Monday 14 October 2019

October 13 - 15 along the Leicester Line to Foxton and Kilby Bridge

Sunday 13 October Long Buckby to Watford Crick, Yelvertoft to Winwick Manor past bridge 26 (10.5 miles, 7 locks)
After a rainy, windy night the rain continued all morning. A couple of hardy boaters braved the heavy torrents. It was noon before we set off the three miles to Watford Locks, past Welton Hythe and Welton Haven marinas, boat outposts in a woody, damp, isolated landscape.
on to the Leicester Line at Norton Junction

Watford Top Lock  the CRT office, services and book swap room are on the left

looking down the Watford flight, which has working side ponds. Will they be repaired at other places like Stoke Bruerne soon?
The Watford staircase locks work in the same way as at Foxton, using side ponds. First you open the red paddle to fill the lower lock from the side pond. Then you open the white paddle to refill the side pond from the next lock up. When the water level in both locks and side pond is equal, you can open the lock gates and move forward into the next lock chamber, then close those gates …... and repeat!

At Watford a narrowboat had already descended and was just finishing at the water point below the bottom lock. They started off, then paused: They had forgotten the tap adaptor, something eveeryone has done at some time! Boats were descending, so Liana booked us in with the lock keeper, who let us go up the first two single locks and wait below the staircase of four locks until two more boats had come down them. We took our time, as always, for safety and because we would have to wait anyway. Once he had helped the boats down, the lock keeper left us to go up ourselves, and went to help an American couple ascend behind us. All went well, apart from the wind blowing gates open again, so John had to hold Annie close by the gates to prevent this, until Liana could open a red paddle and start filling the lock.

Once at the top single lock, John popped ashore to swap a couple of books at the CRT block. Then we bade farewell to the lock keeper and set off under the roar of the M1, past meadows to a favourite mooring spot near bridge 9, then on to Crick tunnel.
under the noisy M1 at Watford

Crick Tunnel
Like Blisworth, this is nice and straight, unlike Braunston tunnel. We passed through with John warbling tunelessly, to find a narrowboat waiting until we had come out. They then found they were stuck on the shallow canal edge! They got off, and we passed the Moorings restaurant and both Crick marinas, noting there were few boats moored along the towpath this time of year. On we went past Crack's hill, noting plenty of wildfowl, through Yelvertoft, where there are now almost twenty boats moored where once there were none. The sun was still almost out, so we carried on until 5pm past Winwick Manor. By bridges 26 and 27 the canal moves North, so you get the morning sun, so we moored here.

Monday 14 October on to Foxton Locks
Alas, there was no sun this morning, just mist, but no rain, thankfully. John rose early and typed this blog. John checked the engine and added oil and water. It's great to have the engine working well again. A kingfisher flew along the canal soon after we started, about 0930. Two small fish actually jumped a foot out of the water as we passed, to John's surprise.

As gentle rain began, John wore his yellow wet weather gear, gloves and Liana passed out an umbrella. Liana could keep warm inside over the fifteen mile summit level before we got to Foxton top lock. She did some housework and read. John had mushroom soup and a ham and cheese sandwich on the move, while Liana steered. We passed moored boats every mile or so, plus a number of boats coming towards us, more than we usually see this time of year.

There were three boats in Husbands Bosworth tunnel (!) coming the other way, so John waited a minute to let the first one come out before we entered, and passed the others slowly and without incident.

We arrived at Foxton top lock as a boat emerged, and were motioned to come in, but Annie pushed a great floating island of weed in front of her into the top lock! John helped the lock keepers haul it out,
We got down the flight of ten staircase locks quickly, helped by the friendly lock keeper. The others were barrowing the weed away!

the weed we helped to extract!

Annie moored beside the Foxton Inn

It was a good job we decided to moor up outside the Foxton Locks Inn for the night, have a coffee and use their wifi. John dead headed the flowers before we entered the pub, to be congratulated on the flowers (again) by diners who had admired Annie's display. The torrential rain started just after we had our first sip of coffee, so we took our time using their wifi, until they closed at 4pm, when we returned for a quiet night in.

Tuesday 15 October Foxton to Kilby Bridge (10 miles, 12 locks)
Today opened cloudy and damp, but not raining, so we set off to travel the five miles including Saddington Tunnel before the five Kibworth locks begin the descent to Kilby Bridge.
Past Debdale Wharf and marina, and the twisty turns around Smeeton Aqueduct, we sang our way through the half mile long Saddington Tunnel, thankfully free of drips. We saw no bats, which are purported to live there.
Saddington Tunnel looks straight but wobbles about!
At Kibworth, some lock gates were hard work to move, and some paddles were also tough to raise: John got off the boat to open and close gates where possible. One or two needed us both to move them!
The farm near Taylor's Lock was still set up with fancy tan wigwams, used as a characterful wedding venue for the last several years, with its scenic lockside location.
Add caption
the riverside fields below the canal were flooded

so much water was running off the land, the lock bywashes couldn't cope, so water was flooding over the top gates

lots of bricks missing here
Once through the three locks at Newton Harcourt and the final four locks, we passed the Navigation pub and moored on the 14 day moorings opposite the services. As we had SIX bags of washing, we ordered an Uber taxi to get to family in Leicester, rather than take the bus!

Thursday 17 October the Soar is flooding
The river is nine inches above Norman maximum at Pillings lock. This lock is closed because of debris, apparently, sonde September. I guess it will be closed due to flooding, too. We have driven to Zouch where the flood gates are closed. We couldn’t see the red lights or red amber green level strip so far, but the towpath is flooded below Zouch Lock. There is nothing about this on CRT stoppages, and they haven’t answered my query yet.
Add caption

Zouch weir

October 2 -12 up the Grand Union Canal

October 2 Leicester to Brentford
We had a difficult journey after leaving the car in Leicester. The train was late, there was lots of walking on the tube with few lifts, and the train from Vauxhall was not going to Brentford because of vandalism on the track. We got off at Richmond and caught a bus to Brentford. There, we had a McDonalds meal, followed by a half mile walk to the basin and a quiet night in .... but aren't we lucky to be having such holidays this year in Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and England! Woo hoo!

October 3 Brentford to Bulls Bridge (6 miles, 10 locks)
We squeezed out from behind the widebeam which had breasted up with Annie, bade farewell to Brentford and set off up the ten locks to Southall and Bulls Bridge. There was a huge log, 40cm across and 3 metres long in the second lock, plus loads of rubbish, so we flushed out much rubbish and small branches. John got Annie in beside the big log, which ended up behind her, blocking the bottom gates. We were ok, but Liana rang CRT to alert them. The weather was cool but fine, and we made good time, even though the locks were almost all against us, and got up the “thick” of six Hanwell locks in three hours, and had lunch. After, we completed our final two locks and passed through Southall to the Tesco store moorings at Bulls Bridge, where John squeezed Annie in between two cruisers. We did a big shop in Tescos and had their hot roast chicken and bread for tea. It was a noisy night, with motorbikes, planes, trains and automobiles keeping us both awake at times ,,,,, odd, as last time John slept fine here.

October 4 Bulls Bridge to Rickmansworth (13 miles, 8 locks)
The morning was dry but threatening rain, with a cool breeze. The iconic Nestle factory has been flattened for housing, so there is little left of the old industries here now. We reached Yiewsley and passed Morrisons, then left the long pound and ascended Cowley and Uxbridge locks. At Denham Deep Lock a gentleman came to help us (he was waiting for his Boat Safety Certificate examiner to finish, and was bored). Two more locks saw us at the Coy Carp Vintage Inn, but we didn't stop (no beer October – sob!) until just before Rickmansworth, above Stocker's Lock.

Saturday October 5 Rickmansworth to Kings Langley (7 miles, 12 locks)
After a quieter night, John got up early, made tea and had porridge and banana slices as part of his new leaner regime (sigh). Setting off about 0800, we passed lines of moored boats throughout the day, far more than two year,s ago even. This shows that the (mainly young) people moving onto the water to live in London cheaply have now spread all the way to Brentford and up the Grand Union Canal to the M25 and beyond. Watford has the last station on the Metropolitan Line, so liveaboards can commute easily from here. Kings Langley and Apsley have rail stations too. We have to say that we now travel at slightly more than idling speed, but not enough to move boats. Otherwise, we would take forever, past continuous boats. As many of these boats are not too well maintained, the scenery is worsened, and it has made us think twice about coming down to London again. The boating folk are mainly cheerful and friendly, thankfully, although many are not too aware of the usual boating conventions. Anyway, moan over.
Our first lock, Batchworth, has a lock next to it where the river Chess joins the canal. There are private moorings just above the lock. The next stretch of our trip was along the River Colne until we turn up the River Gade valley, up Mead Lock 80. Just past this we saw the Metropolitan Line pass overhead.
We passed a number of boats coming down the locks, which was a nice change, as we got help to work the stiff mechanisms and heavy gates, thankfully.
Past more boats and near Croxley station, we passed up Common Moor and the pretty Cassio Bridge Lock, the nearest to Watford Metropolitan Line terminus. Cassiobury Park is still one of the prettier parts of the canal hereabouts, as you pass up the next three locks. Between Grove Mill and the ornate white ballustraded bridge 164 is one of our favourite mooring spots. Just after this the pleasant \lady Capel's lock precedes the M25 link road. We filled up with reasonably priced diesel at Bridgewater Boats, just before the two Hunton Bridge locks. The attendant was both friendly and chatty. A local biking family were delighted for their two children to help us through one lock: The boy had ridden into the canal earlier, but was still keen!
Once under the huge high M25 bridge is a good mooring spot, close by the Kings Langley station, where we have left the boat before.
We moored about 2pm above Home Park Mill lock 70, Kings Langley, so we could eat a late tuna sandwich and crisps lunch. Then John watched Liverpool beat Leicester City with a goal in the 95th minute – a close thing!

Monday October 6 Kings Langley, Apsley and Hemel Hempstead to Bourne End (5 miles, 10 locks)
After a wet night, the forecast was better than expected. John checked the prop shaft, plus engine and gearbox oil, changed the air filter. The engine has been vibrating at low revs, plus the revs have kept varying when the throttle is increased – odd. He has tried to alter the throttle cable to adjust the idling speed, and checked the two sedimentation filters for water and blockages, to no avail. He has also added diesel bug killer plus Redex to clear carbon from the engine. The next thing is to change the cartridge fuel filter attached to the engine block, plus try Redex particulate fuel filter cleaner and more Redex to clean out the engine. John's back is not too good, so this will have to wait a few days.
Tuesday October 7 Bourne End to Berkhamsted (3 miles, 8 locks)

Wednesday October 9 Marsworth bridge 129 through Leighton Buzzard to Old Linslade church (9 miles, 12 locks, 1 swing bridge)
John's back is still fragile, so he has to move carefully. The short pound between locks 38 and 37 was empty, so we opened the lock 38 top and bottom paddles and waited half an hour for it to fill the pound below from the mile long pound above. There seemed no obvious reason for this, so we guessed someone had left paddles open, then someone else had closed them, too late. We passed lots of moored boats after lock 37, a boat club and marina before the three Seabrook locks, set in scenic countryside near Cheddington and Ivinghoe. The day improved steadily, blue sky appeared and the sun came out. A tractor scared a small deer into breaking cover and racing across a grass field beside Annie. The locks are more spaced out as you approach Leighton Buzzard, so Liana could rest. A CRT chap helped us through one lock, as he waited for a widebeam CRT workboat which was following us. We had sandwiches and tea on the move.
In Leighton Buzzard we visited Tesco and Aldi, where we managed to spend more than we should! We decided to move on past the three abreast Wyvern Shipping hireboats , through Leighton Lock and moor in the country near Old Linslade Church, away from the railway. Chicken, Ham and Leek pie, mashed potato, peas and gravy went down well. TV reception was poor, so we watched a dvd and read.

Thursday October 10 through Soulbury and Stoke Hammond and Milton Keynes to Cosgrove (17 miles, 6 locks)
It's good to reach open countryside after all the towns. John felt the engine still hunted at higher revs, but was ok otherwise, so determined to change all the fuel filters at the first opportunity, to make sure fuel flow wasn't restricted by sludge or diesel bug: It shouldn't be, as we have put diesel bug treatment in recently. John also put in more Redex to clear carbon from the engine, plus Redex particulate additive, and checked gearbox and engine oil levels.
After a late 1000 start, we travelled down the River Ouzel valley to the three Soulbury locks, Liana catching up on boat cleaning.
Liana began setting the top Soulbury lock when two volunteers appeared. They hadn't seen us, and we were their first boats of the day. They helped us through, Liana getting on board before we left the bottom lock and waved farewell. They were the first volunteers we have seen since the Thames, so we had assumed theyn finished in October. At Stoke Hammond lock we met a Wyvern Shipping hireboat (the first of five today) returning to Leighton Buzzard and helped them up the lock. We saw more boats coming towards us today than we have seen in a week! We also saw two Kingfishers!
The weather was cool, breezy but dry, so we kept going through the tidy parkland and urban sprawl of Milton Keynes, through the scenic Fenny Stratford lock to reach the newly refurbished railway painting and derelict railway works at Wolverley. The weather stayed pleasant, so we continued across the Great Ouse Aqueduct and embankment to Cosgrove lock, ascended it and moored a few hundred yards beyond it, in the village. We ate in and watched England play badly and lose to the Czech Republic: Only Raheem Sterling and goalkeeper Pickford played well.

Friday October 11 Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne (7 miles, 7 locks)
Happy Birthday, Sarah!
It rained all night but was dry this morning, so we set off. Liana caught up with our written log. John nearly crashed the boat while trying to photograph a kingfisher which stayed on a branch as Annie motored past! It was very windy, so this made steering more difficult, too.
The engine was still imperfect, so we stopped at Baxter Boatyard (Kingfisher?) at The Wharf, Yardley Gobion, where the friendly lady and excellent engineer sorted out three fuel filters (we have an extra water separator filter (added before we crossed The Wash), a sedimentation filter plus the usual cartridge filter on the engine).
the standard fuel filter has a smaller bottom pan

Diesel fuel filter (water separator collects H2O at the bottom
He had a look in our engine compartment to make sure we got the right ones – impressive. John made sure no diesel would be spilt into the canal. A white cotton woolly bilge sausage absorbs fuel and oil, but not water.
Stoke Bottom L:ock with services on right
Arriving at Stoke locks, a boater descending helped Liana with the bottom lock. A single hander arrived going our way, so we ascended the first five locks together, but didn't really get into a routine. He moored in the longer pound before the penultimate lock, where water was pouring over the bottom gates as a boat entered from above. Liana and this boater worked together. Once Annie was in and this lock filling, Liana went on to the top lock, to find two boats descending. We swapped with them and ascended the top lock in heavy rain.
Stoke Top Lock

posted at Stoke Bruerne
Once up the locks, we moored not far beyond the museum and the Boat pub, and had a well deserved cheap meal in the Navigation pub. Liana's pie very tasty, with lots of meat and pastry, although this suffered a little from being microwaved, not heated in an oven. John's soup starter, burger and chips and Liana's apple pie pudding were good, also, for the princely sum of £21. We visited the museum shop, where John admired the barrel and horse feeding trough, decorated by our friend who gave us one of his pictures at Worsley (his name will come back to me!!). Work by our other favourite painter, Terence, was also on display. The books for sale are ok, but the best ones for John are on the large secondhand bookshelf: He bought two canal books, “Hold on a minute” by Tim Wilkinson and “Journeys of the Swan” by John Liley.
John fitted the filters and checked one or two fuel pipes for blockages, getting soaked by a cloudburst when half way through!

Saturday 12 October Stoke Bruerne to the New Inn, Long Buckby (16.5 miles, 7 locks)
After breakfast, John could smell diesel, then found one of the filters was dripping fuel. He dismantled it and fitted the rubber seal correctly, but quite a few litres of fuel had been wasted. He used our supply of nappies and rubble sacks to soak it up and Liana disposed of them in nearby skips. He deployed a white “sausage” in the bilge, which soaks up oil and fuel but not water, to avoid polluting the waterway.
Thankfully, the new filters seem to have worked. The engine sounds and works much better, so the old filters must have been blocked.
Blisworth Tunnel
We passed NB Scruffy Fox in Blisworth Tunnel. The poor chap asked us to switch off our tunnel light, which was dazzling him, which we did: First time we have ever been asked to do that! The light is still the old fashioned type, which I was thinking of replacing, but it is obviously bright enough! Liana had adjusted the lamp so it was aimed forward at the ceiling, so we were surprised the gentleman had a problem. We have been dazzled by bright new lamps shining horizontally in tunnels, so we know the problem, however.

Blisworth Marina, Gayton

NB Hawk at Nether Heyford, an idyllic spot

the new road bridge North of Weedon. It has a memorial bench to one of its engineers beneath

After passing through Blisworth and emptying loo holding tanks at Gayton Junction services, we continued along the quiet, scenic fifteen mile pound to Whilton Marina. We spotted a boat entering the bottom lock, so Liana managed to get off and have a chat, and they waited for us at the second lock. This boater had his elderly mum with him, so he was essentially single handed, but we worked well together to get up all seven Buckby locks very efficiently: Liana opened the bottom gates, started one top paddle filling once we were in, then walked up to set the next one. Our companion nimbly use the lock ladder, helped and then closed the top gates before catching up with Annie at the next lock up.

there are some lovely houses and gardens at long Buckby

Liana operating the Top Lock, Long Buckby, by the New Inn, where we ate
skilled boater we ascended Buckby Locks with (sorry I didn't get your name)
We all moored up for the night near Norton Junction. We chose to eat pies at the New Inn, after which we had a quiet night in.
ready for tea at the New Inn!

September 22 - 30 Scottish holiday

September 22 - 30 Scottish holiday
It was strange to be home again,but we managed to see some friends before we set off for Scotland. We took the chance to stay overnight with nephew Carson and Emma and their boys near Edinburgh, on the way up. It was great to catch up. It reminded me what commitment and hard work it is looking after a young family and lots of horses. On our way to the Forth Bridge, we popped in to the popular Picnic Coffee Shop at South Queensferry, where Emma works.
Liana and the famous Forth rail bridge

the older and new Forth road bridges

Queensferry is an interesting town in the shadow of the Forth Bridges

Emma, her Italian boss and the girls get rave revues from customers for their coffee and Scottish Italian dishes

Daughter Joanna, fresh back from Australia, had booked a cottage for us, Mark and his parents, for a week near the Cairngorms. It was relaxing and lovely to visit local places together, including Aberdeen, around Banchory and Crathes Castle, where we could use our English NT cards! Liana and Jo climbed around the high ropes course!

On the way back, we stayed several days in Glasgow with Liana's cousin Aileen and John, and saw their two daughters, Fiona and Ailee, and their young families, which was great fun. We also saw her lovely aunt Nan and her two sons, cousin Steve and partner Geri, plus cousin John and partner Heather, for a convivial evening, enjoyed by all.

September 13 down the Tidal Thames to Brentford and the London Ring

Friday September 13 - 21 from Shepperton through Teddington Lock and down the tidal Thames to Brentford (16 miles, 6 locks)
We woke at 0900 to bright sunshine, so walked Honeypie across the park to Shepperton high street and had good coffee and pain au raisin again at Mocha D. Saying farewell to the two chaps on NB Clara (one had lived on her for 34 years), we motored steadily downriver, enjoying the sun with John taking photos of interesting scenes, houses, boats, etc. We soon reached Sunbury Lock, behind a widebeam which overtook us as we approached the lock. They moored and the lady waved John on, he thought – he was wrong! She had words with Liana. They were clearly in a hurry! She gave the lock keeper a mouthful too, he told me.
There were lots of craft of all types on the river, including workboats and tugs towing cranes. John had to keep a careful eye on things. We caught up with the widebeam at Molesey Lock, after which it zoomed off again. We passed the imposing Mississippi Paddle Steamer at Hampton Court. Thames Ditton and Kingston upon Thames passed by, with John choosing which side of the various islands to travel. At Kingston the Mississippi paddle steamer passed us and the widebeam went through the town bridge and turned 180 degrees upriver again ….. not sure why they were rushing earlier!
Reaching Teddington about 2pm, we checked in with the lock keepers (High Tide 3.30 so leave at 3pm), then walked to the nearby Anglers pub and had beer / coffee.
We locked down with a widebeam hotelboat and cruiser, and John soon passed a tug hauling a floating crane. There were plenty of small boats, canoes, paddle boats, cruisers and trip boats about, plus long row boats being craned into the water at NT Ham House, Twickenham, for a weekend boat race. The huge imposing red brick building at Richmond is the Star & Garter Home for injured service personnel.
After Twickenham Bridge, Richmond Lock was being worked on. It is VERY unusual, as there are three arches beside the lock, which have sluices across to raise the water level of the river between Richmond and Teddington – except 2 hours before and after high tide, when they are raised high above, so we were able to pass through the arch beside the lock (on the right going downstream, which seemed correct). The arches have two orange lights glowing when sluices are raised.
Isleworth has another huge island. Syon House is a NT mansion on the left as you approach Brentford.
John couldn't contact Brentford Lock using two numbers supplied, so passed Brentford Marina and turned sharply into the lock cut, which is barely a trickle at low tide, but deep now. The lock keeper spotted us and opened the gates as we approached. We were soon up the second electrically operated lock (using a CRT key) and moored in the basin. John sorted the boat, watered the flowers and emptied loo holding tanks while Liana prepared a tasty pasta Bolognese, and the girls on the boat next door squealed as they messed about! Liana chatted to newly returned daughter Jo, and later to her mum Flo – all well with them both, happily.

Saturday 14 September Brentford to Bulls Bridge (6 miles, 10 locks)

Sunday 15 September Bulls Bridge to Alperton (7 miles, 0 locks)

Monday 16 September Alperton to near Victoria Park (10 miles, 6 locks)

Tuesday 17 September stopped above Mile End Lock (2 miles, 2 locks)
Min, John, Angela and Liana at Old Ford Lock, East London

liana, Angela and Eleanor

Wednesday 18 September Mile End to Limehouse and up the Thames to Kingston (25 miles, 7 locks)

mile end to Limehouse and Thames (1.5 miles, 5 locks)
Limehouse to Brentford 17 miles 0 locks
Brentford to Kingston 7 miles 2 locks

Thursday 19 September Kingston to Laleham (11 miles, 4 locks)

Friday 20 September Laleham to Teddington (13 miles, 4 locks)
We moored just before the charged moorings, against a good concrete and grass riverside, using pins.

Saturday 21 September Teddington to Brentford (5 miles, 4 locks)
We had an early start at 0615, to catch the 0700 ebb tide from Teddington! Richmond Lock was bypassed again, as the sluices are raised for two hours each side of high tide there)

By 0830 we were through Brentford Thames Lock and passing through the Gauging Lock into the basin, where we used the services and moored under the historic shed roof (which was missing!). It took an hour to sort the boat out before all four of us took the train into Waterloo, the tube to Paddington, then train to Oxford. There, we walked to Norman's car at a friend's house, and drove to Leicester to our own car and daughter Sarah, who made us a delicious tea of Dim Sum, which was an interesting and tasty new experience.

September 7 - 12 the River Wey

Saturday September 7 up the River Wey Shepperton to water meadows above Newark Lock
The park setting was handy for HP, quiet and closer to Shepperton village high street. We found the park busy with folk preparing for 6000 walkers to arrive in an hour for a Thames Walk event. We popped into town for a good coffee and pain chocolat.

Sunday September 8 from above Newark Lock Pyrford to meadows at Guildford
Monday September 9 Guildford to Godalming ( 4.5 miles, 3 locks)
It is a grassy, quiet and scenic mooring here with views across the cattle pasture to the old castle seated high above.
Tuesday September 10 Godalming to Guildford (5 miles, 4 locks)
We walked into Godalming to see Theresa at Ballet Hoo, and she was there! Luckily, we were able to see both her and her littlest girl, Tahlia, as well, before a big order arrived. Big sister Alexia has just started infants, so all parents know how busy life is at this stage. After coffee in a dog-friendly cafe, we set off to the nearby services, then on downriver to the first lock, Cattershall, at Farncombe, which was set against us. Liana walked with HP to Unstead Lock and St Catherine's Lock, enjoying the sun. We all cruised to Guildford after this, passing our previous mooring place and noticing the white chalk cliffs beyond the cattle pasture.
We passed through Millmead Lock and moored just after, by the White House pub, as there was a small park for Honeypie, with cute statues of Alice and the White Rabbit. The land was level with Annie's roof though, so we had to lift HP up and down. Friend Michele arrived, and we ate at the nearby George Abbot (once Archbishop of Canterbury about 1600) pub, which was cheaper, had very helpful staff and provided good pies. We had a good chat and catchup session.
Wednesday September 11 from the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in Guildford to the Anchor Inn at Pyrford
Windy, but the sun shone through the fast moving black clouds. We had a walk into Guildford and admired the old buildings and upmarket shops in the High Street. There were loads of estate agents selling one bed flats for lots. There wasn't much choice for coffee shops, so we went back to the boat for a Danish pastry and coffee. Reaching Dapdune Wharf, we had to search for the National Trust Office, which we found in a house down the road! We paid for extending the license from three days to a week, with 10% reduction for being NT members. The Wey was quiet, but we met two oncoming boats at Stoke Lock, and had a pleasant chat.
Thursday September 12 Pyrford to Shepperton

August 23 - September 6 down the Thames from Oxford

Friday August 23 Oxford to below Abingdon Lock (8.5 miles, 5 locks)
Noisy revving College Cruiser hire boats woke us up! The boater behind helped Ali and Liana with the lock. Descending Isis Lock, John managed to turn Annie 180 degrees without using the mooring pontoon, as there was hardly any current. Under the rail bridge, we entered the main river channel and soon arrived at Osney Lock, enjoying the view. The keeper was busy, so asked us to get our license at the next lock. Most of the locks are about three miles apart on the middle Thames. Leaving Oxford behind, we soon reached Iffley Lock, above which we moored by a wedding venue and got a week's license for £68 (more if over 60 feet). We enjoyed our leisurely cruise in the sun, with only a bit of rope holding in the locks. We stopped for lunch at the Kings Arms, above Sandford Lock, in a favourite scenic setting. After using the services above Abingdon Lock, we took the lockie's advice, so both Annie and the narrowboat we locked down with, moored on the last two spaces in the meadow, just after the lock. While we fixed all seven pins in, Ali finished the stew and baked potatoes with peas for a tasty meal. Liana won at Settlers of Catan, after which we watched Downton Abbey bonus material and then an episode, before bed. Mooring by lock weirs is a little noisy but pretty.

Saturday August 24 Abingdon lock to North Stoke near old ferry (16.5 miles, 4 locks)
Woke early. After visiting the loo, John noticed the sun was shining through a small gap in the rear doors, creating an inverted camera obscura image of morning sun and trees on our headboard! We are taking our time, enjoying the scenery, as we have a week to travel down to Teddington and back to the River Wey, where we will need a special National Trust license. We are told that we cannot ascend Deepcut Locks on the Basingstoke Canal due to water shortage, sadly, but we can travel 20 miles up the Wey to Guildford and beyond. Past Abingdon Marina, Wilts & Berks Canal junctions (maybe one day …), we passed meadows and bosky tree-lined banks to Clifton Lock. For a change, we turned up the weir channel to Pendon, where we moored and walked around the village. John visited the excellent model railway museum, surprising for a small village, which had some massive displays, worked by enthusiasts. Even though it is not a big interest, John enjoyed it. We motored on in the sun, through Day's lock at Little Wittenham and under Shillingford's stone bridge. The moorings were all taken above and below the bridge. Through Benson and Wallingford the Bank Holiday crowd filled the moorings, so we carried on in the evening to find a decent bankside mooring just after North Stoke, near the site of the old ferry. We played the game again and qatched Downton.

Sunday August 25 North Stoke to Beale Park (7 miles, 2 locks)
In lovely sunshine we set off. Liana and Ali hung towels from the cratch to protect themselves from the sun. They completed the two locks at Cleeve and Goring easily, just holding ropes. It was soooo hot that we stopped early. We moored bankside at Beale Park, clearing up half a bag of rubbish from the grass. We walked near the park itself, but did not enter, as it was nearly closing time, and we have been before. We spotted unused and neglected floating mooring pontoons in a lake off the river, which seemed a waste. It was still hot, so we had food on board, played the game and watched an episode of Downton.

Monday August 26 Beale Park to Reading (River Kennet) (9.5 miles, 4 locks)
Not up early, and Ali was last up, unusually..... so cuppa needed, but no gas! The new bottle didn't work, so we thought we had been sold an empty bottle. We used the microwave to boil water for tea. We bought a new bottle from Reading Marine (£35). Lifting bottles onto the high quay, John realised that our duff bottle did contain gas, so we kept it for the moment. They had no diesel due to flooded tanks, so we continued to Caversham Cruisers to get 50 litres of diesel (it was 99p @ 0%!). It was a struggle to moor in Reading, as our usual moorings now showed green signs demanding £100, clearly designed to frighten off moorers! We found a mooring just before the red light downstream of the Gut river narrows, and visited the town for supplies.

Tuesday August 27 Reading to Hallsmead Alt near Shiplake House School (4.5 miles, 2 locks)
Today is car moving day, so Liana and Alison took the train to Heyford via Oxford – an hour or more, but very busy – Ali had to stand. John bought Simpsons pyjamas from Primark, then needed help to get out of a huge shopping centre! The girls had a beer at Morse's The Boat at Thrupp, while they ate their sandwiches, after which Ali drove home and Liana returned to Reading. Parking was difficult, so Liana paid, had lunch, then took our neighbouring boater's advice and found a spot near the Jolly Angler, close by Blake's Lock. Liana joined John at the lock. We passed on to the main river and through Sonning Lock to Shiplake. It was third time lucky finding a mooring on one of the two islands, Hallsmead Alt and The Lynch, by Shiplake House School. One such attempt was given up as too many branches needed to be removed! We got soaked as we were tieing Annie up to trees on the other side of the island. It was good to dry off, have leftovers for tea and watch Downton.

Wednesday August 28 Hallsmead Alt to Henley-on-Thames (Henley Reach) (5 miles, 2 locks)
Poor Liana coughed all night and woke up feeling so so. We set off from the island about 0900, passed Shiplake House School and stopped at the services before Shiplake Lock to take on water and empty loo holding tanks again. The “Millionaire's Mansions” at Wargrave and Lower Shiplake are really something! Again, the scenery is beautiful. Later, we looked in the estate agents in Henley-on-Thames to see them valued at £5 million plus! Below Marsh Lock we spotted a fuel boat at the visitors moorings, so filled up with 127 litres @ 96p, still much dearer than off the Thames. The river is sooooo scenic around here. Passing under the town bridge, we moored on the west bank on Henley Reach, where the regatta is held. A boat soon arrived to claim the £10 mooring fee. It is a pleasant walk across the grass towards town, where there are plenty of interesting buildings and shops. Beautiful flower planters and hanging baskets were everywhere. There is clearly money around here. Even a 2 bed terrace was for sale at £475k. We relaxed and had afternoon tea in the Cafe Chocolat, then chilled at the boat and had sausages for tea.

Thursday August 29 Henley-on-Thames to below Marlow lock (8 miles, 4 locks)
Another beautiful, sunny morning, with hot sun but cool air and plenty of dew on the grass. We breakfasted while loads of scullers rowed past, then did a bit of blog and diary before setting off. Past the colonnaded temple on Temple Island, we passed riverside meadows to Hambleden Lock, near which Midsomer Murders is filmed. Large houses like Culham court, Medmenham Abbey and Danesfield Hotel dominate the skyline above the river on these scenic reaches. We shared Hurley, Temple and Marlow locks with quiet electric craft and grp cruisers. Motors must be switched off and boats roped fore and aft in all these locks, to safeguard smaller vessels. The views are so pretty every day along the Thames!
Mooring on free visitor moorings below Marlow Lock, we repeated yesterday and walked into town along the Thames Path. Burgers tea shop did decent coffee and lovely scones. Later, we had mince and tatties, then watched England women soccer v Belgium on tv.

Friday August 30 Marlow Lock to Boveney Lock (12 miles, 4 locks)
The moorings below Marlow Lock were ok. Poor Liana was coughing most of the night, so didn't sleep well. Setting off about 1000, we passed under the Marlow ring road bridge, beneath Quarry Wood (the inspiration for the Wild Wood for Graham), past the rugby club fields to Gibraltar Island. The riverside houses are pretty spectacular and varied. Bourne End Reach and its meadows were busy with boats of all kinds, including a sailing boat John used his sailing knowledge to anticipate and avoid. Bourne End and Cookham had more expensive properties vying for approval. The two lock keepers at Cookham Lock sorted out a new week license for £68, which should see us to the River Wey. They confirmed that we should be able to get a transit license from Wey to Teddington Lock, onto the tidal Thames, for around £10, thankfully.
Cliveden Reach has NT owned Cliveden House on its hilly North side, hidden by trees. Once it was the home of the Astor sisters, 1930s Nazi sympathisers, then the scene for the Christine Keeler 1960s scandal. We passed by Maidenhead's fringes through Boulter's Lock, past numerous moorings and boatyard, under the Great West Road A4 and railway. At Bray, we passed the famous Waterside (Roux brothers)and The Fat Duck (Hester Blumenthal) restaurants …. no, we couldn't copy friends who have tried them!
Once through Bray Lock, we passed under the M4. All day we have seen planes taking off from Heathrow Airport. Bray Marina charge 123p/l for diesel and 163p for petrol! The rather grand Oakley Court hotel had lots of visitors in its grounds, enjoying the sun. We had a sandwich to keep us going until 8pm, when our daughter Rachel is expected with Honeypie. After the busy Windsor Marina we had hoped to moor at good free 24hr , by Dorney Lake moorings by Boveney Chapel, but they were full. Rachel will have to park here and walk down to Boveney Lock, where we have paid £10 for overnight moorings on the lock island, in the large pool below the weir, opposite Windsor racecourse. Lots of trip boats turn here before returning to Windsor with their passengers.
We walked up to the Chapel to meet Rachel and Honeypie, then we all returned to Annie for a meal and game of Settlers of Catan, which Liana sneaked a victory from John (rats!).
Saturday August 31 with Rachel and Chrissy around Windsor
Liana walked Honeypie from Boveney Lock to Windsor Bridge, where we picked up Rachel's friend Chrissy near Windsor Bridge.

Leaving Sainsbury at Staines, the girls made up tea with nice crusty bread, cheeses, olives and pate. We passed up Bell Weir Lock, then got well stuck in the shallows By Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club, fooled by a nice looking grassy meadow shore. It took a lot of rocking, pole pushing, reversing and tiller waving to get us off, after which we went back to the decent 24 hour moorings we had just passed! After tea, we played the game again and chatted. John recorded Match of the Day.
Sunday September 1
Monday September 2 Windsor Baths Island to free moorings near Chertsey Meads Marine (12.5 miles, 5 locks)
We walked Honeypie around Baths Island and beyond, admiring the full size Hurricane mounted twenty feet high in the park. The walk to Eton College over Windsor Bridge is just under a mile. The Eton shops were interesting, and most still kept their Victorian and Edwardian shop fronts. There were three tailors selling tails, pinstriped trousers and waistcoats etc to the young Etonians. We walked on the sports fields of Eton, along a right of way, and John photographed Honeypie at the Eton College entrance.
Setting off, John took Annie through the narrow passage between island and shore, to see the decent moorings there (£10 a night), then we headed downstream, through Windsor Bridge and around the Windsor Castle Home Park (public), then under Victoria Bridge to the private parkland, with cattle and excellent views of the Castle.
After Old Windsor Lock, we soon reached Runnymede again, through woodland edged country, past Magna Carta Island and the Memorials, to Bell Weir Lock.
At Staines, we moored outside the Swan Hotel, and John sat outside with Honeypie (they are dog friendly but it was sunny), enjoying a beer, while Liana shopped at Sainsburys. Through Staines you see a wide variety of riverside homes, from houseboats, chalets and bungalows to richer fare, often supported on round piles to avoid flood damage. After Penton Hook Lock, we found the moorings at Laleham to be full (home of the Lucan family: His Lordship was out), and the meadow riverside after the campsite was marked as shallow in the Imray Thames guide, so we continued under the M3 through Chertsey Lock. We moored on concrete piling free 24h moorings, half a mile below Chertsey Bridge, close to NB Rebellion, which had made the same trip today. John finally watched Saturday's Match of the Day.

Tuesday September 3 Chertsey to Hampton Court and by train to London (7.5 miles, 3 locks)
It was less than a mile to Shepperton Lock and the confluence with the River Wey, where we will go later this week, once our Thames license runs out on Friday. The shorter Desborough cut avoiding Shepperton is straight but boring: We must take the long route next time. There are loads of house boats and riverside chalets alonf here, plus two marinas and a big EA maintenance yard., before Sunbury Lock. Riverside trees hide the lakes adjoining the river, but you can choose which way to pass some of the islands on the way to Hampton Court Lock, near which there is a useful rail link to London.
Joanna used Whatsapp to make a video call from Bali on our Iphone, looking very brown.
There are good moorings downstream of the bridge next to Hampton Court, free for 24 hours and £8 for a second day, payable on line using the notice at the moorings. We had a pleasant long walk with Honeypie in the park, after which we caught the hourly train from Hampton Court station, next to Hampton Court Bridge. We had invitations to attend the British Medical Association Medical Book Awards 2019 at BMA House in London, with drinks before and meal after: Joanna being in Bali, had us attend in her place. We met Clare Boomer of Scion Publishing. There were about 100 books shortlisted out of 600, in various categories. Joanna had six books in her category, Anaesthesia, which came first …... and she won! We both shrieked “Oh my God!” (sorry, God), which prompted the presenter to comment on the exciting start! Clare went up to receive the award. Scion's other entry won the Young Author award. We whatsapped and texted the family, but Jo was fast asleep in Bali, ringing us about 10pm when she woke up at 5am Bali time!
We celebrated on the boat and watched the last episode of Downton Abbey series five before a late bedtime.

Wednesday September 4 at Hampton Court (0 miles, 0 locks)
After our exciting time in London we chilled today, having a walk into the town and around the park next to Hampton Court. We wished Happy Birthday to sister Dianne and friend Andrew. After a nap, we left Honeypie on the boat and visited Hampton Court shop and gardens. Liana bought “Six Wives, the queens of Henry VIII” by Richard Starkey and we got a guide to read before we visit tomorrow morning.

Thursday September 5 Hampton Court to Teddington Lock (4.5 miles, 0 locks)
John walked to the formal gardens which should be open 0900-1000, but they weren't, as construction of tents etc for a car event were going on, sadly. So he looked over the kitchen garden before joining Liana and Honeypie in the park, before we all went for another coffee and pain chocolat over the bridge. Setting off downriver, we passed several islands full of small houses and chalets, as well as others on the shore, plus a few grander residences. Several passenger steamers passed us, bearing the late season tourists, as we travelled the few miles to Teddington Lock, with its three locks, the biggest being 650 feet long!
The lock keepers at Teddington were friendly and helpful: We intend to go back upriver and spend a few days on the Wey, then descend Teddington Lock and go to Brentford on Tuesday (12.30 departure, half hour before high tide), or 1330 on Wednesday.

Friday September 6 Hampton Court to Shepperton

 We moored back on our favoured mooring at the park close to the Shepperton, ready to move across the river to the River Wey next day.