Thursday, 30 June 2011

Beale Park

One major event I forgot to record on my last blog.   When we went upstream to water at Cleeve Lock, Barney had taken himself off to lie under the trees.  When we had finished we cast off and went slightly upstream to turn and in the middle of the turn remembered Barney....he had not noticed our departure immediately but had suddenly woken up to find us could we have done such a thing.......luckily it was only a few minutes before we were alongside the pontoon to collect him but we do wonder if we had been continuing upstream hoe long it would have been before we missed him!

I had visited Beale Park, the visitor attraction,  itself with Giles, Finley and Oscar last Monday.  They have annual family tickets as it is so close to them, but for the general public it is £9 and £7.50 for an oldie like me.   For what is provided inside that is quite expensive.   I blagged my way in on Susannah's ticket and the kind lady said I could do it just this once!!!!   Since all the attractions are children orientated I shall not be paying another visit........
Along the river there is plenty of room to moor, albeit mainly rough moorings.  Lots of land for Barney so he was happy.  The notices a little further down from us say 24 hours, but the one by us is unreadable......we are not depriving anyone of a space  as there are not that many boats here.   Although we have trees all around they are far enough away on the other bank that our TV satellite is not affected....important for this week as it is Wimbledon.

A most enjoyable supper aboard Epiphany on Tuesday was followed today by Geoff hitching a ride with them to Pangbourne to get the paper and milk.  My day was partly domestic, a very small part but I did make a start on cleaning the venetian blinds.  In all respects bar one they are a great success but cleaning them is a real pain...I managed 2 windows before I had had enough......the rest of the day was spent doing Giles accounts.   Tomorrow we shall move down to Pangbourne.  The plan is to move into Epiphany's place and I shall hitch a ride to Reading.   My phone is playing up and so I need a visit to the `3` shop.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


We stayed a couple more days on our delightful mooring.

Monday. after a leisurely morning I went to Beale Park with the two boys (Finley 2.5 and Oscar nearly 9 months)  so it was not leisurely...but very enjoyable......

Tuesday, whilst Geoff did a long walk with Barney and pottered on Petroc I spent the day at Giles & Zan's, alternatively doing Giles' accounts and babysitting!!   In the evening Giles and Zan came to supper on Petroc so we ate somewhat later than normal.....getting 3 children to bed is something I have forgotten............

Goring Lock and Weir with Petroc in the background
Today we left this delightful mooring.  Just before leaving we had a very interesting conversation with a  friendly fisherman who had been fishing a little way down from us.  When we said we were about to depart he said that was lucky (for us!) as there was a fishing competition on Thursday and he thought that we would have been asked to leave as they like to fish there.   Apparently they pay £70 a year for their fishing permit.....this begs the question as to whether we would have had to move or not.......anyone out there know the position on this one????   Since they would obviously have come very early in the morning it could have been quite interesting.....
Anyway we did leave, first of all upstream to Cleeve Lock to get water and then downstream to Mapledurham as we needed to empty the loos and then back upstream to Beale Park as we had a rendezvous with Epiphany for supper.
Passing Epiphany on the way downstream, John taking our photo!!
We also passed this delightful boat
Coming back upstream approaching Whitchurch Bridge at Pangbourne.
Apparently this toll bridge is due for huge renovation in 2012 and will be closed for some months, which will make life difficult for many people.  It is Giles and Zan's direct route to Pangbourne.
Eventually tied up behind Epiphany, they had kindly moved up a little so that we could have a good place for barney to alight!!  Thank you
12 miles, 5 locks, 4 hours

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Sojourn at Goring

There really is not much incentive to move from here.......below are the views from our windows....

Epiphany had very kindly marked the mooring spot so it was very easy for us to come alongside.   Great to see John and Fi again, we were not sure whether our paths would cross or not this year.  However they have just come off the K&A and instead of continuing down the Thames they very kindly decided to turn upstream to catch up with us.   Consequently there has been some socialising, interspersed with our baby-sitting duties.
Giles & family live only 3 miles from here so it was  a very convenient stopping place.  We are moored above Goring Lock on a rough field mooring so do not have to worry about overstaying.  Goring moorings are 24hrs only as are a lot of places down the Thames.
We had an excellent breakfast in Pierrepont cafe yesterday, church in Woodcote this morning followed by Lunch in the Bull at Streatley.   The lunch was very acceptable but we have had better.   Most pubs who do a Sunday Roast are only too willing to let you have a Yorkshire pudding with whatever meat you chose, but not the Bull!!!   Yes we could have one but it would be 50p extra.......first time we have ever come across that....and it was catering pack lamb...........
The weather has taken a turn for the wonderful, but very hot, so the afternoon has been spent in the shade but looking at the delightful views on the river and watching the antics of all the Sunday afternoon boaters.
In the evening someone was obviously having a leisurely cruise
Fi decided the shore was the coolest place
We have decided to stay here a couple of days longer although Epiphany plan to move tomorrow.    However we shall catch them up at Beale Park for Wednesday.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Late yesterday afternoon Geoff did his promised walk up the nearby Wittenham Clumps and castle Hill
He said it was very steep climb but the views from the top were worth it.
Little Wittenham
Later on our friends came to visit again
We awoke to a fine morning.  At first there was not a breath of wind but it gradually increased but to nowhere  the strength of the last couple of days.  As it was so nice we set off about 8.30 and saw ourselves through Days Lock as the Lock keeper does not start until 9. 
We took the trip down very leisurely as it was such a good day.
This is just an example of the many large houses we passed.
Passing Wallingford there were plenty of moorings but quite high.  We moored here 3 years ago and Ellie, who was getting on by then, had great difficulty getting off the boat.  Barney would probably have coped.  However our destination lay further on, in preparation for our baby-sitting duties on Saturday.
Someone had been left high and dry

Looking at the brickwork under Moulsford Railway bridge, the bricklayers must have had a wonderful task.

We were intending to go through Goring Lock and hope there was space on the 24 hour moorings.   We had a loose arrangement to meet up with John and Fi on Epiphany.  As we approached the lock I saw a boat moored above and on the Streatley bank and told Geoff that was where Epiphany had moored on their way down.........closer inspection showed that it WAS Epiphany, so brakes on and having been invited to breast alongside we about turned and snuggled up.  
11.02 miles, 3 locks, 3hr 36 min

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Rural Oxfordshire

Tuesday we spent leisurely in Abingdon, Geoff doing lots more walking and me doing some.   I did try to visit an old friend. Marianne,  whom we had not seen for years but with whom we still exchange Christmas cards.  However when I located her address her neighbour told me she was in hospital in Oxford and had been for the last 3 months.  She said she had gone downhill very rapidly and was quite confused so decided that seeing someone she had not seen for years would not help matters.
Wednesday was the day we had decided to move on downstream, but first we went back up through Abingdon Lock to the sani station.   All was well on the trip up but as we set off to come down again the heavens opened and we both got thoroughly soaked.........
The trip downstream continued in the same vein.....they were only showers but quite heavy ones and the wind was blowing well.   I went below and changed but Geoff, ever the stoic, stayed up and braved the elements.
We had decided to see what the moorings above Days lock were like and when we reached there, there was one boat moored and plenty of room for us.
It looked like an ideal mooring, meadowland, clear line for the satellite TV (for the tennis!) so we moored just opposite an old pillbox
The cowpat in the foreground should have warned us of possible visitors, but everything else seemed ideal.

It was not until late in the afternoon when these appeared.
There seemed to be hundreds of them, which is possibly a small exaggeration but I am not keen on cows......
Some were friendly looking little calves
Then we discovered there was a bull amongst them
Hi there, can we chat a while
or something!
All this going on in our front garden........we had taken Barney inside as soon as the cows appeared, much to his disgust.   He likes to sit out.  They grazed there for a couple of hours then all disappeared.
9 miles, 4 locks, 3.5 hours

This morning there was no sign of them as we set out to walk to Dorchester just under a mile away.
We visited the Abbey there 
I had visions of finding a nice coffee shop for our elevens, but I was to be disappointed.   There are Abbey tea Rooms but sadly only open in the afternoon, so it was back to Petroc.   We just made it back in time as the heavy showers had decided to return.......luckily the cows had not.  However I fully expect to see them at teatime again............

Monday, 20 June 2011

Lingering In Abingdon

Well who wouldn't, it is a really delightful spot.  Having found a mooring here, or at least half a mooring....
If you enlarge the photo you can see we are hanging on the end.....
But quite secure and snug
And Barney has a hidey hole in the long grass
The moorings here are very full and as soon as a spot becomes vacant it is quickly filled again.
As you can see we can stay for 5 days free which is great but helps to explain why it is so full.  
Yesterday (Sunday) was sort of planned.....never do that.  Part of it came to fruition but parts not, although some was in a nice way.    Emma duly arrived at 8am to sleep between night duty.  Once she was tucked up in bed and asleep Geoff and I set off for Church at St Nicholas in the town, only to discover that the service as advertised on their board outside was not taking place.......we were not impressed.    It wasn't even just a notice about regular services, it was specific to this month......the Church was all locked up with no sign of life.    After a few minutes a lady came up and said she had also forgotten that there was a Cluster service in one of the other churches(an hour previously!!)....a notice would have been good.  Nothing daunted Geoff decided to do a long walk with barney and I decided I just had to sit and read my book, such a hard life.  
A little later a phone call from Giles et al said they were coming for a surprise visit for Fathers Day........3 small children on the boat with Emma trying to sleep............however it all worked very well as Geoff arrived back as they arrived and we repaired to the pub for a Fathers Day drink.   Oscar (8months) and I managed to spill 2 1/2 pints of cider all over ourselves.......well Oscar did really but I had the blame for being an inattentive Gillyma!!!!!
A visit to the swings for the two elder ones with Giles and Geoff followed, whilst Zan, Oscar and I returned to Petroc to give him some food.
Oscar seemed quite pleased with this arrangement
Today, Monday has been a beautiful day until about 4pm when the rain eventually reached us.   I was able to sit out in my new chair at last.
Meanwhile Geoff and Barney went walkabout again and managed to take some photos to show how delightful this past of the world is.
Looking down river through Abingdon Bridge
Sign post along the Sustrans Cycle trail

Ah well we may have to be slightly more active at the weekend.   Giles and Susannah have a wedding to go to on Saturday late afternoon/evening so we have been roped in to baby sit.    The intention therefore is to aim for Goring on Friday in the hopes of being able to moor there so they can easily pick us up to perform Grandparenting duties!!!!

Saturday, 18 June 2011


We stayed over Friday as planned as the forecast was dire......however in the event it was nowhere near as bad as we had been led to believe.   Nothing lost as it was a good day and good position for visitors.   Wally stopped off on his way up from Taunton to London(just a slight detour)  and Maggie came on the train from London and we were only 5 min from the station.   A good day was had by all.
Before they came I walked up to the shops and was annoyed that the chauffeur had had the temerity to take our car out for a spin

Today we planned to be at the lock at 9 with the aim of getting to Abingdon late morning in the hope of finding space to moor.   We hung around a little too long and we in the second lockful down...obviously everyone with the same idea......
This was our first real trip down the river and now we were into wide water and lots of different sorts of boats.
Some big
Some small
Some bigger
And the boat houses to keep them in
The weather was showery and occasionally very blustery but it is a pleasant run down just 4 locks to Abingdon.....and all with lock keepers.   Barney is not impressed as he has to stay on boat as do we.  he is used to hopping off and assisting Geoff at locks. now they are both going to miss their exercise.......
On the plus side we do pass some very pretty places.

And even some wild life
Today we saw our first Kingfisher of the year...far too nifty to catch on camera......we had been wondering where they had all vanished to...
The other difference now is the speed we can travel there were times when we were nearly doing 5 mph....!!!
And so to Abingdon.  We could see when we were in Abingdon lock that it looked very busy down much for getting here early.    The wind was blowing quite well and we made one attempt to get in a space that was just big enough for us but there was some sort of obstruction close in and despite someone coming and trying to help pull us in we kept going aground so decided to abandon the attempt.  We trawled on down through the bridge but nowhere looked very hopeful so we turned around (Can't do that on the canal) and started back along the line of boats.  Eventually we spotted a space right on the end of the mooring which was about half the length of Petroc.  So here we sit quite snugly with access only from the bows but we are securely(I hope)  tied up on no less than 4 stakes.  We are on the meadow side which is ideal for Barney, he promptly took himself off and snuggled into the longish grass.
9.04 miles, 4 locks, 3hr 29min

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Thames at last

The timing of our departure today was important as we wanted to moor just above Osney Lock and the moorings seem to be full every day.   Geoff and Barney did a recce mid morning and saw there were some spaces so we waved farewell to the Oxford Canal about 10.30 and descended through Isis Lock onto the cut to take us to the Thames.
Farewell Oxford Canal
We departed in the rain so it was long mac time for me, the first time it has been out this year.   However it has warmed up in the last few weeks so it was not too unpleasant.
The lack of rain over the last weeks meant there was hardly any flow when we emerged at the bottom.

Going through the narrow cut to reach the river is hardly prepossessing.
Before we left we prepared Petroc for her time on the river by getting the Anchor out and securing it to the bow,  We then have to stow it in the cockpit which is a bit of a pain........I know we have to do it for safety reasons, but I dread to think what would happen if we had to use the thing.......
In addition we had stripped the roof of flowers tubs and aerial for the passage under Osney Bridge.  There is only just over 7ft headroom in the centre so it could have been tight...however lack of rain meant the river was low so there was no problem and we could have saved ourselves the bother.

En route to hear we passed some allotments and were please to see that the Cornish influence still abounds

So after only 1/2 an hour we had tied up again.  The reason for the short trip was that the weather forecast for Friday seemed dire..strong winds and lots of rain so we had decided we wanted to be somewhere we could tuck up for the day.  In the event it has worked our well  as we are now expecting visitors for lunch...........
0.39miles, 1 lock, 33minutes