Buckby, etc as we made our way round London and headed north. A comfort break at Doncaster and then we were crossing over the Yorkshire Wolds back to a sunny Scarborough.

The car was emptied and then Mick headed off to pick our evening meal. I did an idiot check from the last lot of lodgers. Quite a few things left, a new big turquoise cushion, but mostly shower gel and a few things in the fridge. All understandable as they will be returning in a few weeks time.

Obligatory fish and chips

Mick dealt with the compost and a mental note of jobs that needed doing was made.

It’s a good job there are four lots of bedding for the main two bedrooms, this means we can do a turn around quite quickly should we need to. However recently we’ve had a few change overs, one more than expected, so all but one set of bed linen needed ironing. Annie gets extra brownie points for having washed towels and sheets and left them to dry for us.

I spent much of the day ironing, whilst Mick had a blood test that he’d managed to arrange to coincide with our visit and then he got on with a tidy of the gardens. At least we can say we’d been part of No Mow May!

A Sainsbury’s delivery to restock the none perishables arrived, a few items for the house others went straight in the car. Showers were polished back up to standard, finger prints from kitchen cupboard doors removed and the worst bits cleaned from the ovens. Quite an exhausting day really. Mine wasn’t, it was very VERY boring! Apart from waiting for my magic food bowl to open, that kept me occupied for several hours, in fact I nearly fell asleep waiting. I’m sure She got the times wrong!

0 locks, 0 miles by canal, 252 miles by road, 3.1 miles by bike, 7 sets of bed linen, 2 showers, 1 forsythia, 2 lawns, 2 beds made, 8 towels, 2 of each, 6 boxes wine, 2 bags litter, 7 hours drive, 1 full on day.

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).

Windsor

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.

WHAT!!!!

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.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/EzffhfVinHk1SsxG9