We weren't expecting the full fanfare of brass trumpets and dressed flags when we arrived at Godalming, but we didn't expect to be quite so utterly underwhelmed, either. There was barely enough space for us to turn around. People were moored up on the waterpoint. And there was nowhere else to stop. Completely stuffed with parked boats. So we turned around and left within twenty minutes. The journey upriver from Guildford to Godalming was pleasant enough. Even in the rain. But, when you get there, there is nothing at all. nil. zilch. nada.
There was something to smile about though..
So, back we go...
Sheena, getting busy with the paddles and gates..
I think Sumo had the best time, because he didn't have to put up with miserable sour faced gits for the entire journey. People on hireboats were fine, all out enjoying themselves. But everybody paddling a canoe, sculling, or walking/jogging along the towpath seemed to have had a personality transplant. If this is "Surrey", you can keep it.
The journey to Guildford, and through the backside of it, was pleasant enough. Even though it rained all day, and the whiff from the water treatment works was quite... Well... "Whiffy".
A young gentleman of asiatic appearance called me a wanchor, from the safety of the road bridge. Which I found quite amusing. Had a dodgy moment at Millmead lock. We'd gone through it fine. Sheena stayed to close the gates, and I tried to tie up at the layby. I had time to get the stern rope on, but the bow got caught by the current, and swung out too far for me to pull it back with the center line. Gahhhhh! Took me five minutes of manoeuvring to sort it out. Embarrassingly wedged across the river at one point. Thankfully nobody saw it, heh. Strong current around the Hireboat base. Which must be quite nervy and unsettling for first time hirers.
We've stopped at Shalford water meadows overnight. A nice wide open space, that mister will enjoy sniffing around. We're tied up under a willow. Sadly, the peachy mooring spots were all occupied with cheese.
Just ten minutes after I'd finished this morning's blog post, I discovered we were adrift. Passing boats had rocked our pins out. Thankfully, we hadn't gone further than the nearest mud bank.
It was extremely windy today. With some ridiculous gusts. But, we didn't run aground, or ram any bushes. The sunshine was welcome, as the deepness, width and ferocity of the locks required close attention. They fill up a lot faster than the Thames locks, with an astounding volume of water. Neither of us have felt brave enough to scramble up the lock ladder clutching the phone, but I will try and get some pictures of them, on our way down.
Sadly, 5/10 of the people we encountered today were dead/hollow inside. No smiling, No acknowledgement. The total complete and total ignoring of even a simple "Hello". The art of looking straight through somebody. Old school london behaviour. One boater even "bald faced lied" to us, just because he wanted to whiz his family about in his new aliminium narrowboat. All quite bizarre, really. And strange, that the Thames is a friendlier navigation.
Nearly in Guildford now. And it's forecast to rain for three days. That should be fun.
We've decided to attempt the Wey navigation, because the Thames is stuffed with cruisers full of cityfolks, all out for their annual jolly. This is our first taste of hand operated locks. Stiff muscle city.
Nobody took any notice of the new 'No Mooring' sign at Lady Lindsey's Lawn. Which warmed my heart. The narrowboat with it's washing out is taking the mickey by overstaying (which gives all narrowboaters a bad name).
On our Wey... (Yes, we've already heard all of the Wey jokes).
The black clouds cleared. And we made it down to Hampton Court Palace, without any mishaps. One slightly hairy moment at Shepperton lock, where the weirstream was much stronger than I remembered it. But a short burst of 'full ahead' got us onto the layby safely. Spent last night at Molesey, which has some lovely and well trimmed parkland we all enjoy wandering around. Forecast for tomorrow is extremely strong gusts with more rain. So I think we will be staying put.
Notable on the journey down (beyond the travesty of Lady Lindsey's Lawn), was the dissapearance of many houseboats from further upstream. They all seem to have been moved to one island, just up from Molesey lock. They're all crammed together now. Butted up tight, with no space (or privacy) between any of them. I wonder why that happened.
As you can see, this beautiful (ex) mooring spot isn't exactly heaving with the council tax paying citizens of Shepperton, all out enjoying their picnics with unobstructed views of the river frontage. Not one single person. Not even a dog walker.
it's not a total ban on boaters.
the "where specified" area has room for 3.5
right at the end. out of sight.
What mean spirited and misanthropic gits.
Shame on you, Spelthorne council.
We're spending tonight at Laleham. If you have a dog, the park here is well worth a wander around. It's massive, well tended, and (in their own words) "there are numerous receptacles for droppings". A rare treat this far down the river, because there's an awful lot of concrete, the closer you get to London.
We didn't see the Runnymede 'Pleasure Grounds', but we did have a nice wander around Coopers Wood and the Oak trees in the meadows yesterday afternoon. Sumo wasn't allowed in to the Air Force memorial. But we climbed up the hill to have look at it.
Many of the guide books say that the jet noise is "interminable" on this stretch of the river. And last night did not dissapoint. The planes fly so low and close that you can almost see the pilot. Thankfully, they shut up at midnight. But at peak time, there's often one flying overhead every two minutes. Which isn't terribly conducive to peace and quiet. On the plus side, we were moored directly opposite the American bar memorial to the Magna Carta. It's a shame that there is no English monument there. If you cannot appreciate the "history" of the place, there is precious little else there to mark such a monumental occurrence.
We stopped off for supplies at Staines on the way down, this afternoon. And I have to admit that I'm impressed. My misjudgement and preconceptions of the place were forever shattered, when I discovered many of the people to be smiley, helpful and friendly. Not the cold hearted cityfolks I'd imagined, at all. Also noticed a thing of great joy, and something that I've not encountered anywhere else in the world. You walk to the side of the road (where there is a zebra crossing), and DRIVERS STOP THEIR CARS AUTOMATICALLY!. There are no buttons, beepings, lights, or flashing things to command them to stop. They just do! Which I have to say, I found quite mind boggling. Almost everywhere else I've ever visited, the motor car is king. I'm sorry I misjudged you, Staines.
Sheena's back. We've decided to take a chance on more rain not falling (much), and are heading downstream at a leisurely pace. We managed not to ram any scullers at Maidenhead regatta. A nice man with a megaphone warned us that there was a regatta taking place. As if we hadn't spotted the bright orange buoys in the middle of the river, the big floating signs, the masses of people on the bank, or the hundreds of scullers in the water. Cheers mate! Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, and we didn't see any sinkages or collisions. So I guess everything went well.
Waiting for the gates, at Bray Lock.
Tied up, around the corner from the Dorney lake moorings (which were full, anyway).
A nice peaceful spot.
Steve took pity on us, and bumped us up on his list of boats that need jobs doing (currently about 30). Thankfully, we had enough flue pipe left over for him to fabricate/weld a stopgap measure that will keep us warm until the new lengths arrive.
James and Doug from Narrowboat 'Chance' banged on the roof to introduce themselves. I was quite embarrassed to admit that I haven't seen their blog before. But, now I've rectified that, and have discovered some really nice pictures of what is currently happening upstream. Looks like they had some good weather for their trip down here. They're moored up at the Bounty tonight, and are on their way down to London. I'm going to see if I can drag them out to the pub for a drink later on. Nice to meet you, guys. Thanks for saying hello.
They enquired about our Morso saga.
This is the state of play so far...
Here we have £800 worth of new cast iron stove, and back boiler. All plumbed in nicely, with no leaks. Great, I thought. 5 minutes away from a warming fire! Unfortunately, when we tried to weld an extension onto the flue pipe, it crumbled away into nothing. All rusted away inside, and corroded through. ARRGGH! I was quite close to tears. Had hoped to have it all sorted out before Sheena returned. Now that looks unlikely. New flue pipe is not expensive. But, sadly the stove is quite useless without it.
50 days until Winter starts coming back.
More rain forecast (another "month in a day" type deluge).
Oh, what joy!
Not normally a fan of Canada geese. As they have no natural predators in the UK, and there are huge noisy flocks of them everywhere. But these chicks hatched out this afternoon, and they were impossibly cute. Please excuse the fuzzy zoomed in picture, but I didn't want to get too close and alarm them or the parents...
We've decided to stay put for the night, because we are both enjoying the peace and quiet down here, now that everybody has steamed for home. After hustling me for a boiled egg (my lunch), Sumo's content just to sit and watch everything drift by...
The fecal slick is back. Second time in as many weeks. It honked so badly, the suction truck had to be called out again..
Heaving with people at Bourne End. Screaming kids. Arggh! By 11am the steel sides of the boat were already too baking hot to touch, so a little cruise was definitely in order. Even if I couldn't find anywhere to moor up, I figured it would be nice to have a little bit of a breeze through the boat.
MV "Mayan Mist" on their big summer cruise. Quarter of a mile downstream, to the first bit of wall they could tie themselves up on. Got enough fenders there? LOL.
Got to Cookham lock, and being a big metal tube, the lock keeper waved me in first. This bloke decided he wasn't going to wait. And he made a bit of an arse of himself tieing up. Heh... "They don't like it up 'em". Saw the MV "Golden Quay" in there too. New owner. Much more pleasant than the last one, who was a right idiot.
It's been like this all weekend. Convoys of boats, all steaming as fast as they can to get to the next lock. As anticipated, the bankside down at Cliveden was completely stuffed with boats. Nowhere to pull in there. But, remarkably, "Poo Island" had nobody on it. I suspect that's something to do with the overhanging tree, which makes mooring there a (tiny bit of a) navigational challenge. Don't think I'll be staying here overnight. But the shade of the trees and a slight cooling breeze, makes me very glad I decided to venture down here.
Feet up. Paperback book on the sundeck. Lovely.
Mister's happy too. Snoozing after lunch. zzzzzzzzz...