The Hunt Continues. 31st May

Sonning Lock to Medmenham Meadows

The first boats came past whilst we were still in bed, then the Lock Keeper walked along to check on the moorings which was soon followed by a busy half hour of boats arriving for the lock. We took our time and waited for the rush to abate before pushing off, winding and heading to the lock ourselves.

Getting closer to Henley I was on the look out for the location of my cousin Tim’s first wedding. I was the only bridesmaid and I’d love to know where the reception was held. My cousin Ian has said it was Henley and Sally said it was at The Bell in or near Henley. Well there is an Old Bell in Henley, but not by the river.

The bride and me

There are lots of photos taken with water in the back ground so I’m discounting the Old Bell. This was about 50 years ago, so buildings may have changed, stopped being restaurants, but the proximity of water and bridges in the photos almost certainly won’t have. The Bull in Sonning doesn’t have the right kind of bridges in view so has been discounted. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

The Lockie was jolly this morning. On the lock island there is an extension to one of the houses underway and along the towpath new fencing is being erected, pretty sturdy fencing.

The houses now have grown somewhat. Huge wide lawns sprawl down to the Thames all with their obligatory stripes. Some boat houses look to have big Granny annexes, I would quite happily live in the boat house and let Mick and Tilly have the annex.

So sad the campsites are closed

The water point above Shiplake Lock was free, we pulled in to top up the tank, the tap already taped so as to assist using a long hose. All round the lock island was fencing, only access to the pumpout, elsan and water tap possible. Here there have always been numerous sheds with canvas canopies attached, a rather lovely camping area. With cut backs this year the EA have closed all of their campsites, so the whole site normally very interesting looks very dead. Along with the lack of campers there is also the lack of bins, the rubbish barge removed by the EA.

Vessels of all sorts on the Thames

However at the lock there was a Lockie and a volunteer, in fact today every lock was manned, they don’t have to wait 20 minutes for a lock to go through the whole process of emptying when it’s already empty, so things were much quicker.

Maybe!

Approaching Marsh Lock I kept my eyes peeled towards the west bank for the wedding reception venue, possibly tucked away behind an island, no longer a restaurant, the walkway over the weir possibly in one photo, but the other bridge couldn’t be seen.

Click photo for details

On the eastern bank a house for sale, set way back from the river with terraced gardens and water frontage. It was hard to make out which the house was.

The weir

The Lock Keeper here said how quiet the river was, today was his busiest so far this year. Below the lock the water gets confused, the Lockie had warned us, first we’d get dragged towards the weir then we’d be pushed away, Mick upped the revs to compensate.

A semi for sale, click photo for a nosy

Which side of the islands, we chose to go to the west, see if there were any other possible venues. None, but there was quite a lot of mooring available, too early for lunch.

I hope one day to see this boat out and about

The beautiful Tiddley Pom Pom was spotted on it’s mooring, my Grandfather on my Mum’s side was called Pompom so I always look for it, hopefully one day we’ll see it out and about.

Preparations for the regatta are on going. Well it does take 3 months to set up. All the white posts are in position and planks are hooked on to make the lanes. Marquees spread out on the west bank and stands have been erected. We took the eastern side, access to moorings marked by flags. We decided to carry on passing Temple Island and being passed ourselves by a big trip boat.

Temple Island

Hambledon Lock was also manned and there was plenty of room for us to share the lock with the trip boat. As the lock emptied the stern got closer towards us, ‘She always likes to sit in the centre of locks’ the lady said as she pulled the back away from our cratch. They were heading for Marlow where presumably boat trips will start this weekend.

Oxford our big locking partner

Now to find a mooring, we hoped there’d be space for us along Medmenham meadows. The first field had quite a few camper vans in it, no mooring room. On a bit further and close to Fredrica and Little Fred there was a length of bank that looked possible. We winded and approached slowly. I hopped off, Mick brought the stern in, yep this would be good we just needed to get some spikes in, the trees a touch too far away to be useful to tie to.

Hmmmm……..

Once secure the doors were open, Four hours Tilly! A wind swept Tilly explored for a while, but thankfully she heeded my warnings of climbing trees over hanging the river, or hunting right on the bank. No, it was just far FAR to BLOWY! She gave up and retired indoors for much of the afternoon. The occasional check on the wind was taken from under the pram cover, still not suitable. Here’s hoping we find a suitable mooring with suitable weather for her in the next couple of days.

4 locks, 10.5 miles, 0 reception venue found, 50 year old memory failing, 0 self service locks,1 nicely mown patch, 4 hours of blustery wind, 0 sitting out, 1 Tiddly Pompom, 2 blowy for cats.

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