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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
There was a wait here as one of the big Le Boat hire cruisers was in their first lock and under instruction.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
As the sun set to our port side
the moon rose to our starboard.
Isn’t nature amazing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!!
Loads and loads of BUNNIES!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.