Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cookham in the rain

 The trip down to Cookham was fine but we knew the forecast for Wednesday was dire so wanted somewhere congenial (and cheap!) to stay over a couple of days.   We found a delightful mooring at Cookham.  A large grassed area with mooring rings and access to fields with long grass which Barney loves.  He may not be a swimming Labrador but he loves to roll in long wet grass.  At first we thought we had dies and gone to heaven as there was no mention of any charge for mooring.......Ha!   We then found another notice which said it was from £5...  Aah well we have accepted the fact now that is the name of the game on the Thames.  In the event the lady who came round to collect only relieved us of £6 each night. The added plus was a footpath and a short walk into Cookham.  Here there were 5 or pubs, 3 garages, 2 wedding shops, various other shops but no general store!  There was just a small convenience store in one of the garages which was sufficient for our needs for a couple of days.

Wednesday dawned as promised and was a wet, drear day.  It was not a complete write off as Giles arrived by pre-arrangement to go out to lunch.   We had fully perused all the pubs menus on line and discarded those that seemed too expensive.   We decided on the Old Swan Upper which was the furthest walk but well worth it.  We had a tapas type lunch there which was quite delicious.  Geoffrey even topped it off with their chocolate dessert which was to die for....I had to help him eat it and I don`t normally like gooey chocolate puddings.

Thursday was a much better day

Our morning visitors
We saw no need to rush as we only planned to go as far as Maidenhead so Barney had his long walk before we set off just before 10am.    It then seems that the whole world had decided to move, there were boats going every this way and that.   This necessitated a wait at both the locks.

Packed in at Boulters Lock
The locks themselves don`t take that long to empty and carry us down, but it takes a while to pack it full of boats!

Big houses again on this stretch
Having taken advice we ignored the moorings about the two bridges and carried on through.  Just after the railway bridge there was a long stretch of mooring with hardly anyone was only noon.

It says £8 for 24 hours but no one has been round yet!

Nice enough place but strangely difficult for Barney and I to get on and off.  There is a very narrow strip of concrete then a 2ft wall.  The strip is not wide enough for Barney to land on and then tackle the wall so he stands on the boat and thinks about it for a long time, planning his strategy,  and then does an almighty leap over the whole thing.   My getting on and off is somewhat more undignified as it necessitates sitting on the ground!

Walking for Barney is good once I had sussed out that the Private notice at the end of the lane was not quite true.   A big multi-barred gate in front of a big house announces that it is private and access to the house only.  However there is space for a pedestrian at the side and by walking through you can find a very small Public Footpath notice tucked away in the hedge.   I only found it thanks to a local walker.  You can go two ways, one to fields and one is actually the continuation of the Thames path which leads to the next lock.

Unfortunately it is a long walk into town, but Geoff tackled it as he wanted some new trousers......what an incentive!

Total distance:3.65 miles 
Elapsed time:2h41m27s 
Average speed:1.36 mph (2.10 lock/mph) 

Monday, 7 August 2017


 One of the worst things to go wrong on a boat is the toilet (in my opinion)

Luckily two years ago we invested in a Porta Potti for emergencies which had now been brought into commission.  A phone call to Lee Sanitation, from whence the toilet originated. elicited the information that they don't do call-outs.  We have located a marine toilet engineer BUT he is on holiday!!!   He is on holiday this week and maybe next week.  Luckily we will still be within his reach for the next couple of weeks.

This was the sky behind us on Friday evening, but miraculously it missed us.
We had watched these amphibians in Henley and they are still around

Then we watched some of them as they landed

All shapes and sizes were lined up in Higgenson Park on Saturday
The weekend was a very social one.  We had visitors Bob and Rosie on the Saturday for lunch and I had discovered that they were en route to Heathrow, so I begged a lift as I thought I would make a surprise appearance at son-in-law Daves 50th birthday party.  We had not planned to attend as we had no idea where we would be.  They dropped me at Hounslow from where I caught a train to Wandsworth and a short walk to the was great to see the faces of all my family.   I had previously texted saying we hoped they had a good time and sorry not be be there!.  I wasn`t able to stay late as I had to catch a train back at a reasonable time for Geoff to meet me at Marow.....he had to stay up way past his bedtime!!  However it was long enough for a few glasses of Prosecco and the meal...a great day
Sunday we had friends Anne & Keith coming to go out to lunch.  As we hadn`t seen them for a while it was a great catch up session.   By the time they arrived we had moved from our £12 a night slot to the free moorings just a little way behind.   I was quite relieved to have moved as it transpired we were adjacent to where a Thames swim was finishing.   A marquee had been erected, portaloos put in, and later on the place was incredibly busy.

We went to the Dog and badger at Medmenham for lunch.   We all used to live in the married quarters at Medmenham in the early 80`s and the Dog and Badger was the local pub.........somewhat changed now.    It has been modernised, albeit quite well done, the biggest change was the prices.   It is now a rather upmarket pub.

Later we were revisited by Anne Barlow, our Australian friend, this time with her daughter Melinda who lives in Marlow,  We had last seen Melinda in 1980 at the age of 19.  She is now a grandmother.

All in all a very busy and enjoyable much so that we decided to stay over Monday to recover!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Lingered Longer in Henley

Thursday`s departure was delayed as we decided that Henley was as good a place as any to meet up for a meal with friends Anne and Graham.  They had already visited us for lunch on Tuesday and this was another chance to catch up.  However first things first, we had to go back upstream a couple of locks to water etc.  When we came back mid morning our same place was still vacant so in we went....its very hard to tear ourselves away from here.

This will do for my boat tender

There is a rally going on of amphibians

All shapes and sizes
Thursday evening we decided to give some of the more expensive establishments the big swerve and try The Catherine Wheel which is a Weatherspoon pub.  We had an excellent meal and cannot believe how reasonable the prices are.  A small bottle of Prosecco which can cost anything from £5-8 in other places was £3.85.    If my system could have coped it was tempting to have two!!!!

Friday we really had to go as we wanted to be in Marlow for the weekend

Past Temple Island

Next door to Bisham Abbey!

Bisham Abbey ( I think)

Danesfield House Hotel
33 years ago we lived in the area at Medmenham.  At that time Danesfield was being used as the Headquarters of some Chocolate factory...may have been Cadburys.  Nowadays it would appear to be a very upmarket hotel.  Way back in the early 1960`s I stayed there when it was the Officers Mess for RAF Medmenham.  I remember wood pannelled walls with hidden doors, large bathrooms with huge baths and very cold!!   I wonder what it looks like now???  I think it has had several changes of use since then.

Danesfield Sailing Club
Once again memories.  In the early 80`s we launched Geoff`s self built Wharram Catamaran here. With much help from friend Jim Crint, this 12ft sailing boat had started life in our garage in Kinloss, Scotland, travelled down half built in the removal van to the quarters at Medmenham, eventually finished and successfully launched here.   It never went very far as our sailing expertise was extremely limited and the river quite narrow.......When we left here in 1984 to live for 3 years on a much bigger catamaran (30ft) I cannot remember what happened to it........maybe the rotting hull is still lurking there!!

Yet another rather nice residence.
On arrival at Henley there did not seem to be much space.  We spied one possibility but thought the sign said No Mooring so went further along and managed to squeeze in.  It was not ideal however as we were across a water outlet that told you not to moor there because of this outlet.   We decided to sit it out and see who moved later in the day.   The water outlet was not constant but made a bit of a racket when it was in action.  It didn`t seem to bother Geoff but it did bother me!
I chatted to the people on the small gin behind and discovered they ere leaving later in the afternoon which was ideal as we then moved back and were safe.   
Mooring here costs £12 a day between 6pm and 9am.    Hence some local boats come up for the day but disappear before 6pm as the people behind had done.

We subsequently discovered that the moorings behind did not say NO MOORING but MOORING ALLOWED.       They should have bigger notices!!  It was however 24 hours only so would not have sufficed as we wanted the whole weekend as we were expecting visitors.  Once again we have had to bite the financial bullet.

Total distance:6.72 miles 
Elapsed time:2h30m32s 
Average speed:2.68 mph (3.87 lock/mph)