Kelmscott Manor to the Cow Mooring, Lechlade.
Shortly after pushing off this morning we came across an Anglo Welsh hire boat. A chap stood on the bow as look out and possible navigator. He signalled to us that they would be passing on the wrong side, well we hoped that would be what was going to happen! Luckily for our gunnel it was, we checked that they were aware of which side to pass on. They were, but on this occasion it simply wasn’t going to happen.
As they went past the chap at the helm was having a major work out, pumping the tiller. You quite often see work boats doing this to help bring the stern around when turning, more modern boats tend not to need such a technique. Perhaps some of this had been needed to get round the hair pin bends that they’d just come through, or maybe they had something around their prop! But this poor chap was certainly getting a good cardiovascular workout.
Two hairpin bends ahead, the full 180 degrees. Meeting a boat here would make things difficult, but we turned them without difficulty. Sue and Vic on No Problem XL had been hoping to get up to Lechlade this year, we now totally understood why they had turned round.
Bucsot Lock had Lockies on duty, they got us ready to ascend but then we had to wait whilst they sorted out a day boat that seemed to have no idea what was about to happen. The Lockie wanted them tied up to the landing before they started to fill the lock with us in it, she apologised for our delay. I think she’d given the day boat such strict instructions they didn’t dare move when it was their turn.
Another 180 degree bend where we managed to avoid running over a nine year old in a canoe, the whole family out for a jaunt.
Soon we reached St John’s Lock, the Lockie from yesterday was on duty and who should we come across waiting to go up, the mute canoeist! Except today he actually talked to Mick before clinging onto our gunnel.
The last few twists of the Thames and we could see the meadow mooring at Lechlade stretching out ahead of us, along with the bovine hooligans that everyone hears so much about. These cows are well known for eating your ropes, plants, boat covers, anything they can get hold of. Sue had suggested mooring at The New Inn just before the bridge, but sadly these spaces were full, so we pulled in on the meadow, the cows were way down the other end of the field.
No shade again, we closed the curtains and waited for the boat to become an oven. Tilly was too hot to want to explore and just became a long cat on the bed for much of the day. With the radio on we listened to the cricket, the possibility of an England win gradually went from zero to quite high. Mick was staying in, so I went for a nosy around Lechlade on my own.
I’d imagined the moorings to be a lot busier than they were, a few narrowboats and two or three cruisers, leaving plenty of space on a Bank Holiday weekend. The river itself was quite busy, lots of canoes, paddle boards and swans who were having a major feast of weed from the river bed.
At Ha’penny Bridge the world got even busier. The tables at the bottom of The New Inn were filled with drinkers, glad we didn’t moor there in the end, and the Riverside Inn was heaving on the otherside. Is it as busy as this the rest of the week. Crossing over the bridge to reach the town it felt like I was in some sort of resort, traffic backed up, people enjoying the sunshine and booze and lads jumping off the bridge inbetween the swan peddle boats and paddle boarders. The tranquil Thames no more!
Lechlade has a lot of pretty buildings, but a lot of traffic too. A strange collection of shops, Tarot reading, bric-a-brac, bath bombs and of course what every town needs a Christmas Shop. As it’s four months to the big day I decided to go and have a look. Lots of sparkly glittery things, lights and nutcrackers filled the shelves. I wondered if there might be anything to add to my homemade wreath that gets added to the cratch each year, but no, nothing that took my fancy.
Across the way from the church is a Londis which seemed fairly well stocked, but only plastic bread, so I carried on and walked up to the Co-op a good half mile further on. The butcher as I thought was closed and still will be tomorrow, a shame as it looked like a good one. The Co-op had bread but no newspapers, so I took a different route back to Londis picking up the last Sunday paper to make up for not being able to get one yesterday.
More people were in the river now, alcohol and sun burn made them noisier. Back on board England only had 44 runs to get, Tilly sat on the back deck in the shade attracting passers by. The tension mounted in Leeds until Ben Stokes hit the ball for another boundary four, winning the test.
A pub meal was called for this evening, stocks low and an urge for chips. Only one pub still serving food on a Sunday evening the New Inn. Their menu had Gluten Free alternatives for various options, but when Mick checked what the GF option was for one of their burgers, it was a disappointment. Yes it is an option to have a burger without a bun, but a burger should have a bun, other places manage it. So I opted for my second choice a Blade of beef which came without chips, Mick kindly offered me one of his. Have to say I’d have been disappointed with the chips as they were the ones that taste like they are made from mashed potato. Where have all the handcut triple cooked chips gone in this world?
Having said that we had a nice meal and headed back to the boat for a second glass of wine. As the light dimmed the cows moved closer. A post by the bow was very useful for a scratch and the grass was certainly going to be kept short, just hope our paintwork lasts the night.
2 locks, 3.21 miles, 1 exhausted hire boater, 180 degrees twice, 1 talkative canoeist, 98 hooligans, 3 giant swans, 1 Stourport on Thames, 0 candyfloss, 0 chilled medication, 30ish degrees, 1 shy Tilly, 359 to win, 0 bun, 1 blade beef, 1 gammon, 1 pint of T, 1 glass of wine, 1 very hot day.