Thursday, 15 July 2021

Back to work

I set off at 7.30 with a cup of tea and a cereal bar at the helm. It’s only a mile back to the marina so I was soon turning in and reversing into our space — all done with no difficulty (which was just as well as the lady next door was there). As I tied up, the marina ducklings came to visit, now growing their adult feathers.

That mile was enough to heat some water for a shower, and after packing up I got changed for work. I drove down to Guildford to get a train into London. 

1 mile, 0 locks. (4 miles, 0 locks)

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Lancashire and Yorkshire

It has been a very long day.  It started at 6am with a 20 minute walk along the towpath to the marina, where the car was.  I drove to Bicester, filled up with fuel, and picked up Andy and all his photographic clobber.  It was then a three hour drive up the M6 to Reedley Marina in Lancashire for a boat test.

Once that was done, we headed east, across the border first into North Yorkshire and then West Yorkshire to Apperley Bridge Marina for a second boat test.  En route we passed the Damart factory chimney which is right beside the canal, and saw signs for the Bingley 5 Rise locks, and Saltaire.

It was 5.30 by the time that one was done, and another three hour drive down the M1 to Bicester, to drop Andy at his car.  I filled up with petrol again, then went to get some chips from the chippy in one of the new developments there.  Then it was back to the marina, and another 20 minute walk back to the boat.  There was a spectacular sunset to look at as I walked, which looked best from the cornfield alongside the boat.

In total, I’ve driven about 430 miles, which is more than 8 hours at the wheel.  Plus a few boat miles along two sections of the Leeds and Liverpool canal about 40 miles apart.

Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Through the hedge

I have some boat tests tomorrow, so came up to the boat this afternoon.  It was too nice to stay in the marina with boats either side, so I set off at 4pm and turned left.  I justified the trip because I need a tank of hot water, so I might as well make it by going for a jaunt.


I turned around at Baxter’s Boatyard and retraced my steps.  The place I have often stopped between Bridge 61 and 62 was quite busy, so I’ve come through Bridge 62, past a couple of boats, and moored at a spot I’d taken note of on the way past.  I have lined up the galley window with a gap in the hedge, where a public footpath goes off the towpath.


The wheat and barley round here is well on the way to ripening, as you can see.  I’d been intending to have my dinner and then return to the marina, but Google tells me is’t just over 20 minutes walk, so I’ll just get up a little bit earlier in the morning and walk back to the car.

3 miles, 0 locks.

Narrowboats on the Thames

On Saturday, I’d been told that a convoy of narrowboats would be doing the Thames tideway, having got special permission to go under Hammersmith Bridge.  As I was working that afternoon, I timed my arrival at Waterloo Station so I could see some of them.  The convoy was in three parts, and I knew I’d miss the first group, but as I arrived on the South Bank I could see the middle group arriving.  I went up onto the Golden Jubilee Footbridge to take some photos.


There was then a wait of 15 minutes or so before the final group, which was the one I was waiting for.  On schedule, the first boat turned up, and it was only a matter of time before Oleanna came into view under the railway bridge.

I waved at Pip and Mick, then went to the other side of the bridge to get them with the London Eye.  There were lots of trip boats, clippers, and ribs on the move, and the Thames was very choppy.  There were waves coming over the bow, the boat was rocking back and forth, and the swell meant you could see almost down to the base plate.  I got a photo of Pip taking a photo of me!




The convoy headed off towards Westminster Bridge, and I went to work.  You can read Pip’s account of the whole trip here.



Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Winifred on test

The August Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test on Winifred, a 1980s hire boat completely refitted by Jim Birch. 

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Flaming June?: Day 3

We had a lovely evening with Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew last night.  During the evening, the three Gayton hire boats which had apparently been turned around, came past — at a speed which made big waves in the long pound, and had the boat bobbing up and down long after they had disappeared.  Shortly after the family had left, I had a call from Nigel asking me to bring a windlass down, as the locks down the flight had gates and paddles open.  One pound was a couple of feet down.  While the family shut the gates, I closed the paddles and then ran some water into the low pound.

It was fairly murky when we set off at just after 8.30 this morning.  We knew a boat was going down in front as we’d seen them a while before, so the first locks needed turning.

We did meet a couple of boats coming up.  One of the locks has a good crop of cow parsley growing on the bottom gates.

The familiar plod back to the marina went by without incident, although it did begin the drizzle a bit.  The lapwings were in the same field where I saw them on Friday, and this time I managed a heavily zoomed photo.

The turn back into the marina and then into our berth went well.  We were back by 11.30, so did the packing up, had an early lunch, and headed for home at 12.30.

5 miles, 5 locks.  (20 miles, 14 locks)

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Flaming June?: Day 2

Dry this morning, and we set off about 9.30.  Two hire boats from Gayton had already come down and there was a third at the bottom lock, with four guys with cans, and Bob Marley blaring out of a speaker.  At the lock by the A308 there’s a big pipe under the road.  This has always been here, it’s just that it used to be under the towpath on that side.

We made steady progress up the locks, and at the penultimate one we met two boats coming down, one of which was a Grand Union hire boat.  Steve Furniss was also there, showing his customers how to work the locks, so we had a good chat.

We met Mike from the trip boat at the top lock, then went through the tunnel.  We’d had a notice about tree down at the far end, passable with caution.  It turned out to be one of the most pathetic fallen trees we’ve seen — almost indistinguishable from the normal offside vegetation.

At Gayton Junction we turned down the arm and stopped at the marina for a gas bottle — having already checked they had one, as there seems to be a shortage.  The price, £32.45 seemed pretty good to me.  One of the staff asked if we’d seen three of their boats that they’d been having complaints about and had called the police on.  We went down to the winding hole about the top Rothersthorpe Lock and ted around, retracing our steps.  We have come down two locks to the long pound, and Catherine and Co are coming to see us this evening.

10 miles, 9 locks.  (15 miles, 9 locks)