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.
Windsor Racecourse Marina to the second big expensive house in Marlow
Approaching Bray Lock this morning the gates were open so we headed straight in. The jolly Lockies asked how long we were and quickly decided to close the gates behind us, we were being followed by a trip boat. I suspect they’d been expecting the larger boat and we’d got in between. We were soon up and they could drop the lock.
Last night we watched an episode of Tony Robinson on his walk along the Thames. He covered the stretch we are currently on and went to look at a Slipper Launch being worked on at Peter Freebody and Co.
Today we were going to see a lot of these beautifully crafted boats. They have such wonderful lines and the finish on their woodwork is more than mirror like. No wonder they take two years to make and cost around about £180,000. The bigger houses on the way into Maidenhead all seemed to have one moored up outside, including outside Rolf Harris’s house.
Under Maidenhead Railway Bridge, designed by Brunel with low rise arches that caused a stir at the time of it’s construction. However it’s stability is still good 180 years later.
As we approached Boulter’s Lock there was another narrowboat ahead of us. We both waited for the gates to open and then we followed them in. The lock keeper enquired about NB Martha Gunn’s licence, the lady at the bow not knowing what sort it was. The licence wasn’t on show to the Lockie, but on the port side I could just make out the bottom of the V19 that had been trapped in a hopper window and then the rest of it had fallen backwards out of view.
After Maidenhead the river runs alongside a steep cliff, covered in trees. Soon we could see Cliveden House high up above. If the weather forecast wasn’t for strong winds tomorrow we’d have moored up and gone for a walk around the National Trust grounds. Over twenty years ago I spent a month painting new rooms and bathrooms in the stable block of this very posh hotel. This would be a perfect place for Tilly, we might never see her again. We possibly would have fitted on one of the islands in the middle of the Thames, perfect for keeping Tilly close. But the last place we want to be with 50mph gusts is around so many trees. Another Next Time!
Nb Martha Gunn was a little bit slower than us and the chap at the helm had said they wouldn’t mind if we overtook. We decided to go a different way round the islands and see who got to the other end first, they just beat us. Along side the river is Spring Cottage which is part of the hotel. Here you can spend a night with a champagne cruise thrown in for just £2,055, if you want breakfast included add another £50.
Round the next bend Cookham Lock waited for us a boat coming down. On Self Service I was about to offer to press the buttons but crew from another boat who’d arrived above offered to do the honours and up we went. After the lock cut the river opens out, wide sweeping stretches of river.
Bourne End looked inviting in the sun with blue sky over head and this chap sat in a modest sized garden reading his book.
On we continued still not as far as we wanted to reach today the wind on the wider stretches blustering away at us.
At Marlow Lock a boat was just finishing going up and a small inflatable with outboard motor was waiting on the lock pontoon to come down. The lock was on self service and they hadn’t spotted this for half an hour. The lock landing isn’t connected to dry land so they’d have had to drop someone off. I offered to do the buttons for them and dropped them down.
A gongoozler asked if the locks were hard to operate, four buttons, that’s all, not hard. But the lock was being a little bit odd, the sluice close light flashing when it shouldn’t. It still worked, just took a while for it to acknowledge that the levels had equalised. So we were soon on our way again. We let NB Martha Gunn go ahead as they were hoping to reach Henley today, we were hoping to find a mooring in Marlow without too much tree cover.
A long line of cruisers sat on the moorings. Ahead were two gaps away from the masses, but these were surrounded by trees. Then at the end of the line with shorter greenery around it was an Oleanna sized hole. We pulled in, just enough depth and double pinned ourselves to this outside. Tilly was given shore leave for the rest of the day.
Time to try to use that courgette from Hampton Court Palace. I’d spotted a recipe for a beetroot, courgette and feta tart. Yesterday we’d picked up the other ingredients, so I started to slice everything up. Layering it out on the pastry I realised I had far too much of everything, twice as much courgette as required! Oh well, it can sit in the fridge until tomorrow.
The tart was very tasty.
Another smaller property. 2 bedrooms and a first floor conservatory.
This one may be hidden behind a wall but it’s rather pretty. Four bedrooms and well situated for the railway.
4 Locks, 11.26 miles, 3 locks shared, 3 pretty launches all in a row, 20 coats of varnish, 1 mooring on the Next time list, 1/2 courgette left, 1 beetroot left, 1 tasty tart, 1 mooring with lack of trees, 1 thunder storm, 3 wealthy neighbours.
Another morning without tea in bed and we were away and into the first lock of the day by 9:30am. After a couple of miles we were in Staines-on-Thames. Here we found a mooring by the road bridge so we’d be close enough to head to Sainsburys, but first it was a trip to an Opticians to get my glasses mended and then Hobbycraft. We hoiked ourselves up the high wall and walked through town.
Staines seemed to be full of food outlets and chain restaurants along with barbers. Here is where Linoleum was invented by Fredrick Walton, who opened a factory in 1864. The factory grew and grew and by the 1930’s it covered 45 acres. Nearby where the factory once stood are two very dynamic chaps holding a roll of linoleum.
Boots did the job of a new screw in my glasses and Hobbycraft provided me with card for my next model. Once this was dropped off at Oleanna we crossed the river to do some shopping. Four heavy bags later we had an early lunch before pushing off again.
Soon we were passing under the M25 for the last time this year and pulling in behind a couple of cruisers at Bell Weir Lock. The river isn’t really made for narrowboats, the lock landings tending to be quite high. Here Oleanna’s gunnels slipped easily underneath, and before I could do anything about it the wooden edging of the landing managed to rub a mark on the front edge of the cabin side. B****cks! It’s not huge, just a real shame, we’ll be more wary in future.
This lock was on Self Service, a chap from the front cruiser worked it, emptying and filling as needed. Most Thames locks we’ve been through tend to fill from the top gates, but every now and then one fills from the sides. It’s quite hard to keep hold as the water forces you out from the sides of the lock towards the centre, good job we weren’t too close to a cruiser.
The next reach takes you past Runnymede where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215. Set back from the river are memorials to J.F. Kennedy and the commonwealth Airforces. I had wondered about stopping and having a look around, but time was getting on and with a couple of days horrible weather on it’s way we wanted to be further along. Next time list. I’m actually going to have to start writing this list soon!
Once up Old Windsor Lock and under Albert Bridge we were skirting our way around Home Park the private park and farm land of Windsor Castle. There is no mooring here even though it’s tempting, it is a criminal offence. We could see Royal cows and a pretty Cottage that sits beside a little bridge that would just allow a narrowboat through.
Romney Lock was on Self Service and when we arrived we were on our own, time to push some buttons. Big signs suggested that the bollards on our starboard side had just been painted, so please use the other side. A boat was coming down, tied to the painted bollards, their ropes did look a touch darker than they should have been, so I suggested to Mick to use those on the port side.
Of course he didn’t hear me correctly, so he really didn’t understand why I wanted him to be over that side. He’d thoughtfully laid the bow rope on the starboard side roof for me to pick up and tie around a bollard and now it would be on the wrong side! A cruiser followed us in, I closed the gates and with the use of our new boat hook I was able to reach the rope and tie it.
Then I was on button duty. No Key of Power required on the Thames to work locks, just fingers. I made sure I read the instructions and pressed the ‘Sluice’ light. This is all that is required until the water is level, then you have to hold the gates button. By now a trip boat had arrived above, I could see the staff running up and down trying to serve drinks before they had to be on lock duty. Mick untied and once the cruiser had gone past he pushed over to pick me up leaving the lock to the trip boat.
Three years ago we stayed overnight in the lock cut here, but there are new signs to discourage this. My Aunt and Uncle lived in Eton during my childhood so I know Windsor quite well admittedly from the lower point of view of a child. Last time we’d walked round Eton, looked up at the flat, tried to find the fudge shop and ate mediocre fish and chips. The only thing I said I wanted to do was visit Queen Mary’s Dolls House, well I’ve had to look at lots of planes and buses recently! Checking on line later I discovered that the Dolls House is currently closed. I also discovered that it was designed by Edwin Lutyens and the garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll. I think I’m likely to appreciate it more than I did when I was 8, another thing for the Next time list.
Windsor Bridge is where we would rush out to stand to watch Concord fly over. My cousins both older and pilots would get Andrew and myself to listen out for the sonic boom, we never heard it, even if they said they did! Past all the swans that we used to go and feed with white sliced. Here we could have pulled in to moor, but decided to carry on a bit further and save our money as Eton College charge for you to moor on the Brocas. The only thing that had to be done was take the obligatory photo.
Onwards to Boveney Lock where a wide beam and a cruiser sat waiting. The locks so far would have fitted all of us, but would we all squeeze into this one. The Lockie checked our length and then asked the widebeam to move further up leaving enough room for us and the cruiser to sit side by side at the back.
Now we wanted somewhere to moor for the night. The first few spaces were all full and on the 24 hr mooring there were quite a few gaps but only suitable for cruisers or gits. Our Waterways Routes map had one more place to try just around the big bend. A life boat was occupying the first stretch, but then it was vacant. We pulled in and quickly decided that we’d have a barbecue before the weather turned.
So, the crew have been quite inconsiderate of late. Last time we were in this Thames outside I was still quite new to the outside moving. Now I’m a bit of an old paw at it all. She and Tom keep playing tricks on me. They move the outside, She walks through and then the outside stops, the rumbling stops too. This usually means they have tied the outside up for the day and I can go out to explore. But oh no! The rumbling starts again she comes back through and shows me that Tom is moving the outside again. How stupid is that? Letting it go. Then they go and do it all over again! And again!!
At least when they finally admitted that they had tied it up for good today it was a good outside. Plenty of pouncing possibilities, trees, a lot to explore. They decided to cook outside so I got even longer still in fact I got until they were getting bored of watching the big birdies flying over to Heathrow which is when it started to rain.
4 bedroom bungalow with gardens out the back. Cash buyers only!
5 locks, 12.13 miles, 1 mended pair of glasses, 1 sheet black foamcor, 2 boxes wine, 4 full shopping bags, 4 longer arms, 1 very big step down, 1 cabin scar, 6 nights beach airbnb booked, 0 key of power needed, 1 wave to Aunt Nancy and Uncle Peter, 1 crashed drone, 3 a tight squeeze, 4 pork and apple burgers, 4 veg and halloumi kebabs, 2 cobs of corn, 1 royal courgette still, 20 second gaps between planes, 1 Mrs Tilly Stamp of Approval.
£2,250,000 A bargain. Sorry Jennie you were over a million out.
This house is only accessible by boat as it is on Pharoah’s Island. The island was purchased by the Treasury and given to Admiral Nelson after the battle of the Nile in 1798, most of the islands 23 homes have Egyptian names. Spinx was built in 1903 and has been owned by actors Janet Munro and Ian Hendry.
With the hope of changing our morning habits the alarm clock was set last night, not much earlier than we normally wake, but this would signal getting up. Instead of our cuppa in bed reading we got up and had that cuppa with breakfast, cutting the morning routine down by at least an hour. We’re on the Thames now and if we want a chance of mooring where we’d like then we need to get up and get going.
As we rolled back the covers the boat in front of us NB Freedom also prepared to push off, we’d be sharing the next lock. We waved to Henry VIII and thanked him for a good couple of days at the bottom of his garden and then we were off heading upstream.
Molesey Lock dropped its water and a boat came out, in we went soon followed by NB Freedom. A look over our shoulder as we settled with ropes around bollards and another narrowboat could be seen coming under the bridge behind, the Lockie waited. Chatting to Freedom I realised we’ve come across them a couple of times earlier in the year, once near Leeds and a few weeks ago in London, we suspect our bows will cross again as they are on the Thames for a similar amount of time to us.
Eventually the other boat arrived, a single hander in a bit of a tizzy. He pulled in then flung his stern rope up failing to get it round a bollard, this is a common fault with narrowboaters, more practice required. But then as he tried again he seemed to misplace a foot or slip, we all took a deep breath as he managed to cling on for dear life and pulled himself back onto the gunnel. So so nearly!
There was no rush, just as well really. The Volunteer Lockie came and held his stern rope, he tried to get his bow into the side but all that happened was the stern came out and at one point I thought he’d end up breasting up to us. When eventually the bow did as he wanted he gingerly walked the gunnel to the bow. Here he had stored his rope wrapped around the front T stud at least 10 times just in case it tried to get away!
Calm then followed as we all rose in the lock. The others headed off whilst we loitered to fill with water, deal with yellow water and dispose of our rubbish. We’d caught the single hander up by the time we reached Sunbury Locks, at least this time he’d not bothered to re-wrap his ropes. This was to be the last lock shared with him as he’d be heading off onto the Wey, hopefully he’ll listen to the Lockie and be okay with the smaller locks.
NB Freedom had stopped for the day at Shepperton Junction claiming quite a good spot, we carried on to the lock to get a few more miles under our bow before stopping for the day. We worked up Shepperton and Chertsey Locks in turn, passing the ‘Slum Boats’. These boats have been moved on several times as the local residents complain. One was featured in a BBC investigation a couple of years ago as it was renting rooms out with Airbnb.
Our original plan had been to get to Staines and do some shopping then find a cat friendly mooring, but that was still a touch too far on. We passed where we’d moored on Lillian and then spotted a place at Laleham. We nudged back as far as we could to a little cruiser leaving space for a big boat or two shorter narrowboats.
A quick cat health and safety check of the area and it was deemed suitable. The doors were opened for Tilly and we sat down for lunch. mission accomplished, but will we be able to keep up the earlier starts for a month?
Just by our stern doors was a scrabbly tree surrounded by brambles. A lot of the fruit was plump and black, ready for the picking, so Tilly and I started to fill a tupperware avoiding the lower ones (that might have extra flavour!). Mick came and helped too with a boat hook so that I could reach the juicier fat ones that laid a layer of thorns down. Enough for a crumble which we enjoyed after a curry made with our left over chicken and the remainder of the beans.
Now, just what to do with that courgette?!
Now we are talking. Mooring, 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and a swimming pool. How much?
4 locks, 9.83 miles, 1 straight on, 0 tea in bed for us, 1 slip, 1 near soaking, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 water tank filled in minutes (I love Thames hoses), 1st crumble of the year, 1st shore leave in ages, I suppose it was alright!
Yesterday in between our visits to the palace I had a go at a Buckwheat and Squash loaf. I’d got so far in making it when I realised I didn’t have any millet flour. In another recipe I could use either millet or maize flour so I gave that a go instead. I think it needed to be left to rise a touch longer, but it is very tasty, slightly cheesy in a way with the sour dough. If I can find some millet flour I’ll give it another go and see how it differs.
At Hampton Court Palace moorings you can stay for 24hrs for free, after which you can pay £8 for each additional 24hrs. As we were still in Zone 6 we decided to have an extra days mooring so that Mick could pop over to Hackney to pick up our post using his old gits oyster card. The post included plans that had been sent over from Vienna, so better to have them sooner. I stayed behind with Tilly to do some bits of work and try to get the grey cells thinking about the next show.
Yesterday when we’d been in the Kitchen Garden we’d noticed signs up advertising the sale of garden produce. As we were without any veg it was worth going to at least have a look. I decided to set off at around 1pm to walk the five minutes and see if there was a queue.
Just as I’d clambered up the steps from the moorings there was a pinging sound near my face. What on earth was that? Nothing seemed to be missing, until I noticed that a screw that should have been holding my glasses together had vanished, the right lense only being held into the frame by luck. Back to the boat to change glasses, this was taking up precious queuing time.
A lonely sign stood by the pavillion marking the start of the queue, nobody, brilliant! Except they’d all got here early enough to get a seat in the pavillion. Oh well, it looked like I’d be tenth or so in line, a courgette would do me. A lady arrived and asked if I was the end of the queue, she managed to find a seat, someone else arrived and made note of who was the end and so it continued in a very English way.
From the centre of the vegetable garden a laden trolley was pushed, the lady in purple obviously in charge. As the trolley got close the sitting queue stood up and everyone jostled into the correct order as the produce was put out on display and blackboards with prices were added.
This was a serious affair, we were on royal turf and nobody would barge in. The young lady in front of me was joined by a friend who quickly said that she wasn’t pushing in, just joining her friend to see what happened. I believed her, maybe others were too polite to challenge her from the now lengthening queue.
The first lady was invited up followed by the second and third. Cabbages, carrots were all being claimed, what was on the stall was what was on offer, once it was gone it was gone. At last it was my turn, I’d maybe been stood a little too close, too eager to get a courgette, but at least I’d let on to those behind me that this was my first time. An elderly chap accompanied me as I chose from the display and popped things into my bag, he was there to tot up my purchases as I went. Everything was good round numbers, not the cheapest, but with there being zero air miles and having only been picked a matter of minutes ago, oh and being from the palace gardens it was fine.
Just what to get? Multi-coloured beetroot, some runner beans. Actually not runner I swapped and changed my mind to get a bag of purple green and white french beans. The chap didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting both. A Pattypaw squash and the courgette I’d come for in the first place. I could have got far more, but we’d not eat it in time to make the most of it’s freshness. The young lady in front was walking away with a bulging bag tufts of green sprouting from the top, she’d got a good haul.
I paid my £6 and had a look round. The veg was now half gone and the queue was still 20 deep, the lady behind me picking up three bunches of fantastic smelling herbs, maybe I’d like some, but my time was over.
The first lady had taken her time in packing away her veg on her bike. The front basket brimming and the basket at the back bulging, the smug grin on her face as she walked past those hoping that there would be one runner bean left. Then the lady from behind me came past, she’d been even more prepared a trailer on the back of her bike, the cover over it meant nobody could see how many bags she’d got. They take this all very seriously round here.
Now, what should I cook? There was still some roast chicken. Hmmm. As I re-read my script all I could think of was what to cook. In the end I opted to roast the pattypaw with some fennel seeds along with a white beetroot and a couple of red ones which I segregated behind some foil. Some basmati rice with a few of the multicoloured beans and chicken mixed into the equation and a good grating of Parmesan made for a tasty fresh meal. Now what to do with that courgette?
0 locks, 60ft backwards, 2 buses, 3 trains, 7 envelopes, 2 plans, 1 bumper catalogue, 3rd read, 4 emails, 1 weeks painting sorted, 1 lense hanging on for dear life, 11th in line, 3 coloured beans, 1 pattypaw, 2 coloured beetroot, 1 courgette, £8.80 to get lost!