Category Archives: Knitting

Percy And Barry. 1st July

Paddington Basin to Ballot Box Bridge

Our next door neighbour

Our four nights in Paddington were up. I think I’d looked at us staying a touch longer but the pre-bookable moorings weren’t available in Paddington. There’s always more we could see and do, lots of people to catch up with, but we’d rather take our London fixes in small chunks.

Heading off to explore more waters

The small sailing boat, wrapped up it’s covers and headed off first, it was so short it had had no difficulty getting into the mooring next to us. A look around M&S before we left provided us with another sad gits meal for tonight. Then it was time to reverse out from our mooring, wind and head off. The moorings outside the station had emptied out and the length at Little Venice only had one boat on it. It felt as if people had been for the weekend and then left this morning, would those moorings be filled back up by the end of the day?

Leaving Paddington Basin

The service mooring was empty, time to top up on fresh water and deal with the yellow water, we already had the 25litre container to empty from when we arrived. Mick had checked the C&RT notices in case the elsan was out of order, a notice from quite sometime ago was still live, however everything was in working order. We did the necessary and then waited for the fresh water tank to fill. Another boat arrived laid out his hose to mark his place in the queue.

Barry Caffery

Then a chap came along a BBC Radio London mic in his hand, he quickly said he wasn’t recording but would we be willing to talk to him about the general election, they were doing a feature on Floating Voters today! Good job we don’t have a pump out toilet! We both agreed, making sure he knew we were visitors rather than London boaters. Barry chatted to us for a bit and then turned his mic on, asked us a bit about ourselves and then if we were excited for the General Election.

Hello David

Mick went first. Whilst he did his bit a bow came through the bridge behind us. It was obviously NB Albert Victor with David onboard, we did the Tideway cruise with David a few years ago, he was just on his way back to his mooring after the latest St Pancras Tideway cruise on Saturday. I managed to say hello, but not much else as I was aware that Mick was being recorded just behind me. Shame we didn’t get chance to chat.

Next it was my go. I tend not to talk politics on the blog, even though I suspect most of you know which colour we lean towards, Larry for PM! What were the important issues? I didn’t bother mentioning the obvious ones, NHS, Environment, etc, but the more personal ones, funding for the arts and waterways and just generally to have a government that cares about the people rather than lining their own pockets. We were also asked if we’d be staying up all night for the results. I suspect we’ll last for a while, then put our heads down to wake early hoping for a good result.

Heading outwards

I asked if I could have a photo of Barry Caffrey, he obliged, he could hardly not. Then he moved on to the chap waiting for the services, I think the fellow said no so Barry caught the eye of a lady walking along the towpath.

Our tank had finished filling without interrupting the interview. The chap waiting came to help push us out. His opinion on the interview, ‘Floating Voters! We can’t vote because we haven’t got an address. What’s the point in talking to us?’ Well, he was wrong. Everyone is entitled to vote even without an address, you have to declare yourself as homeless with an interest in a particular constituency. So at least one good thing will have come from the interview, that chap now knows he was entitled to vote, it won’t help him now, but in the future. For anyone wanting information on how to vote without an address here is a link to the Government website.

Onwards and outwards, past all the same sights we’ve seen before. The lack of weed still surprising us, also the lack of rubbish we normally encounter is greatly reduced, well apart from that from boaters doing work on their boats and just leaving it along the towpath! We tuned into BBC Radio London. The first interviewee Lyndsey, whom we’d just passed leaving Paddington, a continuous cruiser, with similar views to ours. She had been concerned with a recent pollution incident in London, cooking fat in the canal. Maybe this was why the canal seems to be cleaner than we’ve known it before as quite some effort was needed to clean up the fat.

We tuned back in for the next segment and were surprised to hear ourselves in full. A few moments of local radio fame!

Some of those recycled windows

Our aim today was to moor somewhere Tilly could go out. She’s been getting cabin fever and trying to squeeze herself between the gunnel and the top of the sofa to get into the secret passageway! This doesn’t work, but she keeps trying!

Much better

After Ballot Box Bridge there was still plenty of room, we pulled in quite a good distance away from where we reckoned our neighbours with four cats would still be moored. This will do nicely! No mesh on the fence either! See ya!

Hello Simon

Another boat came into view behind us, another familiar boat, Simon Judge on NB Scholar Gypsy. Simon organised the tideway cruise this weekend for 34 boats. He’s also done the tideway between Teddington and Limehouse three times in the last few days! Nice to be able to have a chat with him, but then a boat came into view behind so he was on his way again.

Originally Tilly was given three hours, but when she came home after two we decided that it was curfew time, the speed that the bikes and scooters go at along here is comparable to that of cars. So as rush hour started we closed the doors and access to the secret passageway was attempted again.

Here’s where we travelled in June

0 locks, 7.7 miles, 1 wind, 65ft reversed, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank twice, 2 interviews, 2 passing boaters, 2 hours shore leave, 1 pink tablet, 1 knee rested for another day, 1 knitter in the top 15% of fundraisers last month.

Halfway! 30th June

Paddington Basin

The boats on the pontoons reduced to two this morning, but by the end of the day we’d be joined by another two narrowboats and a little electric sailingy type boat. This had tarpaulins added to a frame over it so that the crew could sleep inside with some privacy.

The Geraghty zoom was a little depleted this morning, but we still covered subjects such as Strawberry eating squirrels, oppositional disorder and skeletons. Then it was time for breakfast, we’d nearly got everything but lacked a little on the bacon front. Being moored right outside an M&S foodhall is quite handy on such occasions, it’s just a touch expensive!

It all needed eating up, honest!

Mick was early, the shop not opening it’s doors until 11am and there was quite a queue. Yellow labels were around the shop, it would be worth me having a look before too long to see what bargains there might be. Whilst Mick cooked breakfast I scoured the shelves to see what we might have to eat this evening as we’d be at home tonight. With a lot of things less than half price I got us a feast.

Today Mick planned on heading off to explore Ealing stations that have been revamped with the dawning of the Elizabeth line. This being where he grew up along with being interested in trains it was an obvious way to spend his day. He caught the train out to West Ealing where the station has changed to a different road and platforms have moved through bridges. Then several buses took him to Ealing Broadway via Greenford. Ealing Broadway a very different sight to that I remember.

Ealing Broadway

Just before Mick left for his exploration a Police van had pulled up close to our mooring. Three Police Officers busied themselves putting a rib into the canal, no rush about it, it kind of felt like they were going for a Sunday jaunt up the Regents Canal. It took them time to get the engine mounted and even longer to get it going. Off they went and strangely enough they returned just as Mick did! Was this a coincidence? Or had he been on their jaunt too? Are the above photos his? Or was he on a mission with the police or helping with their enquiries whilst out on the boat?

I had planned a great day, for me. A bus ride down to the Thames and then some time at the John Singer Sargent exhibition at Tate Britain. Christine and Kathy had said how good it was, plus he’s one of my favourite artists. Then another bus journey was to take me to the National Gallery where the Last Caravaggio is on display, Caravaggio also another favourite.

My route was planned to make the best use of buses and therefore least amount of walking, however I’d be needing to walk around the exhibitions and my little walk into M&S today had proved to be quite painful with my knee. So sadly my very arty day was not to be, resting my knee more important.

Ends ends and more ends, what a Joy!

Instead I sat down and watched the second half of The Duke (2020), about the theft or borrowing of the Goya Duke painting staring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren based on a true story. This was as close as I’d be getting to the National Gallery today. Whilst I watched the court and the verdict I spent time weaving ends in on three pairs of socks for my sockathon. On one pair I’d started this process a week or so ago as there were a lot of ends! A LOT!! But the next four pairs are ready to have their photos taken and be popped in the post to their sponsors. So by the end of the 26th week of #pipssockathon2024 I have finished 26 pairs of socks. I also got a message from a friend who now sings songs with people suffering with Alzheimer’s, her socks had arrived and will be worn the next time she’s out singing, flashing her ankles at everyone. Thank you Cate!

The latest pile of socks

Well our sad git’s meal from M&S turned out to be quite a feast, posh chicken kebabs with caesar dressing, frites and some vegetables on the side. Not all of the frites were consumed, but we gave it a good try!

Frites with chicken on the side

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 Lizzie lines, 3 buses, 0 art galleries, 4 pairs totally finished, 1 very bored cat, 2 sad git kebabs, 4 portions of frites, 1 Mick and 3 police officers?

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!

Would You Like A Bigger Table? 27th June

Ballot Box Bridge to Pontoon 6, Paddington Basin

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

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

Out on the hard

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

A really awkward Elsan

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

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

Towpath works

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

Buddleia tastic

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

A timber store? Workshop?

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

Heading for Paddington Basin

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

Passing the restaurant boats

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

There’s our mooring, ready and waiting for us

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun set

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

Early Again. 26th June

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


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

Starting up the locks

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

Heading up the flight

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

The pretty Lock Cottage

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


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

Three Bridges

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

No spaces where we’d wanted to be last night

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

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

Is that a man in blue?

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

Coots taking advantage as they do

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

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

Bulls Bridge

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

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

Ooo Hello!

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

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

She’s got the right idea

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

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

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

Early Start, Early Finish. 25th June

Footbridge 207A to Hanwell Moorings

YAWN!!! The alarm clock went off at 5am. Today our aim was to get moving before breakfast and work our way up Clitheroe’s and Osterley Locks, then up the Hanwell flight, hoping there would be a space in the longer Three Bridges pound to moor for the rest of the day , all before it got a touch too hot. Cuppas were made, mine in an insulated mug to drink between locks.

5am with the first flight due overhead any moment

The covers were rolled up and we pushed off, just starting the engine before the land was let go so as to wake as few people as possible. We pootled up to the first lock Clitheroe’s, not far away. All empty, so we could go straight in. I started to fill the lock only for Mick to raise a hand. I lowered the paddle, there was a big branch jammed between the bottom gates, it needed removing.

Clitheroe’s Lock

Once cleared, I lifted the paddles and set things in motion again. A couple walking their dogs crossed over the lock chatting as they went. All good with the world on a beautiful sunny morning. Well it was until a few moments later. All of a sudden I got the feeling that a migraine was about to kick in, a blank spot in my vision a tell tale sign.

Once Oleanna was out of the lock and me on board I headed to the drugs cupboard to find suitable pills. This took some time as the box I was looking for was anonymous, it’s hard enough for me to read at this point of a migraine anyway, scanning the shelves with a blank spot in my vision! Pills found, Mick was asked to check they were what I thought before I took any.

Osterley Lock

At Osterley Lock I walked round to operate the paddles, up and over the footbridge rather than across the gates. Once we were up the discission was made to pull in and moor up for the day. The first length of bank near to the bottom of the Hanwell flight we saw we pulled into.

The outside was even trying to get inside out of the hot!

I knew something was up. They’d tied an outside up and then She said I had 12 hours! All before my morning Dingding biscuits!!! Was this a sausage day?

Tilly made use of the cool morning air. I had a snooze, then got up for breakfast. Tilly by the looks of it had done some self catering by the amount of cobwebs on her head. More snoozing whilst Mick went off to check his old flat was still there by The Fox.

Handy white sheets

The temperature rose and we gradually lost what shade we’d started off with. I dug out one of the white sheets we’d bought on the Great Ouse, today it was just hung inside the side hatch to keep the sun out. We all retired in doors for a very lazy warm day.

A fascinating hair do Tilly

Mick chatted to a boat that had been in Teddington Lock with us yesterday, they were setting off up the locks, did we want to join them? Then the other three boats came past at varying times of the day, all a touch warm I suspect. We just stayed in doors.

Late afternoon Tilly ventured out again but not for too long. I managed some knitting but not much else.

Last of the on board chilled medication

Tomorrow we’ll need to do our best on another hot day to catch ourselves up.

2 locks, 1.6 miles, 5am start, 5am first flight, 1 blind spot, 1 early early stop, 4 extra strong pills, 7am start across the way, 12 hours, only 3 taken, 2 hot for cats, 0.75 of a sock knitted, 2 warm to knit at times.

Is There A Festival Going On? 24th June

Shepperton Village Moorings to Footbridge 207A, Grand Union Canal

Just the ticket

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

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

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

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

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

Knitting whilst passing the Palace

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

Willing for there to be a gap big enough for us

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

Cranes and pontoon at the locks

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

A wise precaution before cruising the tide

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

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

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

Richmond Hill ahead

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

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

£2 million minus £1

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

Time to paddle

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

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

Richmond Weir

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

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

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

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

Boats turning in towards Brentford

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

Only room for two boats at Thames Lock

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

A good mural we’ve not spotted before

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

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

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

Moving Into Position. 20th June

Mytchett Visitor Centre to Frimley Lodge Park

Yesterday’s walking has aggravated a problem I’ve got with one of my knees. Today we’d thought of having a visit to Woking, but I decided to put that on hold to save walking lots as tomorrow we hope to be descending the Deepcut flight. Once I get moving it’s not so bad, it just takes a while to get going!

Mick loitered in the car park for a Sainsburys delivery, it took some time to stow away. I’d got a chicken with the idea of jointing it and popping it in the freezer, however the freezer is a touch too full at the moment. We may have to have a roast chicken, just as the temperatures are starting to rise!

A move for water

The next couple of pairs of socks were packaged up ready for the post. Then I sat down to join an on-line funeral of the father of one of my York college friends Nick. A sad occasion, but a lovely tribute to a man who loved to sing. Thank goodness there was an excerpt from his 80th birthday where he and a couple of friends sang a Gilbert and Sullivan passage, far better than the main voice heard over the internet during the hymns. Sorry I couldn’t make it to York to be there in person.

NB Olive arrived behind us, they pulled in onto the waterpoint for a pump out. Mick went to chat and arrange when they’d finished that we’d do a do-ci-do as we wanted to top up on water. We pushed over to the towpath, well tried to, getting to the side problematical. The local hire boats must be so shallow as they’ve been mooring there. Once we’d attended to emptying the yellow water tank we then reversed back to the now vacated water point to use the water point and elsan, NB Olive pulling into our still warm mooring of the last few days.

Hopefully this will be goodbye to the visitors centre

Tomorrow morning we need to be at the top of Deepcut Locks at 9:30 so we decided to move back to Frimley Lodge Park, cutting the slow journey in half. The 0.8 miles took us an hour, one visit down the weed hatch and I was sent down to the bow to help bring the stern up.

See you tomorrow Olive

At the bow I could see very clearly where the channel was the water so clear. We had quite a lengthy chat with a fella sat on the bank as we tried to progress onwards. The geese all swam past and then vanished into the off side, the entrance to a lake disguised from my view point.

Bridge closed behind us

By 4pm we were moored up, some nettles trimmed back so that covers could be closed and Tilly was out enjoying some shore leave. Our nebolink hasn’t sent us emails today again. I can see that it’s logged the journey, just not sent the report. Our internet is a touch dodgy here so that may be the cause. *It arrived at around 4am.

During the day the Basingstoke Canal Authority put out their stoppage notice regarding the locks.

A couple of days ago the 2024 Pantomime Awards were held in Guildford. Chipping Norton Panto, Cinderella had two nominations. Actors Mark and Laura were nominated for the Best Ugly Sisters and Mariana the Assistant Director/Dramaturg was nominated for Best Newcomer to Pantomime. Sadly these awards went to other people. However they were there to receive a special award for Achievement in Innovation. Well done to the whole team who worked on Cinderella, but especially John Terry who decided to relocate the story to Latin America and employ so many Latinex actors and creatives.


0 locks, 0.8 miles, 1 swing bridge, 15 held up, 3 boat lengths reversed, 6 boxes wine, 1 big chicken, 2 boxes pink fishy cat food, 2 hours shore leave, 1 odd man, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 2 boaters and 1 boat cat ready for the morning.!1m17!1m12!1m3!1d2011.243809970771!2d-0.7246175771777317!3d51.29882801812367!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!2zNTHCsDE3JzU1LjciTiAwwrA0MycyMS4yIlc!5e1!3m2!1sen!2suk!4v1718952797455!5m2!1sen!2suk

Family. Tree. 18th June

Mychett Visitor Centre

A slow start to the day. Tilly was given the rules but decided she’d rather not have any shore leave. The geese can have this outside!

What to do with ourselves? A look in guide books didn’t really bring up anything that was of interest nearby. Yes there are several museums, but they are all military and that didn’t really appeal to us. But one thing jumped out on Google maps which wasn’t too far away. Just what was Melissa’s tree?

To the east of the visitors centre is a large wooded area which has ‘Managed Access’ meaning the MOD use it for training at times and right in the middle of it was a pin for Melissa’s Tree.

Anyone lost a shoe?

At the far end of the car park there is a gate in a fence, this was open so we assumed we’d be safe going for a walk today. Thick with trees and bracken it felt like we were about to have to run for our lives ducking and diving through the friendly cover to avoid the enemy fire, hoping to cross a border in a WW2 film or The Handmaids Tale. However well trodden paths zigzag all around the woodland, but how would you know where you were?

A unique tree, if we could find it again!

A Snowman nailed to a tree would be a land mark, not ever tree would have one surely!

The fleeting glance of dogs running around trailing their ears behind them. The odd runner bouncing above the bracken. Trees. More trees. Do we go this way or that? We had google and OS maps open on our phones, should we take that path or this? Eventually the tree level dropped and we were in what might be called a clearing, although younger trees were busy growing around us, a little like a Christmas tree farm.

I think that could be it

Up ahead it was obvious which was Melissa’s tree, soaring high above the younger trees, it stood out from the crowd. Pinned to the trunk a brass plaque, some fresh flowers and a photo of Melissa. Melissa Sardina passed away in February this year. She was a graphic designer but is known locally for having fostered many dogs before they moved onto their forever homes, here is where she walked her dogs.

What a lovely memorial

Should we head to see what we could see at the locks? Too far to walk today. Instead we walked back a different route, well it could have been the same, we’d not really be able to tell to be honest. One chap walked past with his two dogs, now where am I? I know! Several dog walkers with five dogs each, some on leads others allowed to roam freely.

A large track with signs warning not to pick up anything military, a wise suggestion. We gradually made it back to the gate in the fence and the visitors centre.

We checked in at the office, was there any word as yet from the engineer? He’d been but they had no news for us yet. They’d be in touch when they heard what he had to say.

27 the troublesome lock

The back door was left open for Tilly, but she only occasionally popped her head out the back to check, Still rubbish! An afternoon of pottering and knitting. I selected yarn for pair 25 and cast on the toe. The sewing remaining to be done on pair 24 will be done in spits and spurts over the coming days.

Late afternoon Mick popped into the office to see what news there was, they were just ringing round. Today one of the boats waiting by the lock had been used as a trial boat going through the lock. It was successful, but water levels needed to be restored which would take a while. So on Friday four boats would be heading down through the lock. No-one will be allowed onboard whilst descending the lock for safety reasons, we’ve had this before at Marple, just in case the lock gate should give way. However Tilly will be allowed to stay on board.


Early evening we had our own visitor, Sam my cousin once removed. We’d not managed to meet up whilst on the Thames near Windsor, but we were still close enough. It was nice to show Sam round Oleanna and for her to meet Tilly, she was allowed to have a head rub, more than I normally allow a stranger. But she is family.


Time to find some food. We’d shortlisted a few places nearby, but having a car was handy to go a little bit further. The Kingfisher on the Quay which overlooks a fresh water lake quite close to the A331. Quirkily decorated and I suspect quite cosy in the winter with big log fires the place was heaving. Luckily there was a table by a window, although the view was masked by parasols on the terrace.

The Kingfisher

A good gluten free menu for Sam and myself, all three of us opted for a Wagyu Burger. The waitress seemed to be new, not knowing about their hand pulled beers, so we all opted for glasses of wine. The conversation didn’t stop flowing and we could have carried on for a lot longer, but the pub was wanting to close up, the kitchen had closed for puddings already!

Sam, Mick, Pip

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 woodland walk, 0 shots fired, 1 memorial tree, 1 rum tree, 1 snowman, 4 boats waiting, 2 extra days, 3 lock flights booked, 1 cousin once removed, 1 guided tour, 1 head nudge, 3 burgers, 3 glasses of wine, 3 canoe urinals, 5 water ski loos, 1 very pleasant evening, thank you Sam for visiting us.

Four Inches Down. 17th June

Eelsmoor Bridge to Mytchett Visitor Centre

Sad git crumpets with toppings

Thankfully the speeding drivers and whatever else was going on at the end of the runway either stopped or didn’t bother us past midnight, so we got a reasonable nights sleep. Tilly was allowed shore leave whilst we had breakfast, however as soon as planes started to take off she ran back indoors, Those big BIG birds are far noisier than crows!

The gates at the side of the runway were open today and security staff manned the two bridges across the canal. Preparations for the Farnborough Air Show, fencing already up and a big marquee could be seen about half a mile up the side of the runway. We watched from the viewing benches just behind the friendly cover, a plane taking off just about every half hour and plenty of jets sat on the tarmac.

Farnborough Airport

It was nice to be able to zoom in on some of the buildings around the airport and the tower as Andrew my brother had been involved in their design when he worked for 3DReid and Bblurr. His architectural projects now more domestic, loft rooms, house extensions and a garage and utility room for Kath Mick’s sister. I have warned her that they might end up with a helipad on the roof!

Squeezing under the last bridge

Once we’d watched a few planes taking off it was time to move on. A mile and a half further on was the last of the low bridges. On our way up the canal it had felt as if there was masses of room above Oleanna. Now with the horns back in place would we still have space at Farnborough Road Bridge? The bridge fairly obviously is on a slant from side to side, Mick slowed us down and aimed for the higher side. At first there was loads of room, but that was gradually diminishing. The underside of the bridge gradually getting lower and lower. Was Oleanna’s smile about to be knocked off the roof? Would I be able to push Oleanna down to keep us away from the bridge. We inched through with just enough above the horns! Phew!!!!

NB Olive pulling in above the lock

NB Olive had been seen behind, gaining on us gradually as we made our way to Ash Lock. However above the lock they pulled in at the water point/mooring, they’d be stopping there for the day, a good cat mooring. They’d not heard anything from the Basingstoke Canal Authority, neither had we.

Going down

So we descended the lock on our own, back down to the Surrey pound. Immediately we noticed the difference, just about straight away Oleanna grounded. It took some time and wiggling to get off the bottom and start to make our way slowly back towards Mytchett. Waterway Routes suggested this should take us an hour, we knew it would be longer and sure enough it took nearly two with one trip down the weed hatch. Mick didn’t think it was worth another visit, which he could have done within five minutes.

Blue skies matching the railings

Over the aqueduct, past the big lakes, sun in the sky and plenty of time to enjoy it. On our way up the canal a hire boat had enquired where The Swan pub was, today we found out, right next to Heathvale Bridge.

After looking at the swan on the pub roof the bridge was worth looking at. A pill box on both sides of the west bank. Had the bridge been here when it was built? Was there access to both sides under the bridge? A bridge appeared here sometime between 1906 and 1919, possibly to gain access to the shooting ranges to the east of the canal which were very audible today.

Mychett Lake

We considered pulling in at Mychett Lake, but decided to keep on going to reach our destination for the day even if the embankment looked like it might be a suitable place for Tilly to explore.

The Patrol Boat was busy scouping weed out of the canal, just about as fast as we were picking it up. They followed us to the Visitor Centre, space for two boats today. The volunteers on the patrol boat had picked up a big bit of fencing along with lots of weed. Apparently the Surrey pound has been dropped by four inches to help relieve the pressure on the embankment by Mychett Lake where a leak has been discovered, a costly job to mend. Another four inches of depth would make this pound a lot easier to cruise.

Busy chaps on the patrol boat

Chloe rang us from the BCA. The rangers had inspected the lock today, they think it is possible for boats to pass with assisted passage. However the final word would be given tomorrow by an engineer. The patrol boat had been down to the top of the locks today, two boats waiting patiently for the verdict of broken lock 27, a boat having biffed a gate.

A very late lunch was followed by a scrub down of the starboard side of Oleanna. A serious scrub with hot water and suds is still required, but at least it’s a start. Tilly assisted at times but then got distracted by a crow.

Weedhatch view

Crows are canny birds. It allowed her to stalk it, keeping 6ft away all the time. A little hop to somewhere else to keep her at a distance. I then realised what it was doing. It was gradually making it’s way to the side of the canal, a couple of cat pounces with feathers in Tilly’s eyes would distract her from the possibility of missing the crow but landing in the water. I split them up for safetys sake.

Chris the Lock Keeper stopped to say hello from the towpath. When asked about the broken lock he said that he’d not seen the damage himself, but it was hoped that with a bit of reinforcement and someone manning the lock they’d be able to get us and the other boats down. This seemed quite optimistic.

Harry not a crow

The picnic benches were a nice place to sit out and do some weaving of yarn ends to a pair of socks. There are a lot of ends on last weeks pair and may take some time. Mike the other Lock Keeper came past heading to the elsan. His verdict on the lock gate was a touch more pessimistic. He’d been at the next lock when the incident happened. Today a report would have been written after the inspection. Then an assessment of how long a repair is likely to take and therefore how much income the Authority would loose with the canal being closed. This would all go to the insurance company of boater who hit the gate.

All we can do is wait for the engineers verdict which will hopefully be in tomorrow.

1 lock, 6 miles, 0.5 of that very very slowly, 1 following boat, 1 limbo, 2 hours shore leave (which improved), 4 trains an hour, 4 planes an hour, 1 picnic bench, 4 inches down, 1 official line, 1 more day to wait for verdict.