Wednesday 31 July 2019

A Bun Fight then we all had lunch.

Late yesterday our old farming friends arrived.  Murray & Debbie.  Debbie and I raised our children together, Murray is an ex-dairy farmer too.
They've never been boating before either.  We welcomed them literally with open arms and I held Debbie's hand to guide her over the gap of about 18" at the back deck.  Now I had forgotten to remember that Debbie is a non swimmer...... She got to the very edge and refused a bit like a show jumping pony saying "noooooooooooooooo".   

Luckily the front of SR was nicely in close and Debbie did come onboard a bit like the Queen.

At Pangbourne.

They slept well or at least said they did.  The next morning although we had said we were leaving early (Never too early for dairy farmers), it was bucketing down so we did delay an hour or so.  But finally underway leaving Pangbourne at about 09:30.

As we approached Mapledurham Lock, there is a campsite and this luxury large garden shed is secludedly moored away from the hubbub of the general site,  a cosy little Love nest if ever I saw one.  Not for me though, if you wanted the loo in the night, one false door handle move and you're in the drink.

Thanks for the coat George.....

Love Nest for good swimmers.

 After the lock there were wild swimmers, canoeists, cruisers and a couple of paddle boarders to avoid which David did.  He does have this slightly alarming habit of looking at visitors when they speak instead of looking ahead at the obstacles in front.  

Reading was quiet, and as we approached the lock, creeping forward, the landing was empty but we didn't see if the Lock Keeper was on duty or it was on Self Service.  

He was there so we crept forward without using the landing.  As we did so a large Dutch Barge came up behind us close, the lock keeper came forward with his arms held up and crossed signifying that they could not enter the lock with us.  
It's a smaller lock than others.

I liked this wee boat but not the modern glass house behind it so much.

As we came out of Reading and on a slight bend I noticed the nose of a narrowboat approaching, David had clocked it too in the willows and in the same moment we saw over our shoulder the Dutch Barge overtaking us,  I thought it a bit mad on this slight bend with a narrowboat oncoming,  David moved over as far as he could,  I have to say I thought we might be "Sucked" onto his bow...

Then bloody hell, he completely cut us up as we approached the lock at Sonning.  Totally unnecessarily as yes you've guess it, we all had to wait because there were two boats already waiting.
Reader I was livid.  He's just a bully. 

At speed crossing our bows

Here is Sonning bridge.  The moorings here are pretty confusing.  one free, several £10, several EA ones that I couldn't read the signage of and a couple "Please call this number to pay"  We carried on.

 I asked the lock keeper at Sonning if there was any truth in the rumour that George Clooney pops in for coffee at the lock which Reader, his garden runs almost the lock.   Yes he did come around to this lock keeper when he got this new job at Sonning to introduce himself, isn't that's nice?

 We had to share with the Bully Boy Dutch Barge man.  I had the lock keeper personally help me organise the bow ropes in a fancy triangular cats cradle effect to keep SR off of Bully's stern, I was nervous for SR but it was okay as the Lockkie had told his assistant to let the water out slowly.

Well the gates finally opened and that was the last we saw of Bully.  George, don't worry, no damage was done.

Waiting at Sonning Lock, a Salters Steamer came up behind us too.  I thought the Lock Keeper would wave him through in front of everyone, but no.

Me hanging on of SR's bow line.

Self Service on Shiplake Lock

Watering up at Shiplake service point


Bad hair day.

Alpine strawberries and cascading pansies oh and Henley bridge.

We enjoyed the run from Sonning down to Marsh Lock and Henley. 
I love Henley.

Some major money and major boats here.

Gin Palaces all.

At Marsh Lock we were behind two sweet cruisers and nice owners to.  I said that I would keep us back so we will be away from them.... Oh don't worry said the nice man, I told him I had had a big metal boat to keep away from earlier,
Oh yes he said we saw him cut you up we were behind you, we couldn't believe it!
Not just me over reacting.

Henley was rammed, well it was a Sunday full of drizzle, people had decided to stay put and frankly I would have done so too.

A wedding party setting off, they all looked splendid.

The Angel Pub, iconic frontage of Henley.

Henley Bridge, the angle looks all wrong but dinnae fash yourself George, we went through like a hot knife though butter.

We moored up on the meadows after Henley town centre.  I was a little disappointed as I like it in the centre, I like the buzz.  Within seconds the mooring man arrived with a smile and a demand for £10, his ear is finely tuned to the sound of stake hammering.

The Waterman Trip boat went past and all the wedding guests in their finery were now inside out of the rain.  

We had a prolonged and leisurely lunch on the back deck, with a fabulous view of Henley town and just like the French would do, it lasted some hours which afterwards, much later, we all jumped in the car and drove them back to Pangbourne through some very beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire.

Monday 29 July 2019

I almost enjoyed it too!

Early morning for us, actually that's a lie as we've both been awake very early in this heat.  Today we untied at 07:15 as quietly as we possibly could so as not to disturb the other boaters from their slumbers.  
I pushed out the nose so far that it did occur that I might over-balance and topple in.

Our mooring had been the third boat from the right.

Lining up for Wallingford bridge.

Now this little launch has been here three days too I think.  An older chap has a sort of hammocky sofa he makes up.  He has a small Gerry-can and has availed himself of the washhouse in the adjacent campsite.  I think I see a wee gas cooker and he's away enjoying himself like all of us.

Early morning tea

Well Reader off we went and I have to tell you I was almost relaxed.  I was certainly happier than on other mornings when I had been in a cold sweat and feeling sick.  
I think the main reason was there weren't any other boats on the river but even so a vast improvement wouldn't you say?

Approaching this bridge.

Reader you might remember that I have a loathing for these Canadian Geese, this was the third field we passed of them, the other two were jam packed with them, where's my shotgun?

Still Rockin' came up to Cleve Lock.  Water isn't widely available on the Thames as it is on canals.  Although we have a HUGE water tank on here, it only has a few drips left in it.  So it was with relief that the water point with its big fat hose for big fat boats was free.  That was the main reason for leaving early of course.
We set it going and I cleaned the windows on that side.  

Approaching Cleve Lock

Then guess who turned up?  Looking all spruce like and the wee launch all ship shape.  Then a Le Boat big fat boat and a narrow boat and Bob's yer uncle the lock became available and the juggling of positions for turns, I decided not to look.  David brought SR beautifully into the lock and the very nice lady on the smaller NB volunteered to operate the lock.  I could have done so of course and would have done so if we had of been alone.  But I held on to the bow line with grim determination.
No problems at all.

We passed this, one of the oddest looking craft I have seen to date, if I see another I'll post it for you.  .£500 worth of fenders spent.

 At Goring Lock, I asked the lock keeper what time one can access their moorings as we have a booking for two weeks time
"Oh yes so you have and how are you getting on with this boat?"
More friends of Carol and George!  He let the water out very slowly for us.

Give me this anyway of the week above those Thamesside mansions.  Obviously I'll get rid of more trees around it.

Now we both had a giggle at this.  Frequent Flyers to this blog may remember that last summer eight of us went mad in France and hired a Le Boat  HERE   you can read the summery of that ten days if you have the stomach for it.
So seeing these FIVE Le Boats moored up together with dozens of small children scrambling over them all did reming me of another occasion 25 years ago when we hired a NB to do the Avon Ring.  (Our three children were bored after seven days) but when we arrived at Evesham late in the day there weren't any free mooring available, so we were invited to breast up alongside two already breasted up boats, later another definitely one or possible two more NB's arrived and of course come here I waved to them from across the river.  So we were all novices and all 4 or 5 boats moored on one rope......  

5 Le Boats moored together, the children were lively but I wonder if the parents were bleary eyed.  I didn't see any parents.

Shoe box afloat.

Last year I feared this would sink before long but here it is still. Just.

So as we came into Pangbourne, there we spotted The Black Swan.   Other boaters we chatted to had said they were going there.  After mooring up easily on Pangbourne Meadows (24 hrs only but free) we walked off to buy milk and smoked salmon.  We came across the Pub, very nearly by accident and went in for coffee which turned quickly into lunch.
Delicious.   We may return on the way back.

The Black Swan, cica 1642.  We sat and looked a the river just for a change....

Later our friends were arriving, we were having supper with them so shouldn't have eaten a thing.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Do you want to stay here or move in this heat....?

Silly question

The morning was clear, blue, very sunny and warm already.  We knew the forecast was for another scorcher so we had already decided to stay put.  Even with the back deck cover it was way too hot to be cruising for me.
We did a joint Supermarket Sweep and stowed it all before it got too hot then out with the swimming kit, chairs and books for another relaxing day under the trees that certainly involved people (and boat) watching, I could hardly get any reading done such was the variety to watch.

Then this whooper arrived, suddenly SR felt much smaller.  

Dutch Barge....? 

Very young ducklings for late July.

Then this shot past at speed with two grey haired folk at the wheel and made all the moored boats move a lot.

HERE     This Little Ship went past too.  If you open the link you can read about her service at Dunkirk plus comments form previous owners who have had custodianship of her over the years with their fond memories.  

Wanda built in 1935 a Motor Yacht of 35'.

Below on the right hand side of the photo is 
NB Daydream Believer.  A pretty interesting chap who owns this is an Ex-Pat who went abroad to Swaziland on a Gov aid job yonks ago to do with map making and stayed there.  He described it as the most beautiful country a bit like Wales but with better weather.  They spend their British summers here and then return to Swaziland.  He says it has a small tourist industry and they want to keep it that way so don't tell anyone. 

So many varieties of craft bobbing about in Wallingford.

SR in the foreground and Wallingford church in the distance.

That afternoon this NB arrived and was unfortunate in not securing a mooring, David and I were swimming otherwise they might have breasted up (I already had asked George if he permitted it) so they popped their boat in this gap.  At the very least they had good shade.  Much later in the early evening they departed. 

David and I sat out enjoying life till gone 10pm.  It's so rare that you can do this in our country, I guess five times a year.

The next morning and the last scorcher to be forecast, this arrived.  The African Queen, I mean just look at the size of her.
Last year here, we were chatting to a lady who had a small/medium cruiser and they had been moored up at Sonning, several locks further downstream when this arrived and he Captain saw fit to have his engines on until 11pm blasting their cruiser with fumes, nice eh?  Last year I scanned the EA website but I could find no licensing clause about late night engine running as CART does (CART overseas the canals and the EA, Environment Agency does the rivers).
Today he wanted to moor up for an hour while his customers went shopping in Wallingford.....  But try as he may he didn't get in.  

First attempt but not enough wharf available, his crew was right in the willow bushes.

A loud crack was heard....

We had thought he had taken some jetty away with him but I'm not sure.

He turned around blocking the river.

Then tried reversing in....

The wife of the owner watched with bated breath but no touching....

Finally after about six attempts he gave up.

So the end of our third day in Wallingford.  We very much like it here and have enjoyed our time here again.  The limit is three days so we are away in the morning early.  
Our water is very low and Cleve lock has a tap for us. 

We want to get there before the exodus I feel the change in the weather will bring.

Saturday 27 July 2019

It aint arf hot mum....*

Well if I thought it was hot walking up to the Wittenham Clumps.... well by golly it *got much hotter over the next few days and then hotter still.

Last evening the sun put on a good show, it had been breezy all day, a bit too breezy to sit out in, but then as if by magic the wind dropped and this happened.

No photo jiggery pokery used here either.

David went off early on his bike and I was awake too at 05:30, I actually got up too and looked out.  Lovely clouds of mistiness.

Wittenham Clumps invisible.

A 28a Pill box from WW2.

Upstream towards Abingdon.

Days Lock weir.

I went back to bed.  

Much later we set off.  A smart black wide beam arrived last evening, called Mariemba or some such.  This morning as we set about leaving, the owner strolled over to say Hello, a very nice chap.  

He knows George & Carol (The owners of Still Rockin'), he follows their blog so knew we  were onboard, he sends his regards both!

It was a nice easy run after the lock, the narrowboat that we were in the lock with shot off and but the time David had coiled his ropes, checked on me and then exited Days Lock they were out of sight.  
I had forgotten this stretch was a bit narrow here, it did widen out presently and we passed where we had moored up with Carol & George last year at one point  but I was twitchy in case something wide arrived around a corner....

A few stunning properties at Shillingford, this one just sold I think it said.

Such a big garden I couldn't even see the house.

Muguteu Wuame I can't find any information on this but how beautiful.  I love vintage craft.

A zonking great well... what is it exactly?

As we approached Wallingford this wide bean came into view, this exactly what I dread meeting on narrow overgrown bends.

Five years ago on a two day flit from the K&A t Oxford and as Wallingford was full in a downpour pulled into these bushes, now they are taken over with Continuous Moorers.

I really like Wallingford.  I like the moorings, nice and sunny, I like the trees to sit under in hot weather, I like the Waitrose here and the pretty town.  What was a surprise was that over the last four years, the mooring fee has leapt from £5 to £7 last year and this year £10.....  That's more than the inflation rate, but there again we all know that Local Authorities are under huge financial pressures.
We moored on the left hand side going downstream and I was delighted.  First things first moor up, this took a bit longer than normal as we were trying not to leave a Git Gap.
A git gap for non boaters is when boats leave a big space in-between themselves and the next boat in busy times on very popular moorings.  But as it happens we had cross words with each other and had to leave a small gap.  Trouble is with a hard of hearing husband at the other end of the boat is; 
He asks me a question.
I answer him.
He mis-hears me. 
He contradicts my answer.
I am bemused as he is talking nonsense mostly off subject.....  This repeats itself daily in different situations.

Reader I sent him to have a hearing test on his bad ear but the results were baffling, his bad ear is his good ear and he isn't nearly bad enough to have a hearing aid.  This is clearly mad and the tester should live with him.

It was really hot by now, we made a long cool drink, rolled up all the sides of SR's canopy, got out the much more comfy than our sun chairs and relaxed.

The afternoon was spent thus but with books and more cold drinks and in the late afternoon donned our swimmers and went swimming in The Thames.  
Please don't tell my mother    HERE   so very sad for their families.  But here in Wallingford its shallow, slow moving and there are marker bouys at the river beach.
It was fabulous.  We sat out till 9 or 10pm.

Wallingford at night.

*  Please don't report me to JRM   HERE