Feed My Sheep And Filling The Bottom Drawer. 18th 19th August

Abingdon to Elvington to York to Thixendale to Abingdon

With a busy weekend ahead of us we were up early. The sound of Didcot Power Station demolition stopped us all in our tracks, the four explosions very audible at our mooring, like thunder almost overhead. As I finished off my breakfast I found footage of the towers collapsing on the internet. No sign of the wayward explosive case that flew into power cables causing an explosion, fire and some minor injuries.

The Norf, Drax Power Station

The magic food bowl was stocked up with two meals for Tilly and she was left in charge of Oleanna. Our hire car a Fiat 500 which did the job to get us up to Yorkshire and back, just a shame it wasn’t that bit bigger which might have enabled us to purchase a long plank.

Holy Trinity, Elvington

Travelling early on a Sunday morning meant there were few hold ups on the motorways and we made Elvington, just outside York, in good time.

On the pulpit

A little spruce up and a snack before we joined the Harford family at the church to celebrate the christening of Austin and George, two grandsons of Mick’s best friend. Polly (mum of the two boys) lived with us after her mother passed away fifteen years ago whilst she finished her A levels in Scarborough.

George, Polly, Austin and Simon

It was lovely to see the family again and meet George who has just recently started to walk. After they had their hair wetted by the vicar we all walked down the hill to the village hall for drinks sandwiches and cake.

Cake
The Village Hall

Elvington played quite a part in my youth this is where my bestestest friend Emma lived, her Mum being my God Mum. I sometimes would stay with them whilst Mum and Dad were away, going to the village school and certainly partaking in parties in the village hall. This has grown since I was a child and today there was no Jim Hammond playing his guitar and singing songs in the main room.

A Rhino!!

With all the celebrations over we walked up to the River Derwent to have a look at Sutton Lock. The back of Elvington Hall looked how I remembered it, but with a new addition in the garden.

Then we stopped and had to look up. The sound of an old plane. A Spitfire, had this been arranged for Austin and George, their Dad is a fighter pilot in the RAF! We suspect it was more likely to do with something at Elvington airfield, the pilot came round a few times before heading off into the clouds.

Guillotine at one end
Knackered wooden gates the other

Sutton Lock has been disused for many years, the last boat to go through it was actually NB Waterway Routes. The top gate is a guillotine the bottom gates conventional wood. These sit open, the top gate well and truly shut.

Sheep

On the off side the custodian of the lock came to keep an eye on us, a very vocal sheep, he was doing a good job of keeping the grass down on that side of the lock, the towpath side very over grown.

Proms on the Green, in front of Granny Snowden’s cottage

We paused on our way back to the car to listen to a brass band performing on the village green, right outside Emma’s Granny’s cottage.

St William’s College and the Minster

Staying at the Travel Lodge on Layerthorpe had been a good plan, not too far to walk into York for some food at Wagamamas and say hello to the Minster. Then we walked a similar distance back out of town to see an old York friend of mine Nick and his parents. Over the last few years Nick has spent much of his time in China, teaching at a University along with creating ceramic artworks. For about three years we’ve not managed to coincide with his visits home so it was very good to have a catch up and hear of his plans, moving back to Europe. He still rents a flat in Amsterdam where most of his work is exhibited, how Brexit will affect his plans he has no idea. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of him now.

A Minster view, just

Monday morning and the hunt for breakfast started, Travel Lodge didn’t have any toast that I could eat and a cooked breakfast simply has to have some form of bread to catch your egg yolk. So we checked out and headed to Morrisons to see if they could do any better and pay half the price.

Morrisons breakfast

‘Sorry’, no gluten free bread available in the cafe. As I’m not going to suffer if the same toaster is used to toast some bread for me we asked if we could provide our own bread for them to toast. Bring your own bread. This was fine as long as I realised that the kitchen wasn’t a GF zone. Marvellous, I swapped my sausages for extra bacon as they were guaranteed to be pink sausages.

Looking back over the Vale of York from the Wolds

After breakfast it was time to wave goodbye to York. Hopefully we’ll manage to come by boat next summer. Instead of heading southwards we headed towards the east and the Wolds, to Thixendale. Here is where Jennie and Adam live high up on the hills on their farm. I used to work with Jennie at the SJT but she left about ten years ago to work for the family business, Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil. Now there is also the Charlie and Ivys brand.

Kitchen envy

It’s been about three years since we’ve managed to get up to the farm to see them, my how things have changed up there. A wonderful new kitchen which is a barn conversion linking the oil business offices to the farm house. Outside the new windows works were on going with a toilet block and picnic area that will cater for when they do educational visits from schools to the farm, also useful when they have parties. A new patio would extend outside the kitchen windows.

Look, here comes the patio

Almost as soon as Jennie mentioned the patio Adam appeared with the chaps who work on the farm, laying sheets of wood over the grass. Next came a tractor with a big bucket on the front, they had come to lay the concrete for the patio! They might as well keep busy whilst waiting for the crops to be dry enough to harvest.

It was great to see them all and catch up on our respective news. If you should want a lovely outfit making for you Jennie is your woman, she’s starting to sew again amongst all the other things she does around the farm, oil business and holding the family together.

Fresh supplies

We topped up on oil and a few other bits, including a Raspberry and Beetroot dressing I fancied trying. Time to head south and leave Yorkshire behind. As we pulled out from the farm Gin the sheep dog rounded us up until we headed down the drive.

The trip back was far longer, several slowing to stand still moments, but we got back in the end. Much later than originally planned, Mick had a chat to the Lockie who said as it was nearly 6pm he’d let us stay for another night, £5 due on the morning.

A 5 litre bottle containing oil again, no longer just air

Tilly was happy to see us, her magic food bowl spotless. An hour of shore leave was extended by her into two. Our bottom drawer ( designed to hold 5L bottles of oil) is now restocked and tomorrow we’ll head onwards upstream.


Property Game

2 Bedroom Dutch Barge which could come with a mooring.

0 locks, 1 out of action, 0 miles, 4 explosions, 400 milesish by road, 2 boys with wet hair, 1 village, 1 spitfire, 1 sheep, 6 (?) boats stuck forever, 1 rhino, 1 giraffe, 1 manager only soy sauce bottle, 1 old friend, 1 bottle of wine, 1 Minster view, 2 BYO slices of bread to toast, 2 breakfasts, 1 farm, 2 sheep dogs, 5l oil, 1 lovely new kitchen, 1 bottle of dipper, 1 jar mayonnaise, 1 bottle dressing, 1 bottom drawer full again, 60th birthday party missed, Happy not quite yet Birthday Christine, hope you had a lovely day x

Yesterdays Answer

£1,250,000

Sorry Joa, I did say there was more to it, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and 3 reception rooms in Reading

https://www.walmsley.co.uk/property-details/?id=9447

A Good Drying Day. 17th August

Abingdon Lock

Park run

Feet starting stomping past Oleanna as we were sitting down for breakfast, the local park run. People just kept coming and coming delaying Tillys shore leave, she wasn’t happy!

Mick popped back to the lock to chat to the Lock Keeper. With the recent rain fall we’d been wondering how the river would react, further north rivers have been in flood and we were wanting to leave the boat for a couple of days. He was fairly certain that nothing much would happen to the levels, but allowed us to stay moored above the lock where Oleanna was on posts rather than spikes. For £10 he gave us a mooring permit to cover us.

A perfect drying day

Being close to a water point and the sun having come back out the washing machine was put to use. The first load hung out on the whirligig and with the breeze it was dry by the end of the day. Another load filled the airer which was put in the cratch.

Boats queuing up for the lock

By mid morning the river was very busy. Boats were queuing to use the water point, others for the lock. At one point boats were backing into the offside vegetation and moving away with extra greenery. We were quite glad we’d turned up on a damp Friday lunchtime.

Contemplative Tilly

Mick headed off to be picked up by Enterprise to collect a hire car, so with him and Tilly out of the way I got on with some model making for Houdini. Yesterday I’d sent off my sketches to the director, but thought I’d be alright getting on with some pieces that were certainties before I heard back. About an hour after my scalpel had started to cut up bits of card I got an email through from Josh giving me the thumbs up, I can now crack on with the white card model.

First bits of model

By mid afternoon I’d reached a point where either I carried on for another five hours or stopped for the day. We needed a bit of shopping so we headed to Waitrose. The Lockie had said that we could leave the car near the lock for the night, but we decided to park it on the other side of the weir eliminating any possibility of it being locked in, we were needing to make an early start in the morning to head north.

The local crocodile

This evening I’ve pulled out four rows of knitting, hoping I’ve all the stitches I need to re-knit what I’d got wrong. A quick count up of stitches before I start will be needed to see if I’ve picked every stitch back up. Fingers crossed.


Property Game

There’s a bit more to this one than first meets the eye. How much?

0 locks, 0 miles, 137 pairs of running legs, £10 mooring, 2 loads washing, 4 boats treading water and collecting greenery, Fiat 500, 4 hours work, 1 cabinet, 7 hours shore leave, 4 rows gone, 307 stitches remaining, I hope!

Yesterdays Answer

£1,595,000

https://www.struttandparker.com/properties/shillingford-court

Joa I think you need to leave Open Reach and start valuing properties. £5 k off today.

This one is wonderful. The Drawing/Dining Room are great with the huge wide fireplace which has windows either side. Then there is the reception hall, the staircase and galleried landing, well … … wow! Personally I’d also want the boat house too.

All the original features come with history. Built in 1898 for Frederick William Mortimer who was tailor to the Prince of Wales. It is said that the Prince visited the house on several times with his mistress Lillie Langtry. The house was split into it’s current form quite early on, this portion being the largest. The Prince of Wales must have had a lot of suits.

Beating The Weather. 16th August

Day’s Lock to above Abingdon Lock

With wind and rain due early afternoon we wanted to be off to beat it, hoping to reach Abingdon before we got too wet. Within about ten minutes we were putting our waterproofs on, as it had started to rain, trousers were deemed necessary. The weather had arrived three hours early!

Didcot

As we cruised Didcot Power Station got closer. One boat had already staked a claim on a mooring with a pretty good view of the three cooling towers. Wonder if they will sit on their roof with mugs of coffee early Sunday morning?

Wittenham Clumps

Looking back behind us Wittenham Clumps showed itself for the first time, this is where it is suggested to view the demolition from. From this angle it looked like a very good vantage point.

Mick at the helm

Gradually the weather got wetter and so did we, not soaking but just damp. Luckily the three locks we rose up today were all manned although one wasn’t advertising the fact. Coming into Abingdon we turned the big right bend at Jubilee Junction. In 2016 as we approached the bend rowing boats zoomed past heading straight towards the weir, we hoped their brakes were good.

That’s more like it

The first stretch of housing is a bit dull, nothing to write home about, some new properties are going up behind the others and they didn’t look anything special either. But then the view of Abingdon that you’d expect arrives.

We kept a look out for suitable moorings, the first stretch with a highish wall where we’d need fat fenders to keep the cabin side from getting marked. Then alongside Rye Farm Meadow there was plenty of space where the bank is lower. All spaces noted, but we were in need of water which was above the lock.

The nice Lockie here took the bow rope and passed it round a bollard then the stern rope, chatty as he was three years ago. Up we rose, the moorings above the lock looking full with boats breasted up, but the water point was free. A refill of the tank, disposal of rubbish and a clean out of Tilly’s pooh box. Mick had walked along the moorings and seen that there was actually space for two more boats at the far end, so we made use of one then closed up the cratch and pram cover as the rain got going.

Not far to the end now

After lunch we walked across the weir and park for a recky. Then into the town to finally post my nephews birthday card, he turned 13 today, luckily they are away so his card should be waiting when they get home.

Flowers to brighten up the damp day

As it was so damp we did what we needed to and then returned to the boat to dry off. I spent the afternoon sending emails, Tilly explored the outside and Mick lit the stove. This made for a cosy evening in front of the TV where I managed to mess up four rows of knitting! I forgot to decrease, then tried to rectify it only making a bigger mess. Nothing for it but to pull out the last four rows and hope the three stitches I’d omitted to reduce were in them. This is going to take some time and patience!

At least someone was smiling

Property Game

Only part of this wonderful building is for sale. 6 bedrooms, mooring and a workshop. How much?

3 locks, 8.1 miles, 3 cooling towers, 1 wet day, 1 full water tank, 1 clean pooh box, 0 rubbish, 70p for a 1st class stamp! 1 suitable postcode, 2 branches, 2 emails, 1 feline neighbour, 10 ft too short for a second narrowboat, 1 stove lit, 4 rows, 37 decreased stitches to pull out!

Yesterdays Answer

£1,150,000

https://www.struttandparker.com/properties/shooters-hill-pangbourne-reading-rg8

One of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ on Shooters Hill in Pangbourne. Built in 1896 by the shop magnate D.H. Evans. Were they built to house his mistresses or to house seven lady friends of the Prince of Wales?

Big Friends. 15th August

Wallingford Jungle to Day’s Lock

Deep in
the jungle

Pushing off was going to be interesting today. Tied to a tree and almost surrounded by other trees, we’d need to push out backwards past the big barge behind us. I stepped off the bow to hold it in whilst the stern was un-pinned. No dawdling allowed as the wind was doing it’s best to help us with our manoeuvre before we were ready.

One minute
the next, before the engine was put in gear

As soon as we stepped on board Oleanna was blown away from her jungley nest in exactly the right direction to avoid big branches, handy except the French family were just about to pass us slowly and we were heading for their path. Luckily for all by the time Mick finished sorting his stern rope and pin out we’d slowed our sideways direction and collision was avoided. We now followed them up to Benson Lock.

Did the architect know they’d designed such a jolly boat house with a helter skelter

There was a wait here as one of the big Le Boat hire cruisers was in their first lock and under instruction.

Dappled sunlight on Daisy

The sun was back out but the wind had accompanied it today, so we needed a bit of umph to keep going in our chosen direction. The hire boat allowed us to go first and soon disappeared out of sight behind.

Day’s Lock ahead

Our aim was to moor sooner rather than later today, hopefully somewhere good for Tilly so that I could have a day working. At Day’s Lock we asked the Lockie about moorings and he suggested to try by the pill box or a bit further along on the off side.

Moored up for the day

The pill box mooring is nice and straight but sadly a touch too shallow for us, so we had to back off it and carried on to try further along. We passed a cruiser moored up and then an Oleanna gap between trees showed itself. It took a couple of goes to get lined up for it and then the wind just blew us into the space and held us there. If we wanted to leave it would be quite a struggle, so just as well that wasn’t the plan.

Not bad here

She came out for a play, what a big field this outside had. A touch too blowy up my bum but while She was here it was good. Sticks and feathers and stumpy trees to climb. Great. I could also smell what might be some interesting friends, so I was willing to wait around to see if they fancied playing.

We were moored up in time for a mid morning cuppa. The cricket was put on the radio and I got on with some work. First I needed to finish notes on the props list for Chippy panto and paint in my scooter designs.

Initial sketch
for Houdini

Then it was time to start putting ideas onto paper for A Regular Little Houdini. Slightly different versions of my idea were worked on until the right combination came together. The theatres odd set up with what used to be their proscenium is a touch problematical but hopefully I’ve managed to work my way round it.

Just visible

One of the three

I made sure I took a photo of our mooring today. As of Sunday morning the view won’t be the same. Just behind the trees on the other side of the river stands the 3 remaining cooling towers of Didcot Power Station. Early this Sunday morning they are to be felled. Thank you to Kevin Too and Steve for informing us of this. Sadly we won’t be able to witness them being demolished, we might still hear them though sometime between 6 and 8am.

Edited 18th August. They certainly were a wake up call Kevin Too! On the dot of 7am, KABOOM!!!

New friends

Tilly kept coming in to shelter from the wind. Some new big friends did appear later in the afternoon, but none of them seemed interested in playing.

Maybe too much for little Tilly

Tilly did start to try stalking one of the calves but decided that it most probably would be a bit too much of a mouthful if she succeeded.

Pretty

As the sun set to our port side

Coming up
higher
higher

the moon rose to our starboard.

till it started to disapear again

Isn’t nature amazing.


Property Game

Five bedrooms, the railway behind it, a road infront but your own private mooring. How much?

2 locks, 4.96 miles, 14 ft out before we knew it, 2nd attempt at mooring, 0 footfall, 28 hoofalls, 1 looney cat, 3 towers, 1 photo never to be replicated, 2 scooters, 5 sketches, 180 degrees of sky, 1 magical mooring.

Yesterdays Answer

https://www.fineandcountry.com/uk/property-for-sale/henley-on-thames/rg9-3jd/1457572

£1,175,000 on Rod Eyot in Henley. You get a lot of pine for over a million pounds with this one.

Not far off Jennie at £1,250,000.

Into The Jungle. 14th August

Beale Park to Wallingford Jungle

At last, chance to read Saturdays newspapers in bed with a cuppa, well there was no point in getting up early as we knew it would be raining. Tilly had an damp explore outside but returned after an hour as nobody was out to play in the rain. The morning and the occasional wet boat drifted by.

Plenty of spaces, just a shame they are only 24 hrs

We had an early lunch and then decided that we should move on, the big sign right outside our bedroom window reminding us that we’d been here for 24 hours. The rain now was drizzle, but I still put my padded waterproof trousers on as it felt so much like autumn.

Is that? I think it is

On our way back to the Kennet and Avon we’ll plan to stop here, there is a church and a National Trust house to visit, hopefully it’ll be drier then. We passed plenty of mooring possibilities where you could nestle into the bank, one was occupied by a boat we knew we’d see sooner or later.

Wide Beam Still Rockin

WB Still Rockin, Carol and George’s boat, except they wouldn’t be there as they have done a boat swap with Lisa and David from NB What A Lark for a few weeks. Nobody was obviously on board, so we just waved and continued in the drizzle.

Not as big as NB Blackbird

We were hoping for a mooring below Goring Lock but our hearts sank when there was only one space and lady was standing guard waiting for her boat to reverse from the lock landing to take it. Never mind, we’d go up the lock and try a bit further on.

Cleeve Lock came into view and the mooring below was empty, Hooray we could go back into the dry and I could get some work done. This is a mooring you pay for so after tying up Mick walked up to the Lockie (even though the lock said Self Service) to see if we were okay mooring there. Apparently it had been booked by someone, but he’d check if they were still coming. A couple of phone calls were made and the news came back that the mooring was still required, the rain hadn’t put whomever off. The Lockie said there was plenty of mooring all along the field above, it being deeper past the sailing club.

Damp view

So once he’d emptied out the boats coming down we rose up and started to look for a space. Nobody was moored there. We spotted a couple of possibilities and after the sailing club tried one. I managed to hop off at the bow, gave Mick plenty of slack to be able to pull the stern in. He eventually managed to get off the stern, but as we both pulled our ropes we realised that there was something somewhere stopping both ends from coming in. Neither of us could get back on!

After quite a bit of pulling back and forth, shouting through the rain at each other and not appreciating that neither of us had extendable legs to cross the large gaps we faced, it was decided that Mick should get back on. This worked, then he tried to get the bow back in with help from the engine. Yes, it had come right into the side when I got off, but now there was at least three foot of water. Only thing for it throw the rope back on board and climb on the stern. Done, phew!

We tried a bit further along, still no luck. There was a boat at the end of a suitable stretch, but nowhere near enough room for us as well. On we carried catching up with a French family on a hire boat who were going quite slowly. As we reached Sheridan Marina we had just overtaken them when I spotted a sign Free 24hr mooring, so we carried on a short distance and then winded to return to give it a try, winding again to face upstream.

Pretty boathouse.

I hopped off into the undergrowth and Mick then tried to get close enough for him to get off safely. This might have happened but then getting back on board would have been harder, the bow now having disappeared from my view. No we’d carry on!

A long reach of river in the wind and rain with everyone trying to find a mooring. We pootled onwards and onwards no moorings marked on our maps until we reached Wallingford. Here the location for many midsummer Murders the town moorings were full, boats breasted up.

We’d carry on. The French family decided to try pulling into a gap ahead, Mrs not too keen on trying to step off the very front of the bow with the boat at 90 degrees to the bank. A distance on there were numerous boats pulled into the side under trees, Mick spotted a gap possibly big enough for us. We waited for a couple of boats to go by, a chap shouting that there was a mooring a few boats ahead, but we’d try this one first.

Into the side, well almost. I held the bow in and Mick brought the stern in all the time the timer going off in the galley telling me that some Quinoa was just about to burn on the stove. Tilly is useless at galley duties so there was no point hoping she’d turn the gas off, I’d only planned to be outside for a minute!

Jungle mooring

Pins put in at the stern and we seemed to be staying put ish, so the gas could be turned off. The bow rope got wrapped round a tree and we could settle for the night. Tilly was allowed out into the jungle. The hatch would only partially open due to the amount of undergrowth, not being able to see the hatch from the shore Tilly was uneasy.

Not too sure about this!

I headed up the bank, I checked this way and that. Not enough view from our mooring to know I was safe. This always makes me feel uneasy. Then my feeling was backed up as a woofer appeared from nowhere! Luckily a handy tree came to my aid, the woofer having to jump over the jungle outside to get near. It soon got bored and went. I decided to call it a day and go home for a snooze.

My hope to get some work done today had vanished along with any vacant moorings. Some Houdini emails got some attention, but now it was too late to get stuck into things. The Chinese Water Torture Cabinet will have to wait for tomorrow.


Property Game

In Henley, 4 bedrooms and on an island. This is one house. How much?

2 locks, 9 miles, 1 lock and 6.5 miles further than planned, 1 wet day, 2 teas in bed, 4th mooring lucky, 2 damp boaters, 42″ screen, £200?! 1 jungle mooring, 1 machete required, 6 eggs and perfect.

Yesterdays Answer

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbhershes180308

£995,000 for two bedrooms on the first floor, you get a mooring for a small boat and parking for a small car at the rear. Bargain!

Pretty close with £840k Joa, but it is Henley!

Cloaking Device Engaged. 13th August

Sonning Lock to Beale Park

We’ll go down there in a few weeks

Awake long before the alarm was due to go off, we were up and on the move before 9am. A mile and a half ahead was Reading, the junction with the Kennet and Avon Canal and the Tescos mooring. We wanted to stop for some shopping so prepared to pull in.

The moorings outside Tesco were free to stop at three years ago, but since then we’ve heard all sorts. Limited mooring times, having to pay even for four hours and any part there of, the enforcement company no longer operating, who knows. We decided to checked our map. That’s funny, my phone said Tescos was a pay mooring, but the new tablet said it was free? Somehow we must have two versions of Waterway Routes on the go.

At first we decided to pull in just before the K&A junction, but there was a suitable sized gap up ahead outside Tescos, so we moved up to check it out.

The Ark

Opposite the junction is this wooden boat that is gradually being reclaimed by nature. Some would think it an eyesore, but I found it fascinating. Next to it under cover was what looked like an artists studio with a couple of paintings on easels.

A bit of rope was needed to be able to tie up the bow to a missing ring. There were no obvious signs by the mooring about charges, so we chanced it. We didn’t want to be long so headed off, pausing at the archway from the towpath to read a sign high up with SO much writing on it. This suggested that we should pay £4 for 4 hours mooring, but was this the company no longer looking after the moorings? We didn’t want to be long anyway so decided to chance the £100 fine!

No first class stamps anywhere in Tescos, poor Josh will have to wait for his birthday cards. We swept through the store at breakneck speed picking up enough supplies to see us to the weekend. As we got back to Oleanna another boat was seeing if they would fit into one of the git gaps behind us. No chance. ‘Give us five minutes and you can have this spot’. They circled a couple of times whilst they waited for us to push off.

The staircases look like they should be full of coloured liquid with bubbles rising and falling

Onwards to Caversham Lock, all the time having the feeling we were being followed. The lady volunteer at the lock asked how long we were and asked us to use the end bollard in the lock, the one nearest the top gates, a cruiser was following in behind us. We pulled up all the way and did our ropes. The gates had recesses in them which may or may not trap our bow fender. As locks fill Oleanna tends to be first swept backwards and then forwards, I put an extra turn around the bollard just in case.

A Humber Keel a long way from home

The lock started to fill. The lady checked I was alright, I was just so long as my fender was okay. With the extra turn on the bollard I couldn’t pull the rope in, but it also couldn’t slip to a longer length. Slowly we rose. Mick managed to pull us back from the top gates a touch and I was able to tighten the rope to keep us at a safer distance from the gate. The lady then opened up the paddles more. I thanked her for taking her time and checking we were okay. Quite often the Lockies press the button at one end of the lock to set things in motion, walk to the other end, press the button there to lift the sluices more and then walk off to do something completely different until the chamber is almost full.

Good name

Normally as we cruise we have an old tablet running, our trip computer which maps where we are. The battery on this is past it’s best so it will only run for a short while without being plugged in. This morning I had unknowingly set the timer on our cloaking device. We pootled along, making note that the diesel in Reading was currently cheaper below the lock than above. We overtook a rib with a great name and were overtaken by a trip boat and cruiser. All the time that feeling of being followed with us.

Our cloaking device had engaged when we were at Tescos, so that was where we were, except it wasn’t. From some three quarters of an hour behind us we got a message asking where we were. Now we actually knew where they were, three quarters of an hour behind, following us! The trip computer had the power turned back on, was rebooted, but didn’t have enough power to sort itself out, this had to wait for another lock.

Mapledurham Lock

After Mapledurham Lock I could see a field of Alpacas. Quite a few, then another field and another and another. We were alongside the biggest Alpaca farm in the country. Wish I could have clipped a bit off each colour as we went past.

We’re getting closer to Oxford

We’d hoped to be able to moor here just before Pangbourne. The two boats in front of us found spaces, a wide beam that had been at Tescos had a space. Then sat right in the middle of a space made for two narrowboats was a boat that had come past us whilst we were shopping. Tied to a bollard at one end and a spike the other with two bollards at either end! Of course when they pulled in there may have been a cruiser moored at one end, but it certainly didn’t feel that way!

A nice stretch of river
The perfect spot for him and us

So we carried on, up Whitchurch Lock and started to look for a mooring, we were hungry by now. One space appeared, but Mick couldn’t get off the back. We continued, spaces showing themselves, except each one had a fisherman slap bang in the middle! After four such gaps we spotted an empty one, but would it be long enough for us? At around 59ft it was perfect.

Here they come

Lunchtime and our tracking devise could be turned off, however we kept an eye on the boat following us getting closer and closer all the time. Just about three quarters of an hour after we’d moored up we could see a narrowboat heading upstream, side fenders being put down ready to breast up.

This must be a pesky outside to need two boats
They don’t have very big windows

She called me back from what I was doing. This outside must be quite troublesome as another boat was needed to tie it up. I watched from the roof as this other boat caught us. It was all quite puzzling.

Paul and Christine on NB Waterway Routes are on the Thames checking map data at the moment. They have just finished filming on the Lee and Stort for a new DVD and had left Limehouse on Sunday and have gradually been gaining on us.

Christine and Paul on NB Waterway Routes

A stop for a cuppa and a catch up had been arranged and it was good that we’d reached a mooring so Tilly wouldn’t be sat inside longing to be out. Those trees at the Tesco outside had looked very good! She did show her face at the hatch to say hello to Paul, He looks after my Mrs Tilly stamps of approval. She Paul seemed nice too, I’ve not met her before. I was polite and took time out of being busy to say hello, then carried on with the important task of pouncing.

With Paul being on board we got an update to our cruising maps. Waterway Routes are updated every month with any changes that have happened on the network, we’d fallen a bit behind with our version, last updated in October! So it was high time we got up to date again.

A lovely catch

Still with more map checking to do today before they could moor up they pushed off to make the most of the dry weather.

This afternoon Mick has updated all our phones and laptops to ensure we are all up to date with the maps and on the same version. I’ve been looking at Panto props lists and adding extra ideas that have come from John the Director one based on a Peter Gabriel video. Tilly, well she’s just been far too busy finding friends and murdering them.


Property Game

2 bedroom boat house with mooring. How much?

3 locks, 1 not planned, 10.12 miles, 1 straight on, 0 boxes wine, 0 1st class stamps, 13th birthday about to go by, £4 or not, 1 cloaking device engaged, 1 Humber Keel, I sunset, 1 boat hot on our stern, 2 many fishermen, 1 updated map, 3 foam ducks, 1 extending cord, 1 vat of smash, 7 deadly sins, 2 tasty friends, 2 sleeves.

Yesterdays Answer

Only £650,000 but…. it is only an apartment with two bedrooms though. So only a quarter of what you can see, hence the price.

So Joa the whole property might work out to being £2,600,000, so a touch nearer your price range! 😉

A Jumper Day. 12th August

Henley to above Sonning Lock

Henley

The first rower went past before 7am today, no need for an alarm clock. At least it must have been a scull as all we heard was the slide going back and forth and the oars sweeping through the water and not the instructions that are normally shouted out in pairs, fours or eights, some of these rowers do like the sound of their own voices.

Just after breakfast it started to rain, not inviting but our hope that it would clear up was granted and we set off in the dry. Today is the first day we’ve worn an extra layer for what feels like months, the temperature having dropped to a little below 20 C.

I’d like to sit on that balcony

Some of the boat houses in Henley have accommodation above them and some are as pretty as the wooden boats that are moored up outside.

Slowly reaching the lock

We’d just missed going up with two other narrowboats at Marsh Lock so waited our turn to rise to the next reach of river.

Twisty chimneys

Numerous islands give you the choice of which way to go, so we decided to have a nosy at some of the houses. The bigger ones sit back with large lawns, these houses have views across the river. The smaller ones, more modern, face wooded islands which stop their views short.

Test driving the new waterproofs

It started to rain so waterproofs were donned as we wound round the big bend past Wargrave to Shiplake Lock. Back in 2016 as we arrived at this lock there was a queue, a big one that wasn’t moving, all it did was grown. Boats held back but in the end had to pull in down towards the weir as a hydraulic pipe had burst on one of the gates. After two hours wait the queue started to move again. Today we’d just missed the two narrowboats ahead again so waited our turn.

No big queue today

We pulled in at the services to empty the yellow water, top up the water which took all of five minutes. Between here and the lock were large tents the sort you see on American films, both ends open and a large fly sheet spanning right across the top. Each tent had wooden beds in them and then what looked like a garden shed. The island was purchased in 1891 by the City of London Corporation for camping and bathing. In 1914 the island was let to the Thames Conservancy and divided into 18 plots, the wooden huts were built by the tents for cooking. At the time no women were allowed to sleep on the island, it was men only. Sadly today it was raining too much to have my camera out as we went past.

One legged goose

The rain now stayed with us all the way to Sonning Lock where we rose up (a little too quickly for my liking) and then found a suitable place to moor. Tilly wouldn’t like it here in the slightest!

Now this more than made up for the lack of trees yesterday. 6 hours! I’d only just started to survey today’s outside when another stupid woofer came to spoil my concentration. This one even ran up to me! Woofing and woofing. I stood my ground, arched my back and my tail nearly took off, that stopped it in it’s tracks! Stupid rude woofer. Once it had shut up I could get back to what I’d only just started.

A wooden chair

After a couple of hours I had to be reminded that I was meant to show my face every now and then, so from then on I bobbed back to say hello every now and then. One time She wasn’t too pleased to see me and my friend, even though She thought it might be a mushroom I had in my mouth. The hatch was closed in my face, so I just had to turn back round towards the trees with it. If She didn’t want to me to share it with her then that was her loss.


Property Game

Now this one is in Marlow. How much?

3 locks, 7.34 miles, 2 jumpers, 2 waterproof coats, 0 blue t-shirt, 3 lock keepers, 1 a bit heavy on the buttons, 10 year old hollyhocks, 6 hours, 1 mushroom, 2 work emails, 1 useful buoy.

Yesterdays Answer

£3,500,000 A Tudor Style Country residence with 50ft of water frontage. It has a garden room, indoor swimming pool and a snooker room with a baize coloured carpet!

Joa, I think the slipway along with the baize carpet added another million.