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 line.......so 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)

 Locks:5

Bridges:9 




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 locks........so 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 guard...as 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.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cookham in the rain

 The trip down to Cookham was fine but we knew the forecast for Wednesday was dire so wanted somewhere congenial (and cheap!) to stay over a couple of days.   We found a delightful mooring at Cookham.  A large grassed area with mooring rings and access to fields with long grass which Barney loves.  He may not be a swimming Labrador but he loves to roll in long wet grass.  At first we thought we had dies and gone to heaven as there was no mention of any charge for mooring.......Ha!   We then found another notice which said it was from £5...  Aah well we have accepted the fact now that is the name of the game on the Thames.  In the event the lady who came round to collect only relieved us of £6 each night. The added plus was a footpath and a short walk into Cookham.  Here there were 5 or pubs, 3 garages, 2 wedding shops, various other shops but no general store!  There was just a small convenience store in one of the garages which was sufficient for our needs for a couple of days.

Wednesday dawned as promised and was a wet, drear day.  It was not a complete write off as Giles arrived by pre-arrangement to go out to lunch.   We had fully perused all the pubs menus on line and discarded those that seemed too expensive.   We decided on the Old Swan Upper which was the furthest walk but well worth it.  We had a tapas type lunch there which was quite delicious.  Geoffrey even topped it off with their chocolate dessert which was to die for....I had to help him eat it and I don`t normally like gooey chocolate puddings.

Thursday was a much better day

Our morning visitors
We saw no need to rush as we only planned to go as far as Maidenhead so Barney had his long walk before we set off just before 10am.    It then seems that the whole world had decided to move, there were boats going every this way and that.   This necessitated a wait at both the locks.

Packed in at Boulters Lock
The locks themselves don`t take that long to empty and carry us down, but it takes a while to pack it full of boats!

Big houses again on this stretch
Having taken advice we ignored the moorings about the two bridges and carried on through.  Just after the railway bridge there was a long stretch of mooring with hardly anyone there...it was only noon.

It says £8 for 24 hours but no one has been round yet!

Nice enough place but strangely difficult for Barney and I to get on and off.  There is a very narrow strip of concrete then a 2ft wall.  The strip is not wide enough for Barney to land on and then tackle the wall so he stands on the boat and thinks about it for a long time, planning his strategy,  and then does an almighty leap over the whole thing.   My getting on and off is somewhat more undignified as it necessitates sitting on the ground!

Walking for Barney is good once I had sussed out that the Private notice at the end of the lane was not quite true.   A big multi-barred gate in front of a big house announces that it is private and access to the house only.  However there is space for a pedestrian at the side and by walking through you can find a very small Public Footpath notice tucked away in the hedge.   I only found it thanks to a local walker.  You can go two ways, one to fields and one is actually the continuation of the Thames path which leads to the next lock.

Unfortunately it is a long walk into town, but Geoff tackled it as he wanted some new trousers......what an incentive!


Total distance:3.65 miles 
Elapsed time:2h41m27s 
Locks:2
Bridges:2
Average speed:1.36 mph (2.10 lock/mph) 


Monday, 7 August 2017

AAArrrhhh!!!!!

 One of the worst things to go wrong on a boat is the toilet (in my opinion)

Luckily two years ago we invested in a Porta Potti for emergencies which had now been brought into commission.  A phone call to Lee Sanitation, from whence the toilet originated. elicited the information that they don't do call-outs.  We have located a marine toilet engineer BUT he is on holiday!!!   He is on holiday this week and maybe next week.  Luckily we will still be within his reach for the next couple of weeks.

This was the sky behind us on Friday evening, but miraculously it missed us.
We had watched these amphibians in Henley and they are still around

Then we watched some of them as they landed



All shapes and sizes were lined up in Higgenson Park on Saturday
The weekend was a very social one.  We had visitors Bob and Rosie on the Saturday for lunch and I had discovered that they were en route to Heathrow, so I begged a lift as I thought I would make a surprise appearance at son-in-law Daves 50th birthday party.  We had not planned to attend as we had no idea where we would be.  They dropped me at Hounslow from where I caught a train to Wandsworth and a short walk to the party...it was great to see the faces of all my family.   I had previously texted saying we hoped they had a good time and sorry not be be there!.  I wasn`t able to stay late as I had to catch a train back at a reasonable time for Geoff to meet me at Marow.....he had to stay up way past his bedtime!!  However it was long enough for a few glasses of Prosecco and the meal...a great day
Sunday we had friends Anne & Keith coming to go out to lunch.  As we hadn`t seen them for a while it was a great catch up session.   By the time they arrived we had moved from our £12 a night slot to the free moorings just a little way behind.   I was quite relieved to have moved as it transpired we were adjacent to where a Thames swim was finishing.   A marquee had been erected, portaloos put in, and later on the place was incredibly busy.

We went to the Dog and badger at Medmenham for lunch.   We all used to live in the married quarters at Medmenham in the early 80`s and the Dog and Badger was the local pub.........somewhat changed now.    It has been modernised, albeit quite well done, the biggest change was the prices.   It is now a rather upmarket pub.

Later we were revisited by Anne Barlow, our Australian friend, this time with her daughter Melinda who lives in Marlow,  We had last seen Melinda in 1980 at the age of 19.  She is now a grandmother.

All in all a very busy and enjoyable weekend....so much so that we decided to stay over Monday to recover!



Friday, 4 August 2017

Lingered Longer in Henley

Thursday`s departure was delayed as we decided that Henley was as good a place as any to meet up for a meal with friends Anne and Graham.  They had already visited us for lunch on Tuesday and this was another chance to catch up.  However first things first, we had to go back upstream a couple of locks to water etc.  When we came back mid morning our same place was still vacant so in we went....its very hard to tear ourselves away from here.


This will do for my boat tender

There is a rally going on of amphibians

All shapes and sizes
Thursday evening we decided to give some of the more expensive establishments the big swerve and try The Catherine Wheel which is a Weatherspoon pub.  We had an excellent meal and cannot believe how reasonable the prices are.  A small bottle of Prosecco which can cost anything from £5-8 in other places was £3.85.    If my system could have coped it was tempting to have two!!!!


Friday we really had to go as we wanted to be in Marlow for the weekend

Past Temple Island

Next door to Bisham Abbey!

Bisham Abbey ( I think)

Danesfield House Hotel
33 years ago we lived in the area at Medmenham.  At that time Danesfield was being used as the Headquarters of some Chocolate factory...may have been Cadburys.  Nowadays it would appear to be a very upmarket hotel.  Way back in the early 1960`s I stayed there when it was the Officers Mess for RAF Medmenham.  I remember wood pannelled walls with hidden doors, large bathrooms with huge baths and very cold!!   I wonder what it looks like now???  I think it has had several changes of use since then.



Danesfield Sailing Club
Once again memories.  In the early 80`s we launched Geoff`s self built Wharram Catamaran here. With much help from friend Jim Crint, this 12ft sailing boat had started life in our garage in Kinloss, Scotland, travelled down half built in the removal van to the quarters at Medmenham, eventually finished and successfully launched here.   It never went very far as our sailing expertise was extremely limited and the river quite narrow.......When we left here in 1984 to live for 3 years on a much bigger catamaran (30ft) I cannot remember what happened to it........maybe the rotting hull is still lurking there!!

Yet another rather nice residence.
On arrival at Henley there did not seem to be much space.  We spied one possibility but thought the sign said No Mooring so went further along and managed to squeeze in.  It was not ideal however as we were across a water outlet that told you not to moor there because of this outlet.   We decided to sit it out and see who moved later in the day.   The water outlet was not constant but made a bit of a racket when it was in action.  It didn`t seem to bother Geoff but it did bother me!
I chatted to the people on the small gin behind and discovered they ere leaving later in the afternoon which was ideal as we then moved back and were safe.   
Mooring here costs £12 a day between 6pm and 9am.    Hence some local boats come up for the day but disappear before 6pm as the people behind had done.

We subsequently discovered that the moorings behind did not say NO MOORING but MOORING ALLOWED.       They should have bigger notices!!  It was however 24 hours only so would not have sufficed as we wanted the whole weekend as we were expecting visitors.  Once again we have had to bite the financial bullet.



Total distance:6.72 miles 
Elapsed time:2h30m32s 
Locks:3
Bridges:2 
Average speed:2.68 mph (3.87 lock/mph)