Category Archives: London

2019 Round Up.

Checking our vital statistics for a years worth of cruising takes a while. We have a trip computer which records almost all our journeys, sometimes it counts locks twice, sometimes it doesn’t quite catch where we reached before we wind. Before we used this method of recording our journeys I would use canal plan to work out our distances. This method can also miss out parts of our journey but it does give me more statistics. You know how I like numbers! How many bridges, how many narrow locks and what distances we travelled on different types of waterways. So inputting a years worth of cruising takes some time.

Anyhow, here is our round up of the year.

The New Year was seen in at Crick. From here we decided to head to Sheffield to have the last snagging jobs done on Oleanna, we were fortunate that the route north was open with no winter stoppages in our way until we reached Yorkshire. Once in the top chamber at Foxton it was going to be downhill all the way to Keadby.

Going down at Foxton

Sadly our blog started to loose it’s photos, which is a great shame. It was a problem shared by many bloggers who were all doing their best to get things working again. Have to say we ended up jumping ship from blogger to wordpress, but posts still lacked their photos when moved. We hope gradually to rectify this by replacing the missing photos, I miss them when looking back. But this will be a long job.

Waiting at Cromwell

During January we cruised down stream on the River Trent, the weather was getting colder the further north we got. Our route was clear but at Keadby the lock off the river was being dredged, so our journey was held up a touch. Then with February came cold nights and the canal at Keadby froze over. So we waited at Cromwell for things to improve.

First go at Gluten free puff pastry for cruising sausage rolls

Daylight hours and tides meant we split our tidal journey at Torksey. The early morning start from Torksey was very cold, so I was very glad I’d knitted us both balaclavas, we remained cosy cheeked for our journey.

Cosy heads

Our journey up towards Sheffield meant we coincided with the bicentenary of the opening of the canal and a very unseasonably warm weekend. The chaps at Finesse replaced a leaking window, gave us a new one (our choice), sorted out our gas locker lid amongst other bits and bobs. It had been a good decision going to Sheffield, it saved them time coming out to us and it saved us money on the extras we’d asked for.

New galley window going in
200 years old

Next we headed for Goole, the lure of cheap diesel and a night away to see our friends Bridget and Storm on the otherside of the Humber was a bonus. We then hunkered down to sit out storms and rising river levels. Our original plan had been to go to York, but flooding put paid to that, so instead we went by train.

Bridget and Storm with their lovely house

Towards the end of March we decided to give a trip up the Ouse another go, the rivers were at better levels and we still haven’t taken Oleanna there. But first Bank Dole lock wouldn’t fill due to silt, then when we reached Selby the Lock onto the Ouse had a fault which would take too much time to mend for us to wait. This was a relief for Tilly as this was where she’d discovered the difference between grass and duck weed and ended up learning to swim a couple of years ago.

Mark came to meet us from York

At the beginning of April we headed to Leeds. From here we had a day trip to Derby Crown Court for the sentencing of our original boat builder (Stillwater) who had finally pleaded guilty for fraud. I also spent a more pleasurable day in London, having a meeting for Puss in Boots.

Derby Crown Court

With panto in mind we planned our cruising for the remainder of the year. The remainder of April we made our way up the Calder and Hebble and onto the Rochdale Canal.

Being a foot shorter it wasn’t as tight as it had been on Lillian

Our friend Frank joined us to do the stretch from Sowerby Bridge to Hebden Bridge, which included the deepest lock n the network, Tuel Lane. He’d not done this stretch back in 2014 when he and I walked from Manchester locking Lillian over the Pennines to get to the Tour de France.

Tuel Lane the deepest on the network

Once over the top we picked up a boat to share the locks down into Manchester. Clare and Graeme were over from New Zealand for a few months and proved to be very good company.

Mr Blue Sky and Oleanna

On the 1st of May, with the help of a Canal and River Trust volunteer our passage down into Manchester went well. The following day both boats headed down the Rochdale nine with an extra pair of hands from an old college friend of mine, Doug.

Nearly there!

During May we cruised down the Bridgewater and onto the Trent and Mersey Canal gradually heading southwards. A short detour up the Middlewich Branch to look at where the breach had been before we carried on southwards.

Climbing the Cheshire Locks

A pause in the Cheshire Locks meant we got to meet up with Tom and Jan who were over for a visit. For Micks birthday we moored at Barlaston and had a nosy at the wonderful hall on the hill, our plan still stands if any of our family are interested!

Tom and Jan

We saw the end of May out mooring at Tixall Wide before rejoining the Trent and Mersey and heading onto Fradley Junction where we joined the Coventry Canal. With Atherstone Locks out of the way I spent time below working whilst we cruised familiar waters on the flat, it might have rained too!

Tixall Wide

A day trip to London from Rugby for us both, me to a seminar for Separate Doors 3 and Mick to catch up with his friend Siobhan who was over from Australia. Continuing down the North Oxford Canal to Braunston where we joined the Grand Union Canal to head to London.

Busy Braunston Locks

A visit to the Royal Ordnance Depot at Weedon meant I bought some lovely yarn to make a cardie for myself (it’s nearly finished!) and caught up with our friend Heather Bleasdale, who just so happened to be moored there as well.

Yummy yarn

Our route then up and down the Grand Union meant we managed to get to see both Mikron shows this year as well as teaming up with the cast and NB Tyseley to climb the locks up to the summit.

Sharing the locks with Tyseley

Tilly was left in charge for a couple of days whilst we headed to Scarborough to check on our house as we had a change of tenants. This meant we got to stay with Jaye and Duncan and catch up on the news from home.

I’d be in trouble if this photo wasn’t on the blog again!

We now pressed on down to London where we booked a mooring in Paddington Basin for a week in early July. This gave us the opportunity to catch with with friends and family before we headed back out west and down the Hanwell flight. I made the front cover of Canal Boat for July.

Mid July we locked out onto the Thames cruising the Tidal section to Teddington. From here we transited to the River Wey, brand new waters for us.

Up onto the Wey

With my final design for panto delivered to Chipping Norton from Guildford we could enjoy our cruising a bit more, despite the soaring temperatures which had us hiding under trees for a couple of days.


On the 26th July we ticked off our third point on the compass, reaching Godalming the furthest south you can get on the connected network. On our way back to the Thames we met up with Adam from NB Briar Rose, both he and Tilly got wet that day.

Furthest South

The original plan had been to cruise the Basingstoke Canal whilst we were there, but sadly the levels were too low and the canal closed before we got there, so we spent a while longer on the Wey.

Hampton Court Palace

Onto the Thames where we managed to get a space outside Hampton Court for a couple of days and I discovered the joys of standing in line for some fresh veg. Gradually we made our way up the Thames. Waking early and getting going worked for us as mostly we managed to get moored where we wanted around lunchtime. Three years ago we did from Teddington to Oxford in a week but with a months licence we took our time.

Waterway Routes
No Problem XL

The further upstream we got the quieter the river got, less hustle and bustle. We met up with Paul and Christine (NB Waterway Routes), missed Carol and George (WB Still Rockin), finally got to have a proper conversation with Sue and Vic (WB No Problem XL) as we headed upstream.

Kelmscott Manor

As the rivers bends got tighter, the banks were harder to get up. A mooring by Kelmscott Manor required a rope from the post to help us get on and off the boat, but it was worth it to visit the house.

At the end of the navigable Thames

On the 26th August we winded at the furthest point we could reach on the Thames on Oleanna and started to head back eastwards. Tilly gave one of our moorings a double stamp of approval and stayed out well after dark!

Isis lock, Oxford

An incident with engine coolant nearly stopped us from reaching Oxford to see War Horse. But a nice man from RCR got us going again so we had a narrow lock fix and headed to the show catching up with Matt and Bill for a drink afterwards.

Lovely chaps

Then at the beginning of September we turned off the Thames onto the Kennet and Avon. For the last five years we’ve been meaning to head this way, but for one reason or another it hadn’t happened.

Gangplank land, the K&A

With tales of lack of mooring we kept to rising early hoping we’d get moorings. This mostly worked and wild moorings were very rarely needed, we did still have to use the gang plank every now and again. We only encountered one pound on our westward journey where even the longest plank wouldn’t have helped which meant we had to carry on up a flight with the clock ticking before locks were locked around us.

Over the summit

At Devizes we met an Instagram friend Frankie who’d been working on the flight over the summer. Despite following another boat down the flight we made good time with the help of the volunteers.

The photo of the year, Devizes

Onwards to Bath and Bristol. Here we moored with HMS GB in the background and met up with two of my old school friends for lunch. A big shame we couldn’t stay longer as there was more we wanted to do and see whilst there, we’ll just have to save up for next time as the mooring fees are quite pricey!

In good company
Old school friends

The section between Bath and Bradford upon Avon was our favourite, with the aqueducts and views along with the second deepest lock on the network.


Mick and Tilly got to enjoy it for a week longer than me whilst I headed off to Cornwall to eat gluten free pasties and start painting my panto set for a week.


Once I was back we had two weeks to reach Oxford, but the weather had different ideas. What felt like the monsoon season started. There was rain on most days, luckily not the day we did Devizes. We managed to team up with two couples from Bristol on a hire boat, by the time they reached the top of the flight they could work uphill locks with their eyes closed, we left them to master downhill on their return journey.

Tilly enjoying the big trees

Our second low pound struck as we tried to leave Cobblers Lock, Oleanna was sat firmly on the ground and unable to leave the lock until a good flushing of water set her free. The rain actually did me a favour as whilst we sat in Newbury hoping for the Thames to drop I managed to get my model for A Regular Little Houdini finished.

A Regular Little Houdini

At the end of October I headed off to panto land leaving Mick and Tilly a short distance outside Reading, hoping they would be able to get up the Thames in the following week. Our friend Paul came and helped Mick out onto the Thames reaching Goring on their first day. Here Mick and Tilly got to met Carol and George (WB Still Rockin’) who’d been clinging onto the moorings there before heading downstream.

Photo courtesy of Carol WB Still Rockin

Paul returned later in the week and despite the engine overheating and having to deploy the anchor they succeeded in getting to Abingdon where Oleanna had her second visit from RCR. Mick battled on against quite a downstream flow and reached Sandford Lock before tying up. Here the levels rose and fell, the engineer came for a second visit and found lots of crud in our cooling system.

A calm paws on the Thames at Sandford

With the engine in better fettle, Mick nudged his way up towards Oxford and finally made a dash up Osney Lock and onto the canal despite that section still being on red boards. It turns out he’d chosen his moment well as the river has stayed on red boards since then.


Once I left all the singing dancing and glitter behind and returned to narrowboat life we had to sit out high levels on the Oxford canal and on the River Cherwell. We loitered in Oxford, but as soon as it looked like things were improving we were on our way.

Lakes not meadows

We paused in Banbury for Christmas haircuts and shopping before pulling in for a few days at Cropredy Marina, from where we headed to London for a Sibling get together at my brothers.


Onwards to the top of the Oxford Canal the day the locks reopened and down the other side continuing onwards to Radford Smelly for Christmas.


In Warwick we met up with my family and then picked up crew Mike and Chris to help us up the Hatton and Lapworth flights.

Our final visitors of 2019

The last few locks were done on New Years Eve bring us up to the Birmingham level for the new year.

Narnia Lock our last for the year

Quite a busy year. So our vital statistics for 2019

According to Canalplan

Total distance is 1199 miles, ½ furlong and 886 locks . There are 119 moveable bridges of which 22 are usually left open; 139 small aqueducts or underbridges and 20 tunnels – a total of 8 miles 2 ¼ furlongs underground and 8 major aqueducts.

This is made up of 207 miles, 4 furlongs of narrow canals; 399 miles, 5¾ furlongs of broad canals; 102 miles, 5 ¼ furlongs of commercial waterways; 226 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of small rivers; 212 miles, 5 furlongs of large rivers; 49 miles, 6 ¼ furlongs of tidal rivers; 150 narrow locks; 626 broad locks; 109 large locks; 1 lock on major waterways.

838.2 engine hours

That is 255 miles and 272 locks more than last year! But 246.4 hours less engine running, just goes to show it’s worth having solar panels.

1336.93 litres diesel, 9 (although we’ve got 2 empty now) gas bottles (used for central heating as well as cooking), 6 overnight guests, 6 packs Dreamies, 1 cover cat, 32 friends, 17 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 double stamp, 5 pairs socks, 3 pairs gloves, 1 baby blanket, 2 shows designed, 1 cover illustration, 5 lots gluten free puff pastry, 9 supermarket deliveries, 39 boxes of wine delivered, 12 bottles of wine delivered.

Thank you for sharing our year with us.

Just Where We Left Her. 9th December

Cropredy Marina

The lovely Ziggy

It was time to pack our bags this morning and hope we’d enough room for all the presents and post. Everything had fitted into our wheelie bag on the way to London, but going back we needed an extra bag, good job we’d brought one with us. It’s a nice problem to have returning with more than you arrived with, this of course is helped by my birthday falling on the 25th December.

Fatty Finn refusing to leave his box unless there is food about

An early farewell to Josh as he headed to school before 8am. At 10:30 it was time to wake Finn up from his box, Ziggy only slightly jealous of her brothers reign of the cardboard. Then goodbye and thank you to Andrew and Jac for their hospitality once again.

The No 30 bus moved faster on a Monday morning so we’d left ourselves plenty of time to sit at Marylebone Station listening to the foreign announcements about Bicester Village, now a destination for tourists to do duty free shopping.

Knitting and adapted pattern

On the train my knitting came back out and grew nicely, up to the point where the thumb was ready to be knitted using the ‘magic loop’ technique. We were soon back in Banbury and in a taxi back to the marina.

Tilly when we ‘d left

When we’d left on Saturday Tilly had been sat in our bedroom window, there she was still, just facing the opposite direction. Big cuddles and head nudges. Her magic food bowl had worked and opened, every morsel consumed, the large mountain of biscuits also had had a good chunk taken out of them. The heating was raised and we settled down to lunch.

Tilly when we stepped out of the cab today

With the stove out, Mick gave the chimney a good sweep, then hoovered the stove out and put the brand new glass in the door, an early Christmas present for Oleanna. The old glass has been wrapped up and stored under the stove should we need a spare in the future.

Chimney Sweep
Clean clear new glass, lovely

Unpacking and more washing took up the rest of the day with Tilly coming and going.

In the post I’d received a copy of The Separate Doors 3 Report that I was involved with earlier this year. Have to say my sketches and illustrations have come out very well and I am particularly proud of the front cover. Thank you Vanessa for asking me to be part of it.

The front cover

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 train, 1 taxi, 3 cats in one day, 1 very pleased to see us, 1 load washing, 1 load dried, 1 chimney swept, 1 boat hoovered, 1 corner missed, 0.5 inches too big? 1 very big bag of presents ready to sit under the tree, when we bring it in.

Sibling Christmas 7th 8th December

Cropredy Marina

Booking into Cropredy Marina wasn’t solely to do washing but so that we could have a few days away from the boat, leaving Tilly in charge and in the warm.

I won’t be any bother!

Saturday morning we packed a bag with clothes and presents. She refused to put me inside it, so I sat on top with the hope that they wouldn’t forget me. It didn’t work!

Mick had booked our tickets to London a few days ago. Splitting our journey to London at Oxford, a direct train back for the two of us cost £28, not bad, but we did have to be on specific trains. We booked a taxi to get us to the station in Banbury, but amended our booking when Mick noticed that the train we were booked on was going to be half and hour late, which would give us just a couple of minutes to catch the next train.

So at Banbury we squeezed onto the first train heading to Oxford and Mick was ready to argue a point with the guard, but nobody checked our tickets. At Oxford we had an hour spare so bought some sad gits sandwiches at M&S and waited for the next train. This train stopped everywhere, but we did have seats so we could settle down for a while. My knitting came out and I got the rib done for a glove by the time we arrived in London.

Hello up there!

Then a bus took us right across London to Hackney and my brothers house.

Christmas post was mixed with our postal votes for the General election. Mick had applied for his on line whilst I did mine by post from Chippy. His arrived very quickly and mine in the second batch. What was interesting was our different envelopes, Mick’s being for a postal vote from abroad! We both took time to study the instructions, marked our crosses and sealed the envelopes, they went in the post on Sunday morning.

Even Tilly had post

We had a lovely evening with Andrew, Jac and Josh. Eating , drinking and me making two batches of my gluten free puff pastry. It’s amazing what a difference in just room temperature does to pastry. On the boat I’m sometimes tempted to do two roll and folds in a go, but Andrews house was so warm the butter just kept melting quicker than I could roll the pastry out on his granite tops. I did discover that rolling out on a worktop above a dishwasher was not in the slightest bit good as I almost had to spoon the butter back onto the pastry.

This years wreath

Sunday morning there were jobs to do. Mick headed to buy wine and flowers, whilst I made a wreath for the front door and Jac and Andrew tidied up and cooked.

My Mum’s huge chopping board came in handy

This was the first time Andrew had ever dealt with gluten free pastry and it’s been a while since I’d made any, I’d forgotten how crumbly it is. Making two huge long Salmon En Croute took a bit of doing, the pastry being quite short it wouldn’t let us do any pretty lattice work on top, but we got the two of them into the oven in one piece.

Josh, Jac, Andrew, Paul
Paul again, Marion, Kath, John, Christine, Sean

Today we were having a pre-Christmas get together with three of Mick’s sisters, sadly Anne lives a touch too far away in Scotland for her and Alasdair to be able to join us, but I’m not sure we’d have been able to fit them in! Last year we’d had such a get together and it was really good fun it was decided to repeat the event.

Thank you Josh for taking the photo

Presents were exchanged, news caught up on, jokes told, food eaten, wine drunk. A very good Sunday afternoon with almost all of our siblings. It was enjoyed so much I suspect we’ll be doing it again next year.


0 locks, 0 miles, 1 home alone cat, 1 magic food bowl, 1 very full bowl of biscuits, 1 taxi, 2 trains, No 30 bus, 1 wave to Joa, 1 load of washing hung out super quick, 1 pair gloves started, 1200 grams puff pastry, 6 folds and turns, 2 A envelopes, 2 B envelopes, 1 brother, 3 sisters, 1 nephew, 11 for lunch, 2 cats, 1 very lovely weekend.

Teddington Here We Come. 17th July

The Fox to Teddington Visitor Moorings, River Thames

According to Waterway Routes we had a couple of hours cruising to do before reaching Thames Lock onto the Thames today. The Lock Keeper would be on duty from 2:15pm which is when the tide would be right for our journey up to Teddington. With things to do before going out onto the river we pushed off at around 10:30. This would give us plenty of time.

No rubbish today, just weed

Approaching the weir above Osterley Lock we were pleasantly surprised, on other occasions here it’s been very hard to see the water it being covered with huge amounts of rubbish. This stretch is looked after by the Environment Agency and today for the first time it looked like they were doing a good job, just a lot of weed to contend with. A wide beam had just come up so the lock was with us.

Back on the shelf for book 1

Once past the railway bridge Oleanna was onto new water, she’ll be on new water from now until October. Our Nicholson’s guide of the Thames only having been used for a week before still looks pristine compared to those that cover further north. We tend to have the guide out as we cruise for information on places we pass, especially new places.

Gauging Lock, Brentford

The Gauging Lock at Brentford is the penultimate lock before Thames Lock, this requires a key of power to operate. 3 years ago I had great difficulty opening the gate that leads down to the locks, but today it was easy as pie. There being two chambers I chose the nearest one as both were just about full.

Down the lock

Moving heavy gates is no problem when it all happens at the push of a button. Below the lock you are back on the river and it is semi tidal. There are weirs to keep it at a certain height, but when the tide comes in the level rises above the weir, so headroom under the bridges can be affected. We had no problem today with this and carried on down to wait above Thames Lock with a couple of hours to spare.

Thames Lock

Weed hatch checked and prop cleared of anything. Engine checks. The well deck cleared of stuff that has accumulated (it’ll get a good sweep one day soon too!). Anchor attached, bucket of chain and rope positioned and checked (this is so much easier now the anchor has a home), I nearly forgot to get Tillys escape pod out of the cupboard, this was assembled even though she wanted to go in it before it had it’s roof attached. Life jackets out. Lunch consumed, We were ready.

Jacuzzi on the roof

There was time to send some work emails, trying to get my design within budget and not short change myself. A weeks painting before rehearsals start is needed and I don’t see this as part of my design remit, so sadly today I added to the figures and didn’t take away much to compensate.

Another project that is on the cards also required some attention from me today. Email after email arriving and needing to be replied to. But as soon as the Lock Keeper arrived work was put aside.

Two in the lock

We’d been joined by NB Ella whilst we waited. They’ve never done the tidal stretch up to Teddington before so it was decided that we’d lead the way. Both in the lock, the water level equalised with that of the rising Thames and the gates opened.

Thames straight ahead

From here there is a distance to travel before coming out onto the river. A long blast of the horn to warn any on coming boats that we were about to pop out in front of them. No body was there to hear anyway.

There they are

With the tide pushing us along we reached 7mph without trying. NB Ella sounded their horn and appeared onto the river behind us, small and insignificant on the wide river.

He wags his tail when he hears planes

The lion on the roof of Syon House still stands still, not waving it’s tail. Ham House sits too far away to be seen through the trees.

Lock on the left and the first arch closed for maintenance

Richmond weir and lock are next. Here the weir keeps the river at a navigable height, half tide, up stream to Teddington. When the tide goes out you have to use the lock on the weir, but our passage was timed so that this would not be necessary.

Smart waterf

Richmonds grand waterfront steps up away from the river, plenty of people out enjoying themselves

Coming through

All the islands are passed to the left, moored boats tending to fill up the right hand side.

Ella behind
Granny annex and terrace

We passed the extension and terrace that once used to be attached to a life boat on the Grand Union, maybe they don’t need the Granny annex anymore.

He’s got a lot of brushes
Not quite what you expect on Eel Pie Island

The first part of Eel Pie Island looks a disappointment, flats with little character. Thankfully these are followed by prettier properties and boat houses.

This time our transit felt like it took half the time it did three years ago, maybe the tide gave us more push, or maybe it being our second time with less wind and waves we were more nonchalant about it.

Green light to the right

The lights pointed us in the direction of the Launch Lock. There are three locks, the Launch lock (fairly conventional in size), the Skiff Lock (the smallest) and the very big Barge Lock (used for larger vessels than us and most probably several at a time.

Towing down stream

A wide beam was waiting patiently on the pontoon so we pulled up alongside, soon followed by NB Ella. Two boats were coming down, then it would be our turn, we’d all fit no problem. Narrowboats in first followed by the widebeam. They had come up the river today from Limehouse with a Waterman on board. One day we’ll do it ourselves in the early hours.

Leaving the lock onto Environment Agency water

Now we are on Environment Agency water. This means either having to buy a licence for the duration of your visit, or already holding what is known as a Gold licence. Earlier in the year we did our sums and the amount of time we wanted to spend on the Thames didn’t warrant the extra expense of a gold licence.

The chap on NB Ella showed the Lock Keeper his licence, he’d paid the right amount for a Gold licence, but there was no G on it. A slightly heated debate ensued. Once the lock was full we all exited and headed off to moor, each returning to pay for mooring and licences as needed. We wanted a nights mooring and a transit licence to the Wey, total of £20.50. NB Ella managed to sort their licence, a phone call to C&RT and an email which he isn’t able to print out as they don’t have a printer on board. They may well get asked at each lock they pass through as with no G visible they could be chancing the Thames without paying the extra.

Moored right at the end by the weir

With our licence paid we adjusted our mooring a touch, having to use the life ring as a fender to keep the cabin side away from the overhanging bank. Tilly was allowed out, extra rules apply on rivers. Three years ago we were all still getting to know each other so whilst on rivers she wasn’t trusted not to fall in. This of course is still a possibility, but she tends to head straight off to find the nearest tree to climb or friend to pounce on.

Not too sure about this Thames outside

With so many trees surrounding us you would have thought she’d have a great time. But she returned time after time, Thank you for coming home Dreamies issued, then another few minutes outside. Despite having been given three and a half hours leave she most probably only used one, preferring to have a snooze on the bathroom floor. Maybe it was too warm, maybe too may woofers, most probably too many noisy green birdies.

Property Game

Guess how much this property is being sold for. Hint, it’s not on Eel Pie Island and there is more to it than can be seen from the river.

Answer in tomorrows blog

5 locks, 8.28 miles, 1 right, 1 tideway, 1 anchor at the ready, 2 life jackets, 1 escape pod, £20.50 for 24 hours and mooring, 1 pants mooring where that Lenny lives!

Lenny the lion back in 2016

Windlass In Hand. 16th July

Ballot Box Bridge to ( The Fox ) Ontario Bridge 205A, Grand Union

Approaching Bulls Bridge

Time for us to push off. Whilst Mick pootled us along towards Bulls Bridge I had a catch up phone call with the production manager for panto and then tried to complete my technical drawings before we reached the junction. With just a couple of measurements to add to the last plan I bobbed my head out the front to make sure the way was clear, we turned left.

The water point moorings were mostly full, enough space for us at the end but sadly too far away from the tap, even if we used both our hoses. Water would have to wait until later. First lunch and then a biggish shop, we’re going to be venturing into the unknown soon so we wanted to be prepared, also the white wine stocks were getting low!

I’m helping with the drawings

I’ve still a few bits left to do for Panto, but they can all be done on A4 paper, so the drawing board has been stowed away until the next show. Hopefully I’ll fit these bits in between boating over the next few days.

Happy to be approaching locks again

We pushed off and soon arrived at Norwood Top Lock. Here the water point was empty, so as the tap trickled into our tank we had the pleasure (!) of listening to car wheels being spun and a shiny convertible zooming around the area just looking for an accident to create.

One lock down seven to go

Now at the top of the locks that would lead us down towards the Thames, a bit later than we’d hoped, we decided to push on down the Hanwell flight to save time tomorrow. Between the top two locks the pound was quite low, but Mick took it steadily. The bottom gates were leaking a lot so the quicker I could fill it the better, less water lost all round. Oleanna made it over the cill.

We could have moored in the next pound, there was space but we’d got in our stride so continued. A chap was watering his wonderful floral display on his boat and said they’d only just come up the locks, so they should all be full for us.

Three Bridges, road above, canal and rail below, not strictly three bridges

A tour were being talked to about Three Bridges as we approached. A local landmark and one in Mick’s life, the Hanwell flight is where he got attracted to boating at an early age. The tour moved off so I could get a picture of Oleanna.

Oleanna on the middle bridge

The next two locks were empty and bone dry, either the sun was doing a very good job or it had been a while since the floral boat had come up. We adopted our method of going down a flight. I walk on ahead to fill the next lock, Mick finishes closing up the one Oleanna is in and lifts a paddle, I return to finish emptying the lock, open and close it before walking down to open the now full one.

The pounds were full in the main flight

The distance between the locks is a touch far, but it was worth doing it so as not to waste too much water. There were plenty of people about on the flight out for a walk or just sitting in the shade. This if the fourth time we’ve been down the locks, the black bricks on the corners of the Asylum wall caught our attention this time. These must be where ropes used to ware the brickwork, near the lower locks you can still see the groves.

A lovely evening to be boating

The day had taken a lot longer than originally thought, most probably due to not being able to fill the water tank whilst we had lunch. The tap being sooo slow didn’t help either. We pulled up where the grass was long on the River Brent, a bit past the footpath upto The Fox, however we refrained from visiting. Too late for shore leave for Tilly, once she realised her charms wouldn’t work she retired to the bedroom to sulk.

If we couldn’t go to the pub, Tilly couldn’t go out

8 locks, 8.76 miles, 1 left, 1 full water tank, 3 boxes wine, 1 sulky second mate, 1 empty box of model bits, 2 storage plans to do, 8 groundplans to do, 1 stir fry knocked up, 2 hours away from the Thames.

Pausing, Power and Phone. 15th July

Ballot Box Bridge

Those trees are talking!

Just as well we’d decided to stay here another day so that I could carry on working.

Notice Alert

Grand Union Canal
Starts At: Lock 101A, Thames Lock (House side)
Ends At: Lock 101A, Thames Lock (House side)

Monday 15 July 2019 09:00 until further notice

Type: Advice
Reason: Repair

Original message:

Due to a local power supply fault, Brentford Thames Lock is currently not operating until further notice.Engineers are currently working on restoring power to the Lock and an update will be provided when this becomes fully operational.

However these things don’t tend to take too long to mend so Mick checked on the C&RT website and made a phone call to book passage down onto the Thames later this week. At first he was told that they weren’t taking bookings, but then he was passed onto someone else. This person then told Mick that the lock was operational again. Sure enough a notice to that effect dropped into our inbox as he was on the phone some 52 minutes after the first one.

Apparently in the summer you don’t have to book 48 hours in advance to use Thames Lock, Brentford, but at least we now knew when it would be manned, as the river is tidal there this alters.

Crossing things off

I spent the day doing technical drawings for panto, working my way through the list I’d made yesterday and sadly spotting a couple of things I’d missed too! By the end of the day my box of bits left to draw up only had a few things left in it. Only a few hours left and I’ll be ready for my final design meeting.

Nearly there!

Tilly spent the day dodging bikes and runners. There is definitely a rush hour or two between 5:30 and 7:30pm. The speed some of the bikes go at! So much so her shore leave was curtailed for her own safety and hour earlier than normal. She wasn’t impressed, but then she has had two whole days outside and decided to have a nap. This nap lasted until we wanted to make up our bed and had to disturb her.

Towpath Tilly

Mick caught up on the Tour de France and then headed off to get a bus into Ealing, this is where he grew up and lived until he moved to Scarborough. He successfully managed to walk past The Red Lion without going in for a pint, but also successfully managed to loose his mobile!

Being in Ealing he knew there would be an EE shop and an Argos, so that he could get sorted . But where were they? He’d look on his phone…Oh. He’d give me a call…..Oh. He’d use a phone box, found one, it did have a phone but stank of wee…Oh. At the library he was signed onto a computer so that he could see where his phone might be, the outcome likely to be on the 297 bus….Ah.

Still talking

He succeeded in getting a new phone, identical to his last and a new sim card then headed back to Oleanna. As soon as his new phone was working he gave Perivale Bus Garage a call, they had a phone that matched his description and when he called in he was able to unlock it. One phone not stolen, just misplaced.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 buses, 1 bus garage, 2 phones, 2 boxes of bits, 1 almost full, 1 almost empty, 10 hours, 7 taken, 5 talking tress, 73 mph bikes, 4 running paws, 1 lock booked.

Tense. 14th July

Ballot Box Bridge

There was only one thing for it today, we had to stay put. Last night the TV signal had been checked and double checked. We really would have had to move on if the signal was patchy, but luckily it was fine.

Reception good

Boats started coming past fairly early, the first being NB Lottie Jane heading in towards London. Our New Zealand friends Clare and Graeme had introduced us in Manchester, sadly we were still having our morning cuppa in bed as they passed. A while later one of the boats that had been in Paddington cruised past at quite a speed, at least if Lottie Jane had booked one space would have become available.

Sharing my studio

Soon after breakfast I set myself up for a day of model making, hopping that today I would put my finishing touches to my panto model. Mick turned the radio on, followed by the TV, there was an important cricket match that needed to be watched. Today because England were in the final of the World Cup it was to be shown on terrestrial TV, a first in a long time.

Bloomin bicycles

10 hours! Those trees out there may have thought that they had disguised themselves, but I could see straight through the ivy. Plenty of climbing, pouncing and bicycle avoidance today. My back legs were in need of a good stretch and they certainly got it.


With the commentary from the Test Match Special team keeping us company for much of the day, the delay of around five seconds before the TV caught up was handy, apart from when they went to adverts. Blimey it was tense, time after time. How close could one match be!

Boozer complete

We celebrated with a glass of Crabbies each as I did my best to finish my model. By 9pm the last bit of dressing was added, security boxes repainted, the list of model jobs was all ticked off. Just the long list of Tech Drawings to work through now. Thank goodness we had a good portion of Paella left to eat cold as soon as I’d finished.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 steps off the boat for me, 1 load washing, 10 hours, 8 taken, 1 tenser than tense ending to the match, 1 shade of pink which became yellow, 1 model completed, 20 rows of knitting.