Thursday, 14 September 2017

Aren`t canals narrow!!

After over two and a half months on the Thames we are back on what is really our home ground.   No longer can we wander along looking for the best mooring place and then turn around if we need to go back.......and so narrow!!

We really felt the difference as we left Oxford and passed the extensive area of Agenda 21 Residential moorings.   A very long stretch of boats, the majority of which could do with a touch of TLC, making it very hard to pass a boat going in the other direction.

Meanwhile the Jericho redevelopment does not seem to have made any progress, there is no sign of any activity behind the hoardings showing what it could look like.  The artists impression in the link above looks it just a pipe dream??   Oxford could well do with improving its image in this area.  Great potential.........

Before this trip we had two nights on the Oxford Road east Moorings, which are part of the Thames Visitor moorings.  Here one can have one night free and up to 2 further nights at £5 a night.   You can either register your arrival on line or call the telephone number given on the notice.  It was a very pleasant and cheerful gentleman I spoke to when registering.  When I asked him where he was controlling the system from, he said from his boat which was presently moored in Weybridge.   I forgot to ask him how he kept a check on whether people bothered to call or not.  In fact a gentleman in a wooden boat in front of us told Geoff that he thought someone came around to collect the money but we didn't see any sign of that.

The moorings are well placed to either walk into town or hop on one of numerous buses just up along from the bridge.  The new shopping centre has made progress and is due to open next least it says so on the notice!

The goal today was Thrupp for the weekend providing there was space.   After a pleasant run (after the had escaped Oxford)  we stopped at the first space available by the Jolly Boatman just in case there was no room further up on the 7 day moorings.   Geoff walked up and soon rang me to say there was plenty of space......this is the advantage of arriving late morning/lunchtime.   Soon we were nicely settled in.

The mooring notices do ask boats not to run generators or engines but am not sure how they think one can manage for 7 days.

Total distance:6.95 miles 
Elapsed time:4h17m30s 
Average speed:1.62 mph (2.79 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Back to Oxford

Abingdon has to be the most welcoming of towns on the Thames to visitors.  What a pity some other places are not as welcoming.  Sadly I failed to get a picture of the notice by Reading Bridge which is really quite threatening if you stay over the allotted 24 hours.  Not just a fine of £100 but dire consequences..............................

Other places on the Thames could do well to take note.
So we were sad to leave, but Tuesday was forecast to be a window in what didn`t promise to be a good week.   However they said Monday would be bad, hence our delay, but in the event it was not nearly as bad as forecast.

When Geoff walked Barnaby on Monday past the lock and the water point, it was very busy with at least 4 boats queuing to water.   Since we don`t like situations like that we crept away at 0730!!

We were locked through and watered and on our way by 0830 and didn`t see another boat for over 2 hours.  Chillier than of late but no rain and a very pleasant run up to Oxford.  We met our first boats at Iffley lock when 4 were locking down which we hoped boded well for space on the moorings above Osney lock.
Approaching Folly Bridge
The channel to the left is still closed off.
So round to the right we go
Followed by a smart little trip boat
Osney lock was on self service which we did not realise.  (No sign up) There was now a boat ahead of us who had just gone up the lock and decided to do his good turn for the day by emptying the lock and opening the gates ready for us.   However we thought he was the lock keeper so Geoff stayed aboard.  Once inside he then had to climb the steps which is something neither of us is too keen on him doing......they are very slippy.  Still all was well and we were pleased to see that there was room for us on the moorings just above.

So endeth our two and a half months Thames travelling.  We left here on 29th June.  I only managed to persuade Geoff to go as far as Windsor but it has been a very leisurely time.  On Thursday we shall go through ISIS lock and re enter our world of canals.

Total distance:9.06 miles 
Elapsed time:4h4m50s
Average speed:2.22 mph (3.20 lock/mph

Monday, 11 September 2017

Weekend in Abingdon

The bank is slightly high here downstream of the bridge but manageable.  Lots of meadow for Barney

My early morning view as I make the tea!
Giles and Finley came over on Saturday morning.  Giles to do a training swim in the river.  he is signed up to a half iron man  (I think that is what is called) next May so has to keep the training up.   2 Km swim, 80km cycle ride and 1/2 after the other.......Finley Barney and I went alongside him to check his distance and also to warn him of approaching boats.

Afterwards we repaired to Annie's on the Waterfront.   This is the same people who run Annie's cafe at Thrupp.   They only opened two weeks ago in the building on the waterfront where there used to be a chandlers.   Great service and breakfast.

We had still not solved the aerial problems and were having to take a direct feed from the aerial through door and window (door for the front and window for the back).  With the weather turning colder I was none too happy with the window above my head permanently open..  This spurred me on to make yet more phone calls trying to find an aerial engineer to solve the problem.   

To cut a very long saga short we were visited by Brian from Aerial Solutions on Saturday afternoon.   What a star!!   Faulty connections were the problem, all now fixed and at a very reasonable price.   We can recommend him if anyone has similar problems.

Sunday we went to St Helens Church.  The Sunday morning Eucharist was also welcoming the Mayoral party.  It is heritage weekend here in Abingdon.   Various events taking place and lots of historic building open and free.  James and Hazel with NB Gabriel are here and kindly brought us a brochure of everything going on.

Layover another day tomorrow as the forecast is less than pleasing.   Oxford beckons on Tuesday.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Back to Abingdon

Back to where we were over 2 months ago.   But first we had a couple of nights in Wallingford.
There are still a lot of boats around and a mooring space was not straightforward.   We had to moor on the town side at first in the only available space.  However the bank is far too high for us and my getting on and off would have been very undignified....if possible.   Barney was none too impressed either, but as he had had a long time without being able to get ashore he made a superhuman effort and threw himself up.   We then sat eyeing a hire boat on the other bank for about half an hour whilst we considered if he was going to move or not.   Eventually he did and a smart bit of reversing allowed us to moor with a slightly lower bank.  We were then moored alongside the park area and the swimming pool.   When we were here on the way down it was during the excessively hot weather and the pool was a godsend.  Now it is closed and the temperature somewhat different!
The view of Wallingford from our mooring.
On Wednesday Geoff and I actually went walking together with Barney, a rare occurrence.  We walked the Thames path up to Benson.  I had walked this in the extreme heat with my sister-in-law Edith and thought I would never make it.  Today was much easier and the goal at the end which was the Waterfront cafe at Benson was much less crowded.  We were able to site in the comfortable chairs overlooking the river and enjoy our coffee........and was still warm enough to do that.
Looking from the weir at Benson with our goal in the distance.
Today, Thursday we set off at the crack of sparrows as we had over 12 miles to go.

Waiting for the Benson lock,  sun just awake
The sun was kind to us for nearly 3 hours before the weather took a nose dive.   We had the river to ourselves apart from 3 canoeists until well after 9 o`clock.

At Abingdon there was space on the moorings downstream of the bridge so decided to moor there for a change.   The moorings here are very civilised, the notice says they are provided free for our enjoyment and we may stay for 5 days.   Great pity some of the other places don`t do the same.   We don`t object to those that charge £5 a night but some places are more.   Marlow is the highest we have encountered at £12 a night.   There is space there on the free moorings but only for about 3 boats and it is, understandably, 24 hours only.   The paying ones are free during the day time so they tend to get filled up with local boats out for the day, hence our not being able to moor in Marlow on our way back upstream.

Total distance:12.81 miles 
Elapsed time:4h33m44s 
Average speed:2.81 mph (3.68 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Boarded by Pirates

After a lot of dithering Geoff decided to spend his peaceful weekend in Goring rather than Beale Park so we tootled up there on Friday morning and were lucky enough to find a mooring at the far end.

I packed my bags and was collected by Giles for my Granny sitting duties.  Thankfully Boe was there also.  If it were just the children it would be fine but there are 17 chickens, 1 poorly cat who has to be injected, 2 well cats, 1 poorly dog who has just had a stroke, one well dog with boundless energy, 2 ducks and a goldfish!!

The weekend went well, with lots of activity including a trip to this water obstacle course.    Needless to say I was a spectator, leaving Boe to accompany the children.

Boe came to spend Sunday evening on Petroc and, together with Geoff, we sampled the Indian delights of Massooms restaurant.

Boe left us on Monday morning and we had a short run up to locks, watering at Cleeve lock and aiming for the field mooring where we had moored on the way down.   We couldn't`t take the exact same spot as it was filled with George and Carol on Still Rockin.  We managed to get in a little further back but had to use the gang plank....the first time since we were on the Lancaster canal a few years ago.   First time ever for this new gangplank.   Barney took one look at it and disdainfully did an almighty leap for the shore without it!

Late afternoon wee had a surprise visit....Giles and the children in their boat called the SLACK DODGER!!
A boat that has seen better days but the kids love it.

Moved on today to Wallingford, where we were initially unlucky with mooring.   We managed to squeeze into a space on the left had side but the bank is far too high for us here.   Barney did eventually manage it but I would have struggled.   We sat waiting for a hire boat to depart from the opposite bank.   This he duly did after about half an hour so a swift bit of reversing before someone else came along.

Our TV aerials are playing up again, they have not been right since our boatyard fitted new ones for us at the beginning of the season.   This causes a lot of angst for Geoff!!!

After several phone calls I have the possibility of a visit from someone a week today.........we will be around Oxford by then in all probability.   Another call out fee!!!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Cannot drag ourselves away from Henley!

Truly, truly......we planned to move on Tuesday.....but the forecast for Wednesday was dire.

We had also been trying to arrange a trip for the grandchildren on a suitable day.  This is the last week of the holidays so time has slipped by.   It was not us who were having the problem but them....with three of them it seems it is difficult to organise themselves!!  Wednesday looked a possibility if the forecast was not as they said.  A short trip to Sonning, just 3 locks and then Giles could get on his bike and cycle back for the car.  However the combination of an extra meeting for Giles, impending visitors for them at lunch time scotched that idea.   In the event the weather was not good but not nearly as bad as forecast.  Hey Ho!!  last possibility next Monday but that may not work due to haircuts for kids!!

Surprise fleeting visitors on Tuesday.  Joe and Mike were out with friends on a rather pretty day boat
I always wonder where they put the toilet on boats like this!!

Thursday dawned with a very heavy mist
I had a very spooky ride up to Marsh lock whilst Geoff walked barney around.   THis was only 7 am and I did meet a narrowboat coming the other way...just a dim light appeared ghostlike out of the mist.   The mist stayed with us all the way to Shiplake lock and then miraculously......... lifted in an instant

although it was still lurking behind us.
It would be nice to say we then had a lovely sunny run to out goal of a mooring in Pangbourne.
Life is not like that!

We did have a sunny run so far, picked up fuel at Better Boating on the outskirts of Caversham, then stopped briefly at the moorings by the park to let Barney have a quick run.  New mooring signs here threatening £100 fines if you overstay your allotted 24 hours!!  £9.50 for the privilege of mooring here.  

The next stop was at the boatyard on the little island just after Reading bridge(cannot remember the name) to get a new gas cylinder.  Better Boating had run out!   Just as Geoff was putting the new cylinder in the heavens opened with an almighty shower.  I rushed into the office to pay and sheltered there for a while but then decided I had to make a run for the boat.  This was a big mistake as by now Geoff was sheltering down below and couldn`t see me struggling to pull the stern of the boat in (stupidly we were only tied on with a fore line and centre rope as it was meant to be a very brief stop)
When I eventually managed to climb on board a change of clothes was required.

We waited a while for the rain to abate but Geoffs impatience got the better of him and he decided to brave it with the umbrella up....I stayed below!

By the time we reached Mapledurham lock things were looking cheerier........not far now to Pangbourne.    This was the next disappointment...there was no room at the inn.  It was by now 2pm so much later than our normal stopping time and I was desperate for some lunch.   We tried to get in the one possible space at the far end but it was just too shallow so very reluctantly we continued up Whitchurch lock and headed for Beale Park.   Luck was now with us as we found a very congenial mooring just beyond Still Rockin.  En route I had made us some lunch before we both faded away!

Good end to the day after all.  Sun shining, Boe popped in for a quick visit.  She has driven up from Cornwall to join me in babysitting at Giles for the weekend.   She would have liked to stay to supper but unfortunately they lock the gates of Beale Park at 6pm so it was a fleeting visit.

Later Carol and George from Still Rockin came round for a few glasses of wine.  A gentle evening with some good chat rounded off a busy day.   I should add that once moored Geoff did manage to get his normal siesta if a little later than usual!

He is now debating whether to stay here for the weekend whilst I am away or carry on to Goring as planned.  We shall see.

Total distance:16.42 miles (Wow!)
Elapsed time:7h24m34s (Far too long)
Average speed:2.22 mph (3.03 lock/mph)