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.
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.
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.