Sonning Lock to Beale Park
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉