Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Trapped on the Thames

The weather in February was atypical and glorious, but March is being absolutely normal. Cold(ish), rainy and very windy. So the picture above is me dressed for the weather. Under my jacket I have a further four layers of clothes, wind pants as well as fleece lined pants and foot warmers in my boots! Just as much work as dressing for a dog walk in Canada!

My sister Mary and I have been making our way south. Together we left the Grand Junction Canal and turned south onto the Oxford Canal. As we neared Oxford we stopped for all the usual maintenance items, water, diesel, calor gas (propane) and emptied the toilet. We were all set to leave when it became apparent we had no forward movement, just reverse. Back to the dock. Luckily we had stopped at Oxfordshire Narrowboats and they had a mechanic who spent the next few hours replacing our gear cable. He was busy getting their boats ready for the coming weekend but took time to repair Little Star which I really appreciated. So off we set again, only to discover that our tiller arm was at a strange angle and making clunking sounds. It quickly made an amazing huge clunking sound and went back to almost normal. Stopped into another marine company in Oxford who checked it over. So on we went, in the rain, to try and get onto the Thames.

We arrived at the first lock on the Thames to find no lock keeper on duty. We had been told that we needed a special license to be on the Thames, and that we would need a special key, so what to do. Called the Environmental Agency that is in charge of the Thames and what goes on on it, and they said he was at lunch and would be back in an hour. It appeared we had just missed him. Waited the hour, he didn’t come back. Called again and was told he was not on duty that day. Don’t you just love it when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing! After being insistent, politely, I was helped through the lock by the lock keeper at the next lock. It, the electric lock controls, were tetchy in the rain. So we were on our way a couple of hours later. We were trying to get as far down the Thames as we could before the caution signs were put in place due to rising water. Yesterday we made it to Abingdon and today we had to stay in place. Had to call to confirm because the web site said we were good to go, but I didn’t believe it, and sure enough, the water was rising. Luckily Abingdon is a decent size town with some interesting buildings and stores, so food has been restocked.

I wonder who got to choose these faces, the building designer or the stonemason.

Spring is beginning to really make an appearance, daffodils everywhere, and lambs.

So cute, but I do like eating lamb.

There are lots of trees in flower, may have already posted this picture:

The first tree to show green tips has been the weeping willow. This one is huge and spreading, just across the water from where we are presently moored. We have seen some very tall ones gracefully swaying in the wind. Ah, yes, back to the wind. Yesterday was very interesting, trying to turn the boat and moor facing upstream. The standard way is to tie the bow line and either use the wind or your engine to move around the stationary point of the bow. All was going well, but the wind put way too much strain on the rope and two of the three strands broke, but we managed to get tied up. Unfortunately, there was a ledge under which out gunwales sat and the fenders did not prevent the boat from banging against the mooring, so it was an unpleasant night, and I was worried for the boat. Today, a boating neighbour drove us to a marine store and we bought bigger fenders so now we have four regular narrowboat fenders, and two balloon ones. And a new mooring line. Never a dull moment on Little Star!

It never ceases to amaze me where plant life thrives.

A whole world on a lock gate.

If the plants could think I wonder if they would say “why did I have to land here?”

The help we have received from all and sundry along the canal has gone a long way to restoring my belief in the goodness of humanity. I have found “the cut” to be a very welcoming place, and it is one long lending library. People leave books in marina laundry rooms, in Canal and River Trust toilets and any other convenient place, including pubs canalside. You can choose what ever you want and leave your finished books, or DVDs, and some CDs. Unfortunately I almost exclusively listen to books but others on the boat have taken advantage of the service and I have picked up a DVD or two. There is a DVD player on the TV on board. And I finally have a good radio. Did my first deal in a pawnbrokers and sold them the cd/radio I bought which was pretty useless and bought a digital radio. Now I can listen to all the Brexit nonsense which seems interminable. They have now voted to say that they can’t leave the EU without a deal. Inching towards a new referendum I think, but I have been wrong before. Theresa May is hanging on for all she is worth.


The care and maintenance of a canal life


The forgotten picture


  1. Pat McKay

    Sounds like life is full of wonderful adventures and I love reading the stories.

  2. Daniel

    Some of those locks are so narrow! Yikes.

    • Maggie

      It is amaziyhow quickly you became good at manouvering into them. You will have a real feeling of accomplishment when you do it well.

  3. Brian

    Very interesting Maggie. If you keep adding to the boat you will soon have a new one!

  4. Brenda Rau

    Keep it coming Maggie. Living through you is fun. The Thames here has overflowed worse than it has in years…putting many residents out of their homes. Keep going!!

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