Category Archives: River Thames

Busy Busy Busy. 17th October


When you wake up, turn your phone on and before you think it’s even woken up fully you get a text message with a question about panto, you just know it’s going to be one of those days!

Luckily the first email I got was from the actor/writer for A Regular Little Houdini who had just worked his way through the model photos I’d sent out yesterday, he was thrilled, so was Josh the Director when I heard from him later in the day.

Then the Panto emails started, questions left, right and centre. Everyone is gearing up to the start of rehearsals next week. Builders wanting to know if they should use prime mixed with colour. Will we need a pay phone in the telephone box? Will a recoiling hoover cable work? Could they have a hanging plot? My plans don’t quite match plans the technicians now have. Which are correct? Mine have to be. How many 1950’s mics have we got? Black or silver stands? Has portal 3 gone? The repercussions of that. They just kept coming all day!

Pub sign

I enlarged writing for signs on the printer and just had one more thing to do when the black cartridge ran out. I changed the cartridge but somehow it didn’t prime itself. Now the printer thinks it is full of black, but can’t print with it. I stopped what I was doing and handed it over to the technical department to fix. That last job could wait.

The designer of Houdini needed to be shot. Drawing up a cross section can be a challenge at times, one I somehow usually sadistically enjoy. But the bridge structure being set at an angle on the stage and then leaning in both other planes! Blimey!! Okay, so doing drawings on a computer would make this so much easier, but hardly a challenge. The sense of achievement when I finally finished it was great.

I just need a shoe horn now to be able to fit the bridge into the actors camper van to bring it back to England after the run in Vienna.

The technical department tried and tried to get the printer working. The final thing was to leave it off overnight and see if it would sort itself out. Fingers crossed as printer scanners are few and far between now.

Someone’s hard at work!

Tilly came and went. Even though her time outside here has been short, she is bored of this outside. So much so that she constantly got in the way today, being told off for walking on things she shouldn’t and leaving paw prints on drawings! She then gave up and retired to her shelf. When do cats stop growing? Will she be needing an extension soon.

The pork still keeps giving. Tonight we had roast pork and potato pizza. I’d tried making the sour dough base leaving it to do it’s stuff for 8 hours instead of 24. The verdict was either my sour dough starter has died or it simply wasn’t long enough. The base was a touch chewy!

The photo makes it look a touch too done, but it wasn’t

The Thames is still out of bounds, but looking at the levels on the C&RT site the Kennet should be fine. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to do a bit of boating.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 days not stepping off the boat, 4 yellow boards the rest red, 1 Still Rockin stuck at Goring, 1 Kamili stuck at Abingdon, 8:20 first question, 2 many questions to get my work done, 1 annoying cat, 3 pawprints that shouldn’t be there, 1 broken printer, 1 expanding camper required, 3rd pork meal, pizza not so good.

Red and Yellow. 14th October

West Mill, Newbury to opposite Newbury Marina

It’s been a long time since they stayed in bed in the morning this long. I like it, I get to keep toes warm or lie at the longest length I can be. She and Tom checked the outside without even getting out of bed, I chose to check it through the window, it was still raining!

A Marooned view

Apparently the outside we were aiming to tie up means we have to go through one that has gone all red and yellow. This isn’t good, even if it sounds quite bright and jolly. Tom says it would be really quite hard to tie up the right bit as the outside would be moving itself too quickly, faster than he would be moving it. So this doesn’t sound good. Quite confusing really.

The rain started to stop, so they decided to move the outside to somewhere for 14 days rather than just for 1. Another boat arrived so they joined us, tying up the outside to stop it from moving maybe would take two boats. She got her coat choice wrong, silly thing, of course it was going to rain again!

Newbury Lock

Last night there had been loads of people walking past us, it turns out that there had been a fire display on the canal. The messy people had left everything, but had marked it all with yellow balls. This meant one boat at a time, She and the other She had to walk on. Tom speedily followed the other boat managing to avoid the bridges and they both quickly tied up a park with a big round pond in it. This looked quite good. But Tom moved the outside again, this time on our own. Luckily She was there to help tie it up.

Yellow balls everywhere

Big trees, it all looked quite promising out there, but she and Tom stood in a huddle, then came and told be shore leave was cancelled again. They know I can swim, but the river might take me to another outside, so I had to stay inside. Don’t they realise I’m not that stupid! Those trees look so very good.

Instead I tried helping with the poisonous model, but She wasn’t too keen on this.

Now this is fun!

I did find a new game. Be’doingy balls are quite good on their own, but mix one with a slipper! Well now , that is fun.

By the end of the day the River Thames had got even more jolly. She says she can get from here to Chippy, but they don’t want to get stuck on this side of the Thames until Christmas, so we have all our paws and fingers crossed that the rivers go down quickly.

Sandford Lock would be our problem.

1 lock, 0.4 miles, 1 more day of cabin fever, 1 more rainy day, 1 river running by quickly, 1 new cyc, 1st coats of paint, 1 ball, 1 slipper, highly recommended.

Strong Stream. 13th October

Wire Lock to West Mills, Newbury

Yet another wet morning, we loitered a while before inevitably getting wet.

Just touches of colour starting to show

At Kintbury we pulled in, filled the water tank, emptied the yellow water, cleaned out Tilly’s pooh box and disposed of rubbish, all the time getting wetter. A chap was coming up in the lock hoping to find a space on the 48hr moorings. He complained of the same boats frequenting the moorings here and nobody doing anything about it. He found a space anyway so could dry off and enjoy the rest of his Sunday, whilst we got wetter.

Is that the river joining us?

Soon we were joined by the River Kennet. It meanders around not quite knowing what it’s doing. In some places channels join the canal, others water drains off. At one place water seemed to be coming into the canal whilst at the same time dropping down through a hole into the center of the earth! Sorry no photo as it was a touch wet!

There were quite a few moving boats, well it was starting to dry up! A couple of boats were coming up in locks as we arrived, one lady needing assistance with a lock gate. I asked where they were heading, both up and over the top in the next couple of days. Neither of them knew about the locks up to the summit being locked overnight. Have to say that unless you look at the occasional notice board or get C&RT notices there is nothing to tell you. Some people didn’t like the notices attached to lock gates earlier in the year on the Grand Union, at least they made you aware of when things would be locked up. Both boats seemed to be heading to Bedwyn so they’d be going over the top in the morning.


Gradually our waterproofs stopped dripping. Having said that Micks new ones were holding up pretty well, whilst mine had just been absorbing the rain! That’s one thing to add to the Christmas list.

A hire boat was coming up Guyers Lock. It looked like a daughter and Mum and Dad. Dad at the helm and the ladies with windlasses. The daughter suggested getting on board to her Mum so that they could leave the lock, ‘Better do as I’m told!’ was said through gritted teeth. Think they are going to have a lovely week!

Mum, miserable. Dad concerned, Daughter working the lock, Stalker stalking.

Now, there are people who come to watch at locks, there are those who love to help, there are those who think they look after stretches of canal even though they have nothing to do with C&RT. Here there was a chap who had helped the hirers, he asked if I wanted help with the gates just as Mick hopped off to close the offside one. This was the gate that got stuck when we came up, Mick joked about leaving it open as he eventually managed to close it. The chap (wearing high-vis) said he’d make a note of it and get it seen to, but this wasn’t his lock.

Maybe he was a volunteer bored on a Sunday afternoon, so had come out to help at the locks without a windlass. The lock emptied and he took pictures of something below the lock a little like he was doing an inspection. As we left he got on his bike and cycled along stopping for us to catch up several times, I found it a bit creepy to be honest as though he was stalking us.

Think that tree isn’t very well

Tomorrow two dead ash trees are to be felled along the towpath and signs discouraging mooring by them were evident. We carried on hoping for somewhere with a touch less footfall. Mr Man was waiting for us at the v e r y s l o w swing bridge. There was space before the lock so Mick went to moor up whilst the b r i d g e s l o w l y c l o s e d, the current taking him by surprise and necessitating a good blast of reverse to be able to position Oleanna better to moor up. Mr Man loitered at the next lock, after quarter of an hour he cycled off, we’d lost him at last.

A quick H&S check for Tilly. Here there is a little garden that was proving popular and behind it the Kennet. We looked at the river, not docile infact it had quite a strong stream. As much as we would like to let Tilly out we decided that shore leave was cancelled for today, if she happened to fall in who knows where she’d end up. As I explained this to her she wasn’t impressed. I’m a very good swimmer I’ll have you know!

But those trees look extra good!

More work on Houdini for me, checking out sight lines because a set of black tabs won’t pull right off out of view. This meant having to chop my mud banks up and making them good again.

Whilst we waited for our mammoth pork joint to cook, we checked out the River Thames conditions. Yellow boards for the second day of our journey upstream and one red board. Not good. One thing is certain we won’t be cruising upstream on the Thames in a few days, we just need to work out where is best for us to wait and for me to be able to get to Chippy in a weeks time.

Have to say I managed to do some very good crackling on the pork today. Whether it was leaving it out of its packaging under a tea towel in the fridge over night, or because it took almost three hours to cook I don’t know, but what ever it was it worked. We’ll be eating pork now for the remainder of the week.

8 locks, 6.88 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 load washing, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 more wet day, 1 red board, 5 yellow, 1 boat will not be going far for a while, 1 cat stuck indoors, looking at those great trees!

Cobblers! 12th October

Froxfield Bottom Lock to Wire Lock 76

At least the
fungi are enjoying the weather

Another morning with no cuppa in bed, another morning putting on waterproofs, another morning feeling to see which pair of shoes are the driest, another damp soggy day. At least it wasn’t as windy as yesterday had been.

All the locks ahead of us were empty some requesting to be left so, others maybe leaked over night or were we following someone down? It didn’t matter we were at least back on schedule which necessitates a four hour cruise each day.


At Cobbler’s Lock our third of the day a chap busied himself outside the cottage. He’d been chopping logs, inside a big screen TV showed a marathon somewhere. A paddle at the bottom end needed dropping before the chamber could be filled, the pound below looked to be a couple of feet down from it’s normal mark, the bywash ran into it. We’ve certainly seen worse levels in the past.

Mick had a look, the chap from the cottage had a look, he’d never seen it so low! No lift for me to the next lock, I’d be walking so that Mick didn’t have to bring Oleanna into the side and risk getting grounded.

Going down

In she went and the water drained out as usual. I opened a bottom gate, but Oleanna was going nowhere. She’d developed a jaunty list at the bottom of the lock, she was sat on something and wasn’t going anywhere fast. Only one thing for it to try to flush her off whatever it was. I lifted a paddle above hoping the surge of water would help push her free and give Mick chance to move her a touch to be able to get out the lock. This worked after a while and she moved over to the other side of the lock. Next thing was to get her over the bottom cill, more water was needed. A couple of minutes and she was free, into the next pound.

Sitting at the top gates as the lock fills

Mick kept her central and slowly made his way to Marsh Lock another that has to be left empty. The bottom gates were open as were their want. so A top paddle was cracked open to hold them closed as I walked back to the top to fill the lock. Mick brought Oleanna in to meet the top gates, hoping that here she would stay afloat as the lock filled. Off to a slight angle and she grounded, it took a bit to get her off all the time the level dropping to fill the lock.

No water going over the bywash here
How inconsiderate!

Once level I opened a gate, the bow came over the cill it was time to open the swing bridge that sits over the lock. This was also easier said than done. The big bolt was already undone but it wouldn’t shift. I crossed over and tried starting it from the other side, it moved thank goodness. Oleanna came into the lock now with a decent amount of water underneath her, we were free of the troublesome pound.

Mick leaving the lock, bridge back in place

Oleanna dropped down to the next level, a pair of walkers swung the bridge back for us now that Mick’s head was low enough in the chamber. Onwards to the next swing bridge that was also too stiff to move at first, but I got it going in the end.

There was a space on the 24hr visitor mooring. Here I’d identified as a good spot for gunnel painting. We were facing the right way with starboard side to the towpath, but the constant rain put paid to any intention of getting the paint out.

The couple from the boat in front made sure we knew where Tescos was as they emptied their ash into the hedgerow, good job it was raining! They’d also had difficulty the other day when they came down and had managed to get their rear button stuck between the top gates as the lock emptied! The chap was pleased that he’d secured a mooring below the lock that they could move onto on Monday. Good for him but that meant another 48hrs on the 24hr mooring, but it did mean they only had one more chance to sink their boat!

A stock up on fresh items in town and a pork pie for Mick’s lunch from the nice butchers. We were still soggy so decided to carry on to where we hoped to moor for the day before having lunch, it was still early.

We’d just missed going down Hungerford Lock with a hire boat so had to reset it and as we were opening the bottom gates another boat appeared behind us wanting to come down. The service mooring was occupied so we carried on without topping up the tank, we could do that tomorrow.

Sharing again

Towards Dun Mill Lock we could see we were being followed by the hire boat, their bow wave visible before them. The lady waved to attract our attention as I crossed over to open the other gate for them. Mick hopped off to hold Oleanna into the side making room for them, they still pulled into the lock landing to drop the lady off and then proceeded to crash into the lock approach.

Off they go

Yesterday they had been caught out by a lock towards the summit being locked ‘early’ at 3pm so they were in a rush now to get back to Aldermaston for Monday morning and they’d just found out that the canal in Newbury would close at 4pm today for an event. A shame the hire base didn’t seem to have mentioned to them about the locks up to the summit being locked at 3pm and there was no chance they’d make Newbury before 4pm.

We shared two locks with them and then parted company as there was space below Wire Lock for us. Here the railway line is on the off side meaning Tilly could have an explore.

New and old versions

During the afternoon I finished my new bridge and luckily found time to make a new chair. This has now been put inside a box to keep it way from the feline assistants jaws!

With the constant rain of the last couple of days we have started to think of contingency plans should the Thames go onto Red boards and us not be able to make it to Oxford in time for me to go to work in Chipping Norton. Trains from Reading, but then the Kennet may go into flood too. Mick asked on the local facebook group for local knowledge. The first few answers suggested all the things we already do, like keeping an eye on levels and getting C&RT notices. Then at last a couple of people gave us useful information and not just about getting through Woolhampton lock and swing bridge.

New and old versions

If the rain keeps coming Mick may be left further upstream than Reading. But for now we’ll carry on as planned, getting wet every day.

7 locks, 5.01 miles, 2 obstinate swing bridges, 1 lumpy lock, 2 ft down, 72 hrs, 24 hrs, 1 newspaper, 1 joint of pork for 10! 1 pork pie, 0 card, 1 new bridge, 1 new super poisonous chair, 2 soggy days in a row, 2 soggy boaters, 1 muddy cat.

It’s Only Taken Us Four Years. 3rd September

Beale Park to Fobney Lock, Kennet and Avon Canal

Our Thames licence ran out today so we had to take one of three options. Seriously get a move on and catch the tide at Teddington (18 hours cruising so not possible), wind and head back up stream to Oxford to hop onto the canal there (10 hours, so possible) or carry on down stream and hang a right at Reading (3 hours, the preferred option).

Blue blue blue

We pushed off at 9am the sky and river bright blue behind us.


Ahead I managed to get pictures of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’.


Each one unique, the one currently for sale the plainest.


Have to say I’d quite like one with towers and balconies, but the road and railway would still put me off. The fifth one along (Three) is really quite shy, the trees in front of it giving it good solid cover from the river.


At Whitchurch Lock we descended on our own a narrowboat arriving just a touch too late to join us. I bobbed below to get some alterations done to my model as we cruised towards Mapledurham Lock.


A hotel wide beam was coming up in the lock and we joined the queue to go down, the lock being on self service meant it filled slowly. In front of us was a rather beautiful Humber Keel, Daybreak. We’d passed them at Wallingford on Sunday, moored up with their mast upright and plenty of bunting about the place. Today her mast was horizontal with a long red ribbon dangling to the water.

Made in Thorne

Mapledurham being just over 200 ft long meant we’d fit in the lock behind them. They may be wide, 15ft 6″ but only 61ft 6″ long. So once she was in the lock we followed, being joined by the narrowboat that had been following us. There were three crew on board Daybreak so one chap operated the lock as the chap at the helm adjusted the stern rope and kicked the tiller arm and throttle.

Following slowly into Caversham

It was with relief once the lock was empty to see a boat arrive wanting to come up, nobody would have to stay behind to close up.

They have to fit

Caversham Lock is that bit shorter. Would we fit with Daybreak? The lovely lady volunteer came to ask how long we were, ‘Sorry’ the lock’s only 110ft long, ten foot too short for the both of us. There were only a couple of feet spare width wise, the crew holding very fat fenders to keep the pristine paintwork away from the lock gates.

Fenders at he ready

They gently nudged their way in, tiller a touch that way, then corrected, then the other way.

The same procedure was repeated as they exited the lock, fenders moved along to where they were needed most as they inched their way out. Once the boat was clear there were high fives from the crew, no touching up required!

Our last button operated Thames lock for a while

Some fresh supplies were needed, but the last big enough space at Tescos was just being taken by a narrowboat, they kindly offered for us to breast up to them. A quick shop and some lunch before we both wanted to be on our way. Their shop and lunch were a touch quicker than ours, but as they headed off the moorings were empty, so we just pulled along to let them out. By the time we’d finished our break the moorings were filling up again.

New waters

Not far until we turned right. New water again. Under the numerous bridges and along to Blake’s Lock, our last EA lock for a while. A match stick lock which works in the opposite direction to those I’d worked further up the Thames. It was full with the top paddles open! No poles to help open and close the other gate, so we opted to only open one, there was plenty of room.

A match stick lock

We could have pulled in on the Jail Loop but wanted to get a touch further if we could today.

Back onto C&RT water

Ahead signs welcomed us to The Kennet and Avon Canal, back on C&RT water, along with telling us of a boat traffic light ahead. We’ve seen pictures and heard of this and at last we were here.

Just like a road crossing

Mick brought us in towards the button, just like those on a pedestrian crossing. I wondered if it would light up the WAIT, but we got a green straight away. A newish shopping and restaurant complex surrounded us, one tightish bend but the rest of the controlled length of canal seemed far wider than a lot of places we’ve been. Were the lights put in when the new complex was built? Was the cut narrowed? Well it’s actually a length of river, so the levels and flow can vary, so one way traffic stops the possibility of coming across a boat that can’t stop coming down with the flow.

Very flowery

Plenty of people to say hello to, the schools in the area can’t have gone back today.

Waiting for the lock to empty
Four paddles

We soon arrived at County Lock, all of 1ft of it. All four top paddles were open, were we following a serial paddle leaver?

Narrow houses

Now we were back onto the River Kennet, heading upstream. The houses totally different to those on the Thames. Here we’d need about four back gardens to have enough length to moor Oleanna, their width about 15ft wide, the houses the same.

Silenced by a lion

One rowdy woofer came and woofed at us. Stupid thing! Maybe it thinks it’s managed to see us off, works every time, so just keeps on woofing at boats. A bit further along there was another woofer who’d been fitted with a lion silencing device. It worked very well.

One big deep lock, we’ve got deeper to come!

Fobney Lock 105, a touch different from County Lock with it’s 8ft 7″ drop and much longer. Luckily we’d just passed a couple of hire boats so the lock was more or less in our favour. We roped up using the centre line and Mick loitered towards the back of the lock. On each new canal you wonder what will be different. Here we only had gate paddles, would the water go down the side of the lock, or diagonally to hold the boat into the side. Luckily it was the latter. We rose up and then looked for a mooring.

Paddle gear, the break lifts the opposite way to other canals

Past the line of boats there was still armco, we pulled in. Now where did I put that nappy pin?

Four years ago we’d intended to come this way, not having managed it on our first year afloat. But things kept making us head northwards, new boat builders to chose, then boat builders to meet, the end of a finger to be lost, if only we’d headed south instead of up the Trent!

It’s a canal Tilly, do you remember them?

6 locks, 12.46 miles, 1 right, 1 big bummed boat, 2ft 5″ to spare, 0 wine bought, 1 licence expiring, 1 button to press, 1 lion silencer, 2 windlasses, 2 nappy pins, 0 river bank to pounce from.

There Is No Such Thing As A Free Cup Of Tea. 2nd September

Beale Park


The ‘Next Time’ list got a little bit shorter today. After a leisurely cuppa in bed followed by a sausage sarnie ( those sausages were nice), we walked upstream to find the nearest church, St Bartholomews.

St Bartholomews

Built in flint with stone dressing in the late 13th Century it is Grade 1 listed and owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is a simple building with a brick bell tower that was added later. Surrounding the alter are tiled walls. The church is open daily but the next service isn’t until mid October. We weren’t really here to see the church but to visit the resting place of Jethro Tull.

Looking up the aisle
Jethro’s headstone

Jethro Tull was born in Lower Basildon in 1674. His life work was key to major developments in the agricultural revolution which took place in the early 18th Century. He invented the first mechanised seed drill which was horse drawn. Rows of seed could now be cultivated reducing waste and enabling an amount of weed reduction. His innovations didn’t make him a wealthy man and nobody knows exactly where he is buried in the church yard. A modern stone donated in the 1960’s marks that the church yard is his resting place.

From here we walked up the hill, over the railway and along the busy road to the gate houses of Basilson Park, a National Trust property sitting high above the valley now surrounded by trees. We showed our membership cards and got a note to use in the tea rooms for a free cuppa, these are given out if you arrive by public transport, bike or on foot. The walk up to the house is through a thick yew wood which a week ago would have been a wonderful place away from the searing heat. Today kids climbed through the branches pretending they were caught in a maze of lazers.

Basildon Park

On the drive we got our first view of the house. A Palladian Mansion, possibly one of the finest in the country. You are directed up one of two curved staircases to the guests entrance. Here a guide introduced us to the house with a quick bit of history. The estate was acquired in 1771 by Francis Sykes who had made his fortune with the East India Company. He commissioned the architect John Carr of York (the founder of my Fathers architectural practice) to build him a splendid mansion with neo-classical interiors.

Two grand staircases to enter by

The Sykes owned the house until 1838 when it passed onto the Morrison family. During WW1 it was used as a convalescence home for officers and in WW2 it was requisitioned first by the Americans for D-Day training and then by the British and used as a prisoner of war camp for the Germans and Italians. The house didn’t fair well during this time. During the 1930’s it’s owner had wanted to sell the house to America, hoping to make a fortune. Doors, fireplaces, mouldings were removed and taken to the States as examples of the craftsmanship to try to entice buyers but the depression put paid to that and the house remained firmly on the hill above Lower Basildon.

The library

In 1952 Lord and Lady Iliffe bought the house and set about restoring it to its former glory. Other John Carr properties were visited at one in Lincolnshire they were able to buy doors, frames, fireplaces etc from the house as it was about to be demolished. Here the detail with which John Carr gave to his buildings meant that fireplaces just slotted in at Basildon and doors didn’t even need new screw holes drilling for the hinges as everything fitted perfectly.

Reused curtains decorate the walls

Not many of the rooms are as they would have been back in the 18th Century. In the green drawing room the original ceiling is still there, untouched other than by some water damage from a leaking washing machine above and a fire detector. The walls however have been covered with green damask curtains which were found by Lady Iliffe in a ballroom. You can make out where the fabric used to hang in pleats due to the fading of the cloth.

The dining room, the frocks upstaging the room a touch

As you enter the dining room columns of faux marble cut off the servants end of the room, large paintings and details on the ceiling look down on a very long dining room table with a fantastic broderie anglaise table cloth. The paintings from the ceiling were one of the elements that ended up in America, the ones there today were painted only a few years ago. They are good but nowhere near as good as they would have been in the original house.

The Octagonal Room with red baize walls

Around the first floor is a collection of dresses from the 1950’s. Two in the entrance hall were made and worn by Lady Iliffe, the others are on loan from the Fashion and Textile Museum. the displays are not as intrusive as we’ve come across at other NT properties, but because of the dresses the curtains in each room are closed and spot lights highlight the clothes. This does mean the lighting is very dramatic, no chance to see outside to the views from each room and details in the rooms are hidden in dim corners. Quite a shame in the Octagonal Room.

Decorative panel on the wall made from shells
My favourites, Argonaut shells

Up the stairs to first the Shell Room. Lady Charlotte collected shells, vast quantities of shells. She wasn’t interested in them for scientific reasons, she just loved their shapes. Whilst on holidays she would leave her husband to socialise so that she could be down on the beach collecting shells. Her collection not only sits in display cabinets but also adorns them too.

The panelled door has been rehinged
part way through it’s panels

The Iliffe’s added modern conveniences to the house, heating and plumbing. One bathroom has a wonderfully deep bath which necessitated the door to the room to be altered.

Quite a bed

The Crimson Bedroom has 1950’s wallpaper, but central to the room is a very ornate red Georgian bed that Lady Iliffe bought for £100. This was one of their guest bedrooms with a huge vast wardrobe which may at one time have been used by Disraeli.

Quite odd in such a house

At the top of the family staircase we could smell cooking wafting up from below, so we followed our noses. First into the houses kitchen, decked out with worn 1950’s units. A drawer full of familiar kitchen utensils sat out on the long kitchen table opposite a fake Aga. The aromas hadn’t been coming from here. Down more steps and we reached the ground floor and the tea room.

The guest staircase

Time for our free cuppas and something to eat. Mick chose a sandwich and a roast veg frittata took my fancy. We handed over our hand written chit for tea and the young lady then asked us for £12! ‘Er don’t we get free tea?’ ‘Oh Yes, £8’.

An original study for the tapestry in Coventry Cathedral

Quite a few of the tables were occupied, but we found one and put the tray on the table along with our number for food. A waitress said ‘Is that number 13?’ Yes it was. She lifted the number from the tray onto the table to one side, I thought that was a touch too helpful. She then proceeded to pick up our tray. She was clearing it all away before we’d even sat down! ‘Excuse me we’d like to drink our tea and eat our food!’ Oh, right! She did apologise briefly when she came through with my frittatta, which was very tasty.

Free tea!

A look around the gardens, plenty of fushia out and wilting roses. The front lawn looks out across the valley. We tried to work out just where Oleanna might be behind all the trees. Then we made our way back down the hill and across the railway. A permisive track took our fancy so we climbed the style and followed mowed pathways through wooded areas. We guessed we were heading in the right direction, cut across a road and then into more fields.

From the front lawn

Oleanna should be just about there, but the path took us this way then back on our selves. Eventually we popped out on the river bank a few hundred feet away from our bow.

It had been a good day and well worth stopping to look round the house, ticking off another John Carr building, but they certainly didn’t want us to have that free cuppa!

More outside time!

0 locks, 0 miles by boat, 5 miles walked, 1 gravestone, 1 Jethro, 1 Carr house, 3 staircases, 18 frocks, 26 preparatory paintings for a tapestry, 2 Japanese lamps, 1 red bed, 5m table cloth, 732579 shells, 2 cups of tea, 1 ham sandwich, 1 frittatta clung onto for dear life, 2 repeats in wallpaper, 1 crumbling balustrade, 3 hours for Tilly, 1 woofers ball.

Working Down the Thames. 1st September

Day’s Lock to Beale Park


With the sun out again this morning our mooring was lovely. Lots of sky, sun glowing on tree trunks, views, a lovely spot, maybe one of our favourites.

The orange buoy in the water is a swimmer. What’s left of Didcot in the background

Time to crack on again. We waited for a couple of swimmers to pass before we pushed off. there was quite a distance between them and when we arrived at the lock the first lady was sat on the bank having a snack. Hope her friend got to have a break when she arrived. They were swimming down to the next lock where they had left a car, another four miles!

We were joined by a cruiser on a bit of a mission to get back to their mooring at Cookham, once we’d dropped down the lock we let them head past us, although we caught them up again by Benson Lock.

Benson Lock

Maybe it was change over day at Le Boat, quite a few of their cruisers were in but the waterside cafe was heaving! Not one table spare, do they do a very good Sunday breakfast or were people just taking advantage of the last sunny Sunday morning before the schools go back?

Here we caught up with our canoe friends with the crocodile. They are paddling their way to Pangbourne for their silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, today their last day.

That ridge with the chains kept us both pushing Oleanna out from the side

Dropping down Benson Lock we seemed to keep getting slightly caught on the chains as the water dropped. This turned out to be due to a change in profile of the lock, not enough to cause us to get hung up, just a little disconcerting.

Six deep

Over the weekend Wallingford had been busy with Bunkfest. A free music festival. The town moorings were very full and further out boats were six abreast. We were later joined by a couple of cruisers who’d been to the festival, the music was great, but the drinks a touch expensive.

Goring Lock with the canoe coming in last

I bobbed back from working below to hold ropes at Cleeve and Goring Locks. The lock keeper at Goring being a touch too officious with a canoe that were holding onto our gunnel whilst waiting for the lock. They were in the way of everyone! This they knew, but there was nowhere else obvious for them to go. They moved to where they were directed to so the lock could empty then bigger boats could enter the lock before they were finally waved in to join us. I suspect if the Lockie had used Please or Thank you his instructions would have come across even more rude.

I love this boat house

Now to find a mooring along Beale Park. The first spaces were occupied, then one with a tree in the middle, we kept going. In the end we pulled in between a couple of boats with not much view on the park side due to friendly cover. Tilly was given six hours which at first she was reluctant to take, but after an hour she was being far far too busy to even come home for some Pocket Pillows.

One of the Newport transporter bridge legs

Most of the day I continued working on my model. The section of the transporter bridge has taken quite a bit of working out from reference photos from the internet. Now I understand it that bit better. It has taken a long time to build, this nearly always means it will take a long time to build in reality too! I’ve been to literal with it and now need to adapt it for strength and ease of building, which will mean a new version. But for my white card model this will do fine.

Quick take a photo before it’s all gone!

Tonight we’ve enjoyed our lamb shoulder. I meant to take a photo of it when it came out of the oven, but forgot. Then I forgot again and started to eat, so here is my Sunday dinner half devoured. I found the last beetroot from Hampton Court Palace today. so that went in with the roast veg. Yummy. Looking forward to cold lamb tomorrow.

4 locks, 13.76 miles, 1 croc, 2 forward wild swimmers. 1 backward wild swimmer, 6 deep, 2 portacabin boats, 901 miles in total, 1 of four legs, 1 lamp shoulder, 6 hours, 1 cat called at DingDing time, 1 cat home quickly, phew! 1 cardigan bound off.