Category Archives: Houses For Sale

Prescription Architecture. 11th July

Sharpes Lane Bridge to Berkhamsted 14 day moorings

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

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

Brian chatting to Australian gongoozlers

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

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

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

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

The Rising Sun

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

Look at how pretty that is

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

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

Click the photo for details

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

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

A lovely front

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

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

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

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

You’re In Our Mooring! 8th July

The Grove Bridge to Apsley Sainsburys Mooring

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

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


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

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

I never realised the Grand Union was SO old!

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

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

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

M25 for the last time?

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

Home Park Lock

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

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

Boats fast approaching the top lock

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

Boat filling with water above

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

Paul, you’ve made our summer

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

Nash Mills Bottom Lock temporary repairs on both beams

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

Small boats to the left please

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

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

Not A Day For A Thumbs Down! 4th July

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

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

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

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

Cowley Lock

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

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

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

The curvy building of Uxbridge

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

Good luck Larry

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

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

Denham Deep

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

The older railway bridge

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

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

Another section making it’s way to be added

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

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

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

Hello all the way up there!

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

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

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

It Must Be Election Time. 29th June

Paddington Basin

First things first. Time to vote. Signed, crossed and sealed, Mick walked to the nearest post box outside a Post Office and popped our votes in the post box.


Yesterday one of our items of post was a campaign t-towel for Tilly. This was hung in our window to show her allegiance to Larry. There was then a lot of Freedom for Cats in Paddington! shouted about the boat before she gave up and headed back to bed.

Vote for Larry

Last night the return from Hackney proved a touch painful for my knee. Yes we had to walk a distance, but not that far. Todays plan had been to head to Hampstead Theatre for brunch and have a look around Central School of Speech and Drama. To conserve my knee, brunch was moved to Paddington and a look around the college put off for another time. My college friend Kathy arrived and we found a table outside in the shade at The Union where we enjoyed a very nice brunch at a reasonable price and very good company.

Kathy, Mick, Pip

Kathy is a lecturer in Theatre Design at Central and spent some of our time together trying to convince me to join the Society of British Theatre Designers council. This would mean I’d have to join the society in the first place! I’d considered joining when my agent said she was retiring, therefore the commission I used to pay to her could go towards membership of such organisations. I’ll have a another think about it.

After a couple of hours it was time for her to head off to talk at the college open day, we returned to Oleanna for a quiet afternoon. Pair 26 of my Sockathon was cast off, I’m halfway through! £975 raised so far. The other day I had a sock shot sent from Liza Goddard showing off her Red Rye socks I’d knitted for her. Thank you Lil for your sponsorship, may your socks keep your toes cosy in many theatrical digs when you are on tour.

An exciting first day

It was also the first day of the Tour De France. Ten years ago we’d reached Hebden Bridge in NB Lillyanne for the opening stage of the tour. Today not so many people walked past Oleanna in Paddington as happened ten years ago and there was no big screen to watch the cyclists for longer than a few seconds zooming past the boat.

Not a big pudding!

Early evening we caught the tube to Kings Cross and walked up Pentonville Road to Mildreds. Here a quiet table tucked away had been requested by Nick and Kerry so they could bring Harry their whippet with them. Our table wasn’t quite as tucked away as hoped but the staff said we’d be better off where we were, sure enough they were good to their word, the other two thirds of the restaurant became packed out, our third just the five of us. Very nice food, I had a pineapple peanut curry with rice noodles followed by a plant based crème brule. Nick’s chocolate peanut butter fudge was what we’d jokingly expected, two cubes.

What a pretty crescent tucked away

A pint somewhere was now sought. A walk round to a nice quiet back street pub, sadly they’d a DJ in for the evening, so the pub was rejected. It did mean we got to see the wonderful Grade 2 Keystone Crescent.

Kerry and Nick

In the end we opted for a pint at The John Betjeman Arms at St Pancras Station. They had gluten free beer, they had an area where we could sit in the station, but that was closing in ten minutes! We made the most of it before moving inside for more beer and conversation. The last time all five of us were round a pub table in London it was the night of the 2017 General Election.

Nick and Harry

Another lovely day catching up with people.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 college best mate, 1 oldest best mate, 1 cat campaign, 1 Harry, 1 problematical knee!

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.


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

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.


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.

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.

Pleasing The Keepers. 2nd June

Tilly’s Island to Dorney Lake Bend

What a gorgeous day

What a gorgeous morning, well until the loud hailers from the rowing support boats started at 7:30! Soon followed by swimmers, they were all taking advantage of a quieter river in wonderful sunshine. It wouldn’t stay that quiet for long!


Much to Tilly’s disgust we hadn’t booked for another three nights on her island, so she grumped and went back to bed whilst we enjoyed a cooked breakfast and the Geraghty Sunday morning zoom. Subjects included, going underground, star of the week and Lego cars, plus vague arrangements were made to meet up with a sibling or two in a few days. However later in the day Mick realised we’d got all our days in a muddle and we won’t be quite where we said we’d be!

You are a big fat MEANIE you are!

By 11am we were ready to push off, stern line untied first then the bow, a push out and we were on our way heading upstream. Not for long though, once past the islands we winded, a cruiser behind us having to slow it’s pace and as we turned we fell in line with another heading downstream. By the time we got to glance over our shoulders Tilly’s Island was already being invaded by paddle boarders.

Not far on the river banks get busier again, moored boats and a lot of moving ones. We headed towards Boulter’s Lock, boats coming towards us and quite a few in front of us too. Three cruisers on one side of the lock, three seacadet rowing boats on the other. The Lock Keeper waved us in and asked the rowing boats to nudge up. Seven boats in the lock, the Lockies mathematics having to work. You could see the glee on his face, almost a full lock, he would have been able to fit another narrowboat in, but none showed to his disappointment. The sunshine had certainly woken up the boaters.

An almost full lock

A crowd of gongoozlers watched on from the bridge above as the lock lowered the boats, then in an orderly fashion a rowing boat headed out followed by a cruiser, another rowing boat, cruiser, so on until we brought up the rear.

£5,350,000 It’s had a modern make over

Maidenhead houses sprawled out on the banks, three for sale I only got two photos, the third one is worth a look for it’s period details, that fireplace!

£4,000,000 with original features, but if you had a touch more cash look at next door!

The river was now that bit busier still, or so it seemed. A row of boats headed on downstream towards Bray Lock. A cruiser passed us just in time before the layby, the layby soon filled up. As boats came up out of the lock the queue headed in boat by boat. The Lock Keeper came along asked our length, mathematics again. Bray Lock is 65ft shorter and just over 3ft narrower than Boulters Lock. We wouldn’t fit, ‘Sorry you’ll be in the next penning’, he waved a cruiser on from behind us, the queue now down to two boats.

Oleanna was too long, we’d have to wait

Some shade was sought, Mummy duck kept her four ducklings close and the boat behind us chatted away with beers and music. Our island idyll from last night now far gone.

Keeping away from the woofers

It was now our turn, the Lock Keeper insisted on taking the bow rope from me, so I didn’t have to step off, he’d already had a body in the lock today, an alive one he quickly added. One of the chaps from the boat accompanying us had fallen in earlier this morning. This did not surprise me! Every one stayed dry as we were lowered to the level of the next reach.

A nice place to sit and watch the river flow by

Under the M4, past Monkey Island, Bray Film Studios, Oakley Court with it’s numerous places to sit out and watch the boats go by. At last the weather gods had turned the thermostat up, everyone was really enjoying the sunshine. You can’t help but notice the price of fuel on the Thames. Bray Marina £1.57 for diesel and £1.91petrol. A short distance away the diesel was 3p cheaper!

We should have been carrying on to Windsor or Runnymead today, but with the water being SO busy we decided that as soon as we saw a suitable mooring we should stop. The sharp bend at the end of Dorney Rowing Lake had a cruiser on it, plenty of room for us too, we just needed to wind and pull in whilst there was a gap in boats. As we pulled past the cruiser we both said a jolly hello, not even a look up from their papers, no acknowledgment what so ever, we’d not be making new friends today!


The river was busy this afternoon, it was obvious when ever Boveney Lock a little bit down stream had penned boats up and a while later a cluster of boats would arrive from Bray Lock. Add to this planes flying in and out of Heathrow it made for quite a noisy afternoon. Plus when someone decided they should crank up their engine and hightail it off into the distance we were buffeted about somewhat.

Tilly busied herself outside, well someone had to tidy up the outside! whilst we sat indoors, nowhere to sit in the shade by our mooring which was covered in nettles. We willed the speechless cruiser to move on, chances were it would and return to their mooring, but only when they’d finished reading their Sunday newspaper.

At around 6pm Mick was just saying what a shame as if we had more room he could have lit the barbeque a couple of hours ago and it would just about be ready to cook on. The back door was opened for Tilly, the speechless cruiser had also been silent when it had departed. We could now pull back and take advantage of more bank to sit out on. Just as we were finishing adjusting our spikes a hire boat arrived, crew having just picked their cruiser up this afternoon. Could they moor here? We lent them a hand whilst spikes were knocked in, ropes were held for them, they were very grateful.

Plenty of space to sit and wait

The barbeque was set up, more briquettes used this time and some extra kindling to assist in the lighting. Compared to last time it was now too hot to cook on, a third too many coals, we had to wait for it to cool down. Back in Oxford I’d bought us a couple of Bream for the barbeque, but this morning we’d not thought about being able to sit out, so had defrosted some sausages instead of the fish! Oh well we’ll find somewhere to eat them soon, I hope.

The kebab rest good, except the cheese melts so doesn’t turn with the skewer

A very pleasant evening sat by the river, the planes changed direction, taking off now and the majority of boats had returned to their moorings.

2 locks, 6.2 miles, 1.5 hrs short of where we should be, 7 in a lock, 2 happy Lockies, 4 hours shore leave, 1 silent boat, 60ft nudged back, 1 bbq, 4 kebabs, 6 sausages, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

Swimming Visitors Only. 1st June

Medmenham Meadows to Tilly’s Island, Cliveden

Brrrrr! Extra coats and a wind cheater required today, grey clouds over head, Brrrr!

Either Oleanna had been pushed in towards the bank a bit or the level had dropped a bit overnight as we were listing a touch this morning, nothing to fret about, it just required a bit more of a push off. What a shame it hadn’t been warmer yesterday afternoon to be able to sit out on the mown grass by our mooring. With the bow pushed out, Oleanna with help from the flow and wind winded to head downstream.

Hello Sue!

Many of the boats along the meadows live here, reserved signs sat in gaps, we’d been lucky to find a space that wasn’t someone’s permanent mooring. Along the last length there was a familiar boat. We waved frantically calling out ‘Hello Sue!’ We’d not got round to sending Sue on WB No Problem XL an email saying we’d be passing and I suspect if the weather had been better yesterday we’d have had a walk to say hello. A jolly wave came back from inside.

Rowing up stream

The locks today would be manned again, the first lock being Hurley and there was the Lockie we’d seen yesterday at Hambledon Lock. He’s a seasonal Lock Keeper and chatted with Mick. The full time staff are down by two from last year as sadly two of the Lock Keepers passed away. The lock cottages are given a spruce up before new people move in, certainly this was happening at Whitchurch Lock as we passed, new double glazing.

Enjoying the water despite the chill

All the beautiful launches and boats were under wraps at Peter Freebody and Co. Only one boat wasn’t wrapped up, the exception to prove the rule, one solitary plastic cruiser in amongst all that varnished wood.

All the curtains closed, nobody home

Down Temple Lock and onto the reach to Marlow. In amongst the seriously big houses and gardens there was an open sided marquee and lots of festoon lights. This was the secret (?) location you would be brought by boat from Marlow if you paid £95 for a five course meal. Today would be the last day in this location, glad we hadn’t paid to sit in our coats and be chilly even if the food was nice, only one welcome drink included in the price Feast Over Flame.

The landing

A space was just being made in the moorings at Marlow, a narrowboat pulled out and winded heading for the lock. We’d considered pulling in to buy a newspaper, but that would have delayed our arrival where we wanted to moor today, which might mean we’d miss out. The crew from the narrowboat came to help us pull onto the lock layby, the pull from the weir making this a little bit tricksy. The lock was made ready by a Keeper, then we were pulling in side by side. They have a mooring at Medmenham and were heading off for a weekends cruise.


Now for the long sweep of the river round to Bourne End. Along this stretch is always busy, a widebeam had just pulled out and was wanting to wind as two rowing boats were heading at speed towards them a shout from the support boat had them cut their speed to avoid a collision. We tried to check our speed as we passed a set of markers, we knew we weren’t going extreamly slowly due to the flow so when my stop watch reached 2 minutes we decided we’d actually missed the first markers to time ourselves.

A surprising price for what looks like a small house. Click photo

Round into the lock cut for Cookham Lock. Weekend traffic obvious to us now, three cruisers coming towards us and a narrowboat at the water point. The lock was manned again and here we said our hopeful goodbye to our locking partner as we hoped to find a mooring along the next reach.

Left for the lock cut

Small day boats cruised up and down, the queue for the cafe van and chilled medication was a few deep. Had we have arrived in time to get a good mooring? We passed the first island a boat already moored up, most probably just for the afternoon. Then the next island, one space free, the longer space we were after also free. Quick before anyone else pulled in! We headed past the island to wind and then made our way back up, pulling in easily to the mooring we’d managed to get two years ago on Tilly’s birthday. Tilly’s Island, a Pawfect outside, cat paradise, just so long as no-one else pulled up on the other available moorings.

FIVE and a HALF!!!

Five and a half hours Tilly! Five FIVE FIVE!!!!! YES!!!!! She didn’t manage to use them all before having to retire for a cat nap in her escape pod.

A quick run up a tree, the mooring posts were quickly claimed. She hesitated to venture too far. An extra rule was given, ‘If you do fall in make sure you swim back to THIS island’. The mooring was ideal apart from one thing, no land access, well that’s actually what made it ideal for Tilly, just not for any human visitors. I sent a message to Sam, who’d been hoping to be able to visit us today. Unless she had a canoe or was willing to swim across to the island we wouldn’t be seeing her today. A reply came back that she wasn’t too keen on swimming in the Thames so maybe we’ll be able to see her elsewhere in a week or so time.

Our island, could someone turn the thermostat up please

The afternoon was chilly to say the least, not one to sit out on the bank enjoying our surroundings! I watched Mr Holmes (2015) about a retired Sherlock Homes, dealing with dementia and trying his best to remember his last case which starred Sir Ian McKellen. A very English film, perfect to sit and knit in front of.

One boat had joined us for a while on Tilly’s Island, but they moved off long before dark leaving us alone with nature and the stove lit.

Here’s where we travelled in May

4 locks, 9.8 miles, 2 winds, 2 locks shared, 1 island, £10, 1 very happy cat, 0 visitors, 1 pooped cat, 1 gold embossed Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.

The Hunt Continues. 31st May

Sonning Lock to Medmenham Meadows

The first boats came past whilst we were still in bed, then the Lock Keeper walked along to check on the moorings which was soon followed by a busy half hour of boats arriving for the lock. We took our time and waited for the rush to abate before pushing off, winding and heading to the lock ourselves.

Getting closer to Henley I was on the look out for the location of my cousin Tim’s first wedding. I was the only bridesmaid and I’d love to know where the reception was held. My cousin Ian has said it was Henley and Sally said it was at The Bell in or near Henley. Well there is an Old Bell in Henley, but not by the river.

The bride and me

There are lots of photos taken with water in the back ground so I’m discounting the Old Bell. This was about 50 years ago, so buildings may have changed, stopped being restaurants, but the proximity of water and bridges in the photos almost certainly won’t have. The Bull in Sonning doesn’t have the right kind of bridges in view so has been discounted. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

The Lockie was jolly this morning. On the lock island there is an extension to one of the houses underway and along the towpath new fencing is being erected, pretty sturdy fencing.

The houses now have grown somewhat. Huge wide lawns sprawl down to the Thames all with their obligatory stripes. Some boat houses look to have big Granny annexes, I would quite happily live in the boat house and let Mick and Tilly have the annex.

So sad the campsites are closed

The water point above Shiplake Lock was free, we pulled in to top up the tank, the tap already taped so as to assist using a long hose. All round the lock island was fencing, only access to the pumpout, elsan and water tap possible. Here there have always been numerous sheds with canvas canopies attached, a rather lovely camping area. With cut backs this year the EA have closed all of their campsites, so the whole site normally very interesting looks very dead. Along with the lack of campers there is also the lack of bins, the rubbish barge removed by the EA.

Vessels of all sorts on the Thames

However at the lock there was a Lockie and a volunteer, in fact today every lock was manned, they don’t have to wait 20 minutes for a lock to go through the whole process of emptying when it’s already empty, so things were much quicker.


Approaching Marsh Lock I kept my eyes peeled towards the west bank for the wedding reception venue, possibly tucked away behind an island, no longer a restaurant, the walkway over the weir possibly in one photo, but the other bridge couldn’t be seen.

Click photo for details

On the eastern bank a house for sale, set way back from the river with terraced gardens and water frontage. It was hard to make out which the house was.

The weir

The Lock Keeper here said how quiet the river was, today was his busiest so far this year. Below the lock the water gets confused, the Lockie had warned us, first we’d get dragged towards the weir then we’d be pushed away, Mick upped the revs to compensate.

A semi for sale, click photo for a nosy

Which side of the islands, we chose to go to the west, see if there were any other possible venues. None, but there was quite a lot of mooring available, too early for lunch.

I hope one day to see this boat out and about

The beautiful Tiddley Pom Pom was spotted on it’s mooring, my Grandfather on my Mum’s side was called Pompom so I always look for it, hopefully one day we’ll see it out and about.

Preparations for the regatta are on going. Well it does take 3 months to set up. All the white posts are in position and planks are hooked on to make the lanes. Marquees spread out on the west bank and stands have been erected. We took the eastern side, access to moorings marked by flags. We decided to carry on passing Temple Island and being passed ourselves by a big trip boat.

Temple Island

Hambledon Lock was also manned and there was plenty of room for us to share the lock with the trip boat. As the lock emptied the stern got closer towards us, ‘She always likes to sit in the centre of locks’ the lady said as she pulled the back away from our cratch. They were heading for Marlow where presumably boat trips will start this weekend.

Oxford our big locking partner

Now to find a mooring, we hoped there’d be space for us along Medmenham meadows. The first field had quite a few camper vans in it, no mooring room. On a bit further and close to Fredrica and Little Fred there was a length of bank that looked possible. We winded and approached slowly. I hopped off, Mick brought the stern in, yep this would be good we just needed to get some spikes in, the trees a touch too far away to be useful to tie to.


Once secure the doors were open, Four hours Tilly! A wind swept Tilly explored for a while, but thankfully she heeded my warnings of climbing trees over hanging the river, or hunting right on the bank. No, it was just far FAR to BLOWY! She gave up and retired indoors for much of the afternoon. The occasional check on the wind was taken from under the pram cover, still not suitable. Here’s hoping we find a suitable mooring with suitable weather for her in the next couple of days.

4 locks, 10.5 miles, 0 reception venue found, 50 year old memory failing, 0 self service locks,1 nicely mown patch, 4 hours of blustery wind, 0 sitting out, 1 Tiddly Pompom, 2 blowy for cats.