Category Archives: Theatre Design

Fueled by Ginger Buns. 13th September

Sir Hugh Stockwell Lock to Lower Foxhangers Lock

The secret gate

The locks were being unlocked as we had breakfast. We’d no intention of being the first down the flight, but got ourselves ready should another narrowboat arrive that we could share with. According to Frankie volunteers would be about today, so we waited for signs of them. I soon realised I’d made a mistake whilst getting dressed this morning and changed from a C&RT blue to Environment Agency Blue t shirt.

Beautiful morning for it

A chap from the cruiser walked down to set the top lock for them, they were wide so no sharing with them. Where are our friends on days like this, Bridget and Storm, Clare and Graeme, Alison and Laura, Aileen and Mike! It looked like we’d be making the big descent on our own. Oh well.

Pete lending a hand

Mick walked down as there were signs of Volunteers, three on duty this morning. There were two wide beams who’d already been offered assistance, but they’d do what they could for us too. If one of them set the lock ahead after the cruiser had gone through that would be just fine. The cruiser headed down and by the time we’d rolled back the covers they were a couple of locks ahead of us.

NB Wishbone heading upwards

Oleanna was sat in the sun, but the top few locks were very much in the shade as I filled the top chamber for us. The off side gates on the top lock are very close to the fence, the bottom one so tight I couldn’t squeeze past, so I did an undignified scramble along the floor only to be shown up by a volunteer using a secret gate in the fence!

Nearly out of the shade

The volunteers had split up, Lez went down with the cruiser. Mike/Mick went down to help with a narrowboat coming up the flight and Pete came to help us down. The lock below would fill as we entered the lock above and we made steady progress down the flight.

What a view

There are 29 locks in all at Caen Hill, yesterday we did the first 6, today we’d complete them. The next 16 locks are designated as a scheduled monument. If you’ve ever seen photos of a flight of locks it’s likely to have been Caen Hill one of the seven wonders of the waterways.

Taken from C&RT website

The pounds in between each lock aren’t very long but stretch out to the side. None of them have bywashes, so if the pound fills enough water flows over the top of the upper gates and fills the lock. Once that is full the water backs up and the top couple of pounds can flood the surrounding area, the C&RT workshop being one of them.

Out in the sun

The flight was John Rennie’s solution to climb the steep hill and it was the last section of the 87 mile canal to be opened in 1810. The last commercial cargo was transported up the flight in 1948 and the flight was the last stretch to be restored in 1990. The lock gates are all metal and the paddle gear varies from being low geared to clunking stiffness.

Tilly watching as we dropped down the flight

After three locks we waited for the narrowboat coming up so that we could swap chambers. This was NB Wishbone that we’d last seen in Abingdon a few weeks ago. There was time to chat to Alistair and his wife as their lock finished filling. Hope the rest of your cruise back up the Oxford is a good one.

Next!

Pete and I carried on downhill, a hired wide beam gradually coming uphill to meet us with plenty of crew. The pound between us was a touch low so we held back and let them ascend.

Mick with Mike/Mick

The rest of the flight was ours, straight down gradually catching up with Les and the cruiser who had inexperienced crew on board. Mick/Mike came and joined us locking down hill making a very efficient team.

Les joining the team

With a couple of locks left in the flight we offered ginger buns around but there were no takers, oh well more for us.

Here’s one with the chaps. Thank you!

The chaps suggested I walk ahead to the next lock after the flight so that I could get THE photo of Oleanna at the bottom. Apparently nobody takes the photo with the volunteers in, so I took two one with and one without. Thank you all, you made the flight easy.

THE photo

The cruiser had pulled over for a well earned break, managing to plonk themselves slap bang in the middle of the available space, they did offer to nudge up should we want to stop too!

Refueling for the next seven on our own

With encouragement from the Lockies we decided to continue on down the next 7 locks to Foxhangers. The general consensus was that the cruiser would hold us up and there was still plenty of energy left in our tanks. A ginger bun and a swig or two of water at the next lock would keep us going.

Further down the flight

The next seven locks are further apart so I resisted setting the one ahead, most were in our favour anyway, just needing a touch of topping up. We passed one widebeam coming uphill on their fortnightly move.

Yet another lock
Yet more gates to push

The 48hr mooring at the bottom of the locks had enough space for us so we pulled in opposite the Foxhangers Hire fleet, all their engines running, charging the batteries for the days hirers. Tilly was allowed out and the oven lit ready to bake well deserved sausage rolls.

A picture just for Steve

They were tasty but my pastry is far better than shop bought.

Waiting for the last lock to fill
Down the final lock

We’d entered Lock 44 at 9:39am and exited Lock 22 at 1pm.

What! The chicken and cheese treats have run out!

The afternoon was spent with the cricket on. Several boats came down the locks and a few headed up. I prepared a paint order for Puss in Boots and Tilly explored the old railway bridge just by our mooring. Just about all the hire boats headed out, one stayed put for the night and two returned back to base a night early. I think we will sleep well tonight.

Lower Foxhangers Lock 22

23 locks, 1.52 miles, 4 miles walked, 2nd down, 3 volunteers, 3 boats passed, 4 hrs 21 minutes, 188ft 10”, 2 ginger buns, 12 sausage rolls, 8 hire boats out, 1 paint order, 1 test match looking up, 1 pooped cat.

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
Horse

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.

Teaming Uphill. 6th September

Froudes Bridge to Greenham Lock

Black Cat

Todays goal was Thatcham, further if we could. As we had breakfast it rained, but only gently, not enough to be an excuse, so we pushed off at just gone 9am.

A serious digger

Ahead major works were happening. Two big diggers one each side of the canal, there was a very big hole on the towpath side and lots going on. The chaps halted what they were doing as we approached.

Then one digger gave a skip boat a great big shove, pushing it and a chap on board across the cut. A tug then biffed it over some more to where the other digger could claw it in towards the bank.

Caution

We’d passed a length of blue rope hanging down from a tree approaching the works, and just past them there was another with an A4 sheet attached warning boaters.

Swing Bridge
Lock and the river coming in from the left

We soon reached Woolhampton and heeded all the instructions in our guides and those from other boaters. Here there is a swing bridge, The Rowbarge (a nice pub, although too early to stop today), the river then comes in from the left just below Old Woolhampton Lock. The river can cause quite strong currents and the advice is not to stop between the swing bridge and lock. So heading upstream you should have the lock set in your favour and open, if heading down stream you shouldn’t leave the lock until the swing bridge is open.

Must remember the radios when heading down stream

The lock was empty, I opened the gate and walked back, the flow from the river hardly noticeable. Key of power and the bridge swung open, letting Mick through and only holding four up, bit disappointing really. The current was a touch stronger than it looked but Mick made into the lock fine and was sat waiting for me.

As we filled the lock a lady walked up the hill towards us, windlass in hand, boat down in between the bridge and the lock, good job the flow wasn’t stronger. They were in a narrowboat so we said we’d wait for them at the next lock, they were aiming for further than us today and sharing some locks would be good.

High tech lock

A swing bridge was next, this one with a lock on it. I think the manual one yesterday most probably had the same locking mechanism on it as I noticed the nut welded onto the bridge, the chain and shackle must have been out of sight. I left the bolt loose, so the boat following us wouldn’t need a windlass to loosen it and on we carried to Heales Lock which was empty and waiting.

Lock side art

NB Harold with Maddy and Simon soon arrived and we filled the lock. They were having a few days helping to move a friends boat back from summer cruising to it’s mooring further down the K&A. They quite often hire boats with friends and are planning on doing the Four Counties next year.

Time to put my feet up waiting for the last foot to fill

The lock took forever to fill the last foot and it took both Mick and myself on one gate to ease one side open to level things out. As we left another boat appeared below. The crew standing by their boat, it took them sometime to realise nobody was going to empty the lock for them.

A volunteer boat getting a new lick of paint

The locks are spaced out fairly evenly about a mile apart, enough to keep wondering if you could make a cuppa, but not far enough to drink one too. A couple more locks and we reached Thatcham. This is where our plan was to stop for the day, Maddy and Simon wanted to pause for lunch. Last night we’d checked for stoppages on the K&A and noticed that the 48hr moorings here were suspended. So on to the next lock.

Monkey Marsh Lock

Monkey Marsh Lock, is the other turf sided lock. This one was rebuilt in 1990 to it’s original form. Plenty more ladders and a railing to keep people from falling down the turf banks into the lock. Both boats came into the very long lock and we filled it up, all the time the level slowly rising. The ladders and walkways proved useful as Maddy had made a cuppa which could be passed over to her once the boats had risen far enough.

I hadn’t noticed the extra L

Our next aim was to reach Newbury two more swing bridges and another four locks further on. We’d stay to close up a lock whilst Maddy went on ahead to open a swing bridge or get picked up. Mick would stop Oleanna in the throat of the lock and help with gates then we both could step back on board. Simon preferred to pull over to a lock landing, sometimes Maddy would be there other times he’d miss it and plan to pick her up elsewhere. Plans are good things, but lets just say they didn’t always work out for Simon and NB Harold.

Nearly there

Below Ham Lock we were all in need of food and it was starting to rain. As NB Harold waited for the lock to empty, somehow their stern rope fell off the back and neatly wrapped itself around their prop. A nice tight rope going down into the water. No need to turn the engine off, it had stalled. Simon tried to pull the rope up, but no chance. The centre line was passed up and Harold was pulled to one side as Simon undid the weedhatch and investigated. The rope was wrapped around the prop at least six times. Mick had a routle on Oleanna and arrived with our incredible sharp rope knife. Only one thing for it, cut the rope off. With this done both boats were soon in the lock, although NB Harold seemed to have a touch of difficulty with reverse.

At Greenham Lock we waved Maddy and Simon goodbye as they headed to the boat yard to fill and empty as necessary and hopefully buy a new rope. We tagged onto the end of a line of moored boats. A late lunch well deserved, some shore leave for Tilly. A shopping trip was put on hold by a downpour mid afternoon, so we made do with a recipe I adapted from the internet for chicken and squash couscous, swapping couscous for quinoa and adding a few chilly flakes instead of harrisa paste. It was quite tasty.

Too much rain even for Tilly

The stove was lit and we cosily sat and watched the first episode of Scarborough the new BBC sitcom. It wasn’t the funniest thing on TV, but we got to see Scarborough at it’s sunny best. We wondered how many days they had to wait for the sun to set without sea fret for the final shot.

9 locks, 8 shared, 7.53 miles, 5 swing bridges, 4 held up, 2nd turf sided, 2 diggers, 1 very short stern rope, 1 renamed pub, 1 renamed salon, 3pm lunch, 1 down pour, 2 fingers crossed, 1 folder of model photos sent, 1 sunny Scarbados.

Jumpers And Fleeces. 5th September

Theale Swing Bridge to Froudes Bridge 29

Autumn is starting to show itself. This morning I considered knitting myself some fingerless gloves as it was chilly inside. Out side there was need for coats as well as jumpers to start the day.

Helpful sign

Do not open these gate paddles until the lock is half full. Newish blue signs on Sulhampstead Lock. Well if you followed these instructions you’d be waiting a lifetime as the only paddles to fill the lock are on the gate. At other locks the more sensible signs tell you to raise paddles with care, keeping an eye out for jets of water and turbulence.

That is a lot of water!

The water certainly rushes into these old turf sided locks. Not locks you want to drift forward in with your front doors open!

Manual swing bridge

A selection of bridges today. A totally manual one with no lock, the others operated with the key of power. I had varying success in holding vehicles up. First six cars, then only a bike at Ufton Swing Bridge.

Three boats through with one key of power

Here I spotted a boat coming the other way so we waved them through first, he said another boat was following, they appeared just as Mick brought Oleanna through so I kept it open for them, all the time a patient cyclist waited. Normally I’d have been concerned at waiting motorists, but here the road was closed. A police sign and a police car sat by the next railway bridge. Apparently this is where PC Andrew Harper was killed a couple of weeks ago.

A top up of water at Tyle Mill, back to slow taps

We rose up to Aldermaston. Here there are four hour moorings, or you can pay to stay overnight next to the hire base. This is where NB Waiouru was brought to be fitted out after Tom and Jan managed to get their boat out of the hands of their first builder. Today a couple of marquees filled the yard, making a suitable space to paint in, voices could be heard from within. Out on the water a very short boat was having work done, the size of it’s solar panel was almost bigger than itself.

Aldermaston Lift Bridge

I walked up to the lock to open a bottom gate and then back to Aldermaston Lift Bridge. Key of power turned, I waited for a gap in traffic then pressed the first button. This set sirens and flashing lights into operation. Then with the barriers down I pressed the lift bridge button. One press was all that was needed, up it went. Lines of traffic now building up in both directions. As soon as Oleanna was through I held the close button to finish the process.

Another crinkle cut lock

Now it’s all very well there being traffic lights to aid the traffic flow across such bridges, but it doesn’t half make it hard to count how many you’ve held up! Twenty two one way and ten or maybe more the other. Were the last few cars just arriving and managing to get through with the others? I did my best to count on the way to the lock.

Which one is correct?

Aldermaston Lock is 7ft 4 deep and the cill is visible when the lock is empty. But when full which is the correct marker on the side of the lock?

This is where our route planner had us stopping for the day. There was nowhere obvious to stop so we continued. The railway, which will be our shadow for sometime, came close and then drifted away, a low edge with a couple of boats moored and some space. We tried pulling in. I managed to hop off, but the back end wasn’t coming in. I hopped back on again, we’d carry on, so I took a comfort break and bobbed to the loo.

As it says

Outside I could hear a lady suggesting to Mick that it was a touch deeper by her boat the one in front. She was quite insistent that he tried again, she held the centre line as he brought Oleanna a few inches closer. We were mooring with our new neighbour. We chatted away, her lercher dog being watched all the time by Tilly from the window. A parting comment from the lady was that she’d named her boat after the book she wrote ‘The Black Cat’. Of course this was checked out and a familiar name popped onto the computer screen. Edgar Allen Poe, but also Jenny Maxwell. Jenny makes many comments on Facebook groups and is a member of Cats on the cut. She very sadly lost her cat Murphy earlier in the year, he was run over.

Our first gang plank mooring, it won’t be the last

Along the K&A there has been a spate of break ins. Jenny is putting together a campaign to help boaters deter such acts. If you are on the K&A and hear five short blasts from a boat horn, join in, hopefully others will join in too. If the button for your horn is outside airhorns are now available from chandlers along the canal, so you can have one by your bed. Houses in areas which have been targeted will have letters put through their doors to inform them and Jenny is hoping to get the police on board with it too.

Quite good trees

We settled down for an afternoon listening to the cricket, some model making for me and some climbing trees and friend finding for Tilly. She managed to stay out past curfew, but popped out from the friendly cover at just gone 7.

Three Dans

5 locks, 4.39 miles, 4 swing bridges, 1 lift bridge, 42 held up, 1 blocked elsan, 1 full water tank, 1 black cat, 5 hours, 3 Dans, 1 cyc, 10 sleepers.

Gongoozeltastic. 4th September

Fobney Lock to Theale Swing Bridge

To celebrate being back on a canal Mick set to work this morning to make the most of the supplies we’d purchased at Meatmaster in Oxford. Breakfast!

Yummy!

Each time the huge Fobney Lock was being filled Oleanna would gradually list, recovering after a short while. A couple of boats came past us before we were ready to push off, we could tell another was on it’s way, maybe we’d have a boat to share locks with. But as we pushed off we could see that we were being followed by a widebeam, no chance of sharing with them.

Quite an audience

Approaching Southcote Lock we could hear the chatter of kids behind the sideways trees on the off side, glimpses of high viz too. A school class crossed over the footbridge and all lined up as we were coming in to tie up and set the lock. ‘What colour is the boat?’ ‘Blue’ ‘Red’ ‘Well yes, but what sort of blue?’ We were inspiration for a poem the class was writing. Then another class appeared over the bridge, followed by another. In the end we had 90 gongoozlers watching us go through the lock. A record for us, apart from maybe at Camden Lock where it’s hard to count.

Thank you

The crew from the wide beam came up to help and we were soon on our way leaving them to close up behind us. Slow progress past moored boats, after a month on the Thames this seemed to be very slow.

At Garston Lock there was a boat about to come down. I headed up to lend a hand. One of the top gates was swinging open, the chap was running to the bottom gate to try to catch it by opening one of the paddles, but it had gone too far, so needed some assistance. The paddle was whipped up, he’d not seen that Mick was below who was now battling with the force of the water pushing Oleanna all over the shop.

Turf sided lock

Once they were clear we were on our own. Our first turf sided lock. An early form of pound lock, there used to be twenty of them between Newbury and Reading, only two remain. The lower part of the chamber has timber sides, then above the water sloping turf banks. They were cheap to build but fell out of favour as the width of them made it hard to get on and off boats. Today a metal frame helps hold your boat in the centre. A ladder leads to a walkway above the turf sides, both ends of the lock are brick where the gates are hinged.

Rope around the post

With no bollards along the sides of the lock to pass the centre line over we looked round. There is a bollard roughly where our bow line was and a very large post at the bottom gates. We decided to adopt the River Wey method and tied the stern rope around this post, which would stop Oleanna from moving forward as the chamber filled. With ground paddles rather than gate paddles the level rose in a gentle fashion. Once up and out we closed the gates and as requested, I lifted the bottom gate paddles to empty the chamber.

A two pill box lock, Garston Lock

Next Sheffield Lock only rising a foot, but an interesting shape with it’s crinkly sides. A chap and dog appeared from nowhere with a windlass in his hand, his dog determined to fall in. ‘I’ll finish up here, go and sort the swing bridge out’ he ordered. I should have thought about it and declined to run ahead, we’re not in a rush. But I walked on ahead key of power in my pocket, would the swing bridge be manual, automated, half and half?

Crinkle cut lock

Two boats were just coming through and I could see that it was automated. The lady closed it up and the traffic started to flow. From behind I could hear the chap with the dog barking something. What was the emergency? It turns out he was shouting for his boats to slow down, no cause for shouting, I thought someone had fallen in or a boat was sinking!

I waited for a gap in the traffic, turned my key and pressed the button. The traffic is controlled by traffic lights on both sides, the bridge only being wide enough for one way traffic. I was slightly alarmed when a van and motorbike came round the corner and crossed the bridge as the flashing lights and siren had started. I took my finger off the button, knowing the process I’d started would stop. I hoped time was built in to get the last vehicles across before the barriers dropped, but you never know. I let them clear and then pressed the button again. The barriers came down and the bridge swung.

Twenty seven vehicles, not a bad number on our first of many swing bridges on the K&A. Mick pulled Oleanna in at the end of the vacant moorings, furthest way from the road for Tilly. She was out straight away exploring, but coming back regularly. With no river bank to pounce from it feels a lot safer. Cat curfew has been brought earlier as the evenings are getting darker, nothing to do with her going AWOL the other night at all!

Sneaky peek at my model

The afternoon I attended to a couple of things for Panto and then did a few hours on my Houdini model. The false proscenium now has a suggestion of decoration and the smaller elements are made too. Only some large chunks of timber to put in and sort the cyc out and it will be ready to photograph and see what the Director and Actor/Writer make of it.

Under instruction with Andy in 2013

This evening we watched Grand Designs, following Andy and Jeanette who run bearBoating build their house on the cliffs of Galloway. Back in October 2013 we did a helmsman course with Andy on NB Molly Moo, picking up any tips we didn’t know about and sleeping in our first cross bed. If ever we’re having hassle pulling in or away from the bank due to wind we do what we call an Andy. We’ve met up with them a few times at Crick boat show since and have always had a good catch up. When our first boat build went wrong and there was a slim possibility that there was a shell somewhere with my name on it, Andy offered to finish it for us. So tonight we had to watch.

4 locks, 1 turf sided, 3.68 miles, 1 swing bridge, 27 held up, 90 gongoozlers, 1 poem, 2 hatch doors, 1 suitcase, 1 chair, 43% smaller, 6:30pm curfew, 1 cliff top house for 3, 28 likes, 23 from Ade.

Working Down the Thames. 1st September

Day’s Lock to Beale Park

Lovely

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.

Wallingford
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.

SORRY!!! 31st August

East Street to Day’s Lock

Sunbathing

Cuppa in bed, breakfasted and ready to cruise we waited for our shopping to arrive. The van pulled up at about 10:45, one smaller pack of something and tins instead of easily stored cartons of chopped tomatoes, but we did get our Saturday newspaper which in the past hasn’t been possible.

Once everything was stowed we were on our way, we’ve only a few days left of our Thames licence so no dawdling. At Osney Lock a rowing four considered joining us to go down, some of the crew were keen, others wanted to wait, so they left it up to the Lockie. They didn’t join us.

To the right today

With a load of washing on we approached Folly Bridge. In the past heading upstream we’ve taken the northern channel, so today Mick went round the southern one instead.

Spikey flowery decorations
What a pile of pooh!

One house on the island has a galvanised or zinc deck with tall plants to match. Then an ornate brick building with niches and what once were white statues, a priest had quite a mound of guano at his feet.

Art class
Are those mountains?

Passing along Christ Church Meadow there was an art class, easels out and paint brushes in hand. One chap was being quite free with his interpretation of the river, with mountainous peaks filling his paper. Passing the rowing clubs we waved farewell to Oxford, we’ll be back mid October.

Boat houses in the sun

The sun vanished and big clouds loomed, I used work as an excuse to duck inside between locks. Iffley Lock was surrounded by noisy geese. No space to stop in the next reach for lunch, so at Sandford we waited for the lock to fill up with boats and then rise before we dropped down, no space there either. Lunch on the move it was.

Ifley Lock

It had started to rain as we approached Abingdon services, we pulled in behind NB Wishbone. Alistair used to follow our Lillyanne blog and then Oleannas whilst he waited for his own boat to be built by Aintree and very nice she looks too. They were having difficulty with the pooh sucky machine so we dealt with everything else before backing up fill with water.

A clean bucket for Mick and myself, a clean box for Tilly and an empty of the yellow water. All rubbish disposed of and a full tank of diesel from a couple of days ago, happy boaters.

NB Wishbone

As we waited for the water to finish filling a small yogurt pot day boat headed towards the lock, the roof drawn over to keep the occupants dry. One chap outside called instructions to the person at the wheel. ‘Left’ ‘Reverse’ ‘Slow Down’ Biff!! ‘Right’ ‘Stop’ ‘No not that way’ Biff!!! Blimey, it was like watching a dodgem car !! BIFF!!

From inside the voice of a young girl started shouting.

‘SORRY WE HIT YOUR BOAT!’

‘SORRY WE BIFFED YOUR BOAT!’

They hadn’t, they’d just hit theirs!

‘SORRY WE DAMAGED YOUR BOAT!’

‘SORRY WE KILLED YOUR BOAT!’

‘SORRY WE SANK YOUR BOAT!’

They were wanting to go down the lock too, they let us go first.

‘SORRY WE KILLED YOU!’

‘SORRY WE KILLED YOU!’

By now I was in hysterics at the bow, unable to chat to the volunteer who was kindly positioning my rope for me. Looking behind the boat was now facing back towards Oxford, then London, then Oxford again. Eventually they made it into the lock, the Lockies held onto their ropes for them, we both descended.

We were out first leaving them to spin round in the lock. So hope they made it back to Oxford in one piece.

Caution crocodile

Onwards, plenty more miles to cover today. Four lads in a couple of canoes asked where Culham Lock Cut was, Mick pointed it to them hopping they’d seen it instead of heading straight on towards the weir. A boat was coming up the lock and paused to buy a licence from the Lock Keeper so we waited. A young girl on her bike cycled down to watch what was happening, we got chatting. lots of interesting questions from her. Her 4 year old brother arrived and said they’d been on a huge cruise ship, much bigger than our boat. By the time the lock was ready for us the lads in their canoes had arrived and shared the lock down. It’s the first time we’ve shared a lock with a crocodile!

Last lock of the day

All these interruptions weren’t helping with my model making, only one more lock, Clifton Lock which we shared with more canoes. All along this stretch the view has changed. Two weeks ago three of Didcot Power Station chimneys stood holding their ground, now they are no more, just rubble.

My tree!

We pulled in at a suitable spot above Day’s Lock, lots for Tilly to explore in what was left of the day. She did her best to sort her own Ding Ding out, but that friend was rescued before it was too late.

Another great sunset above Day’s Lock

6 locks, 16.47 miles, 4 boxes wine, 1 newspaper, 3 flavours of houmous, 2 cheese twists, 1 right, 1 wave goodbye, 1 empty wee tank, 1 empty box, 1 empty bucket, 1 full water tank, 1 apologetic young lady, 1 very embarrassed dad or uncle, 360 degrees in a lock, 1 chatty gongoozler, 3 canoes, 1 crocodile, 0 cooling towers, 1 favourite mooring.