Friday, 29 April 2011


We're still at the bottom of Mr. Uri Geller's garden, on the *cough* free bit. We've seen Mrs Geller, who didn't pick up after her dog pooped. But we haven't seen Uri yet. Apparently, he's instantly recognisable because he insists on wearing a ridiculous disguise. A bright red wig, and some overly large glasses.

Yesterday, Mr. Terry Wogan's private helicopter landed at The French Horn's helipad, where he probably enjoyed 'fine dining' (min £50 starter), and 'peaceful tranquility' (@ £215 per night). Which makes Uri's £10 sound like a bargain.

Nice One, JimmyToday, Jimmy Page walked past our boat, smiled, waved, and said hello. He seemed like a really friendly bloke, and it would have been great to chat. The other narrowboaters here, say that is not uncommon. I think he wanted to come and peer into our engine bay, but he was really really busy putting his tongue down his young girlfriend's throat. So, maybe another day.

The new 'Universal' alternator turned up, the day after we ordered it. Great service. Unfortunately, the supporting lugs were in the wrong place. But Chas & Terry got random pieces of iron, bolts, anglegrinder, and welding machine out of their boats, and in a few hours it was all sorted. Wehey! Thanks lads.

Peter, from Wb 'big baloo' also stopped by, on his way back to London. Not terribly happy with his new HTC phone. But, otherwise in good health and spirits.

Oh, and there was a Royal wedding. A narrowboat full of Vikings. 20+ Canoeists, dressed as pirates. And a shiny shiny narrowboat owner moaning about bridge hoppers, who thought she couldn't be heard from the riverbank, but could.

Quite a busy day, really.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

RIP Poly Styrene

My favourite female punk singer died on the 25th of April.

Identity, it's a crisis, can't you see?Thanks for the memories, Marianne.
You may have gone, but you will never be forgotten.

Her Wiki


Get off moi land!!!The mooring we are on, is owned by a Polish publican, and he "isn't too bothered" who is on it. Unlike Uri Geller, who wants £10 a night for his moorings 100yds downstream. So, we're staying put here for a couple of days while we source and fit a new alternator.

The one we have is designed for a mini cooper, and it isn't beefy enough to charge up our batteries properly. It's also mounted at a "funny" angle, which means that the belt is slipping (causing unwanted heat and friction), and the engine cooling system isn't functioning properly. We're a bit dissapointed that Steve didn't spot that, when he mounted it for us, but we're on the case now. With no generator, we're 100% reliant on the engine for charging up the batteries. So it makes sense to get the most amps we can from it.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Lorry Dolly

Chas, from narrowboat 'Long White Cloud' tied this awesome knot for us, which was originally used by truckers to keep their loads tied down securely.

Lorry Dolly - BackLorry Dolly - FrontThere were a lot of twists and turns in there, so it will take some time to commit to memory. But, it acts as a self contained block and tackle, which saves us messing about with rope ends, when trying to pull the boat in. He also made me drink Pimms all evening, and gave Sumo some dog treats. Cheers Chas..


We're at Sonning, just outside of Reading. Moored up in front of two other narrowboats, and close to the bridge.

Our mooring at SonningYesterday, because our battery levels & food supplies were getting low, we went back to Henley. The journey upstream from there was quite stressful, because we were bumrushed at every lock, the temperature was baking, and we couldn't find anywhere to stop... at all. So we've declared today, "a sunday", and the intention is to have a nice relaxing day.

Garden Ornaments - Henley styleBumrushed by a Paddle SteamerOur passage through Shiplake Lock went very well. The water meadows just upstream of it were beautiful and picturesque, with cows bathing in the river. But, unfortunately, we didn't have time to stop and admire it.

Wargrave Reach

Sunday, 24 April 2011


dogma at HenleyUpstream from HenleyIt was heaving in Henley. Not seen so many people gathered in one place for quite a while. Sheena grabbed us some milk, and we got ourselves out of there, pronto. I'd been told that the weir stream at Marsh lock was "not very nice", but with not even a puff of breeze, and no stream at all, we managed it easily.

Marsh LockWe then cruised around a couple of beautifully scenic bends, before finding the moorings at Wargrave Marsh. Where we are currently tucked up, underneath some (spreading) chestnut trees, which are providing us with some much needed shade. Very nice.

Slightly dissapointed we couldn't moor up, and investigate the (alleged) Druid's Temple, which was plundered from Jersey in 1792, and given as a gift; from one rich man to another. But, hey, I guess we can't have everything.

Saturday, 23 April 2011


Spring LambsCurrently moored up at Remenham farm, just outside Henley. Another six quid mooring fee, with no water or services provided. So many places on the thames, you pull up, and before you can even bang in your first mooring pin, somebody pitches up with their hand out. In the winter, it was all so much more relaxed.

Opposite Mr WH Smith's HouseThere are some free spots, but on this stretch they are few and far between. I guess we are lucky to find anything, with the amount of traffic on the river. So, mustn't grumble.

We only did a short hop today, because it was baking, and my arms were getting sunburnt. Tomorrow we're hoping to visit Henley briefly to pick up milk. We seem to have left the stupidly large river cruisers with bad attitudes behind us, as the people we met today were all pretty friendly.

Busy Hambledon LockWaiting for the GatesGetting through Hambledon lock was a doddle. Much easier than the last time we encountered it. The weir stream was a gentle trickle, and there wasn't any wind blowing. The only stress, was having to move right to the front of the layby, because there were at least a dozen boats stacked up down the river behind us. Bit of a tight angle, and a large audience of icecream slurping sightseers silently willing me to make a pig's ear of things. But, I made it without ramming anybody, or making a fool of myself. Relieved!

Milk carton and Beer can raftAn unlicensed vessel we spotted.

Friday, 22 April 2011

NotsoGood Friday

Temple Lock mooringOvernighted at Cliveden Deep (poo island), so that it would be just a short hop to Bourne End to pick up supplies. When we got there, it was heaving with people, stuffed with boats, and super busy. So there was no time for the showers we'd hoped for, or any chance of an overnight stop.

the bigger the boat, the bigger the arseholeTopped up the diesel tank, and discovered that the trip down to Runnymede and back had taken 20 litres of fuel. I'm pretty sure the engine was running for more than 20 hours over that journey, which means our little Bukh uses less than a litre an hour. Which is great news.

Said our fond farewells to the marina staff, Peter, Matty, and Richie, and departed. Sorry to leave, but happy to go. It was a strange feeling. Hope we will see them all again, one day. Guys, if you ever read this, thanks for everything. We really enjoyed getting to know you, and wish you all the best for the future. Memories of your kind hospitality, and the happy times we spent at Bourne End, will always be with us.

Pootled ourselves up to the Gosmoor moorings, where everybody was cursing Alan & Sue's boat "Latitude" for being sat in the middle of the visitor's space. So, no chance of stopping there. Went through the lock to Marlow, to discover Higginson park was also stuffed full of selfishly moored giant plastics. So, no stopping there, either.

Thought we would have to head up to Medmenham, risking engine meltdown on the way, but we were lucky and managed to squeeze ourselves onto the public moorings just below Temple lock. Where we're hoping to enjoy a peaceful night being gently bobbed about by the weir stream.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Chunky Milk

Oh, dear. The milk had curdled overnight. Not exactly the world's most pleasant surprise first thing in the morning. After a hearty breakfast of black tea and coffee, we cruised back up to Windsor. Which went fine, apart from running ourselves aground in Datchet, because the public mooring hadn't been dredged since Queen Victoria's time. Luckily, a bit of heaving on the pole shifted us, and we were soon on our way again.

When we got to Windsor, it was stuffed full, with boats and sunbathers of every size and description. Dozens of large ostentatious wealth boats (plastic med cruisers), captained by (excuse my language) selfish shits, were hogging all of the visitor moorings. But, we managed to squeeze ourselves in, further on up the river.

Just as we were arriving, Peter from Bourne End Marina gave us a call, informing us that our cargo had arrived. So tomorrow, we will be heading back to Bourne End again. And from there, heading on upriver, and attempting the Marlow shuffle over the Easter weekend.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Another scorcher of a day. Most of the boats moving were narrowboats, and the ubiquitous massive tripboats with their loudhailed announcements of things for people to look at. We cruised down past Windsor castle, and the royal estates, to Runnymede. Which was sadly dissapointing. I'd been told there were "loads" of moorings down here, but when we arrived, we found two. One of which was occupied by people who refuse to even acknowledge that we exist. Blanked us, like they did at Gosmoor two days ago. Their problem, not ours. We choose not to live life as paranoid robots, or have the attitude of uncaring automatons.

Further on downstream there are some slightly better places to moor, but they're right next to the A308, which is constantly busy with vehicles whizzing past at 60mph. The chances of anyone on a boat getting any sleep there are pretty slim.

So, we scrambled up the bank, dodged the traffic, and made our way through the meadow to the Magna Carta monument. Which is what we came down here to see.

Sadly, it was as unremarkable as I'd remembered it from my youth. The signing of the Magna Carta seems to mean more to the Americans, because they'd planted oak trees and paid for the temple like memorial. The National Trust's investment seemed to consist of mowing the lawn, and paying for a sign which looked like it had been crafted in the 1970's.

The grey brick road to the Steps of IndividualityThe JFK memorial was a little more impressive. There was a nicely paved road, up to some "Steps of Individuality". But, somebody must have pinched the "Seats of Contemplation", because we couldn't find them anywhere. The JFK memorial is a big chunk of carved stone. Impressive in scale, but pretty bland in nature. Sorry, no photos, there were kids climbing on it.

Then we enjoyed a nice stroll around the meadows, where the magna carta was probably really signed. Had a well deserved ice-cream, dodged the traffic, and made our way back to the boat. "We'll not be coming here again", said Sheena.

Bluebells in the WoodNothing was very welcoming about the place. For a national monument, it was a "jolly poor show". And a lady has just banged on the roof asking for six quid for the privilege of staying here. Neither of us are terribly impressed. The lady in the teashop was nice though. She offered to post our Easter cards for us. Thankyou..

Runnymede Wiki

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Dorney Lake

Dorney Lake ~ Site Information

A baking hot day, though there was a pleasant and soothing breeze when we were underway. We enjoyed a leisurely cruise down through Maidenhead and Bray, towards Windsor; and are currently tucked up at the Dorney rowing school. Had to squeeze us in, in front of a big plastic boat that didn't want to budge up. But we did it. I guess they assume that everybody has bowthrusters. Either that, or his unfurled copy of 'The Times' was so rivetting that he couldn't put it down.

Lovely peaceful evening, now that the lock is closed, and the massive tripboats have called it a day.

Odyssey Begun..

..sort of.

We left Bourne End on sunday, which was unfortunately, also a ridiculously busy day on the river. The massive hireboats of "Le Boat" and "Caversham cruises" were out in full force. We were lucky to find ourselves a spot at Gosmoor, because past the lock at Marlow, all the public moorings were completely stuffed with boats. Later, 4 other narrowboats turned up, and Gosmoor turned into a narrowboat enclave. Much to the consternation of 20+ large plastic boats that travelled up through the lock, and then had to turn back.

The cargo of tobacco we were expecting hasn't turned up yet, so we've decided to hang about downriver from Bourne End, on the stretches we know. With so much traffic on the river, it's a worry not knowing if we will be able to tie up or not at the end of a day's cruising. With the beautiful weather, it's no hardship revisting the the wide open spaces we enjoyed last summer. Yesterday, we travelled leisurely down to Cliveden, and tied ourselves up at "Poo Island", where we were delighted to discover a complete absence of goose poo. Remarkably different from the last time we were here.

Goose Poo IslandToday, we're off down to Windsor, to tie up beside the racecourse, and enjoy a bimble around the boating lake.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

George & Maureen

Longtime family friends, George and Maureen, kindly brought the rest of our stuff up from Devon. We took them out for a jolly, and George practised his "not ramming into bridges" skill. Looks like they've been doing it for years, doesn't it? But this was their first time out on a boat, ever.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Cliveden Reach 1897Lovely sunny day. Spent the morning on engine maintenance, and took myself down to Cliveden reach in the afternoon. Had a pleasant and leisurely stroll around the woods, without bumping into one other human being. A real luxury in this day and age. So I revelled in it. Quite a few big 'Caversham' and 'Le Boat' hireboats were whizzing about today, but only two narrowboats tied up and enjoying the sunshine on the islands.

Sumo at ClivedenHollow Root

Boat Theft

Around 6 'o' clock yesterday evening, two scrotes helped themselves to a Viking 20 boat, from off of the main jetty at Bourne End. One was an asian man, and one was an eastern european, according to eyewitnesses. Luckily for the owner, they were ambushed & apprehended by the Police, further on downstream at Cookham lock.

Viking 20Viking 20 Virtual Tour

Friday, 8 April 2011

Incongruous hole

Not just another run of the mill techno cover, no.
This one was a genuine registered quality product.


Sadly, Totnes comprehensive's selection of Russian literature consisted of Gorky, Gorky and more Gorky. Seemingly endless tales of peasants, poverty and potatoes; which put me right off Russian authors for many years. Until I read Dostoyevsky's semiautobiographical novel "The Gambler", which I enjoyed very much. Recently, I caught a film adaptation with Michael Gambon, and it piqued my interest enough to check out some of his other novels. So, I got myself "The Idiot", and "Devils".

But anyway, sorry for the digression... this isn't a post about my taste in literature. It's about the price of e-books. I got the books from Waterstones, for £1.99 each (postage free). Big chunky things made of real paper. Great. But to download e-books of the same titles would have cost me £4+

I don't get it? All of the other titles I looked at, by many different authors (ancient, historical and contemporary), were also more expensive for their digital versions. Is it just greed? Publishers cashing in, on a new technology? I'd have thought the cost of producing a digital book would be next to nothing. Especially, seeing as I download it, there is no postage, and no trees were harmed in it's manufacture. I understand why the author, or their "estate" would require royalties, equivalent to sales of the paper version. But why more than the paper version?

Never been tempted to buy myself a kindle, anyway. The £100 it costs, could buy a shelf full of paper books.. and then I'd be robbed for new titles?. Errr... No thankyou. When I was last in London, I saw lots of commuters and people on the tube with Kindles. It doesn't look as comfortable as reading a book. I don't understand it's popularity. Is it a "city thing". ?

Amazon Kindle Wiki


Rather than suffer Magic FM's limited playlist again, I took off downstream with the aim of letting Sumo dive in for a swim. Cookham lock was manned today, because I guess, it was guaranteed to be very busy on the river with the sun out. When I got down to Cliveden, a GRP cruiser was sat in my favourite spot, sipping on their G&T's. Or maybe it was Pimms. I couldn't tell from across the river. But, they did have their pinkies up, and their deckchairs out. So I had to ram the bank further on downstream. Which went fine.

There was plenty of water underneath us, a sturdy tree to tie up on, and I didn't even have to get the plank out for Sumo to get off. Peachy bit of parking. The boat-to-tranquility ratio had obviously decreased, but the sun was out, the birds were singing, and it was fabulous down there.

Enjoyed a delightful pootle back to Bourne End at just over tickover. Nobody but me on the river. Rounding Cookham Bend, I was rewarded by the sight of "Mr Golden Quay"
buggering off from our mooring. I guess he'd been told to vacate, if he saw our boat coming back. haha... Which put the cherry on top of the day.

Thursday, 7 April 2011


"Oh, to be in England, now that April's there."
~ Robert Browning

It's been getting progressively hotter this week, and today was too nice a day to just sit alongside listening to Matty's radio all day. Most of the traffic on the river has been big Aegean style cruisers. 4/5 of which have grumpy people at their helm. There was no lock keeper at Cookham Lock, going both ways. Though I did share it with another narrowboat (NB 'Jeremy Fischer' ?) going downstream. Unfortunately, he tied a knot in his mooring line, and his boat hung up, when the water was being let out. Thankfully, he noticed it in time, and stopped the flow before any damage was done. When more water was let back in, his boat refloated, and it took the pressure off, so he could untie himself. Close one.

Spent the afternoon trundling around the woods with Sumo. The islands are already stuffed with small boats, but nobody was tied up on the Cliveden bank, so we had the place to ourselves again.