Category Archives: Nature

Catching Up. 10th October

All Cannings to Wolfhall Bridge 103

Yesterday we’d stopped short of our planned destination for the day, today we needed to catch up. So the alarm went off, we had breakfast and were ready to push off into the chilly morning. At least the sun was out and we might be able to see the views that the cloud had shrouded on our way west.

Sun’s out

There are so many boats moored along the Long Pound, progress was very slow but at least Alton Barnes White Horse was in view for much of our way. Then we skirted round the Wiltshire mounds to our north were ancient terracing is very evident.


Under Lady’s Bridge and past the wide water where a chap was just coming out of his boat full of the joys of spring!

Terraced Pickle

Just before Pewsey Winding Hole a chap pointed at us from the bow of his boat and then three others waved.

The Rustys

The Rustys had winded this morning and managed to get their boat just about into the side to moor so that they could go for an exploration. our boats were finally pointing different directions and our paths wouldn’t cross again. Hope their trip back to Hilperton is good. There was a bit of banter about meeting up next year, maybe Bingley.

Boat cat keeping an eye on us

We considered stopping to dispose of our yellow water but by the time we realised that the service mooring was actually free it was a touch late, so we carried onwards. The chilled medication emporium wasn’t open anyway!


Approaching Wooton Rivers Mick took it very slowly, we didn’t want to get shouted at again. The boat in question seemed to have moved since we’d come the other way a month ago, by a full boat length! Maybe he’d been all the way to Bath and back having returned to the same spot, or maybe not.

At the bottom of the locks we disposed of all our rubbish with the handy recycling bins and then started to make our way up to the summit pound.

A chance photo paid off

Work emails kept me busy when not winding my windlass. Difficulty finding the paint I was after, where’s the drawing for the ladder, would I like an extra painty pair of hands in Chippy. This was all panto stuff, then the emails regarding Houdini started flying back and forth between the writer and production manager. All the time I was aware we would be heading into a black hole of communication once over the top.

Wooton Rivers Lock

Even though I was busy trying to respond to everyone there was still time to buy some eggs at our 2000th lock on Oleanna. I picked out the larger ones from the bottom tray thinking that they would be fresher than those on the top. I’d make use of these in the quinoa quiche I was making for tonight, we were a couple of eggs short before and now we had several very large eggs in hand.

As we pulled out of Brimslade Lock an abc hire boat came from the lock above. We left our gate for them as they closed the gates ahead of us. We all said hello and then we watched them pull into the lock landing to drop off crew, followed by having difficulty getting into the already open lock.

Last lock uphill

Cadley Lock was our last up hill. Sadly the plums by the top gate were now well past their best, most rotting on the floor making it very slippy under foot. But I was surprised at the number of butterflies here. About four fluttered their way around me, one hitching a lift on our roof for a distance. I’d have thought it was way past butterfly time.

Rotting plums

The locks up to the summit and down the other side are still being locked overnight at 3pm. We’d been caught out by the very low pound heading westwards and just made it to the top in time. With two more miles across the top we knew we wouldn’t be down the first set of locks by 3pm, so we’d find somewhere to moor instead. At least we’d caught up some of the time we’d lost yesterday, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get back to where we should be.

Hitching a lift

Through Savernake Tunnel we started to look for a possibility, the railway now very close by but on the off side, so Tilly would be safe. A short distance fro where we’d moored last time we pulled in by another boat. The water deep enough at the stern to get close, but the bow sitting a long way out. Here would do us for the day.

Out of the tunnel into the eastern side

Tilly jumped to the bank with ease and headed off to make friends. I then spent the next three hours trying to catch up on the Houdini emails about Kabouki drops and video footage, finally chipping my ideas into the mix that had been going back and forth all morning. My drawings were scanned and shared. Food put in the oven and after eating I finally got chance to do some model making. Four hours later I had a new version of the proscenium finished, it was now well past bedtime.

4 locks, 2000th on Oleanna, 11.96 miles, 1 final farewell, 1 white horse, 1 must have galloped away, 70 ft in a month, 6 giant eggs, 10 litres paint, 1 ladder, 20 pairs castors, 1 or 2 kabouki drops, 10 scanned drawings, 18 toing and froing emails, 1 prosc, 12 midnight finish., 1 black hole ahead

River’s Rising. 24th September

Ferris Railway Bridge to Green Park Visitor Moorings, Bath

Not wanting to get stuck on a rising river for days we needed to move. As we had breakfast the rain hammered it down outside, even more reason to get moving! We don’t know how the Avon reacts to rainfall, is it a quick rise in level or a slow one that can sneak up on you, or does it just about stay constant unless there is a lot of rain.

Off we go

Mick checked Gauge map, the levels had gone up a bit but it looked okay for us to leave the pontoon. With full waterproofs on we rolled back the covers and got going, the rain starting to ease.

Swineford Lock the weir on the left behind the lock landing

At Swineford Lock the weir was gushing, it had been a bit like this on Saturday, just a bit more so today. I looked around below the lock for a levels board to see if we were in the green/amber/red. But there was no board to be seen. The river level above the lock looked like it was up by a couple of inches as I could see where the usual line was below the surface. On most rivers a rise of this much would bring it into amber, but hopefully not red.

Blue skies!

The rain started to come and go, bright sunshine lulled us into removing our coats and waterproof trousers.

Hardly a trickle on Saturday over this weir

The weir at Kelston Lock on Saturday had hardly been flowing, today it was matching the others lower down stream.

One of two spotted today

Weston Lock took forever to fill due to there being only one paddle working, the other wrapped in a plastic bag. The weir was running fast and it looked like the flood gate was slightly lifted too.


Once we’d got to within a couple of feet from the top of the lock we both got distracted by our phones. Two boats headed towards us but winded through the next bridge, then the bow of a hire boat appeared, I’d be able to leave the gates for them.

Dark clouds gathering behind

It was lunchtime. Should we take advantage of the sunnier weather and work up the locks. Should we pull in near to Sainsburys and have lunch, Mick needing some bread. The decision was made for us as the rain clouds burst again over head. Coats quickly back on and we made our way to the 48hr mooring nearest to Sainsburys.

No need to water the plants today

No rings or bollards to tie to here, just a fence which is just at the right height to give you a soggy crutch. Mick headed off for a few supplies and returned with vouchers we would have to use. 3 x nectar points and if we spent £100 we’d get an extra 2000 points, we decided to stay put for the day and go and do a big shop that we needed to do anyway.

My new sour dough loaf was mixed and left to rise for an hour and a half then baked. The smell from the oven so yummy. Once it was out of the oven cooling and the news had finished we headed to stock up with shopping. Four boxes of wine brought the bill to over £100, but the check out didn’t want to accept the voucher, assistance was needed. The chap tried several times but failed, he just gave us the points manually in the end.

Oat and Chestnut bread and chocolate chip cookies. Who says gluten free is dull

As we ate our evening meal a batch of chocolate chip cookies went in the oven. I’d made the mixture a few days ago in case we had any visitors, now it was needing to be cooked. The smell through the boat meant we just had to have one each for pudding. Yummy!

4 locks, 6.77 miles, 2 Houdini questions, 2 kingfishers, 4 busy weirs, 3 downpours, 0 prorogation, 4 boxes wine, 1 box Tilly food, 0 shore leave AGAIN!!! 1 oat and chestnut loaf, 6 choc chip cookies, 2 full boaters.

Views Across Bath. 20th September


Another day on the trains for Mick, heading to York for our friend Mickle’s funeral. Tilly and I stayed put, two train fares would have been too much or hiring a car too far to drive there and back in a day. Mick left suitably attired in a baseball cap, apparently there were lots of remarks that everyone should have worn one. It was a very rare sight, Mickle without his cap on.

Can I really go out?

Tilly’s mornings for the last couple of months have consisted of sleeping whilst we move the outside, so it wasn’t until Mick was about to leave that she realised that the back door was open for her. At two hour intervals she returned as requested.

Puss in Boots needed some attention this morning, lists, contacting the set builders and prop maker. I’ll be heading off to do a weeks painting soon so needed to check that supplies were on order and how my accommodation would work.

Then I revisited my Houdini model. Various ideas had been chatted about yesterday and extra details like the blue doughnuts needed to be added. Monday is the first deadline for the design, I need to send photos to Vienna and hopefully get the thumbs up from them.

Sneaky peek of the model

Mid afternoon I needed to leave some glue to dry, so instead of sitting watching it I decided to go for an explore. Tilly returned home so was left in charge. Friday is obviously a day when most hire boats are returning to base as the moorings here were just about empty and not that many boats passed all day.

I walked down to the lock, crossed the bridge and headed up to the road above. Straight on was a footpath, so I followed it up the hill. A kissing gate and National Trust sign invited me into Bathwick Fields, I’d stumbled onto the Bath Skyline walk without knowing it.

Pretty good views from up here

Within minutes of leaving the boat I was high above Bath with fantastic views across the city. The curve of the railway, the spires of the churches and the Bath stone rows of houses lined up along the hills.


I dipped down to an orchard where you could pick the fruit, but sadly I didn’t have long enough arms to be able to reach the top most branches, everything else had long since been picked.

Community Nuttery

Across more fields alongside Jacob Sheep and many squirrels busy collecting nuts. Maybe they had emptied the nuttery I came across. A road that led to Smallcombe Garden Cemetery. For £3 a decent burial could be afford by artisans as well as rich Victorians, over 7000 of them until the plot was full. In 2014 the Heritage Lottery Fund gave support to preserve the cemetery and you are invited to look round the grave stones for locals who left their mark on Bath.

One of two chapels

Up through another field, I seemed to be walking in the opposite direction to every one else, but then I didn’t know I was on a recognised walk. The path led further up hill and by now my glue would be dry and I wanted to return home. Eventually there was a gate not marked as PRIVATE and I started my steep descent back down to Bath, then back up the locks to the boat.


An evening of worked followed which actually finished ten minutes before Mick stepped back on the boat at around 11:30pm. A Regular Little Houdini is now ready to see what the producers in Vienna think on Monday, fingers crossed.

Lines of Bath stone

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 miles walked, 4 trains, 3 tubes, 1 bus, 1 final farewell, 1 cap and guitar, 1 weeks work sorted, 3rd props list, 1 sad gits tea, 1 plant pot headed statue, 1 not 2 bottles of wine, 7 hours shore leave, 1 long day for everyone.

The Natural Theatre Company

THE Red Boat. 7th September

Photos now added.

Greenham Lock to Vicarage Bridge 76

Lighthouse in the midle of Newbury

Saturday, a newspaper to get and some fresh food, so after breakfast we walked back to Tescos and stocked up. With everything stowed we made ready to push off. An ABC hire boat came past with a large crew on board, Mick enquired as to if they were heading for the next lock, either the chap answering didn’t now or he didn’t understand the question, I think they were from Norway. Not much further on they pulled into a space, that answered our question.

An interesting looking place

We decided this morning that we’ll have a look round Newbury on our way back and get some miles ticked off towards Bristol today. Just as well as fairly soon after we’d pushed off I got confirmation of a production meeting and a run through of A Regular Little Houdini in Newport which would be timed with me being close to Bristol. Dan the actor/director gave me the thumbs up for my white card model, I just have to hear back from Josh (the director) now and see if there are any adjustments needed.

Cloughs just like on the Leeds Liverpool, didn’t notice them until we were up

Newbury Lock had eager Mums and sons ready to help with the gates and grey haired boys stood hoping they’d get chance with the top gates. Jenny Maxwell had been right the locks are now not so fierce, ground paddles not gate paddles.

West Mills Swing Bridge

A bit further along was West Mills Swing Bridge, the only one of the day. As I walked up a couple were crossing it, the lady saying ‘They must go under the bridge otherwise they’d be stranded!’ Such comments always make me smile. I pulled the key of power out of my pocket and slotted it into the keyhole, turned it clockwise, pressed the open button and waited. Barriers down, wedge removed then the bridge started slowly, very slowly, very very very slowly to turn. Blimey it felt like a whole life time before it had opened enough for Oleanna. By the time it had closed Mick most probably would have made it to Bristol without me!

Guyers Lock lay ahead, the stern of a boat visible on the lock landing below. Marvelous lock partners. I zoomed in with the camera, it was a red boat, would it be the red boat that late yesterday afternoon had given us a very big bump? The chap at the helm not apologising! It sure was.

Is it? It is!

Did we want to share the lock with them? We’d made a point of them hitting us yesterday, so they were bound to remember us as we did them. But there was nowhere for us to go without making an even bigger point by refusing to share the lock. So we pulled in alongside them, an atmosphere could be felt. Eventually the silence was broken and I chatted away with the chap working the lock and some civil words exchanged at the helm.

Once up the gates proved problematic to close. The chap from the red boat jumped onto his boat saying the gate was stuck, so he was just going to leave it! I then couldn’t close mine, but we certainly wouldn’t leave the gates for the next person to come along. Mick hopped off and we both pulled and tugged at each gate to get them out of the recesses. Eventually we got them moving and closed.

A34 Newbury Bypass Bridge

When we saw a chance to pull in before the next lock we decided on an early lunch, letting the red boat get ahead. We took our time and were just about ready when another boat came past. The next two locks were shared with the crew of NB Pippin who were out for the weekend, it being someones thirtieth birthday tomorrow. Much more conscientious locking partners than the red boat had been. But they stopped for lunch, possibly to let us get ahead!

There they are again

Above Dreweat’s Lock there was the red boat again. Technically not on the lock landing but between it and the lock. They had stopped for lunch with some friends and had a table and chairs out on the towpath. A third black mark, we won’t be sharing with them further up the way!

Who you looking at!

Across in a field two Roe Deer were chomping away at the lush green grass. They stayed for a while but eventually sought safety of a wood as we passed by.

What’s going on here?

Just below Kintbury Lock there was a widebeam pushing off. A dog walker suggested staying where we were as the boat would go right across the cut and then head onto it’s mooring on the off side. It pushed out then a rope was thrown to the bank where it was attached to a horse. They weren’t mooring up for the day, but just setting out, so we waited hopefully out of their way and waved at all the passengers.

Steering away

Up the last lock and ahead the moorings looked busy, but a boat (possibly NB Harold) pulled out leaving an Oleanna sized space which we very quickly filled. Cat Health and Safety Committee convened, the railway line was deemed to be too close to our mooring and no visible barrier so no shore leave today for Tilly. She did her very best to charm me into opening the doors, you try explaining to a serial killer why you are not letting them out!

Mick got chatting to the boat behind, Charles and Karen on NB Sanity At Last. They are also heading to Bristol and suggested pairing up to do Cain Hill. As we chatted away it sounds as though they take things a lot slower than us. We have a schedule to keep up to so no loitering for too long in one place. But we’ll see what happens.

Pleeeaase let me go out!!

Despite buying fresh supplies this morning we decided to eat out and headed across the bridge, up the hill into Kintbury to find The Blue Ball. The butchers looked interesting, apparently they do very good sausage rolls (not a patch on my GF ones) sadly they will be closed tomorrow but we may visit on our way back.

The Blue Ball only had a few options for me, the usual steak and gammon. I did consider trying out how gluten would now affect me as there was a Steak and Kidney Pudding on the menu. But I opted for the steak, I’ve had better but the chips were good. Mick had liver and bacon which was very nice indeed.

8 locks, 6.12 miles, 1 swing bridge, 0 held up, 1 set of stubborn gates, 1 red boat, 3 strikes, 1 much nicer boat, 1 horse, 2 deer, 2 plans for Christmas! 2 new boater friends, 1 steak, 1 liver and bacon, O shore leave, 2 horrid selfish boaters!

Sideways thumb for TV, due to loss of reception when ever a train passed.

Working Down the Thames. 1st September

Day’s Lock to Beale Park


With the sun out again this morning our mooring was lovely. Lots of sky, sun glowing on tree trunks, views, a lovely spot, maybe one of our favourites.

The orange buoy in the water is a swimmer. What’s left of Didcot in the background

Time to crack on again. We waited for a couple of swimmers to pass before we pushed off. there was quite a distance between them and when we arrived at the lock the first lady was sat on the bank having a snack. Hope her friend got to have a break when she arrived. They were swimming down to the next lock where they had left a car, another four miles!

We were joined by a cruiser on a bit of a mission to get back to their mooring at Cookham, once we’d dropped down the lock we let them head past us, although we caught them up again by Benson Lock.

Benson Lock

Maybe it was change over day at Le Boat, quite a few of their cruisers were in but the waterside cafe was heaving! Not one table spare, do they do a very good Sunday breakfast or were people just taking advantage of the last sunny Sunday morning before the schools go back?

Here we caught up with our canoe friends with the crocodile. They are paddling their way to Pangbourne for their silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, today their last day.

That ridge with the chains kept us both pushing Oleanna out from the side

Dropping down Benson Lock we seemed to keep getting slightly caught on the chains as the water dropped. This turned out to be due to a change in profile of the lock, not enough to cause us to get hung up, just a little disconcerting.

Six deep

Over the weekend Wallingford had been busy with Bunkfest. A free music festival. The town moorings were very full and further out boats were six abreast. We were later joined by a couple of cruisers who’d been to the festival, the music was great, but the drinks a touch expensive.

Goring Lock with the canoe coming in last

I bobbed back from working below to hold ropes at Cleeve and Goring Locks. The lock keeper at Goring being a touch too officious with a canoe that were holding onto our gunnel whilst waiting for the lock. They were in the way of everyone! This they knew, but there was nowhere else obvious for them to go. They moved to where they were directed to so the lock could empty then bigger boats could enter the lock before they were finally waved in to join us. I suspect if the Lockie had used Please or Thank you his instructions would have come across even more rude.

I love this boat house

Now to find a mooring along Beale Park. The first spaces were occupied, then one with a tree in the middle, we kept going. In the end we pulled in between a couple of boats with not much view on the park side due to friendly cover. Tilly was given six hours which at first she was reluctant to take, but after an hour she was being far far too busy to even come home for some Pocket Pillows.

One of the Newport transporter bridge legs

Most of the day I continued working on my model. The section of the transporter bridge has taken quite a bit of working out from reference photos from the internet. Now I understand it that bit better. It has taken a long time to build, this nearly always means it will take a long time to build in reality too! I’ve been to literal with it and now need to adapt it for strength and ease of building, which will mean a new version. But for my white card model this will do fine.

Quick take a photo before it’s all gone!

Tonight we’ve enjoyed our lamb shoulder. I meant to take a photo of it when it came out of the oven, but forgot. Then I forgot again and started to eat, so here is my Sunday dinner half devoured. I found the last beetroot from Hampton Court Palace today. so that went in with the roast veg. Yummy. Looking forward to cold lamb tomorrow.

4 locks, 13.76 miles, 1 croc, 2 forward wild swimmers. 1 backward wild swimmer, 6 deep, 2 portacabin boats, 901 miles in total, 1 of four legs, 1 lamp shoulder, 6 hours, 1 cat called at DingDing time, 1 cat home quickly, phew! 1 cardigan bound off.

A Double Stamp. 27th August

Eaton Hastings to Chimney

Grafton Lock

The water needed topping up and our black yellow water container was full so we needed to use various services. The first water point was at Grafton Lock, we pulled in and started to fill the tank whilst the Lockie filled the lock for us, he then pushed open the gates ready and waiting for us. From a quarter of a tank to full in about five minutes, I love these Thames hoses.


A mile further on and the number of tents had decreased dramatically at Radcot Bridge and all the tepees were closed up. Not even a faint hint of bacon in the air this morning.

Would the lock be in our favour?

Another mile on and two boats came towards us from Radcot Lock, would that mean it was in our favour. As we approached the top gates were being closed and I could see the Lockie winding up the paddles. I walked up to help with the gates. A large chunk of reeds was in the lock with the boat, the Lockie was determined to get ride of it. She hoped it would exit the lock but it stayed put. So up it came again where she could hoik it out.

Trying to fish the reeds out

As the top gates opened and Oleanna went into the lock another clump came with us. With Mick and the Lockie working in unison it was pushed to the side and she managed to lift it all out. No chance of it getting round anyone’s prop now.

Yesterday the Lockie had seen 62 boats through Bascot Lock, so she was pleased that today it was far quieter on the river and spotting Tilly sat in the window made her day.

Two miles of wiggles to Rushey Lock where we pulled in with another narrowboat who’d been using the services and giving their boat a wash. Rubbish and the elsan for our yellow water. We’d both forgotten that there had been signs saying that there was no rubbish at Rushey. There was a large skip, but it was locked. A few people had left bags of rubbish on the top of it, but we decided to take ours with us to the next bin.

A photo of a swan with her cygnet instead of the walker

By the time we were finished we pulled in alongside the other boat and the Lockies dropped us down to the next reach of the river. There weren’t as many people about as yesterday, maybe that was just as well as around the next bend a chap came striding along with only boots and glasses on. I do hope he’d applied some sun screen! We waved and he waved back.

Tadpole Bridge

On my phone I’d marked several places that were possible moorings for us today, so when the first came into view on the off side we gave it a go. Just long enough for us, a grassy garden all to ourselves for the afternoon, with plenty of friendly cover to keep Tilly occupied.

I was given until 7.15. Loads of time. Great. I came back a couple of times. Tom spent the afternoon with string hanging out of his ears, apparently he’d been listening to England winning again. It wasn’t any different but apparently knowing the outcome he could hear different things.

She got the big board out. I could have stayed in to help keep an eye on the back of it for her, but there was far too much to do in this outside. So whilst she drew up bigger things I made full use of my surroundings.

Complicated drawings of bigger things

Here there are holes, very handy holes to put friends in for safe keeping. I managed to find several of them quite quickly. No trees, but so much friendly cover. I came back at Ding Ding time and had a few biscuits, but because Tom and She were eating outside I would have to wait for my Ding Ding so I headed back off into the cover.

Our own clearing all to ourselves

Being on the off side meant we had no passing footfall, no woofers to disturb our little thug. It’s nice to find such places and let Tilly come and go, but when dusk hits I’d rather she was indoors. We finished our barbecue, pork and veg kebabs with some almond rice, and tidied up. I could see a large white bird, an owl maybe, swooping low over the field behind us, but I couldn’t see a cat! I called and meowed with no response. The light was now fading, I tried again. Nothing.

Patience was what was needed and trust that she would return. The torch was used to scan the fields once it was dark, still nothing. Another look outside at 10pm. Still nothing. Patience and trust. I popped her litter tray out on the stern in case she’d gone deaf and couldn’t hear me.

By 11pm Mick had put long trousers on and was wading through the friendly cover with the torch. I stood and called. I stood and listened. Nothing but the faint rumbles of farmers in their fields. Mick waded his way to the nearest best looking tree, then back again along a small ridge sweeping the torch too and fro across the field. Nothing what so ever.

Back inside we both sat in silence the TV making it’s noises, both of us not taking any notice, listening elsewhere. What if this had happened? What if that? Our patience and trust slowly disappearing.

Both of us flinched at a single small noise outside. Nothing followed it.

Then I heard another two similar quiet noises, followed by three more. I opened the back doors and went outside. This outside was very dark and my eyes were not accustomed to it so I couldn’t see if there was a white tipped tale. Four paws landed on the stern and fur brushed past my legs. Thank f****ing ……..

I really don’t know what all the fuss was about. I came home when they wanted me to and then they didn’t want me! So I’d just been amusing myself. Tom put down some Ding Ding, the gravy was nice, but I’d filled myself up already. Time for a good nap I think.

3 locks, 8.21 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing washed, 1 load washing dried, 2 cheeky pink cheeks, 1 perfect mooring, 6 hours extended to 11! 4 friends that we know of, 2 pork loins, 4 veg kebabs, 1 AWOL cat, 2 very concerned boaters, 1 torch needing recharging, 4000 zzzs needed now, 2 Mrs Tilly stamps of approval, 1 confiscated by She!

MOOOO!!!! 26th August

Cow Mooring, Lechlade to Eaton Hastings


Awake at 6am with a hooligan Mooing at us 2ft away from the window at the foot of our bed. Luckily for us and Oleanna the big post there was more attractive to the cows than anything on the roof or our covers, our herbs and Christmas tree had been moved to the far side of the boat, so they were safe too. We managed to get another hours sleep before the alarm went off.

A quick shop for fresh supplies at Londis. The Cafe across the way had some very nice loaves of sour dough in the window, but as there was no price by them we guessed it would be expensive. We dropped off our shopping and then walked along the meadow down to St John’s Lock.

Thames Path that way, that way and that way

A chap on a cruiser the other day had suggested that we might be able to get diesel at the marina and that they had a chandlery. Before trying to get Oleanna there we’d decided to check which turned out to be just as well. The chap said that diesel would be easier tomorrow and that the bolt Mick was after they wouldn’t have as it had an unusual thread. At least we’d had a walk.

Time to get moving, Lechlade was starting to get busy. The boat behind us was getting ready too. When they’d moored up yesterday the chap at the helm came across as a arse dictator. His two teenagers were ordered what to do, then told off for not doing it correctly, despite not having been given adequate instructions. His poor wife tried to show her son what was needed but then got barked at as she was meant to still be on board in case the boat drifted off. This morning the orders were being barked again, we decided to let them get ahead so we’d not have to share locks with them. A phone call handily delayed us.

Ha’Penny Bridge

We pushed off and headed for Ha’Penny Bridge, from here on the water was filled with canoes, swans and flamingos all with crews who had little awareness of our existence. We managed to avoid them all as we made our way to the footbridge by the Roundhouse.

The End ahead

Two kids were on a paddleboard, then one stepped off and walked across the surface of the water, it would be very shallow there! Here the river was once joined by the Thames and Severn Canal, the furthest we’d be able to get Oleanna up the Thames, we were at the End. Here we hoped would be deep and wide enough for us to turn which fortunately it was as we had a group of on lookers.

Downstream now

Back downstream weaving our way back towards St John’s. We waited for a boat to come up which meant that the dictator had pulled away from the services and was still ahead of us. The Lockie let us down before he’d run away to find some shade for his lunch.

Paddleboarders we’d keep seeing.
PS that is a gongoozler behind Oleanna bearing his belly not Mick

Back along the wiggles and winds to Bascot Lock which was on self service. The paddles were up at the far end and a gate open. I walked down to set the lock for us, some selfish person having left the lock without closing up properly. As I walked over the top gates I noticed that this was not the case. Some 6ft down a couple were holding onto the chains from their canoe, looking up forlornly. The Lockie had waved them in some ten minutes ago, then vanished and they were waiting patiently. Mick and I carefully wound the paddles up for them.

A handy picnic spot

Two cruisers joined us going down and crews from each boat helped to lift paddles and open gates. More wiggles and winds. On one of the hairpin bends a large audience had collected, there being a handy parking space with lots of shade for picnics and a section of low bank to get inflatables into the water. Another steep bend we disturbed a paddleboarder picking blackberries, she was just where the stern of a 58ft boat needed to go, but Mick got us past without spilling any berries.

Even the cows were taking shade today

The sun was hot, we’d have liked some shade, but finding a suitable mooring was unlikely. There was space at Kelmscott, but we carried on to a space I’d marked on my map as a possible wild mooring. We got in and moored up. The back doors opened for Tilly, who very quickly decided it was far too hot and returned inside to the shade. I opened up the shady side curtains to see a wasps nest on the bank, Tilly must have known. Window closed we unpinned ourselves and moved on, not far to the next bit of bank.

Wasps nest

Rules were read and I was allowed out. This outside was just as hot as the last one which I had rejected, but they insisted on this one. I had a smooch around, okay friendly cover, the trees were a bit too far away, it would do.

I told her, I told her that if she was to pounce off the gunnel then there wouldn’t be anything to land on. Did she listen? It fell on deaf soon to be wet ears!

Stupid stupid cat!

Pounce, Splash, Scurry. Into the bathroom after she’d managed to soak every seat on the boat. A towel rub down, always a risk, and then an hour of drying herself off sat on the hearth rug. Cat Health and Safety rules should be listened too and adhered by! I’ve seen lots of woofers doing it and it was really quite cooling, just a bit of a shock.

2 locks, 1 a tight squeeze, 4.41 miles, 225grams sad gits mince, 2 pork chops, 1 loaf bread, 2 pints milk, 0 bolt, 0 diesel, 1 boat unhooliganised, 1 nest, 2nd mooring lucky, 2 many small craft on the river,  1 soaked cat for the second time this month! 1 lucky friend, 2 hot.