Friday, 26 June 2009


Can't believe it's five days since the last posting. I seem to have been quite busy. It was great seeing Mike Lucas at Long Wittenham ( I took the precaution of winding Tyseley before he arrived but in fact she went round easily - although we scared one plastic boat off the mooring) and Vashti and Richard at Wolvercote Green and Bablock Hythe. The weather has been lovely and we've had some excellent boating and some very good beer(!). Thanks to Marina for breakfast and Judith for doing our washing and doing a lot of work to really get a good house at Wolvercote - which she did with great success. Sad to say goodbye to the Thames at Duke's Cut but looking forward to the Avon after the break. With the low water level the turn off the river in Oxford was much easier than previous years and passers by on the foot bridge stopped to watch as we slipped effortlessly under instead of scurrying for the bank as Tyseley and the bridge locked horns - as on some past occasions. We are back on the Oxford and there are lots of boats, lots of mud and not a great deal of water. As predicted Gandalf (in the shape of Ian Tuplin) returned to the towpath and helped us fight our way into the bank a mile past Thrupp as there was no mooring to be had anywhere - not even for ready money. Met the mooring warden, Mike, and hopefully he will find us somewhere to unload when we return on Sunday. Just to make you jealous I attach the view from my bedroom window at Goring Lock. It's a hard life but someone has to do it.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Something of an epic struggle from Woolhampton to Reading. Water levels were rather low for two Dutch barges that were labouring up to Reading and everywhere we went there were dire warnings from other boaters that they were grounded in locks and across the stream. When we eventually caught up with them one was stuck solidly in the centre of the channel just downstream of the turf lock. We let a few locks worth of water down to float him off with no effect and then had to decide whether to wait for BW who were on their way or try and sneak past. We decided to try and sneak past and going slowly we managed to get nearly by and were just cheerily shouting – ‘ See you at the Abbey Ruins’ when we stuck fast. We tried everything. Rocking, poling, cutting a channel by going back and forwards. Twice we managed to move forward a few feet and then grounded again. The barge skipper was on the phone to BW gleefully announcing - ‘Now Mikron are grounded as well!’ With renewed determination we poled the bows right out into the stream, put Tyseley in slow forward and pulled on the barge’s ropes to inch forward agonisingly slowly – but we were free!
Other notable events were an encounter with a willow tree that had the crew pressed on their faces to the front deck, winding above Woolhampton in the winding hole clearly marked ‘Max 60 foot’, two members of the company managing to expose themselves to fellow boaters while showering, Rachel finding that the sure way to arrive at a lock is to make a cup of tea and seeing a tramp find (and finish) a bottle of vodka in a litter bin by County lock in Reading – who throws bottles of vodka away I wonder?
The next morning I woke to find the bows of the Dutch barge looming above the back cabin so they managed to make it after all. My first question – ‘what time are you leaving tomorrow?’ (because I want to make sure I'm in front of you)
Now here we are all set up, fed and watered in Benson and above is an (almost) live picture of the event.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Seem to have spent my whole life outside (and inside) the Rowbarge at Woolhampton. But it's not all lounging around in the sun you know. I attach a picture of the dedicated Mikron cast having a line and song run through of 'Fair Trade' after a gap of over two weeks since the last performance. Just in case you thought it was all beer and sandwiches. Big thanks to Margaret and Charles, two local friends of Mikron, for letting us use their shower while ours is still leaking steadily into the River Kennet and for doing our washing. Also to Guy, Kyle, Fred and everyone at the Rowbarge for many things - not least the parsley for the fish pie that Rachel is cooking tonight!

Thursday, 11 June 2009


Thanks everyone for your comments, please keep them coming. Sorry to hear about NB Blue Goose - isn't it the way that just when you think you know what you're doing you can mess up in a big way with boating. Tyseley is an expert at dropping you in it and of course only when there is a large and appreciative audience to enjoy one's humiliation.
We have had two lovely shows recently. First at the Bounty in the Independent Republic of Cockmarsh. Thanks David and Sue for the usual warm welcome, copious amounts of good ale and lots of singing Beatles songs into the night. Then a great new venue - The Angel on the Bridge at Henley. Thanks Mark for your kind welcome, lunch and again drinking into the wee smalls. The shows went down pretty well too.
Unfortunately we had our second Henley show cancelled so we have extra days off. Gemma and I are boating slowly on to Woolhampton and Rachel and George have gone home for a well earned rest. Also after days of regular rain there is a curious round yellow thing that has appeared in the sky...I wonder what it is?

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Arrived yesterday evening cold and wet after a long day's boating and annoyed a group of Polish fishermen who were drinking whisky round a camp fire on the public moorings and didn't take kindly to being asked to move so we compromised and left our behind out in the stream so that they could stay where they were. They did offer me some whisky though. Highlight of the day for Gemma was managing to knock an obliging skiffer's glasses into the river with one throw of a wet rope. That'll learn him to be chivalrous to lady narrowboaters at locks. As we were being pressed forward by a number of 'gin palaces' we couldn't stop to help but the narrowboat behind us who was stopping to eat his breakfast on the lock moorings (!) had a magnet and when last seen they were dipping hopefully. Tremendous thunder storm and torrential rain in the night which terrified everyone except George who slept through it. A leisurely day in Marlow buying food, eating lunch, shopping and banking as we had done all the boating yesterday. Managed to unload on the public slipway, designed for rowing boats of maximum length ten foot which left us sticking out into the stream almost across to the weir, much to the surprise of the plastic boats still trolling up and down into the lock. Luckily the landlord of the Two Brewers found us a mooring at the end of the garden of a beautiful riverside mansion, undergoing restoration. And we had help from the caretaker Tony in carrying our gear up to the pub. Fortunately we are in the barn at the back of the pub as it looks like more rain. Small prayer - please don't let the Avon be in flood again this year, Lord. The gas boiler is on it's last legs but the gas man cometh on Tuesday I hope.

Friday, 5 June 2009


Going out on to the Thames much less choppy than last year and a calm journey up to Walton on Thames. Tyseley with new water pump seems to be running well but weeps oil on to the exhaust pipe when pushed too hard so we will retain a sedate pace and hopefully keep going. Sailed blithely past the Swan (our next venue) and had to turn round at the next bridge. You can't do that on a canal. Managed to persuade the boats on the 24 hour mooring to budge up and let us in. Took the kayak out for the first time this year, current very light and then obligatory night time swim at end of which cut all the fishing line off the prop. In the morning we found that someone had untied our three mooring ropes, obviously hoping we would drift off down the river in our sleep. Luckily we were wedged fast on the gravel at the edge and there was so little flow we didn't move! The pub has some awnings we can perform under tonight if it rains which it has been, on and off, since early morning.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009


June and a heat wave. Dropped the Tuplins off at a bridge hole going through Little Venice. No time to say goodbye but like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings I feel sure that they will return in our hour of need. Spent three lovely days at the Canal Museum including a day off – the hottest day of the year – and went swimming at the Lido in Hyde Park which was great. Made a ridiculous fuss out of getting off the mooring at the museum much to the consternation of the local boating inhabitants. Note to self – watch the wind, it makes a difference. What is the problem with the Camden trip boats? We met one in a tunnel and had to back out to let him past. No problem you would think but the tirade of foul mouthed abuse from the skipper was unbelievable, quite unjustified and in earshot of his customers in the boat. I send him love and light, forgiveness and the earnest hope that he gets happy soon. Then a very pleasant and leisurely journey to Brentford.