Category Archives: River Thames

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.

Inventing Velcro. 20th August

Abingdon to East Street, Oxford

A quick shop at Waitrose so that we could eat tonight, £5 to the Lockie for our extra night and then Mick was in the car heading to Oxford to drop it back at Enterprise. Tilly and I prepared Oleanna for cruising, rolling the covers up, trip computer poised ready to click the go button.

Valhalla, used to be moored above the Stockton flight on the GU

We pushed off just gone 11am, winded and headed to the services to top up with water, empty the yellow water and dispose of our rubbish, then we winded again and were heading towards Oxford.

Sandford Lock

Sandford Lock has a big overhang on the lock landing, so we kept away from it. It is also a side filler, but was very gently done by the volunteer. Apparently Environment Agency volunteers always have a full time Lock Keeper with them for insurance purposes, also there is quite a lot that can go wrong with the locks so someone has to be on hand to deal with that.

Iffley Lock

Iffley Lock came into view, no sign of a Lockie here, the top gates wide open, I walked up to press the buttons.

Bee
Heaven

Such a pretty lock with so much lavender everywhere, the bees were having a field day. They got on with their business and I closed the gates and emptied the lock.

Company with a pretty boat

A small cruiser was also heading up stream, so I paused closing the gates and opened them again so that they could join us all the time accompanied by the gentle humming from the bees on the lavender.

The many boat houses all quiet during the University holidays

Now we were looking for a mooring, hoping to find a space before Folly Bridge. Having spent quite a bit of time at this end of the Oxford Canal last winter we wanted a different view and Tilly would prefer it despite the busy towpath. But not one space big enough for us showed itself. So we had to carry on, hoping that above Osney Lock we’d be lucky.

Approaching Folly Bridge

The first stretch of moorings was full, but then on the straight before Osney Bridge there was a long expanse of empty bollards. Phew! A late lunch and no shore leave for the four legged one.

Whilst tucking into my hummus, Tilly sat on the cupboard next to me having a bath. All of a sudden there was a panic. Tilly seemed to have her paw stuck in her mouth. Despite the thought of those incredibly sharp teeth something had to be done to help. La la nnh meola hf la ga so lala phla! No idea what she was saying I intervened getting spiked by claws as I did so.

Not many spires in view today

It seemed that she’d been trying to reenact a manoeuvre she used to do when she was young to remove her collar. Slotting it onto her teeth and then pulling with one foot against it until it came loose. I thought she’d long grown out of that.

Five minutes later the same again! Just what are you doing?! La m lyilyn srh loi meliw gow! On closer inspection I could see what had happened. Somehow the end of her collar (an elasticated one with a fluffy back to it) had got in the way of her bathing. The fluffy side met with her tongue and as she licked she had invented velcro. Her tongue was stuck to her collar! Blimey!! Once tongue was free her collar was removed so everyone could calm down. Antiseptic wipes for my even more spiked fingers, luckily I’d only been clawed and not bitten. Poor Tilly.

The offending length of collar was trimmed back, it is now impossible for this to recur.

Dear Aunt Lucy

Looking at the map for the next few days, it seems like we’ll be away from shops. So even though we’d picked up some bits this morning we would need more supplies before leaving Oxford. We could visit a second Waitrose or maybe get a delivery as we are right alongside a road here.

No delivery slots for the morning with Sainsburys or Ocado, so we tried Tesco, bingo! So the rest of the day was spent online shopping.


Property Game

This one is back in Maidenhead, own private mooring, office space and pretty windows. How much?

3 locks, 1 self service, 8.5 miles, 2 boxes wine, 1 celeriac, 500grms mince, 0 car, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 2 new plants, 0 space, 1 free of charge Osney mooring, 1 feline inventor, 1 inch removed, 3 sore fingers, 1 recovered cat, 1 bowl pizza dough, 16 Ottiwhatsit meatballs, 6 more boxes wine, still 3 too many stitches! Grrr!!

Yesterdays Answer

£295,000

https://www.watersideresidential.co.uk/property-for-sale/?id=10220&type=2

Currently moored in Staines. Two cabins and a roll top bath.

Joa was closest at £245,000 with Jennie a little lower at £225,000.

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!

Cloaking Device Engaged. 13th August

Sonning Lock to Beale Park

We’ll go down there in a few weeks

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.

The Ark

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.

The staircases look like they should be full of coloured liquid with bubbles rising and falling

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.

A Humber Keel a long way from home

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.

Good name

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.

Mapledurham 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’re getting closer to Oxford

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!

A nice stretch of river
The perfect spot for him and us

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.

Here they come

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.

This must be a pesky outside to need two boats
They don’t have very big windows

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.

Christine and Paul on NB Waterway Routes

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.

A lovely catch

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.


Property Game

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.

Yesterdays Answer

Only £650,000 but…. it is only an apartment with two bedrooms though. So only a quarter of what you can see, hence the price.

So Joa the whole property might work out to being £2,600,000, so a touch nearer your price range! 😉