Wednesday, 31 August 2011


We have turned in the homeward direction which is very sad...however we have a few weeks left.
As we left our mooring in Christchurch Meadows there was plenty of activity on the water.  The fences in the background are round the Reading Festival site.   I saw the site from the train on Monday still with what seemed like thousands of tents and a huge amount of rubbish.
The right bank was more pleasing with the lovely gardens in the grounds of this church
......and the lovely thatched boathouse which now looks as though some tlc is required
Meanwhile the fencing along the left bank seemed to go on for ever, I wonder how long it will take them to clear it all up.  Eventually we came to the temporary bridge which is erected to allow access to yet more camping area on the other bank..
Despite our initial fears about going into Reading whilst the festival was on, we have not had a problem.   Our mooring by the prison was well away and surprisingly quiet, although we could hear the music in the distance.
The only evidence I saw was when I went to the station on Monday to catch my train to Goring and although it was maxed out there did not seem to be any trouble.......
....and so to Mapledurham lock where we needed to use the sani station.  This is the huge weir to the side of the lock.  
Alone in a huge lock
We were able to water and get rid of the rubbish but the Elsan facility had been vandalised....apparently someone had taken all the stainless steel........the next sani station is not until Days Lock which will be next week so we have to resort to taking the cassettes to Giles.  We are planning to stay at Beale Park for a few days whilst I go down to London for a reunion.
Just a short hop to Pangbourne now and there were several spaces and we managed to get an ideal spot at the far end (Southern end).
At tea time Giles brought all the children down and they had their picnic supper in the field (whilst we had a glass of wine!) followed by an hour on the swings and then they went home and we went back to Petroc for a peaceful supper on Petroc.

Sunset over Pangbourne
6.07 miles, 1 lock, 2hrs 29 min

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Still moored in Reading, but escaped from the gaol!

We have not gone far!!!  Set off in company with another boat so we could actually share the last lock on the K&A.
A very low bridge

Just after the bridge we passed these vacant pontoons, and wonder if anyone ever uses them.
If you enlarge the picture you will see who they are for.
Further along the swans make good use of a shopping trolley
So Goodbye K&A
and looking back
This first stretch of the K&A is not tremendously inviting, but there are some beautiful places along the way to Bath.   This time we did not venture down as far as Bristol as we had done that 3 years before.   
We had trouble finding a mooring at Tesco's but managed to wedge ourselves three quarters in, and after I had done some of the shopping the boat in front obligingly left so we were able to get completely alongside.
Whilst shopping I received a phone call from Giles to say he was en route with some of his home grown runner beans and some of Susannah's cup cakes...........they were just in time for coffee.....very nice.....
We then moved upstream slightly to BetterBoats to refuel.  They had a big notice saying you could self declare so it looked promising.  We had to hang back a little as two other boats had been refuelling also,  The price was 99p + tax which is the highest this year.  The lowest was 82p 
On through Caversham lock and despite my pleas to carry on to Maple Durham I was over-ruled....again......and we are moored by Reading Bridge......will we ever depart from Reading......
1.75 miles, 2 locks, 3 3/4 hours (includes shopping!)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Still Moored by Reading Gaol

Despite the fair weather this morning I was unable to persuade Geoffey to move downstream, so I decided to take myself off to see the grandchildren.
They are only 2 stops away on the train so I duly headed for the station.....almost a disaster.......Reading Festival ended yesterday and seemed like a million people were queuing at the ticket office to purchase tickets.   I nearly called Giles to say come and fetch me but decided to try my luck.  Sometimes one just has to be a helpless female, especially an aging one!!!!  There were numerous officials trying to marshal the crowds and I approached a likely looking one who proved most helpful.  When I explained that I had a train to catch in 10 minutes and could I buy my ticket on the train(to which the answer was no) he decided that I could be let through the barrier and to travel free!!!  I must have looked really decrepit...........
Giles and I then took 2 6 year old girls, 1 extremely hyper, almost 3 year old and little Oscar at 11 months almost walking, to Beale Park...needless to say I am exhausted this evening.
Tomorrow we move, Geoffrey has promised....but upstream in the homeward direction.......

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Goodbye Boe

Up at 5.15 to catch the 0615 rail/air link bus to Heathrow to see Boe off.  The station had a fair number of reading Festival departees and all waiting outside as the station had had a power failure and was shut........luckily it did not affect my bus.....and opened soon afterwards anyway.
She departed safely after removing a couple of things from her hold baggage to down to her weight allowance.
Meanwhile the engineer had duly arrived and had Petroc up and running electrically again within 45 minutes...easy when you know how........mind you at a price!!!!!
Lunch time Maggie arrived and we all enjoyed a leisurely Sunday Lunch in a comfortable pub close by which was away from the main crowds.   A lot of chat went on between the two of us for the rest of the afternoon, whilst Geoff was happily ensconced with his TV.
We have already heard that Boe arrived safely, and I have even had a request for a test email.  She seems to have a problem with everything coming through to her in Russian at the doubt she will get it sorted in time.    She has decided to do a blog of her time there and it can be found at

Saturday, 27 August 2011

...and so back to Reading

We set off at the respectable hour of 0745 for the journey back to Reading.  Part way along we realised one of the battery warning lights was on, this coupled with our misgivings about the battery state monitor boded ill.....
We realised that there was every chance that our batteries were not charging at all so a phone call to RCR was called for.  Told them the problem and they promised to have an engineer alerted for our arrival in Reading.
Tree lined canal and up ahead the busy M4...guess who is in the best place
We did find company for the last two locks.  The lock pontoon for the last lock is right under the bridge and there is a fairly strong stream flowing so docking is not helped when there is a fisherman plonked right in the middle who was none too keen to move!!

Anyway all eventually negotiated and we had the run through the Oracle centre again
A very low bridge at the far end
Not far to go now as we wanted to moor in the loop by Reading Jail.  Luckily there was only one other boat there so we had our pick of places.   There was no sign of the Reading Festival crowds here so it was a good spot for the weekend.
Another call to RCR to tell them where we were moored and we had an engineer there within a couple of hours.   It only too him a few minutes to diagnose a faulty alternator....grrrrh......
He said he could be back with a replacement at 7.30 Sunday morning.  In the meantime we had to use minimal electricity so the fridge was turned off, and everything non essential.   The worst part was that I could not have the shower and hair wash that I had intended to have ready for a very early departure by bus on Sunday to say goodbye to Boe who was departing for her new job in Moscow..........
6.06 mils, 6 locks, 3hrs 4 min

Friday, 26 August 2011


Friday dawned wet and nasty so at first we decided to stay put for the day.  However after I had braved the rain to collect a paper etc, during the course of which I was completely drenched by a man in a white van who drove far too fast through a huge puddle, it showed signs of improvement so we changed our minds and set off about 10am.   I should add that said white van was stopped by the level crossing barriers just after this incident which enabled me to catch him up and have a few words with him......he was not impressed......but then neither was I!!!
First thing was to tackle the exit from Woolhampton lock and get through the swing bridge.   The exit from the lock was accomplished with no real problem, but it was still flowing fast through the swing bridge and the pick up of Geoffrey was slightly more problematical....however with a fair bit of wellie and reversing it was eventually accomplished.....
The rest of the run was uneventful and the weather improved and we found a mooring at Theale.  Good moorings with rings and no one there.
Yet another lock with leaky top gates.....all that water wasted!!!
En route we had passed fellow bloggers Sue & Vic on No Problem, there was no room to moor in Tyle Meadow where they were or we might have stopped for a chat.
By this time also Geoff was getting concerned because out battery state monitor did not seem to be functioning properly.....was it just the monitor or was the battery not charging?????  We had just had the engine serviced so couldn't believe anything was seriously wrong.  Decided to watch the state of affairs overnight.
5.93 miles, 6 locks, 3 hours 48 min

Thursday, 25 August 2011


After a very cosy night in Newbury Marina we were quite sorry to leave.  The yard was so well kept, we had water and electricity on tap, spotlessly clean toilets, and all for £10 for the night.  They were also very helpful and can thoroughly recommend the place to all you other boaters out there.  The Newbury Marina I am talking about is just before Hamm Lock, not to be confused with either of the other two sites.   I am sure they are fine but we don't have first hand knowledge of them.
No photos today...too much rain......
We thought the rain had gone through and were all ready to leave just before 8am, however as we leave the marina it started again and stayed with us on and off nearly all the way to Woolhampton.   No-one to share the locks with until the very last lock.  But wonder of wonders, all the visitor moorings were free so we could choose our spot.  By now the sun had been shining for almost an hour so life was definitely on the up.
Gentle afternoon, I took the opportunity to observe a boat going down the lock to try and assess how strong the flow is as it is a tricky exit with swing bridge soon afterwards.   The exit seemed OK although there is a strongish flow, the more exciting bit is turning through the swing bridge and then picking ones crew up.........we shall see how we fare tomorrow.
5.53miles, 7 locks 3hrs 47min

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Not far from Newbury

Tuesday was the promised rainy day so we stayed put, although it was not the deluge that was forecast.
Today we set off bright and early as we had to be at Newbury Boat Services for our engine service by 0830.
Needless to say no one else was on the move at 0650!!!!  The exit from Newbury lock can be exciting when there is a strong flow but despite the rain yesterday it was all very tame.  
Looking back at the bridge and lock
The bottom moorings where we had stopped on the way up were completely empty(Look closely and see Geoff and Barney striding away in the distance.
Somebody is up, look closely at the stern.
On through one more lock and we were soon at our destination.  Derek was there to meet us, despite the fact we were far too early, and to direct us to moor alongside his rather nice looking Dutch barge.
The plan was to have the service done and move on down to Thatcham late morning.  However the service took a little longer than we thought and we discovered we could have a temporary mooring for the night for just £10 so staying over seemed quite attractive.  We had all facilities and even hooked up to electricity, first time since leaving Clifton in April.  
The boatyard is immaculately kept and we had a very thorough service done at a most reasonable price.
Unfortunately we may have used up the good weather as it was a brilliant day, too hot to sit out in the afternoon, and the forecast for tomorrow is for the rain to come it may be a mac and wellie job tomorrow.
1.08miles, 2 locks, 1 hr

Monday, 22 August 2011


Set off earlyish when it was chilly and still a little misty.  Down through Hungerford Lock and watered.  The watering point is very convenient for Tesco's so did a short trip there.
The day improved steadily and even almost too hot for me........
Such a pretty approach to Kintbury
We dropped off the rubbish in Kintbury as they have removed this facility in Hungerford.  We flirted with the idea of stopping as there was plenty of space but we felt we had come such a short distance and we were progressing well.
The horse drawn boat was waiting at the bottom of the lock with it's horse patiently waiting whilst they took on passengers
After a few locks we realised someone was ahead of us as we were having to fill all the locks and when we caught up with them we realised it was our friends with the two cats on leads together with the boat they are travelling with.  We also discovered why they were going so slowly...they were following a Bruce Trust widebeam that was crawling along.  What should have been a nicely timed lunch time arrival at Newbury was more like a 2pm arrival, very late lunch.  However it was a lovely day, the countryside looked good and what the heck....whose in a hurry.
There was just space at the top of the lock so we decided to stay there rather than take a chance on a space being available down in the centre where we had moored on the way down.
The forecast for tomorrow is not good so will stay here.  We have booked Petroc in for an engine service at Newbury Boat Services first thing Wednesday morning.
Then we have some decisions to make.  Boe departs from Heathrow for her new teaching post in Moscow on Sunday morning and I want to go and see her off so the ideal place is Reading which we can make easily by then, however we have just discovered it is Reading Festival this weekend so that has cast some doubt on the advisability of mooring in Reading.......still thinking about it......
8.67miles, 11 locks, 6hrs 27min

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Weekend in Hungerford.

Visitors this weekend.  Daughter Boe has just accepted a 10 month teaching post at the English Nursery School in Moscow and is leaving next she decided to come and say goodbye and stay Saturday night.  needless to say we had to kill the fatted calf and what was going to be a one course healthy supper turned into a 3 course, not quite so healthy!!!!   Depending on her flight time I hope to be able to nip down on the train and say goodbye to her again next Sunday.
There are good walks around here, over the canal to the River Dunn which is full of brown trout

Sunday morning all 3 of us went to St Lawrences Church, which is conveniently almost alongside our mooring, where we had a very uplifting service and a very outgoing rector who preached his sermon standing in the aisle with no notes...such a gift......
Shorthly after our return our other visitors Geoff and Gill Smith and Ronnie Dunn arrived.   Later we had an excellent lunch in the Downgate Pub.  We had sussed out a couple of pubs on Saturday (when we got caught in unexpected heavy and prolonged rain) but decided on this one as the prices were very reasonable and the pub seemed to be very aircraft minded.  One room had hundreds of model aeroplanes hanging from the ceiling and there were lots of aeroplane pictures.  However when we asked the landlord if he was ex air force the answer was a negative....he just liked aeroplanes!!!!
Tow boat cats who will not be allowed to stray......I am not a cat person but these two are certainly lovely specimens but it does seem strange to see cats on a lead.  Barney was not at all interested in them........
........even when one decided to take a closer look at Petroc

Friday, 19 August 2011


Early start today as we wanted to reach Hungerford.  We were off at 0715 with Emma still in bed!!  Geoff had positioned her car down at Great Bedwyn to collect en route.
Crofton Visitor Centre with the nice coffee shop is set to open again today after their water problem.
There was quite a thick mist, if you enlarge the photo and look closely the chimney at Crofton is just visible.
Looking ahead I was not able to see the progress of the lock filling as normal.   Most of these locks have to be left empty whichever way you are going so we were prepared to have to fill each one today.
By the time we reached the 2nd lock Emma was up and helping.
It was a very chilly morning in the mist so she had to borrow warm clothes and boots from me!!
At Great Bedwyn the watering point was full with one of the Bruce Trust boats so we had to wait a while.
Eventually all was completed and after a visit to the local store and Emma had herself ready to depart (make-up takes forever!) and we were on our way again by 0945.
At the first lock we met another boat which was very handy as he said he was going all the way to Newbury. he was single handing but very agile getting on and off his boat so it was a big help.   At the second lock we came up behind a single boat so we thought we had lost our companion but for some reason he elected to stay as a pair with us.....great.....
By now the sun was in full spate and warm clothes stripped off and it was a pleasant run to Hungerford where we found the moorings just after the swing bridge were completely empty.   We had our pick of places so were able to position ourselves for a satellite signal for the TV.........
6.42 miles, 13 locks, 6hrs 37min

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Still at Crofton

Well we needed a couple of days off after the Monday enforced marathon.   Today was definitely not a moving day as it has absolutely poured with rain......easing off now as we await arrival of Emma for 2 nights.  Onward to Hungerford tomorrow with the promise of better weather.

Monday night sky over Crofton, heralding a good day on Wednesday 
We have heard that the Oxford canal is very short of water and lots of restrictions in place so are now hedging our bets on our route back to Rugby.  Apparently the GU is not nearly as affected or as busy....... we shall see....

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


The intention was for an early start, about 8 we thought, but one of the boats in front was even keener than us so when we saw him setting off just after 7.30, we followed and agreed to share locks.  Only 3 locks to climb to the summit and then a short run to Savernake tunnel on the summit and soon we were at the top of the Crofton Flight to begin our descent which will eventually take us all the way back to Reading.  Good team work going with the two boats which make the journey a little quicker.  There was also a lot more water than on our way down so life was also a lot pleasanter.   The weather was somewhat dull however and a bit nippy......maybe summer has gone as my Daily Telegraph informed me yesterday!!
When we reached the 3rd lock in the flight (Lock 57) this was the sight as we descended.
The pound above was overfull and the lock overflowing and needless to say it took an age to empty.  At first we thought that someone had come through and not emptied the lock after use as requested so water was being held back, but after a while we realised that the bottom paddles would not stay up so it was more likely a fault. (Duly reported to BW)

Eventually the water was down and you can see what must be 4 deliberate drain holes for excess water from above, hence the reason for the bottom paddles to be left open.......I think that is the reasoning.......
No problems with the last two locks and wonder of wonders the moorings are almost empty so we had our pick of places and we were tied up in time for late morning coffee.....
Sadly Crofton Pumping Station Visitor Centre is closed as they have had contamination of the fresh water supply so we were not able to up there for coffee with their delicious home made cakes.....
4.12 miles, 9 locks, 2hrs 34 min

Monday, 15 August 2011

We didn't mean to go to sea

Well that is what the day felt like!

Set off at 0745 to complete the last three locks of the Devizes flight, with the intention of using the sani station on Devizes Wharf, a small shop and onwards to moor at the very nice moorings we had seen at All Cannings on our way down.   The sun was shining and it showed promise of a good day.
The locks were accomplished with no problem.  We have found coming up relatively easy when we are on our own in these locks.  Geoff is very careful to open the paddles gradually and there have been no major bumps I am glad to say.
The water point was occupied so we tied up opposite whilst I went shopping.  Eventually watered, very slowly, by which time there was someone waiting to take our place.  Set off for what should have been about an hours run to All Cannings.   This was the first disappointment of the day as the moorings were completely full with no sign of anyone onward........
It was lunchtime by now and our usual time for stopping. We tried a couple of places along the banks with no success so it was lunch on the go.

Clearing has been done in a lot of places along the canal but there are still a few passages where the reeds are gradually taking over and it is definitely one way traffic.

We eventually reached Pewsey where we did not have high hopes but to our surprise a boat pulled out of a mooring just ahead of us so we thought our luck was in.   We managed to get the bows in only but we were satisfied with that until Geoff discovered a wasps nest just near the back off and onward again!!!!
Boat of the day
A few more rough bank moorings were attempted but the vibes were not right.   We were resigned to continuing to Wooton Rivers so prepared to do another couple of locks.   As we approached the bottom lock there we saw a boat entering the lock which was good news we thought as we could share.  As we got closer we saw there was already a boat in the lock so hopes dashed again.   Only one paddle was working so a longish wait for our turn.   Above the lock there are visitor moorings and there was one space, albeit not quite long enough.   However Geoff moved a deserted boat back one mooring ring and we managed to squeeze in.   By this time we had been on the go for 9 hours so we just wanted to stop....... (no siesta for Geoff today!!)
En route I went to put the roast chicken in the oven only to discover that despite being within the sell by date that it was off....second big disappointment of the day.....  
The 3rd and final disappointment was no TV either from normal or sat aerial and I had wanted to watch New Tricks............
However one must always look on the plus side.....the clouds had steadily built up over the course of the afternoon and we felt the first drops of rain as we came up the lock.  We managed to be moored up and with the pram cover up before the worst descended.
15.64 miles, 9 hours, 4 locks

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Weekend below Devizes

When we went to look in the basin on Saturday morning it was full and no room anywhere so we decided to stay put.   The moorings here say they are pub moorings (Black Horse) for 24 hours so I went to have a word with the Landlord and explained we would like to book for Sunday Lunch and stay a little longer on the moorings if that was OK.........he said they weren't pub moorings but BW' we decided to take a chance and have not been disturbed or asked to move on.   On Saturday evening we were the only boat here.
Anne & Keith left after coffee on Saturday having taken me to do a shop first.
We are moored right at the end away from the main pub seating so it has been very congenial.  Good for Barney to sit out, although we do have to keep a weather eye out that he does not decide to have a wander among the tables doing  a scrounge!   Plenty of good walking here...Today the weather improved.  We found St Peters Church this morning, very High Church with lots of incence and then Sunday lunch at the pub. There were a few more boat movements today but we have been surprised at how quiet it is.
Onward again tomorrow.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Caen Flight

Thursday was a miserable rainy day and I was so glad I had decided to do my painting on Wednesday.
Luckily by the time Anne & Keith arrived later in the afternoon it had cleared up and we had a reasonable evening.   They were to be our willing crew for the trip back up the Caen Flight.
It was an early start as we had the 5 locks at Seend to negotiate before commencing the 29 of the flight!!  Keith helped with these and then went and collected their car from the pub at Seend Cleeve and positioned it at the bottom of the 16 locks of the main flight and walked back to meet us.
By the time he was back with us we were still travelling alone, no sign of any other boats.
Just before Foxhangers Wharf they are building a new Marina...

When we reached Foxhangers Wharf  we were still alone but spied a boat behind and our hopes were raised, then a second one appeared, hopes dashed, then a third one, hopes raised again................but it transpired that they were travelling as a threesome, one long and two short.  So we continued on our solitary journey and were very glad we had our extra crew.
Flight of 16 ahead of us
After 2 locks we saw there was someone 3 locks ahead so Geoff went up to speak to them and there were very pleased to wait for us as they had been wanting company also.
Thereafter it was so much more pleasant.  Our companion was a lady called Jamie a singlehander on NB Flags but she had 2 extra crew as well so we then speeded up.
Most of the locks we could do in Tandem apart from the one where it warns you that the entrance is narrower than normal.

Click the link below to see us in action!
We only met two boats coming down which involved one occasion of a soft shoe shuffle.  Unlike when we descended the flight and had this situation this was preplanned and went like clockwork!
We decided to call it quits when we reached the Black Horse pub, 3 locks from the top.   It was 1pm and time for a the fellows said!
A quiet afternoon followed, 3 of us were able to sit out for a while (1 was siestering...guess who?) and later after drinks on board we had dinner in the pub.
4.31 miles, 31 locks, 5hrs 59 minutes

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Seend Cleeve

We made the great discovery today that our camera which we dropped in the water several weeks ago (and since replaced) is fully functional again.   It has been residing in the airing cupboard all these weeks.  We are now hoping that Geoff's phone which is the current occupant of the airing cupboard will also recover.  It was sod's law that meant it was in his pocket when he fell in the canal last Monday.  He very rarely carries it but because he was walking the previous stretch, which had been very shallow when we traversed it previously, he made the sensible decision to take it with him!!!!
We left our extremely pleasant mooring soon after 8 this morning.  The only slight drawback to the mooring was the ledge which meant we were living at a slight angle all the time.
Boat of the day(enlarge to see the detail)
I liked this one too
Not far to the first lock at Bradford-upon-Avon.  
The approaches to some locks are quite forbidding
and gloomy when you get in
but half way up the world begins to emerge again
and lo and behold a pretty scene awaits.
We stopped to top up with water, the elsan disposal out of action again.  Whilst watering I nipped to Sainsburys for a couple of items and came back with about ten times as much!!
We stopped for fuel at 'The Boatyard` a small marina just west of Hilperton Marina as we had noticed their price of 82p per litre went we went by previously.   Good price and declare our own split.  Whilst locking the petrol cap Geoff managed to drop the widget that opens and closes it in the water!!!!  However with the aid of our strong magnet he managed to find it.
That is two articles which rarely see the light of day proving useful in the space of a week, the first being the boarding ladder to retrieve Geoff from the canal!
Soon after leaving the marina is this sign
Now we do always slow down for moored craft, BUT if we were to go past every moored boat on this canal at our preferred slow speed, we would be here until Christmas!   In places there are extremely long stretches of moored boats.  Some like the two shown above today are in good nick but there are also a lot of extremely tatty looking ones.  One thing we have noticed this year is that a larger proportion are showing in date licences.   Still room for improvement.
The stretch of the canal from Devizes to Bath is part of the National Cycle network which means there are quite large numbers passing by each day.  Sadly they are not all considerate riders.  Some of them seem to think the towpath is there for them alone and ride at breakneck speed with no thank you when you stand aside to let them pass.........Grrrrrh!   The minority also appear to have bells to warn you of their arrival from behind but I gather it is not law to have a bell.........why not????
Enough grousing for now, we found our mooring spot below Seend bottom lock was free and it is ideal.    The day was still fine and after lunch I roused myself to paint the port side of the gunnels which had a large number of scratches down it.  (Geoff siestered but he is still recovering from the shock of falling in!)
7.6 miles, 3 locks, 4hrs 40 min