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

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