Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Trains, planes and parakeet's! And Boats of course.

We could quite get used to life on the Thames, but perhaps not the prices! You need plenty of dosh in this area, be it food, booze or even mooring up. That said, we have only paid once for a mooring since last posting, but that was for three days, so not cheap.

The weather has been truly glorious, the day's and the nights hot. We were surprised late on Tuesday evening by a knock on the boat. It was Sue off No Problem. They now have a wide beam (No Problem XL) and are enjoying life on the Thames, ideal waters for them. After a chat, she walked back with the dogs. Cooler for them after a dip and evening stroll.

No Problem XL & Still Rocking 
Sue is waving from Still Rocking & George from NP !
Sorry - it's not a great picture!

On Wednesday, we started early as the heat was already building and we wanted to secure a mooring early on. By mid morning we had arrived at Henley and spotted a mooring free near the park. After a walk into town, we returned to the river to watch the procession of boats leaving to complete the Swan Upping. During this, they capture the cygnets in order to ring them. Quite a colourful exercise and steeped in history.

One advantage of the river is a somewhat cooler breeze. One disadvantage is the bugs! Show a light and they are in. Ali is working on bug screens for the side hatches in order to mitigate against the little blighters.

Look how blue the water is, we can only assume its the reflection
 from the marquees

On Thursday morning we once again set off early. The day was already warm by 0800. The initial journey through the town bridge and onto the straight, showed the remnants of the Regatta, with hospitality marquees being dismantled from the gardens of some amazing properties. The river was now quiet though. This is partly because it is midweek, but also due to the time. The locals do not move before the lock keepers come on duty. Much too hard operating a lock oneself, even if that consists of pressing a button!

our lock buddies, racing away so they don't have to share
 another with a steel boat!

Cliveden House

We moved down river to Maidenhead and moored up at the extreme end of the extensive lock landing. This was because the moorings below the lock are next to the road and below a high bank. It was also more shaded and a little cooler and was for us.  We wanted to be in easy reach of Windsor, our intended destination for the weekend.

Friday saw us up and off early, dropping down the large lock alone before the keeper was on duty. After Bray lock, we set the washing machine on and both showered, prior to arriving at Boveney lock, which has the full range of services.  Once again, it was quiet traffic wise. A short hop and we were in Windsor. To our surprise, there were plenty of moorings free and so we were able to pick our spot. We managed to moor on the island on the off river side. This gives you both more privacy and some protection from the wash of passing traffic. As the island has only one foot bridge, gongoozlers are few as well. Ok, £8 a day,but worth it.

Wonder why there are no moorings?? ;-)
there is a jetty - assume the crew don't stay for dinner!

Dorney Lake (a bit quieter than when the Olympics were on)

Nobody could call Windsor quiet though. The railway crosses the river at this point and there was a large fair on the meadows on the Eton side. Then there are the planes! How her Maj tolerates the racket, I just don't know. Hope she gets a council tax rebate! We are of course nearing Heathrow. Then there are the bloody parakeet's. I am sure they suffer from insomnia! They get up even earlier than me!

So, we enjoyed the weekend in Windsor. Did the tourist thing and watched the changing of the guard, wandered around the town and the Eton side, then spent the evening sitting out and chatting to boaters, having a tipple or two of course. It remained super hot .

Antony Gormley Statue


Why don't our Health Centres look like this?

On Sunday, after a wander, we ended up on the Eton side, in a pub called The George. This is owned by the local brewery and both the food and the Ales were splendid. By the afternoon, someone turned a switch and it cooled down considerably. The end of the hot spell it seems.

This did not however deter the boat traffic. The river remained like the M1, as it had been all weekend. A veritable procession of trip boats, hire boats and posers in flash cruisers, paraded up and down. This not only confirmed our decision to stay put for the weekend madness, but also our decision to tuck ourselves in the lee of the island. The wash from some, left boats moored directly on the river, bobbing about like corks!

I've not see a blue one before - its airmail!

info here!

Monday was forecast cloudy and cooler. Got that wrong. It was sunny all day and boiling. We made an early start and initially went back up river. This allowed us to complete a wash load, then fill up below the lock once again. After this, we turned and went back down river. It turned out to be a really pleasant hot day.  We are taking our time and so moored for the day at Runnymede. If we thought her Maj was under Heathrow's flight path, the residents here are even closer. A plane takes off about every ninety seconds... So, what with them and the parakeet's, I think sleeping may be difficult!

If you are a plane spotter, get yourself a boat and moor it near Runnymede.

A big difference in boat traffic today as well. Very quiet and about 50% of those moving were narrow boats. The river cruisers having largely returned to their moorings until next weekend.

Got the priorities right - house being built his and hers boats moored up!

Not something we have spotted before a Grebe nest

One of many!

Miles 30 (large rivers)
Locks 11 large (some self serve!!)

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Warming up nicely.

On Saturday, we sat tight and did the domestic chores. Another major wash done and a grocery come beer and wine shop completed. We did see a noticeable Police presence in the area, with foot patrols regularly passing. The visitor moorings at this location adjoin some grassed land, which can be a haunt of local undesirables, which is why we moored on the opposite bank. But apart from a few drinking tinnies, which they binned after consuming, we had no problems.

On Sunday, we made the move down the lock. It was mid morning. We needed to top up with fuel, water and a cassette empty and the Wharf here caters for all three. Not a quick stop though. The chap running this is a talker and works in slow motion. Not a problem as we are in no rush, but be warned if you are. So well over an hour later, we resumed our journey.

It was warming up nicely, but working the locks alone was a pleasure. Once again, very little boat movement. We shared a couple of locks before Thatcham, but they stopped for lunch whilst we carried on.

The plan was to stop above the lock at Woolhampton. Once past the swing bridge, Ali walked ahead to scout the moorings taking with her the walkie talkie. There was room on the visitor moorings for one boat. We slotted in, just! After a refreshing shower, off to the Row Barge Inn for a late lunch.The waitress bless her, was obviously unfamiliar with beers. We asked for IPA, but what we got was a porter type! Went and scouted the pumps before ordering the next round. Nice meal though.

The couple on the boat behind us were locals. They said that whilst moored in Newbury, they had a stabbing on the towpath near their mooring, she had her handbag stolen from the galley whilst she was onboard with the doors open and then several males on the roof during the night. We don't know what the time scale for all this was, just thankful all was quiet on our visit. Might well explain the police presence though!

Monday. Our penultimate day on the K&A. It was a misty morning, always the harbinger of heat. The first lock of the day can be daunting. Drop down, wait in the lock tail for the road swing bridge to open, then enter the river flow and slide through the narrows under the bridge, then pull to the landing. Surprisingly, it all went to plan. A doddle really.

waiting for the lift bridge to be opened

on his way and into the current

made it!

After this, we spent the rest of the day in company with N.B. Liverbird, complete with a Liver bird emblem. But, they were Brummies! We shared all the remaining locks down to the Cunning Man with them, then bade our farewells as they needed to make Reading to keep to schedule. It was early afternoon and uncomfortably hot when we moored up. Not complaining, but the dappled shade of a tree over the boats stern is very welcome.

Finally the labels have come of the new hat (that was bought in Oxford in May!)

hope these guys all make it, 6 moorhen chicks and not very old

Another day with very little boat movement. Since mooring up, not a boat has moved. Odd!

Later that evening we found one reason for the lack of boat movement. Theale swing bridge was knackered. This is electronically operated and was playing up when we came through. It had been open as we approached and a boat came through. Our lock mate then went through, then the bridge closed, sort of. It was opening, closing to the extent that we moored up and Ali went to investigate. A pompous gent operating, was releasing the button, before the bridge had closed, sending it back open. We think this had a detrimental effect on the mechanism, causing it's later failure. Bit of a theme here. Came up Caen Hill, stoppage. Came past Great Bedwyn, lock gate subsequently failed and now this! Wasn't our fault, honest.

 An early start on Tuesday, should see us back on the Thames.

By 7am, we were off. It was already getting hot then. Under an azure sky we made our way down Southcot and Fobney locks and through the centre of Reading. Just as we were leaving County lock and noticing the traffic light was red, a boat appeared. They were grateful for the open gates and we waited for the green light to go. The river was benign. Such a pity Reading does not make more of the river boat wise. Leaving Blake's lock, and towards the Thames is not a great aspect, nor is the exit.
Watching the world go by

Waiting for the green light

and the reason for the traffic light control (low bridge)

last 2 bridges of the K&A

By 9am we were onto the broad sunlit waters of Old Father Thames once more. The first few miles were rather quiet, but traffic increased as we approached Sonning lock. The windlasses have been stored for a while, in their place, its roping up and letting the lock keeper do the work, of pressing a button! Must say though, they keep the cottage gardens and lock environs immaculate.

Below Sonning, we were on the lookout for moorings, but as we needed water, decided to press on. We made use of the services above Shiplake lock, then dropped down. In a short while we spotted a spot, between trees, so in we went.

It was now midday and despite a breeze, positively roasting. So in the dappled shade of a tree, we are enjoying the many varied boat types passing. Got to say this about the Thames, the diversity of craft is amazing.

24 miles & 24 locks & 11 moveable bridges