Category Archives: A Regular Little Houdini

Alternatives. 21st August

East Street to Swinford Meadow

Breakfasted and ready to go we waited for our Tesco delivery, he arrived a little after 9am and found us really easily. I’ve grown accustomed to waking in the morning of a delivery and receiving a message from Sainsburys or Ocado as to what in our order was unavailable and if any substitutions had been made. But Tescos hasn’t got there yet, so we waited to see if everything had been available.

I could hear the conversation by the van, one thing not available and three things we’d been sent alternatives, Mick headed over to check if these were okay. So the three boxes of white wine we’d ordered (I tend to drink white rather than red) ((Mick had ordered three boxes of red also!)) weren’t available. But alternatives had been sent, 9 bottles of the same wine for the same price. This was fine by me! Only thing was storage, but I’d find somewhere.

Bottles!

With everything stowed apart from the two bags of cat biscuits (they’d been on special offer and were going to be in the wine cellar which was now full of bottles) we could push off.

Sheepwash through that bridge on the right

The end of Sheepwash Channel looked very different from when we’d last seen it in November, purple flowers everywhere.

Port Meadow

Considering we were so close to Oxford Station the river feels so rural here with calves in the fields. Then the river opens up, the wide expanse of Port Meadow with the sunny sky above, wonderful.

Godstow Lock was opened up for us and we were waved in, but Mick held back. There was a canoeist loitering, was he coming up in the lock with us? All nineteen tonnes of us? Mick waved him in, but got no response so brought Oleanna in, the canoeist followed. Up at the front I couldn’t see the chap in the small inflatable, he’d decided to hold onto our gunnel, still not a word to Mick, not even eye contact. He was first out and away in front of us.

King’s Lock the first match stick lock

A little before 11am we reached King’s Lock the first of what I call the match stick locks. These are no longer operated by pushing buttons, the gates have to be pushed and pulled open by hand and then the paddles raised by turning a wheel. The indicators on the paddle gear rise and fall as the wheel is turned. White high and the paddle is closed, red high the paddle open.

Match sticks
Pushing the gates open

The lady lockie got us and another boat into the lock, we were followed by the canoeist again, who ignored us but still cling onto our gunnel, he was first out again. Boats were wanting to come down the lock having come off the Oxford Canal they also needed licences so the Lockie here is kept busy.

A working pair heading for the Oxford Canal

Once out the lock, following in the canoeists wake and the other boat, we kept to the left at Dukes Cut Junction to carry on up the Thames onto new water. Following the other boat was a bit of a mistake, they like to take their time cruising at tick over, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. Our cruising speed is a touch faster and it became a touch frustrating sitting behind them. A cruiser caught up with us, we let them past and then followed them overtaking a short distance before Eynsham Lock.

RAF planes

Overhead a large plane circled, where was it going too? Mick checked his plane app, at first glance the plane wasn’t there. Then it appeared RAF from Calgary. It must have been heading for Brize Norton. Subsequent planes today have passed over with no identification, all RAF.

Swinford Bridge

Eynsham Lock the chaps were jolly. They wanted us in first followed by the cruiser. I managed to get my rope around a bollard to help pull us into the side, but it wouldn’t be ideal as it was a huge innie. With the canoeist still clinging to us this wouldn’t have been safe, the Lockie agreed and moved my rope up. We felt better about it, even if the canoeist had no idea. As the lock gates opened the canoeist thanked the lockie, he wasn’t mute after all! and he sped away first out again.

Not a bad view

A mooring was next thing to do. If we carried on a short distance we’d get to the free moorings on the meadow. A straightish length showed itself and we both managed to get off, but as pins were being hammered in Mick didn’t like that we were on a bend, a little hard along here not to be. So he pointed ahead to another stretch that looked good, round a few more bends.

Here the bank was higher and full of holes. I certainly wasn’t going to try jumping up as I was more likely to end up in the river. Mick managed and wrapped my rope round a handy post, but then couldn’t get back on for pins and hammer at the stern. Tilly would be alright here, but I wouldn’t, I’d be stuck on the boat for the rest of the afternoon. Mick was doing his best to make it work, but I suggested reversing to a spot in between here and where we’d first tried. A clippy ‘Okay’ came back.

Lunchtime!

We reversed, the bank was more solid and lower. Oleanna settled into a space and we moored up, everyone was happy. Tilly soon found some friends, well they were having lunch, I didn’t see why I shouldn’t have some too!

The heart of Oleanna

I got on with some work making model mud banks whilst Mick took the engine board up and gave Oleanna her 250 hr service. The electrics had to be turned off for a while as there was a loose connection on a battery that needed sorting, this put paid to me singing along with Kate Bush whilst whittling away my mud banks

Was that something?

Tilly took to checking out the river bank for friends, the cat Health and Safety committee didn’t approve, thank goodness she didn’t feel the need to pounce!

Ben Hyde Memorial Trust walk, 184 miles to lay a poppy wreath in London

Later on we watched the next episode of Keeping Faith, I think I may have to remake my mud banks, they don’t look Welsh enough!


Property Game

This was quite a while ago and has since sold. Still within the M25, 5/6 bedrooms, a lot more than two dinning chairs. How much?

3 locks, 1 button operated, 2 match stick operated, 6.67 miles, 1 left, 3 boxes of red, 9 bottles of white, 1 annoying canoeist, 3rd mooring attempt lucky, 2 tasty friends, 4 hours mud making, 4 walkers, 1 casualty on a stretcher, 9 litres oil, 1 new bolt required, still 3 stitches too many, 1 bye bye Blackbird.

Yesterdays Answer

£2,250,000

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbwdrswds060273

Joa £1.45 million is better than Jennie’s £999,000. That balcony and private mooring in Maidenhead bumps up the price.

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!

Hopping Friends. 11th August

Marlow to Upper Thames Rowing Club

Just a small third house!

Boats were on the move this morning, we pushed off and joined in with them. Ear wigging the trip boat yesterday when it came past with three passengers, I learnt that the three big houses before All Saint’s Church in Bisham were all owned by the same man. The first he bought for £8 million, the second for £12 million, which he gave to his brother. Sadly he was out of ear shot by the time he said how much the third house was. Wonder who the chap gave it too?

Arriving at the lock

Temple Lock was on Self Service and a cruiser had arrived ahead of us and a small narrowboat. We all squeezed in the small lock and rose up.

Pretty boats

Half a mile on was Hurley Lock, Lockies were on duty here and after admiring the slipper launches at Freebody Peter and Co (most of which were under wraps) the three of us slotted into the lock again. The volunteer noted that between us there were two visitors and an EA licence holder.

Medication and NB Huffler

Everyone was wanting water so we pulled in and waited our turn to use the giant hose. We took longer than the others to fill as we’d taken the opportunity of putting a load of washing in the machine as we’d left Marlow. Other boats came up the lock including a large blue wide beam and a narrowboat.

Chatting away

We gradually caught these chaps up as they cruised side by side having a good chat to one another. The river was wide enough as we passed the lovely moorings at Medmenham.

The tone of Oleanna’s engine changed, now what was that. A burst of reverse didn’t do anything to stop it, was there something around the prop? Well this was a different noise, we could pull in at the next possible place or carry on to the lock. Then Mick had an idea as to what it might be, the weedhatch cover might have worked a touch loose. This was worth checking.

Dragons on roofs

Now before everybody goes checking their weedhatches please note our weedhatch is totally separate to our engine bay as we have a Tyler Wilson shell. A loose weedhatch on most boats can result in water making it’s way into the engine bay as the prop turns, this can lead to boats sinking. Ours being separate means that we can never flood the engine bay. Mick took Oleanna out of gear and lifted the lid on the stern deck. Nothing obviously loose. A tap with the lump hammer to tighten things up, he put her into gear, the noise was gone.

An older panel on Hambleden Lock

Up ahead was Hambleden Lock and a very long queue waiting to go up. The boats we’d shared with earlier filled the lock landing, so we trod water until they moved up. The wind caught the narrowboat ahead of us pushing him right over into the bushes on the off side, he eventually regained control and pulled in to the lock landing. Here we could now see that the lock was on Self Service. With two single handers in front I wandered up to push the buttons.

The lock emptied and I could see a couple of boats heading down stream so left the gates open for them to come into the lock. Now I’m not sure whether the Self Service sign was on the lock gate at the top, but nobody offered to assist with the buttons. This may of course have had something to do with what I was wearing!

An EA Volunteer

EA Lockies either wear white shirts or dark polo shirts, the volunteers wear a pale blue polo shirt with a red life jacket. Now this morning I had inadvertently put on the costume of a volunteer lockie!

Going down

Boats came into the lock slotting in nicely, then a narrowboat indicated where I’d like him to be, well I didn’t really care, that’s when the penny dropped. I did my best to stand away from the buttons and to not act like a Lockie. One lady asked if I was on duty, ‘NO, just waiting to come up myself. I’m quite happy to push buttons for everyone but I take no responsibility for anything!’ She laughed, the others on their boats still could only see my pale blue t-shirt.

I pressed the buttons and down they all went.

In filed the boats from below, whilst they’d waited they had all sorted out what order they’d come in to make the most of the space, Hambledon Lock is far bigger than the other two we’d been through this morning. The narrowboat and widebeam pulled in at the front side by side, Oleanna next with a cruiser alongside, then a smaller cruiser. There was most probably enough space for another bigger cruiser but I wasn’t going to make that call, so I left it to the captain. He dithered so I closed the gates.

Us on the way up

Hambledon is the last of the sideways filling locks, so the bow rope was passed round a bollard several times before I was going to push buttons again. Ah , but wait there was a Lock Keeper in a white shirt, I could step down. I held my rope. He tinkered with something at the back of the button cabinet, checked that the two single handers knew the lock filled sideways and then headed into his cabin.

We held our ropes, we all watched as he came out, watered his hanging baskets and disappeared again. ‘I think we’re still on Self Service then!’ Time to step back up and push those buttons. The sideways filling seemed to be a lot gentler on self service and my four times round the bollard held well when I wasn’t in attendance. The Lock Keeper chipped in with ‘It won’t open until it’s ready to’. Nice that he acknowledged me.

Mental note, leave the pale blue t-shirt in the wardrobe whilst on the Thames.

Temple Island

Around the bend and past Temple Island which marks the start of the Henley Royal Regatta. This happens every year in early July and the whole of Henley and it’s surrounding area get taken over by it for months.

Tent city going up

Today large bells tents stood all in lines stretching almost as far as you could see. Today these were being erected for the Rewind Festival which takes place next weekend with music and all sorts. This looked like seriously posh camping, you can of course slum it by bringing your own tent!

Over taking the central lane

Now on the straight we had a trip boat, the widebeam and narrowboat still wanting to chat to each other, us a cruiser and a small cruiser all heading in the same direction and a day boat heading towards us. Everyone adopted their chosen cruising speed. The widebeam and narrowboat ahead were of course the slowest and sat bang in the middle of the river, not pulling over to let people overtake. The trip boat just went for it on their port side, we were trying to get out of the way of the smaller cruiser, it was mayhem! In the end all the upstream boats managed to over take, be overtaken whilst the on coming day boat really didn’t know which way to turn. In the end they were guided to a gap left for them.

As soon as the moorings on the offside showed themselves we pulled over and brought Oleanna to a stop right by a gantry that it turns out was still left from the regatta. We’d just finished tying up when a four by four arrived for his mooring fee.

A chat with the director for Vienna was accompanied by a torrential down pour, but then the afternoon brightened up so we went for a walk to see what Henley had to offer.

Henley

A pretty place with a wide main street. Independent shops along with a few chain stores, not that much was open so late on a Sunday afternoon. There was the same bunting that had been up in Marlow, the church has a tower rather than a spire and there isn’t much on street parking.

George Harrison lived here at one time, but did you know that in 1722 the mayor of Henley was also called George Harrison. In 1930 Norman Wisdom applied for a job in a pub in the town but he was told he was too small and sent packing. Other interesting things about Henley look here.

A bog standard panto poster

We looked at the local theatre and then went down to the river by the bridge. Launches tried to pull in to visit the pubs. A small section available for such things, mooring up to plant tubs and railings. We watched and then went to look at the pretty boats.

Hemp
fenders

How come there are so many pretty wooden boats on the Thames and so few on other rivers that we’ve noticed? Money has to be the reason. The finish on the boats is just beautiful and their rope fenders wrapped around their bows so pretty, just a shame there is so much dog pooh on the pavements!

PomPom!

My favourite boat was Tiddley Pom Pom, mainly because my Mums Dad was known to everyone as PomPom, the man with Pontefract Cakes and Nuttall’s Mintos in his pockets. For a few minutes we did consider changing Oleanna’s name, but that wouldn’t be right.

Playing in the big field

The sun was back out when we got back to the boat, so we sat out to keep Tilly company for a while. Not enough trees for my liking, but I could scoot around on my side amongst the interesting smelling grass. There were two trees that I checked out, but they were boring, in fact it was all quite boring until…… BUNNIES!!!!

Shhhh, got to keep that bloomin bell quiet

Loads and loads of BUNNIES!!!

Hoppy friends

Property Game

Tudor style with 6 bedrooms.

3 locks, 7.18 miles, 2 little locks, 3 dragons, 1 chilled medication boat, 1 big lock, 1 wrong choice of clothes, 5 down, 5 up, 1 Lockie occupied elsewhere, £10 in ten minutes, 2 much pooh, 2 pints milk, 1 pink chewbacca,  hour playing with Tilly, 2 bottles of botanics, 31 hopping friends! O brought home, 1 theatre in definite need of Puss in Boots next year.

Yesterdays Answer

£400,000, very pretty too, so it should be

https://www.andrewmilsom.co.uk/properties-for-sale/property/4967368-riverside-bourne-end

£3,250,000 a glittertastic house with cinema but no fitted kitchen.

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbmwrsmls190053

Well Ade, only 10k out on the little house, but miles away on the bigger one.

Lumpy River. 10th August

Marlow

By the time we went to bed last night the wind had already picked up. When Mick went out to actually ‘check the ropes’ there were a couple of branches down back towards town, there was a couple on a cruiser very close by, under trees , not bothered by it in the slightest. Mick noted that their mooring spikes were only just in the ground too, he gave ours another bang and deployed a tyre fender by the bow to try to alleviate the buffeting we were already experiencing.

Branches down and plenty more creaking away next to that cruiser

We had a good nights sleep, the height of the storm due between 11am and midday, we were not going to be going anywhere by boat today even if we were on a 24hr mooring. This of course meant we could enjoy a nice cuppa in bed and take our time looking at the view across the way of the rather big house.

Seagulls are too common round here to steal your food

Mick did a check on our ropes before breakfast, we were still fine. The cruiser directly behind us was facing the opposite direction to how it had been last night. He’d woken this morning and wondered why his view was moving, one end of the boat was drifting, so he’s re-moored facing the other way. As Mick chatted to him they noticed that the cruiser that was moored under the trees was very much adrift at one end. The occupants only just up and pottering in their dressing gowns hadn’t noticed anything. Once their attention was caught the engines were started up and as ropes were pulled and the boat turned one of the ropes got round a prop. This is when Mick decided that there were enough people helping so he came back for breakfast leaving them to it.

We stayed in, all three of us, shore leave not granted at the height of the winds. Windy days is when Tilly tends to not find her way home, we’re also concerned that she might get blown away.

The sides just didn’t like the wind

Some boats were moving, with enough umph they could hold a line on the river, the only thing was it added to the waves the wind was already creating. Oleanna rocked up and down so much I started to feel a touch queezy. By the time we decided that things were calming down a touch outside I really needed to be off the boat, I felt as if I was turning a touch green. We still hadn’t got our newspaper so we walked into town.

One way traffic

Our blustery walk along the river involved a limbo under the fallen branches. The trip boats were still tied up, nobody wanting to go anywhere. At the bridge we turned towards the town. Marlow Suspension Bridge was built in 1829-32, designed by William Tierney Clark. In the 1960’s it was fully restored and is restricted to foot and local traffic with a weight limit of 3 tonnes. However in 2016 a 37 tonne Lithuanian lorry attempted to cross it, the potential for damage was great. The bridge was closed for two months whilst stress tests were carried out, thankfully no significant damage was found.

Pretty car, no idea what it was.

A look inside All Saints Church was aborted when we realised that we were about to walk in just at the wrong moment on a wedding ceremony. So hope the photographer managed to find a sheltered spot for photos and that the brides hairdo had enough lacquer in it to keep it looking good.

Bunting and phone boxes, shame about all the cars

The main street has a lot of independent shops and we moseyed along refraining from joining in with the Hare Krishna as we made our way along to Waitrose. Marlow has one of the stores that will be closing soon. We have to say we were disappointed with it as our choice of Saturday newspaper had run out, so our small shop was put back on the shelves and we headed to Sainsburys for the bits we actually needed along with a paper.

Another of Tom’s pubs, he has three of them around Marlow, this one also sells meat.

Another thing to add to our Next Time list is a visit to The Hand and Flowers, Tom Kerridge’s pub. I was told the other day that they have four bar stools which on a weekday are on a first come first served basis. Next time we’ll try to be here on a weekday and put some none boaty clothes on and see if we can be first to arrive. The set menu apparently is quite a reasonable price for a two star Michelin.

Normally seen near Red Bull on the Trent and Mersey

Back at Oleanna the boat under the trees had managed to get the rope off it’s prop, they’d had to get in the water to do so and had now braved the wind.

The afternoon was spent doing a few chores and I got out the card I’d bought in Staines and put together a model box for the show in Vienna. I’d been given so much information and the plans I’d been sent were copies of copies of copies, which always means that things aren’t quite as they should be. But once I’d put the information together with the plans I was able to make a model of it. Quite a shallow stage with a letterbox proscenium. The theatre was originally a Ballroom which was converted into a theatre, wonderful mouldings on the walls and ceiling, all really rather apt for my show, just a shame that the proscenium is just a black opening slotted into the room. I may have to create a proscenium to match the rest of the room!

Model box for Vienna’s English Theatre

At last I got shore leave. The blowyness outside meant I kept coming back to check that the outside hadn’t been blown away with me in it. Luckily She was still there and I got my ‘Thank you for coming home’ treats. She had run out of the pink Pocket Pillows so I chose a new pack, this one is orange. Adam, I don’t know why you were dubious about the flavour, Chicken and Cheese are better than the Salmon ones, much better. Thank you.

The wind gradually subsided along with my seasickness, heavy showers came over during the evening. Hopefully tomorrow will be brighter and calmer so we can continue upstream.

Property Game

A compact one bedroom house right by the river. How much?

This one is that bit bigger and it comes with quite a bit of disco glitter!

Answers tomorrow

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 boating for us today, 1 lumpy river, 2 green gills, 2 mugs of tea in bed, £10 shop not needed, 0 sandles, 2 loose cruisers, 1 boozy boat, 1 swimmer, 2 big branches, 1 familair boat, 1 vat of bolognese, 0 courgette left, 10 rows until sleeves time, £8 million neighbour, £12 million the other neighbour.

Yesterdays Answer

£500,000

https://www.chancellors.co.uk/properties/staines-upon-thames-property/terraced-2-bedroom-house-for-sale/2992772/staines-upon-thames-surreytw18

Quite a few beams in this one, not of the Tudor variety though.

Joa only 40k off!

https://search.savills.com/property-detail/gbwdrswds170314

£1,365,000

With a very pretty balcony to the rear. Just a shame for all that money it’s only a semi detached!

Ade you were so far away on this one, but Joa must be cheating somehow, only £235,000 away