A panoramic view of the reach just below the bridge. There is a very lively flow on it at the moment, which is causing some nasty problems for boats trying to navigate upstream.
Chas drove me to Uxbridge, so that I could look at an actual canal. And visit the chandlery there. Purchased far too much. Items included a length of flue pipe, so that we could redo our chimney. Stove Rope. A kickstarter spring module for our toilet. And some shiny new black plastic bag fenders. Our old rope ones were rotten. Falling apart, limp, and beyond repair. Got a test bag of Supertherm smokeless coal too. Which so far, we've been very impressed with. It's cheaper than Taybrite. It gives off nice heat, and burns with an attractive flame. Each oval seems to last longer, too. Thumbs up!
Thanks for the chimney, Sue & Vic. It's come in really handy. We've finally invested in a chinaman's hat, too.
Our friend Richard is up from Brixham for a few days.
Cruising around Temple island at Henley.
I've written about this bloke's greed before. And he didn't dissapoint today. We'd moored up on the meadow just above Temple island, and enjoyed a nice lunch. A couple of hours later, we saw him steaming towards us for his money. I've been saving up my 1, 2 and 5 pence pieces just for such a situation. The conversation that ensued...
him: Mooring fees, please.
me: sure. (hands over carrier bag full of change).
him: What's this?!
me: It's £8
him: I can't possibly take it in that denomination.
me: eh? It's legal tender, coin of the realm. What's up with it?
him: It's too heavy. You will have to move on.
me: But that's ridiculous!
him: Moor up on the park, where it is free.
We know nowhere in Henley is free. Nice try at stitching us up. But we are not idiots. On another day, we'd have dug our heels in. We were offering to pay, in cash. But we were having too nice a day to put up with his pettyness, and we shoved off. So, if you want a free mooring in Henley, pay him in 1, 2, and 5p pieces. It's too heavy, apparently.
We enjoyed a peaceful night at Shiplake College. Somebody walked past the boat at 3.30am, but I don't think they were burglars. On the way down this morning, the lock keeper at Shiplake took the mickey about us being "Semi Permanant Residents of Abingdon". I explained that we'd been stuck behind the Red boards. He laughed and said "That's what they all say!". Continued on down to Wargrave, which is a lovely spot for a stroll...
Until you come across this...
Somebody considered the middle of the footpath to be a suitable place to light their fire. What an idiot!
Bags 'o' Shite. Which will be there forever. How very considerate.
A bath?! The mind boggles. No, it's not for feeding cattle. Somebody has dumped it there. And as there are no houses on this side of the river. You get three Guesses... :)
Sigh. The worst part of this, is that some pillock has left the plastic from their tinnies strewn about. Birds get their feet caught in that stuff all the time, sadly.
Today started out fine. Sheena cruised us up to Reading, in the sunshine. When we got there it was stuffed full of boats, as we'd anticipated. But i managed to squeeze us into the bushes just down from the wobbly landing stage. Every time another boat went past it banged us into the overhanging trunk of a tree. but we could live with that for 20 minutes while we did some shopping. So Sheena bravely ventured into tescos on a saturday afternoon. While I (overjoyed to have a net signal at last) sat down to update our blog.
5 minutes later, I hear a loud... "I'm going to moor up next to one of these boats", followed by a massive BONNNNGGG, and much interior rocking about. He'd hit us when trying to come alongside. Wifi signal goes down. GRRRRRR.... Then he is on our deck scrambling about with his ropes. I should have told him to bugger off then, but put myself in his situation, and figured out how grateful I'd be in that situation. He then more or less told me what he was going to do, with a perfunctory "is that alright?" tacked onto the end. Tied up and alongside us, I didn't have the heart to say "no, sod off".
He didn't apologise for crashing into us. He severed our net connection. And he p*ssed me off. bigtime. With his beer belly, stockbrokers shirt, crap steering, and bullying demeanour. Rather than rant and rave every time he and his partner stepped across our boat (and we hit the tree again). I put up with it. So, the reason I'm relaying this sorry tale is...if some time you want to berth up next to us, and I say "no, sorry". It's probably this guy who is to blame.
Thankfully 30 minutes later, we were heading downstream, out of Reading again.
Pictures of our otherwise lovely day...
The extremely rich people who own this big house, and the estate surrounding it (all the way up to the french horn restuarant in Sonning), are not too bothered about boaters mooring on their land. We salute their generosity. Thankyou.
This big 'U' fashioned out of railway line, has just appeared near Uri Geller's mansion. We wonder if he's used his special 'powers' to bend it?
We were sorry to hear that Narrowboat 'Grace' was broken into down at Shiplake college last week. The thieves broke in through the front doors, and trashed the inside of the boat and all of the storage cupboards in their pursuit of 'stuff'.
When Anna got back to her boat, she was understandably devastated. The police turned up and managed to lift a footprint, but they didn't seem overly concerned about fingerprints on the doorframes or interior.
There has been a spate of outboard engine thefts down there, but this is the first time that a boat has been broken into. Commiserations to you, Anna. We hope this doesn't put you off boating.
Sheena is coming back for a few days tomorrow. And Chas is busy courting his new lady friend. So I decided to leave last night's lovely little spot in Sonning, in the hope of finding a mooring up near Tescos in Reading. Tomorrow being saturday, it will probably be like an aquatic version of bedlam out there, with a "fat chance" of mooring anything other than a canoe.
Enjoyed a nice leisurely cruise all the way..
Getting in and out of the lock went fine. Did not make a mess of anything. Or bounce off any walls. The lock keeper waited patiently until I was fully sorted before hitting any buttons. Cheers...
When I got there, the overnight moorings were all taken. But I managed to squeeze myself into the bushes, just down from the pontoon. Another boater, kindly helped me get alongside. Then the crew of Nb "Me", looked at me as if I was a piece of poo when I said 'hello' to them. Ha! A nice welcome back to civilisation. :)
Nick (Mv 'Freya') has just banged on the roof, and is dragging me out for a beer later on this evening. Also discovered that Sumo absolutely loves chilled Pineapple, Banana and Coconut smoothies.
Conversation overheard at the bar...
The owner of the French Horn hotel "hates boaters".
He's recently erected three of these signs (along 100m of towpath). There is much ill feeling about it. The assistant manager wanders up and down the thames path every day, ostensibly being nice to your face, but secretly collating information about you. People now universally blank him. Deservedly so, I feel. And I hope boaters will avoid using his establishment in future.
Boaters did not overstay on his land. There was no rubbish strewn everywhere. No late night parties annoying local residents. Just a severe dislike on his part. Sad man.
Berthed alongside Chas (Nb 'Long White Cloud'). It was another lovely sunny day. But I didn't just sit on my arse and do nothing. Err... Well, I did some of that. But, the wood on the roof has dried out and it's now well seasoned. Some of it needed splitting and bringing inside before the wet weather returns.
So I kindled and logged as much as I could comfortably fit inside, without tripping over it. Or filling up the shower with it. Then moved the boat up around the bend, so that Sumo can step on and off comfortably.
I forgot that thursday is bell ringing practice night.
A relaxed day for us. Took the boat up to Reading so we could top up on our tinned supplies. Plenty of space on the Tesco moorings when we arrived. And then a leisurely cruise back down to Sonning again. The continued sunny weather has put everybody in a good mood. Well, almost everybody. There are some grumpy gits on the river, on even the most beautiful of days it seems.
We had a sunny stroll around the Park, which was virtually empty. No litter either, which was a welcome suprise. Sumo enjoyed a nice swim in the river by Caversham lock, where the bank is not too steep.
These statues, whose poses are modelled on the original Olympians, are watching over the rowing museum forecourt. They're to commemorate the 1000s of hours that Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent put into rowing up and down the Thames. The plaque said "In the clothes they would wear to the river".
The female lock keeper on duty was very friendly and helpful. Her favourite dogs are cocker spaniels. but we won't hold that against her. Saw her yesterday at Hambledon lock, where she was also very friendly and helpful. Thankyou Lock Lady.
Out onto the Wargrave/Shiplake reach. Which was a very pleasant cruise in the sunshine, with just enough of a breeze to make it even more pleasant. Felt no great need to trundle along at anything more than tickover.
A newly constructed Postmodern shoebox, with it's own boathouse. Enjoying river views. Situated 'near Henley'. I'll leave it up to your imagination to consider the price.
awwwww..... Shiplake. Picture postcard lovely. The 24 hour moorings across the river were all empty, and appeared well tended. A beautiful and tranquil spot for an overnight. But not tonight.
We think this is Paul Daniels's house. Though he's probably dissapeared himself to Dubai, because we've never seen anybody there, when we've passed. The upstairs curtains have always been drawn. Today they were open. Tada!! But, alas, still no sign of Paul and Debbie.
Shiplake lock was a doddle. Again, the lock keeper was very helpful in making sure that I was alongside safely. So far, I haven't had to climb up any slippery steps on this trip. And I'm very grateful for the work that they do. Topped up the water tank at the services just past the lock, and then out onto Sonning reach...
Guess what Mister found when we were out walking?
Sunset over Sonning.
Spiderland? The little bugs are back. Though thankfully, most of them are still on the outside. But now there are dozens of spiders (within six hours of tieing up) to combat the invading horde.