Sunday, 24 September 2017

Thrupp, Lower Heyford and London

Thrupp was delightful as always.  We were lucky enough to find a space on the 7 day moorings, although we did not plan to stay quite that long.We had visitors on the Saturday in the shape of Tony and Di.  Di kindly took me shopping to the big Sainsburys in Kidlington whilst the boys walked to the Rock of Gibraltar.  We joined them there and were impressed with the food for lunch.  Very naughty that day as we had also had a cooked breakfast in Annies Cafe!!   Still it was a late lunch and quite light.

Sunday defeated me as far as church was concerned as there was no service at Shipton-on-Cherwell but Geoff did the walk to Hampton Poyle (Kidlington) and the church of St Mary the Virgin.

Looking West with the water point in the foreground

A lady had dropped her camera in!!!
A gallant gentleman
We moved on Tuesday and the weather was kind to us

Shipton Weir lock was the first of the day
This is not my favourite lock as it is diamond shaped and despite being quite a small rise it seems to take forever and it is impossible to keep the boat steady.

Four more normal locks where the crew could relax as Petroc gently rose.
Once again we were lucky at Lower Heyford.  We wanted to moor just outside before all the permanent moorings as it is much more open.  There was just room for us after the bridge so Geoff could be comfortable whilst I went off for a bit of family and urban therapy.

The station is just 5 minutes walk away so it is highly convenient.  In fact the trains are in our back yard so to speak, just over the hedge   Very noisy but after a while you cease to notice them.

So I had 3 days of trains, tubes,  buses and people, but most importantly family.   I managed to have time with all three of the children which was great.

From this........ this
.....and this

Boe and I paid a visit to Paddington Basin

Much more developed since our visit here on Petroc in 2008.
It is now a popular lunch time place for Londoners, as there are plenty of cafes and seating areas in landscaped gardens.

However if we had wanted to come in with Petroc we might have been disappointed.  It was chokka, with the pontoons full on the one side and the other side they were 2 abreast.

Back to Heyford on Friday early evening where the train was standing room only before it departed. Luckily I am an early bird so I was second on the train which gave me no problem.

Another weekend of eating out.  Breakfast at Zizzis on Saturday and lunch at the Bell after church. Both excellent meals and good value for money.  Sunday roast at the Bell is £9.95 for two courses, starter and main.   A bit different to all the places whilst we have been on the Thames.

Geoff had a pleasant evening with Bones in my absence....I had seen her before my departure but the only evening she could manage to relax was during my time away.  I think they may have managed to put part of the world to rights!

So onward again tomorrow (Monday)

Total distance:7.01 miles 
Elapsed time:4h11m49s 
Average speed:1.67 mph (2.86 lock/mph)

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Aren`t canals narrow!!

After over two and a half months on the Thames we are back on what is really our home ground.   No longer can we wander along looking for the best mooring place and then turn around if we need to go back.......and so narrow!!

We really felt the difference as we left Oxford and passed the extensive area of Agenda 21 Residential moorings.   A very long stretch of boats, the majority of which could do with a touch of TLC, making it very hard to pass a boat going in the other direction.

Meanwhile the Jericho redevelopment does not seem to have made any progress, there is no sign of any activity behind the hoardings showing what it could look like.  The artists impression in the link above looks it just a pipe dream??   Oxford could well do with improving its image in this area.  Great potential.........

Before this trip we had two nights on the Oxford Road east Moorings, which are part of the Thames Visitor moorings.  Here one can have one night free and up to 2 further nights at £5 a night.   You can either register your arrival on line or call the telephone number given on the notice.  It was a very pleasant and cheerful gentleman I spoke to when registering.  When I asked him where he was controlling the system from, he said from his boat which was presently moored in Weybridge.   I forgot to ask him how he kept a check on whether people bothered to call or not.  In fact a gentleman in a wooden boat in front of us told Geoff that he thought someone came around to collect the money but we didn't see any sign of that.

The moorings are well placed to either walk into town or hop on one of numerous buses just up along from the bridge.  The new shopping centre has made progress and is due to open next least it says so on the notice!

The goal today was Thrupp for the weekend providing there was space.   After a pleasant run (after the had escaped Oxford)  we stopped at the first space available by the Jolly Boatman just in case there was no room further up on the 7 day moorings.   Geoff walked up and soon rang me to say there was plenty of space......this is the advantage of arriving late morning/lunchtime.   Soon we were nicely settled in.

The mooring notices do ask boats not to run generators or engines but am not sure how they think one can manage for 7 days.

Total distance:6.95 miles 
Elapsed time:4h17m30s 
Average speed:1.62 mph (2.79 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Back to Oxford

Abingdon has to be the most welcoming of towns on the Thames to visitors.  What a pity some other places are not as welcoming.  Sadly I failed to get a picture of the notice by Reading Bridge which is really quite threatening if you stay over the allotted 24 hours.  Not just a fine of £100 but dire consequences..............................

Other places on the Thames could do well to take note.
So we were sad to leave, but Tuesday was forecast to be a window in what didn`t promise to be a good week.   However they said Monday would be bad, hence our delay, but in the event it was not nearly as bad as forecast.

When Geoff walked Barnaby on Monday past the lock and the water point, it was very busy with at least 4 boats queuing to water.   Since we don`t like situations like that we crept away at 0730!!

We were locked through and watered and on our way by 0830 and didn`t see another boat for over 2 hours.  Chillier than of late but no rain and a very pleasant run up to Oxford.  We met our first boats at Iffley lock when 4 were locking down which we hoped boded well for space on the moorings above Osney lock.
Approaching Folly Bridge
The channel to the left is still closed off.
So round to the right we go
Followed by a smart little trip boat
Osney lock was on self service which we did not realise.  (No sign up) There was now a boat ahead of us who had just gone up the lock and decided to do his good turn for the day by emptying the lock and opening the gates ready for us.   However we thought he was the lock keeper so Geoff stayed aboard.  Once inside he then had to climb the steps which is something neither of us is too keen on him doing......they are very slippy.  Still all was well and we were pleased to see that there was room for us on the moorings just above.

So endeth our two and a half months Thames travelling.  We left here on 29th June.  I only managed to persuade Geoff to go as far as Windsor but it has been a very leisurely time.  On Thursday we shall go through ISIS lock and re enter our world of canals.

Total distance:9.06 miles 
Elapsed time:4h4m50s
Average speed:2.22 mph (3.20 lock/mph

Monday, 11 September 2017

Weekend in Abingdon

The bank is slightly high here downstream of the bridge but manageable.  Lots of meadow for Barney

My early morning view as I make the tea!
Giles and Finley came over on Saturday morning.  Giles to do a training swim in the river.  he is signed up to a half iron man  (I think that is what is called) next May so has to keep the training up.   2 Km swim, 80km cycle ride and 1/2 after the other.......Finley Barney and I went alongside him to check his distance and also to warn him of approaching boats.

Afterwards we repaired to Annie's on the Waterfront.   This is the same people who run Annie's cafe at Thrupp.   They only opened two weeks ago in the building on the waterfront where there used to be a chandlers.   Great service and breakfast.

We had still not solved the aerial problems and were having to take a direct feed from the aerial through door and window (door for the front and window for the back).  With the weather turning colder I was none too happy with the window above my head permanently open..  This spurred me on to make yet more phone calls trying to find an aerial engineer to solve the problem.   

To cut a very long saga short we were visited by Brian from Aerial Solutions on Saturday afternoon.   What a star!!   Faulty connections were the problem, all now fixed and at a very reasonable price.   We can recommend him if anyone has similar problems.

Sunday we went to St Helens Church.  The Sunday morning Eucharist was also welcoming the Mayoral party.  It is heritage weekend here in Abingdon.   Various events taking place and lots of historic building open and free.  James and Hazel with NB Gabriel are here and kindly brought us a brochure of everything going on.

Layover another day tomorrow as the forecast is less than pleasing.   Oxford beckons on Tuesday.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Back to Abingdon

Back to where we were over 2 months ago.   But first we had a couple of nights in Wallingford.
There are still a lot of boats around and a mooring space was not straightforward.   We had to moor on the town side at first in the only available space.  However the bank is far too high for us and my getting on and off would have been very undignified....if possible.   Barney was none too impressed either, but as he had had a long time without being able to get ashore he made a superhuman effort and threw himself up.   We then sat eyeing a hire boat on the other bank for about half an hour whilst we considered if he was going to move or not.   Eventually he did and a smart bit of reversing allowed us to moor with a slightly lower bank.  We were then moored alongside the park area and the swimming pool.   When we were here on the way down it was during the excessively hot weather and the pool was a godsend.  Now it is closed and the temperature somewhat different!
The view of Wallingford from our mooring.
On Wednesday Geoff and I actually went walking together with Barney, a rare occurrence.  We walked the Thames path up to Benson.  I had walked this in the extreme heat with my sister-in-law Edith and thought I would never make it.  Today was much easier and the goal at the end which was the Waterfront cafe at Benson was much less crowded.  We were able to site in the comfortable chairs overlooking the river and enjoy our coffee........and was still warm enough to do that.
Looking from the weir at Benson with our goal in the distance.
Today, Thursday we set off at the crack of sparrows as we had over 12 miles to go.

Waiting for the Benson lock,  sun just awake
The sun was kind to us for nearly 3 hours before the weather took a nose dive.   We had the river to ourselves apart from 3 canoeists until well after 9 o`clock.

At Abingdon there was space on the moorings downstream of the bridge so decided to moor there for a change.   The moorings here are very civilised, the notice says they are provided free for our enjoyment and we may stay for 5 days.   Great pity some of the other places don`t do the same.   We don`t object to those that charge £5 a night but some places are more.   Marlow is the highest we have encountered at £12 a night.   There is space there on the free moorings but only for about 3 boats and it is, understandably, 24 hours only.   The paying ones are free during the day time so they tend to get filled up with local boats out for the day, hence our not being able to moor in Marlow on our way back upstream.

Total distance:12.81 miles 
Elapsed time:4h33m44s 
Average speed:2.81 mph (3.68 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Boarded by Pirates

After a lot of dithering Geoff decided to spend his peaceful weekend in Goring rather than Beale Park so we tootled up there on Friday morning and were lucky enough to find a mooring at the far end.

I packed my bags and was collected by Giles for my Granny sitting duties.  Thankfully Boe was there also.  If it were just the children it would be fine but there are 17 chickens, 1 poorly cat who has to be injected, 2 well cats, 1 poorly dog who has just had a stroke, one well dog with boundless energy, 2 ducks and a goldfish!!

The weekend went well, with lots of activity including a trip to this water obstacle course.    Needless to say I was a spectator, leaving Boe to accompany the children.

Boe came to spend Sunday evening on Petroc and, together with Geoff, we sampled the Indian delights of Massooms restaurant.

Boe left us on Monday morning and we had a short run up to locks, watering at Cleeve lock and aiming for the field mooring where we had moored on the way down.   We couldn't`t take the exact same spot as it was filled with George and Carol on Still Rockin.  We managed to get in a little further back but had to use the gang plank....the first time since we were on the Lancaster canal a few years ago.   First time ever for this new gangplank.   Barney took one look at it and disdainfully did an almighty leap for the shore without it!

Late afternoon wee had a surprise visit....Giles and the children in their boat called the SLACK DODGER!!
A boat that has seen better days but the kids love it.

Moved on today to Wallingford, where we were initially unlucky with mooring.   We managed to squeeze into a space on the left had side but the bank is far too high for us here.   Barney did eventually manage it but I would have struggled.   We sat waiting for a hire boat to depart from the opposite bank.   This he duly did after about half an hour so a swift bit of reversing before someone else came along.

Our TV aerials are playing up again, they have not been right since our boatyard fitted new ones for us at the beginning of the season.   This causes a lot of angst for Geoff!!!

After several phone calls I have the possibility of a visit from someone a week today.........we will be around Oxford by then in all probability.   Another call out fee!!!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Cannot drag ourselves away from Henley!

Truly, truly......we planned to move on Tuesday.....but the forecast for Wednesday was dire.

We had also been trying to arrange a trip for the grandchildren on a suitable day.  This is the last week of the holidays so time has slipped by.   It was not us who were having the problem but them....with three of them it seems it is difficult to organise themselves!!  Wednesday looked a possibility if the forecast was not as they said.  A short trip to Sonning, just 3 locks and then Giles could get on his bike and cycle back for the car.  However the combination of an extra meeting for Giles, impending visitors for them at lunch time scotched that idea.   In the event the weather was not good but not nearly as bad as forecast.  Hey Ho!!  last possibility next Monday but that may not work due to haircuts for kids!!

Surprise fleeting visitors on Tuesday.  Joe and Mike were out with friends on a rather pretty day boat
I always wonder where they put the toilet on boats like this!!

Thursday dawned with a very heavy mist
I had a very spooky ride up to Marsh lock whilst Geoff walked barney around.   THis was only 7 am and I did meet a narrowboat coming the other way...just a dim light appeared ghostlike out of the mist.   The mist stayed with us all the way to Shiplake lock and then miraculously......... lifted in an instant

although it was still lurking behind us.
It would be nice to say we then had a lovely sunny run to out goal of a mooring in Pangbourne.
Life is not like that!

We did have a sunny run so far, picked up fuel at Better Boating on the outskirts of Caversham, then stopped briefly at the moorings by the park to let Barney have a quick run.  New mooring signs here threatening £100 fines if you overstay your allotted 24 hours!!  £9.50 for the privilege of mooring here.  

The next stop was at the boatyard on the little island just after Reading bridge(cannot remember the name) to get a new gas cylinder.  Better Boating had run out!   Just as Geoff was putting the new cylinder in the heavens opened with an almighty shower.  I rushed into the office to pay and sheltered there for a while but then decided I had to make a run for the boat.  This was a big mistake as by now Geoff was sheltering down below and couldn`t see me struggling to pull the stern of the boat in (stupidly we were only tied on with a fore line and centre rope as it was meant to be a very brief stop)
When I eventually managed to climb on board a change of clothes was required.

We waited a while for the rain to abate but Geoffs impatience got the better of him and he decided to brave it with the umbrella up....I stayed below!

By the time we reached Mapledurham lock things were looking cheerier........not far now to Pangbourne.    This was the next disappointment...there was no room at the inn.  It was by now 2pm so much later than our normal stopping time and I was desperate for some lunch.   We tried to get in the one possible space at the far end but it was just too shallow so very reluctantly we continued up Whitchurch lock and headed for Beale Park.   Luck was now with us as we found a very congenial mooring just beyond Still Rockin.  En route I had made us some lunch before we both faded away!

Good end to the day after all.  Sun shining, Boe popped in for a quick visit.  She has driven up from Cornwall to join me in babysitting at Giles for the weekend.   She would have liked to stay to supper but unfortunately they lock the gates of Beale Park at 6pm so it was a fleeting visit.

Later Carol and George from Still Rockin came round for a few glasses of wine.  A gentle evening with some good chat rounded off a busy day.   I should add that once moored Geoff did manage to get his normal siesta if a little later than usual!

He is now debating whether to stay here for the weekend whilst I am away or carry on to Goring as planned.  We shall see.

Total distance:16.42 miles (Wow!)
Elapsed time:7h24m34s (Far too long)
Average speed:2.22 mph (3.03 lock/mph) 

Monday, 28 August 2017

Still in Henley

Early morning mist on the river

Dragon Boat under tuition

Behind the weir at Marsh Lock

Thatched boathouse.The chairs obviously left from a wedding.
 The same wedding provided us with a magnificent firework display on Saturday night,
We have never stayed so long in one place before.   But this is such a lovey spot.  Tescos is a 10 minute walk and so is the town.  We did move last Thursday, we crept out very early and went up two locks to water and empty the loo and were back down again and into our same spot in time for coffee. By the time we were coming back down Marsh lock the lock keepers were on duty.    We are moored well down the moorings away from the town so although there are picnickers there is sufficient space for all.   We have had several visitors including the two grandsons for the day.  Great area for them to ride their bicycles.  I took them to the cinema to see Nut job 2.  I expected to fall asleep during it but was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it.   I had booked the tickets on line as I didn`t want a disappointed 8 and 6 year old.   However there was only one other family in the cinema!!

We have had several good meals out whilst here.   The Chocolate Cafe does an excellent breakfast and the Giggling Squid does great Thai food.   

The first weekend the rewind festival was on just down the river at Remenham and Henley was packed.  We couldn't`t find anywhere to book for Sunday lunch so with friends Gavin and Celia we ate on board.  This last weekend with Emma and Dave here, we went to the Rowbarge Inn and had the best Sunday lunch we have had for a long time.

During the week we had Patricia and Brian visit and once again we ate on board.  This time it was because the only time the marine toilet man could come was the same evening........needless to say supper was a little disrupted!   Having waited nearly 2 weeks for his visit he was unable to fix the wretched thing so the porta potti soldiers on.    The toilet is no longer manufactured and lee sanitation have most spares except one which is no longer obtainable.   He did manage to ascertain that ours did not need that particular part but was still unable to make the cassette lock into position properly.   We are debating the next step!!

Today being the bank holiday it has been the hottest day for a while but I have managed well sitting in the shade of a tree not far from the boat.  Shopping was done early before the worst of the heat.   There have been a lot of boats on the move, and since we are quite close to Marsh lock we could see them stacking up to go through.

However all good things must end so tomorrow we will move, probably up to Sonning.   The goal is Goring next weekend for another baby sitting duty.

Friday, 18 August 2017

What a day!!

Just before leaving Windsor, Barney had a visitor but he is not interested.

The day started well but it was not to be a good day for me.......

We had plans....first mistake..... the plan was to go up to Marlow for one night and we had booked to go to Cote restaurant for their Early Bird meal as it was Boe's last night.   She was scheduled to catch a train from Marlow on Thursday morning.

At the first lock we went up to the waiting pontoon and I saw that a big gin was moored in the middle, ie had not moved along, so I decided to go in front of him, thereby leaving space behind for another boat.  I must admit that Geoff did suggest I went over to the other side........should have listened!!!   As I approached the lock started to empty and I therefore completely misjudged my approach and nearly crashed into the gin!   Only deft fending off on the part of Geoff and Boe saved the day.   Not clever!

Once in the lock we have our standard routine.  Geoff on the bow rope and me on the stern.  Life is not so easy now as we have about turned and are going up the locks and not down..  There can be quite a pull on the rear line when the undertow hits you.  Consequently to make life easier for myself I gave a little burst of engine to save my self pulling so hard.   Yes I know you are supposed to turn your engine off in the lock, but our engine is so quiet I don't think the lock keepers realise it is on, anyway we have never before been asked to turn it off!!   This time he heard it and came back and gave me a real lecture about the dangers of having my engine on!!!  Error number two of the day.

Third error was at Boulters Lock.   All snugly in and me on the stern as usual.  Lock keeper came and asked if we had been in this lock before.  We said, yes but going down.  He then said the undertow could be very strong and would I be able to hold the I decided that maybe Geoff and I had better swap places.   Geoff therefore tied his line off at the front so he could come back.  I went forward and forgot to untie the line so had another lecture about the dangers of having the line secured on the boat.   You are supposed to hold the line so you can control it.   By this time I had got myself all flustered and didn't know what the heck I was doing!!  I don`t like controlling the front line......

By this time I have acknowledged that I am not having a good day.....

To crown it all there was nothing doing in Marlow, every mooring was occupied despite it only being lunch time so it was a great disappointment.   That is the first time this year that we have not been able to moor in our intended destination.

So onward we went....and onward.

en route we passed  Cliveden which I gather is now a 5* hotel.
Henley was now the destination.  By the time we reached there it was nearly 5pm and we just don`t do long days like this.   We decided to moor downstream of the bridge in case there was no space upstream at this time of day.  On the way in as we passed along the Remenham straight we saw the wonderful sight of a proliferation of multi coloured tents..........we later discovered that this was for the Rewind Festival which was on this weekend. (80`s music)   So the towpath where we had moored was going to be awash with festival goers!!!    To add insult to injury the man to collect the money was on his rounds in his boat and hovered all the time we were getting the boat settled.  We had planned to be here a week anyway whilst we waited for the Toilet Man.  Upstream of the bridge the moorings are £10 a day or £55 for a week.  So I said we would like to do that.   No go...these moorings are controlled by a different company and they don`t have a reduced weekly rate.   However we could go no further as we were all exhausted.  We revived ourselves with hot showers and managed to make it to The Catherine Wheel (Wetherspoons)  By the time we returned to Petroc we were all more than ready for bed.

Early next morning Geoff went on a recce to see if there was space above the bridge.  He called to say there was so Boe and I hot footed it up there.     We moored in almost the same spot where we had been on the way down.   Great place and here we shall stay.   So long as you pay the fee they don`t seem to mind how long you stay.

Boe was just in time to gather all her belongings, and meet Giles for breakfast before catching a train to London.  I joined them for coffee.

I then had a wonderfully relaxing afternoon sitting on the river bank with crossword, puzzles, books and online scrabble.   A much better day than yesterday.  

Today (Friday) Geoff and I had arranged to meet Giles for lunch at the Giggling Squid.  This is a restaurant he and everyone else from his office seem to frequent.  They all came too so we had a very enjoyable lunch and can thoroughly recommend the place if you like Thai food.  We nearly didn`t make it as after a lovely sunny morning, it all turned to worms.

Almighty thunderstorm and downpour

Total distance:18.5 miles   (Far too far)

Elapsed time:7h46m10s   (Far too long)



Thursday, 17 August 2017

and so to Windsor for yet another extended weekend!

A beautiful morning as we left Maidenhead.

A gentle run down to Windsor through just two easy these locks as very little physical effort is required on the part of Geoff!!!   he is itching to get back to the canals but then he will have to work again.....

At Boveney Lock we watered and attended to the loo.  Inconveniently they are on opposite banks so it took a while......

We had no idea how busy Windsor would be but hoped that our arrival time would be to our advantage....just before mid-day.

We last visited here 9 years ago and moored on the island but I had no recollection of it.   We meandered for a bit and did a couple of 360`s before we decided to tackle a space that seemed just big enough for us on the outside of the island.   It was between a mini gin and a somewhat bigger one but the space looked big enough.  Luckily I approached it upstream as when we got closer I realised the extent of his bowsprit.  How I managed to wriggle in without touching this beast I don`t know...  I had to carefully slide under his bowsprit and then reverse to fit into the space.  Whew!

I was somewhat pleased after we had been there about an hour when they upped and left........

The weekenders are about and people come in quite late in the day hoping to find space.  

We were a little dismayed to see the notice which said 24 hours as we had visitors coming and wanted to stay the weekend.  However when the warden came round to collect the fees he asked us how many nights we wanted to stay.....£8 a night.    We paid for 3 nights

Windsor is obviously swan HQ!

There are even two black ones

The river traffic was very busy over the weekend, all shapes and sizes

Presumably it would fit in the locks

These little yellow jobs can be hired at vast expense and were up and down past Petroc
all the time but very busty at the weekend

A cheaper way to travel

Flowers galore
Saturday was a gentle day including sussing out a good place for Sunday Lunch as we had Mike Peaker coming and also Maggie.  
Whilst downtown we managed to catch the changing of the did millions of others.
We found a church nearby for Sunday morning.  We had designs on St Georges Chapel but the service was not at the right time.   Mike decided to attend that service and the meet us for lunch.  he then had a horrendous time trying to park.   Windsor is awash with tourists.  Maggie arrived by train which was also jam packed.  We had decided to try the Watermans Arms over on the Eton side of the river as they advertised a carvery.   We had an very enjoyable social time but the meal was somewhat indifferent.  The carvery meat was fine but the vegetables cold and as for the spotted dick pudding........It is one of my favourites but this experience had put me off.......almost like concrete!!!   At Mikes insistence I did mention it when paying the bill but I think it fell on deaf ears.

Maggie came back to Petroc and we were able to spend the afternoon on the riverbank gossipping!

Monday saw two an unexpected arrivals.   The first was Mike who decided to come back and deliver the parcel we had had sent to his address.  He forgot to bring it on Sunday!  The other was Boe who had returned from holiday in the early hours of the morning and decided to recuperate at Windsor.

Consequently we decided to stay yet another day so she and I could have a mooch round Windsor on Tuesday.   We found a good place for a pedicure and celebrated that with a tapas lunch!

After the weekend it has really quietened down in the picnic area by us.