Category Archives: Nature

Big Friends. 15th August

Wallingford Jungle to Day’s Lock

Deep in
the jungle

Pushing off was going to be interesting today. Tied to a tree and almost surrounded by other trees, we’d need to push out backwards past the big barge behind us. I stepped off the bow to hold it in whilst the stern was un-pinned. No dawdling allowed as the wind was doing it’s best to help us with our manoeuvre before we were ready.

One minute
the next, before the engine was put in gear

As soon as we stepped on board Oleanna was blown away from her jungley nest in exactly the right direction to avoid big branches, handy except the French family were just about to pass us slowly and we were heading for their path. Luckily for all by the time Mick finished sorting his stern rope and pin out we’d slowed our sideways direction and collision was avoided. We now followed them up to Benson Lock.

Did the architect know they’d designed such a jolly boat house with a helter skelter

There was a wait here as one of the big Le Boat hire cruisers was in their first lock and under instruction.

Dappled sunlight on Daisy

The sun was back out but the wind had accompanied it today, so we needed a bit of umph to keep going in our chosen direction. The hire boat allowed us to go first and soon disappeared out of sight behind.

Day’s Lock ahead

Our aim was to moor sooner rather than later today, hopefully somewhere good for Tilly so that I could have a day working. At Day’s Lock we asked the Lockie about moorings and he suggested to try by the pill box or a bit further along on the off side.

Moored up for the day

The pill box mooring is nice and straight but sadly a touch too shallow for us, so we had to back off it and carried on to try further along. We passed a cruiser moored up and then an Oleanna gap between trees showed itself. It took a couple of goes to get lined up for it and then the wind just blew us into the space and held us there. If we wanted to leave it would be quite a struggle, so just as well that wasn’t the plan.

Not bad here

She came out for a play, what a big field this outside had. A touch too blowy up my bum but while She was here it was good. Sticks and feathers and stumpy trees to climb. Great. I could also smell what might be some interesting friends, so I was willing to wait around to see if they fancied playing.

We were moored up in time for a mid morning cuppa. The cricket was put on the radio and I got on with some work. First I needed to finish notes on the props list for Chippy panto and paint in my scooter designs.

Initial sketch
for Houdini

Then it was time to start putting ideas onto paper for A Regular Little Houdini. Slightly different versions of my idea were worked on until the right combination came together. The theatres odd set up with what used to be their proscenium is a touch problematical but hopefully I’ve managed to work my way round it.

Just visible

One of the three

I made sure I took a photo of our mooring today. As of Sunday morning the view won’t be the same. Just behind the trees on the other side of the river stands the 3 remaining cooling towers of Didcot Power Station. Early this Sunday morning they are to be felled. Thank you to Kevin Too and Steve for informing us of this. Sadly we won’t be able to witness them being demolished, we might still hear them though sometime between 6 and 8am.

Edited 18th August. They certainly were a wake up call Kevin Too! On the dot of 7am, KABOOM!!!

New friends

Tilly kept coming in to shelter from the wind. Some new big friends did appear later in the afternoon, but none of them seemed interested in playing.

Maybe too much for little Tilly

Tilly did start to try stalking one of the calves but decided that it most probably would be a bit too much of a mouthful if she succeeded.

Pretty

As the sun set to our port side

Coming up
higher
higher

the moon rose to our starboard.

till it started to disapear again

Isn’t nature amazing.


Property Game

Five bedrooms, the railway behind it, a road infront but your own private mooring. How much?

2 locks, 4.96 miles, 14 ft out before we knew it, 2nd attempt at mooring, 0 footfall, 28 hoofalls, 1 looney cat, 3 towers, 1 photo never to be replicated, 2 scooters, 5 sketches, 180 degrees of sky, 1 magical mooring.

Yesterdays Answer

https://www.fineandcountry.com/uk/property-for-sale/henley-on-thames/rg9-3jd/1457572

£1,175,000 on Rod Eyot in Henley. You get a lot of pine for over a million pounds with this one.

Not far off Jennie at £1,250,000.

Lumpy River. 10th August

Marlow

By the time we went to bed last night the wind had already picked up. When Mick went out to actually ‘check the ropes’ there were a couple of branches down back towards town, there was a couple on a cruiser very close by, under trees , not bothered by it in the slightest. Mick noted that their mooring spikes were only just in the ground too, he gave ours another bang and deployed a tyre fender by the bow to try to alleviate the buffeting we were already experiencing.

Branches down and plenty more creaking away next to that cruiser

We had a good nights sleep, the height of the storm due between 11am and midday, we were not going to be going anywhere by boat today even if we were on a 24hr mooring. This of course meant we could enjoy a nice cuppa in bed and take our time looking at the view across the way of the rather big house.

Seagulls are too common round here to steal your food

Mick did a check on our ropes before breakfast, we were still fine. The cruiser directly behind us was facing the opposite direction to how it had been last night. He’d woken this morning and wondered why his view was moving, one end of the boat was drifting, so he’s re-moored facing the other way. As Mick chatted to him they noticed that the cruiser that was moored under the trees was very much adrift at one end. The occupants only just up and pottering in their dressing gowns hadn’t noticed anything. Once their attention was caught the engines were started up and as ropes were pulled and the boat turned one of the ropes got round a prop. This is when Mick decided that there were enough people helping so he came back for breakfast leaving them to it.

We stayed in, all three of us, shore leave not granted at the height of the winds. Windy days is when Tilly tends to not find her way home, we’re also concerned that she might get blown away.

The sides just didn’t like the wind

Some boats were moving, with enough umph they could hold a line on the river, the only thing was it added to the waves the wind was already creating. Oleanna rocked up and down so much I started to feel a touch queezy. By the time we decided that things were calming down a touch outside I really needed to be off the boat, I felt as if I was turning a touch green. We still hadn’t got our newspaper so we walked into town.

One way traffic

Our blustery walk along the river involved a limbo under the fallen branches. The trip boats were still tied up, nobody wanting to go anywhere. At the bridge we turned towards the town. Marlow Suspension Bridge was built in 1829-32, designed by William Tierney Clark. In the 1960’s it was fully restored and is restricted to foot and local traffic with a weight limit of 3 tonnes. However in 2016 a 37 tonne Lithuanian lorry attempted to cross it, the potential for damage was great. The bridge was closed for two months whilst stress tests were carried out, thankfully no significant damage was found.

Pretty car, no idea what it was.

A look inside All Saints Church was aborted when we realised that we were about to walk in just at the wrong moment on a wedding ceremony. So hope the photographer managed to find a sheltered spot for photos and that the brides hairdo had enough lacquer in it to keep it looking good.

Bunting and phone boxes, shame about all the cars

The main street has a lot of independent shops and we moseyed along refraining from joining in with the Hare Krishna as we made our way along to Waitrose. Marlow has one of the stores that will be closing soon. We have to say we were disappointed with it as our choice of Saturday newspaper had run out, so our small shop was put back on the shelves and we headed to Sainsburys for the bits we actually needed along with a paper.

Another of Tom’s pubs, he has three of them around Marlow, this one also sells meat.

Another thing to add to our Next Time list is a visit to The Hand and Flowers, Tom Kerridge’s pub. I was told the other day that they have four bar stools which on a weekday are on a first come first served basis. Next time we’ll try to be here on a weekday and put some none boaty clothes on and see if we can be first to arrive. The set menu apparently is quite a reasonable price for a two star Michelin.

Normally seen near Red Bull on the Trent and Mersey

Back at Oleanna the boat under the trees had managed to get the rope off it’s prop, they’d had to get in the water to do so and had now braved the wind.

The afternoon was spent doing a few chores and I got out the card I’d bought in Staines and put together a model box for the show in Vienna. I’d been given so much information and the plans I’d been sent were copies of copies of copies, which always means that things aren’t quite as they should be. But once I’d put the information together with the plans I was able to make a model of it. Quite a shallow stage with a letterbox proscenium. The theatre was originally a Ballroom which was converted into a theatre, wonderful mouldings on the walls and ceiling, all really rather apt for my show, just a shame that the proscenium is just a black opening slotted into the room. I may have to create a proscenium to match the rest of the room!

Model box for Vienna’s English Theatre

At last I got shore leave. The blowyness outside meant I kept coming back to check that the outside hadn’t been blown away with me in it. Luckily She was still there and I got my ‘Thank you for coming home’ treats. She had run out of the pink Pocket Pillows so I chose a new pack, this one is orange. Adam, I don’t know why you were dubious about the flavour, Chicken and Cheese are better than the Salmon ones, much better. Thank you.

The wind gradually subsided along with my seasickness, heavy showers came over during the evening. Hopefully tomorrow will be brighter and calmer so we can continue upstream.

Property Game

A compact one bedroom house right by the river. How much?

This one is that bit bigger and it comes with quite a bit of disco glitter!

Answers tomorrow

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 boating for us today, 1 lumpy river, 2 green gills, 2 mugs of tea in bed, £10 shop not needed, 0 sandles, 2 loose cruisers, 1 boozy boat, 1 swimmer, 2 big branches, 1 familair boat, 1 vat of bolognese, 0 courgette left, 10 rows until sleeves time, £8 million neighbour, £12 million the other neighbour.

Yesterdays Answer

£500,000

https://www.chancellors.co.uk/properties/staines-upon-thames-property/terraced-2-bedroom-house-for-sale/2992772/staines-upon-thames-surreytw18

Quite a few beams in this one, not of the Tudor variety though.

Joa only 40k off!

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbwdrswds170314

£1,365,000

With a very pretty balcony to the rear. Just a shame for all that money it’s only a semi detached!

Ade you were so far away on this one, but Joa must be cheating somehow, only £235,000 away

Leafing Through History. 25th July

Still under our trees

Our shady spot

It was warm when we woke and it was only going to get worse. Decision made we’d stay put for another day under our shady trees. We wouldn’t be moving for anyone.

Yesterday we’d not quite bought enough supplies to last us another day, so Mick hopped on a bike and returned to the shop with it’s aircon. I was quite jealous of this but then I didn’t have to endure the journey there in the sunshine.

Make it cooler please!

Our mooring doesn’t totally miss out on the sun, for about an hour the sun bakes hard down on the cabin sides and roof before some shade creeps back over us. In that hour we all melted just a touch.

Tilly had an hour or so out first thing, but then retired to the shade for a morning snooze. Life in the shade still necessitated having the doors open for and aft so we kept our fingers crossed that Tilly’s friends would be adamant not to return home with her. We were fortunate.

Receipts

I collated together information on the theatre in Vienna and then added up my expenses for Puss in Boots so far, printing off receipts I’d need from emails. I even considered doing our tax returns today, but quickly changed my mind.

Just a bit noisy

A day for not doing very much. Mick watched the cycling, then listened to the cricket. Day boats headed out, most returning with their crews dangling their feet in the river. One such boat appeared from under the railway bridge behind us, we could hear them coming! As soon as the bridges had been cleared there were numerous people stood on the cabin roof, the person at the tiller zigzagging their way along.

Let him past

A following day boat made a dash for it to overtake them. ‘RIGHT’ ‘No LEFT!!!’ more zigzagging as a collision was narrowly avoided. Would Oleanna end up being what stopped them? It was hard not to watch. Both of us realised that they appeared to be towing an inflatable boat, one not really big enough for the chaps in the river. The yellow inflatable and the two chaps were close to the stern, therefore very close to the turning prop!

Near collision

We shouted and shouted to them. A couple walked past and said ‘We lived on one for two years, you can always tell the holiday makers!’ We weren’t bothered about that or getting biffed. We were far more concerned that we could be calling for an ambulance any minute if nobody turned the engine off!

Is that a chap right up against the stern!

It took what felt like ages for anyone to hear us. Eventually one chap in the water managed to get someone to stop the prop turning, we’re not sure if it was just in neutral or off OFF. They drifted into the offside bank. Far too many voices needing to be heard most likely fuelled by alcohol and the sun. One chap got back on board quite easily, the other finding it hard to hoik himself out all the time being very aware of the prop, thankfully not moving. I think he was the only one on board who had an inkling of what could have happened. Our phones stayed in our pockets and they managed to avoid us as they headed off into the distance our quiet, calm mafting mooring returning to just us.

Back to the quite hot afternoon for grumpy ears

I decided to look through a folder I’d brought from the house. This was full of things my Mum had kept in a ‘Happy memories folder’. 1948 exam results for her year at Leeds School of Architecture. A letter from her sister thanking her and Dad for the bridesmaid present and how wonderful their wedding had been. Menu’s (she was a cook in later life) from dinner dances, they always seemed to have Turtle soups for starters. 21st Birthday cards. A few letters from my Dad, he lived in York and she in Bradford.

Tilly up high

There were programmes for Operas and plays in London collated in a ribbon. A note book listing things to do whilst in London. Then a letter from my Dad which predates her visit asking her if she’d like to see Carmen and visit the Tate when she is next in London. These all connected.

I so love his pencil sketches

Then a small pocket sketchbook, another item passed from father to son. Granddads drawings, very boring architectural details, very Banister Fletcher. But every now and then there were sketches my Dad had done. One of Shibden Hall 1945, where Gentleman Jack was based.

16th September 1945

The sketches coinciding with his second diary I’d scanned whilst in London.

My first illustrated connection to his diaries

16th September 1945, the day he and his mates took the train to Southampton where they boarded the ship that took them to India. This is the first connection in words and pictures, my Dad illustrating his own story.

The ship they sailed in to India (photo courtesy of the internet)

0 locks, 0 miles, 34 C in the pram cover (with the sides off today), 29.4 C inside, 20.1 C minimum inside, 1 very hot day, 1 shady spot saving us, 9 receipts, 12 pages of tech spec, 4 swimming woofers, 1 accident averted, 1 hot cat up in the canopy, 1 folder, 1948-51, 1 wonderful find of Fatso’s.

Tilly Bourne River. 24th July

Shore leave whilst they have their morning Ding Ding is good. I normally like it when that happens because if I come back inside the next time I go outside it has usually been changed. However today it just changed into a hotter version of the earlier outside. I stayed inside for much of the day.

My road

Mick rang the Basingstoke Canal this morning. Sadly the navigation will be closing on Friday as their water levels are so low. So our trip there will have to be added to the ‘Next Time’ list. So once we reach Godalming we’ll gradually make our way back to the Thames a bit earlier than originally planned.

Summers day

Taking advantage of the second mate being on board we applied suncream and headed out with wide brimmed hats. A walk along the towpath back to St Catherines Lock. Here two of the electric launches from Daphne Dap Dune Wharf were coming up in the three foot deep lock, it was taking forever!

Something’s wrong here

Standing on the bridge we watched as a day boat came towards the lock to wait it’s turn to go down. In the photo above there is something wrong, we spotted it and tried for a while to get the crews attention. A day boat got the blame for leaving the bottom paddles up, yes they should have closed them, but you’d have thought the crew would have spotted them, especially on a length of river predominantly used by day boats with novice crew.

It must get muddy round here

We crossed over and carried on our walk through the meadows back down the off side of the river. The launches were being moored up at a landing a short distance along where the path heads across the fields and a dried up bog up to The Street. I guessed that the passengers were all heading to the same place as us, Shalford Mill.

Shalford Mill

The tour guides at the Mill were busy preparing for the trip boats. There was a choice. 1, we could wait for an hour and join in with one of the two tours around the mill, waiting would involve watching around 24 people tucking into a picnic lunch whilst we stood around with our bottle of water. Or 2, we could have a shorter tour than normal on our own ahead of the masses. We opted for the second option.

What used to be the mill pond

Tilling Bourne River runs down the valley fed by springs along it’s length. The river had around 24 mills along it’s fifteen miles, all working hard. A centre of industry between the 17th and 20th centuries. Gun powder, paper making for bank notes, iron and wire working, tanning and flour milling made the place less then idyllic. Today watercress and trout are farmed along with a gin distillery.

Weather boarded and tiled

Shalford Mill was re-built as two water powered mills in the 1750’s fed by the river and a large mill pond which would be left to fill over night for use the following day. The mill continued milling through the Corn Laws, Swing Riots and plenty more. By the 1850’s Shalford Mill could still only deal with one ton of wheat a day where as steam driven mills were pushing through 300 tons. The mill continued, changing hands and being leased until 1907.

The wheel

Around 1911 the water wheel became dislodged and ended up resting against one of the mill walls, no longer able to turn. Here it rested and still rests today.

Metal on wood cogs

In 1927 the mill was put up for sale, it eventually caught the eyes of Bill Stickers and Sister Agatha in 1931. The owner offered it to the ladies so long as they could maintain it. By the following year the ladies had raised funds for an endowment and the Mill was gifted to the National Trust. The east mill was converted into a home whilst the rest was open to visitors. The tenancy of the east mill is still in the same family, with the original tenants daughter, now 93, still living there with her daughter.

Period plastic chairs adding to the atmosphere

We were shown through the mill, where the sacks of grain were hoisted to the top floor, emptied down to be ground, full sacks of milled flour hoisted back up for storage. How the granite stones were cut for milling, how the flour and bran were separated.

Hot at the top

Steep staircases take you to the top of the building where the air was heating up nicely amongst the rafters. We were very glad we weren’t up there with another twelve people!

The string used to go here!

Our guide John did his best to shoo others away so that we’d get the best tour time would allow before he was due to show the boat trip round. He certainly knew his stuff, only stopping when the string that controlled the amount of grain entering the stones broke in his hand. Nothing hard to mend, just a length of sisal string that would be replaced as soon as we left.

The gang’s den

Finally we were shown the room that Bill Stickers and her gang kept for visits. Ferguson’s Gang was made up of five core members, all women with pseudonyms. They formed in 1927, their aim was to raise awareness of the need to protect rural areas and they supported the National Trust. The Gang raised huge sums to protect and preserve important buildings and land that could otherwise have been destroyed. They were eccentric ladies who made ‘swag’ donations to the trust, one time causing a bomb scare at an AGM when a metal pineapple was presented with a £100 note inside. The public loved them. The gang’s den a snap shot of 1930’s life.

Door stop
On a sandwich run from the garage

Despite being on a quick tour John gave us his undivided attention and knowledge for 45 minutes before having to mend the string. The mill is only open two days a week and for £17 you can enjoy a boat trip there and back with a picnic. We saved our money and headed to Snooty’s Groceries for supplies where we enjoyed the air conditioning.

Low. Will we glad we chopped the chimney down?

Our walk back to Oleanna brought us over the very low bridge. A few squirts of WD40 have been applied to the screws holding Oleanna’s horns, should we need to remove them to get under.

Noisy cooling down

The afternoon was spent watching people enjoying the river in the heat. Numerous people jumping in to swim.

The pill box

I had a visit to the pill box a short distance behind us. Sat on an old railway embankment it has views over the river. I couldn’t see any invading force so the country is still safe.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 boats neither going up nor down, 1 mill just in time, 5 or 6 famous and secret ladies, 1 wheel, three floors, 2 mugs, 4 ciabatta rolls, 9 slices salami, 1 tub coleslaw, 1 low bridge, 1 lotus, 1 Tilly Bourne, 8 swimmers, 1 pill box, 2 scooters, 33ish C, 27.5 C inside, 17 C minimum, 3 crew managing to stay coolish.

Panto prop scooters

Southern Woofers Have NO Manners! 20th July

Pyrford Basin to Send Church Footbridge

Rain hit Oleanna’s roof for much of last night, but by first thing this morning it had dried up. Mick headed off on a bike to find a Waitrose for a free newspaper, along with £10 of shopping. He was fortunate as when he returned we had a couple of major down pours, the sort that would soak you to the skin despite waterproofs.

Paws crossed for finer weather

10% chance of rain! Well we’d got that 10% and we weren’t going to set off whilst it was at it’s worst. By midday the sun was trying to make an appearance so we made ready to push off. A boat appeared from behind, we had a locking partner.

The Anchor Pub was already attracting customers and would be a handy place for a delivery should we need one on the way back. The crew of NB Montana were setting the lock when I reached them after dropping off some rubbish.

The Anchor

I’d set the bow rope on the port side roof, but as the boats came into the lock we ended up on the starboard side, I’d be needing a boat hook to get the rope. The hook we were left with at little Venice is nice and light weight with an aluminium pole so easy to handle.

We tied up as we’d done yesterday using the yellow post at the stern. NB Montana tied up using all three ropes, but not one of them round the yellow post. There was a lot of rushing around trying to stop their boat from surging forward and backwards, the centre line getting tighter and tighter whilst Oleanna just rose up the lock gracefully. I mentioned to the lady about the yellow post, she wasn’t aware if they’d been told about it at Thames Lock.

Time to turn the engines back on, not a rumble from NB Montana! He tried again and again, still no joy. We said we’d wait for them at the next lock, for a while anyway and left them to bow haul out of the lock making way for a boat to go down.

Pretty summer house

The next stretch was narrow and slow going. We think it was both the depth but also the current as we were heading upstream. A quick look at a map showed us that RHS Wisley isn’t too far away and to keep an eye open for an Elizabethan Summer House. There it was nestled in amongst the trees.

Walsham Lock Cottage
You don’t get bells like that anymore

The lock cottage at Walsham Flood Gates watched our progress, Mick was impressed by the telephone bells by the front door.

Moorings

Now we were back on the river, wider and deeper. The moorings by the lock looked like they’d be fun to reverse out off and not get drawn towards the weir!

Waiting, but for how long?

A boat was just coming out of Newark Lock leaving it all ready for us. How long should we wait? We decided on ten minutes or until a boat came the other way. The sun was now out, layers could be removed as we waited. After eight minutes a boat appeared above the lock, oh well we’d have to ascend as we were in the way.

A lady came to help and we left her with a message for NB Montana that we’d wait at the next lock, they’re on a mission to reach Guildford today for dinner.

This looks a good place for the way back

I’d seen that NB Huffler had moored at Papercourt Meadows a few days ago, this had to be those meadows. Wide grassy, perfect place for a barbecue, maybe on our way back. We noted a couple of places that looked deep enough to moor as boats were already tied up.

Very pretty

I hopped off just before we reached the bywash from the weir and walked up to the lock, pausing to take photos. What a picturesque scene in the sunshine with the cottage and stepped weir, chocolate box.

Family

A family of Egyptian Geese were preening themselves by the top gates which kept me occupied as we waited. NB Montana could be seen making her way through the meadows, as they got closer I spotted a second boat hot on their tail. Should we go up on our own or wait. We waited saving them an extra ten minutes emptying the lock.

This time they used the yellow post and both boats sat calmly as they rose, affording everyone chance to have a chat. Paddles were wound in unison. They’d had a chap this morning lift a paddle straight up which had sent the plume of water straight into their bow and inside the cabin. She got him to quickly close the paddle and avoid them sinking, they still had a wet floor that needed mopping up. Have to say we never go up hill with our cabin doors open just for this reason.

Nearly at the top

We led the way for the next two miles. Pretty rural turned into offices/factory at the cut side. Another flood gate at Worsfold where the National Trust work yard is. Nicholsons mentions a turf sided lock here, but we didn’t spot it, we’ll have a better look on the way back.

Bar on a chain to stop you leaning over

The river now winds and twists towards the next pretty lock, Triggs Lock with another fine cottage. The bottom gates when open lean over the channel so, as on other gates, there are chains and a bar to help you pull them towards you from a safe distance. This was to be our last lock of the day, so we waved NB Montana goodbye and hoped they had a lovely evening.

Triggs Lock

Through the next bridge was a trimmed stretch of towpath, we arrive just as a group of canoeists did, they loitered exactly where we wanted to pull in but they got the message in the end. The wind had been doing it’s best to aid us in mooring when the canoes had been in the way, but now had disappeared. Oleanna just wouldn’t go into the side, Mick hopped off but no matter how he pulled on the centre line she just wasn’t having any of it. A blast of reverse to get her back close enough for Mick to jump back on and we headed off to try the next place.

This was also too shallow, a shame as there would have been a great view of Send church from our bedroom in the morning. The next trimmed length we were determined to moor in. The bow came in close enough to hop off, but the stern wouldn’t. Any further along the river and we’d be too close to roads for Tilly, so here it was to be. Spikes banged in and plank deployed, the first time since the Lancaster. This reminded us that we really need to get a longer one very soon!

What is this?!!!

Excuse me!!! Just what were they thinking? This outside had water everywhere! How was I meant to be able to get to it? Tom showed me this sloping thing, it smelt like ours but really! No thank you!! A thin slice of tree is no good for anyone!

Tree!

However the trees here were good. Good for climbing. I soon discovered that I could jump the gap over the water and onto the roof when a rude woofer came to see me. It didn’t stay long when I showed it what I was made of.

I really wasn’t sure about this outside, so She came out to go for a walk with me. I like this, both of us discovering new things, mostly trees and friends for me. Today however we discovered that most Southern Woofers are very rude!

One came running from quite a distance, so I decided to head up a tree. Here I had to cling on whilst it shouted at me for ages. It’s Tom just smiled and walked by calling it’s stupid name. In the end She had to risk her life and stand in between us as the woofer just wasn’t going to leave. Have to say I was glad when it did my claws were starting to ache!

Action shot

I discovered that I could jump onto the side hatch with relative ease which came in handy later on when the stupid Tom came back with his exceptionally rude woofer. Doors were closed very quickly on the boat locking it out. Why was the Tom stupid? He had a lead and knew I was there so why hadn’t he used it?! Stupid and selfish, if I’d been a little kid running away I bet he’d have apologised. Maybe he is scared of his woofer and can’t keep hold of it or is even afraid that it might bite him. Anyway my Tom was so not impressed! I now HATE woofers!

Last night I’d prepared a sponge for a loaf of Sour Dough, this had been getting frothier all day. So once we’d moored up I mixed in the other ingredients and added some yeast so that we wouldn’t have to wait until midnight to bake it. It rose nicely over a couple of hours. Then as I popped it in the over I happened to give the tin a slight knock against the grill pan. My recipe warns against this as with no gluten the loaf can collapse, all those hours of rising gone immediately to waste.

The loaf looked okay as it went in the oven, but when I turned the temperature down I had a look. It had sunk by about a quarter, a big dip in the middle! I toyed with abandoning it there and then, not wasting gas. But baked it in the end, we’ll see how it turns out for toast tomorrow.

Sunken!

4 locks, 2 flood gates, 5.19 miles, 1 summer house, 1 broken boat, 1 meadow mooring noted, 3 shallow moorings also noted, 0 outside close enough, 2 rude woofers, 3 woofer incidents, 1 freaked out cat, 1 totally selfish dog owner, 1 sunken loaf, 1 migraine brewing, 1 property game put off till tomorrow.

Shiny Boat Central. Day 5

Paddington Basin

We caught the tube out to Kew Garden this morning. A day outdoors meant having to apply sun cream, which we did as we waited for Marion (another of Mick’s sisters) and John to arrive from the south coast. They were given a years membership to Kew Gardens at Christmas and can take a friend in for free.

Kew

I’ve only been once before with Mick’s Mum some years ago when we sought the warmth of the houses. Today instead we sought some shade whilst looking around.

The Hive
from inside

First we headed to The Hive. This is an installation designed by Wolfgang Buttress. It highlights the importance of pollination in our food chain, a third of the worlds crop yield is dependant in some way to bees. It is illuminated by almost a thousand LED lights which because it is linked to one of Kews honey bee hives vibrate in time with the bees in the hive. Digitised sounds also emanate from the structure linked to the bees. The more active the real hive, the more active the giant hive is. Sadly we couldn’t climb into the structure today as it was closed for maintenance.

Lunch
Cherries

We walked round to the other side to gain a different perspective on it and found a vacant picnic bench which we moved into the shade for our lunch. A very nice courgette frittata and humous crunchy salad, followed by cherries from Marion and John’s tree and a very tasty apricot and oat cake (which I must get the recipe for please). We provided a bottle of wine to help wash everything down.

Around the gardens are glass sculptures by Chihuly : Reflections on Nature. Most of the pieces we saw were red orange and yellow, fiery burning out from flower beds, chrysalid like forms, large feather dusters towering up to the sky.

Icy spikes

One nearer the main entrance was bright blue, a giant ice bauble made from spikes of glass.

We walked along paths by trees that have seen and watched many visitors. Down rhododendron paths, sadly all the flowers long gone. We dashed past sprinklers getting a refreshing spray. Bamboo walks reminding me of the secret passageway as a child between an ornate garden wall and the tall canes where you could hide from Mum and Dad.

A newish bridge across the lake was a bit of a surprise to Mick, it not having been there in his childhood when he and his sisters were brought to the gardens by his Dad, most probably to give his Mum an hour or two of peace and quiet.

Planes a constant reminder

A lovely afternoon amongst nature, art and family, ducking the shadows of planes from Heathrow.

Mick, Marion and John

They came home smelling of trees! Exciting exotic trees. How dare they go climbing trees without me showing them how! I’d been left on board on my own again, looking up at the big climbing frame that I’m not allowed into. She had requested that I carry on scanning a book, doesn’t She know that turning pages without an opposing thumb is impossible! I’d have had to use my teeth to do that and I knew that wouldn’t have gone down too well.

What do you mean not yet! I’m on the Ding Ding shelf!

This morning I’d been told that we were expecting a visitor this afternoon and that she was coming to meet me. I was going to meet the lady who sends me Christmas mice and Dreamies, my Number 1 fan! This got me quite excited and I couldn’t quite contain myself so had to dispose of a very big fur ball all over shorts that She’d left on the bed. I felt much better afterwards.

Tasty

Joa Number 1 arrived around about Ding Ding time, which did mean that I wasn’t having a post food snooze. Joa smelt of cats and had a big bag which smelt quite interesting. Being shy for a while paid off as I was offered some of my favourite things, Webstix. If you haven’t tried one you really don’t know what you’ve missed! They are just so good. So much better than Dreamies. Then I let Joa give me some. Joa is very nice and had this great bag full of things just for me! Although a book had sneaked in there too which had instructions on how to make felty cat things from my fur! Well I haven’t quite finished with my fur yet! She can practice with the fur ball I left for her earlier today.

I’ll have the whole pack please

It was very nice meeting Joa Number 1. She has told me that I have to thank you for my treats and the mouse. The mouse got killed several times this evening after my Ding Ding. She says I have enough treats now to last me till next year.

Goodies

Because I hadn’t even started on the scanning, She spent all evening using her thumbs and getting it done. Tom cooked them a nice M&S sad gits curry which they had in between pages.

Die mouse Die!

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 tubes, 3rd sister-out-law, 2nd free visit to Kew, 1 yummy lunch, 18 very nice cherrys, 1 recipe required, 1 clean pair of shorts in the wash, No 1 fan, 2 many treats for such a little cat, 1 sad git curry, 1st diary completed.

How to arrange your kit ready for inspection