Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

36 hours on board Little Star

I was happily going along, single handed, on the Grand Union Canal going west out of London when I cruised around a corner to see a massive tree across the canal.

I moored up and stayed the night. There was no other choice and no other way round. I was meeting my friend Anne from Canada the next day, and very luckily it was very close to the place I had planned to meet her.

I called the CRT, Canal and River Trust, and they already knew about it, but a tree had fallen on a boat further up the canal and that was their priority. There were people trapped on board.

The boat destroyed by the fallen tree. So sad.

They said they would be there the next day, Sunday.

Sure enough, 8.30 am and a workman was on site. Over the next few hours they winched the trunk onto the bank and sawed off a bit, and winched some more.

I picked up Anne from the railway station, we did a bit of shopping and went back to the boat. We had lunch and by the time we were done the canal was cleared, and all the other boaters along the canal were coming by to pick up the wood for firewood.

We got underway, and somewhere along the line we met up with another boat going in the same direction as we were. That is a good thing because we can share the lock and lighten the lock load or opening the paddles and gates. We had done about three locks and were navigating another one. Their boat was in the lock and ours was entering it. A woman from the other boat misjudged the lay of the land, it fell away steeply, and she ended up having to try and run down it. Unfortunately there was a retaining wall at the bottom and she could not stop herself. She jumped and fell very badly. I watched it all from the boat, and Anne saw it from the bow. I could see immediately that her right ankle was badly injured. They were attending to her and I asked if they wanted me to call an ambulance. I called and gave them all the info and they arrived in about 10 minutes. Good old NHS, or what is left of it. When I spoke to Dr. Jane, my sister, about it and she said she hoped that it got quick attention because an ankle dislocation has to be reduced very quickly to have a good outcome. I certainly hope she got good care. She was in a lot of distress and discomfort and it was hard not being able to relieve any of it except to try and make her as comfortable as possible. As you can imagine that was a bit of an emotional event for all involved.

Shortly after that Anne and I moored up for the night. During the night, during my wakefulness times and going to the bathroom I felt that something wasn’t quite right, but I checked out the window and we were still moored. We had not begun to float down the canal. I checked several times. Our wake up was an almightly crash from the kitchen. All the boxes of food, pots and pans, salad bowls and casseroles were on the floor, along with a prize winning bottle of maple syrup which was a present from Anne. It was broken. What a mess. The maple syrup had won first prize at the Royal Winter Fair, a significant achievement to us Canadians.

We were grounded, not only that, we were on a tilt.

Anne was a trouper, and got right down to cleaning up while I called the CRT. Again, they had already heard about the fact that the water in the pound, the space between two locks, had gone down a foot overnight. After cleaning up and cleaning up, maple syrup is very sticky, we went out for breakfast. 1 mile up hill. By the time we had eaten a traditional English breakfast and got back to the boat we were afloat. Phew.

So Anne had the full meal deal in her first 36 hours. She has not jumped ship, but has embraced the life, anticipating many of the things that have to be done on board. I am very impressed. And is very proficient on the locks and has taken to helming with aplomb. I had coffee in bed this morning as I responded to my accountant about my tax return.

It has been smooth sailing, opps, cruising, since then. A good day today, we have made our targets and some. Hopefully we will get to Bletchley and be able to go to Bletchely Park where the decoders worked during the war.


Memories. Light the corners of my mind. Misty watercolour memories. Of the way we were.


The journey to Bletchley


  1. Daniel

    I guess you have to be ready to “go with the flow” at all times. Who knew gently going down canals was so perilous.

    • Maggie

      I would never have guessed! I really hope the woman with the ankle injury is ok. See you doo !

  2. Phillipa Dunnill

    This is supposed to be relaxing. Look after yourself. Xx

    • Maggie

      Two days of easy going, but there are a lot of locks. It has been quite a physical trip, and many of the locks are much more difficult to open than my first trip to Llanglollen! I have a massage booked for the end of the journey already.

  3. Linn

    I had no idea boating could be so complex! Really enjoying following your journey and learning lots along the way 🙂

    • Maggie

      Nor did I. Glad you are enjoying it.

    • Maggie

      I also meant to tell you that we shared some locks with a Norwegian family. The man at the helm had sailed all over Norway, fiords and coast.

      • Linn

        That’s fun! Lots of Norwegians are big boaters though my family never really was.

  4. Terri

    Hi Maggie
    Please give my regards to Anne! What an adventure. As you say, it’s quite a way to begin a trip but you both have prevailed. Have a great tine.

    • Maggie

      Hi Terri,
      Wonderful to hear from you. Anne says hi back. It has been an adventure but today we are off to Bletchley Park so all moored up.

  5. Anne Pearson

    Hi Maggie, pleased you all came through relatively unscathed, apart from the Maple syrup of course. Hoping to join you in Florence August 25th, just wanting to check nothing has changed before we book Monday. Anne x

    • Maggie

      Hi Anne,
      That still works for me. Soooo glad you are able to come and I am really looking forward to meeting Kathryn and spending time with you both

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