Saturday, 27 August 2011

Beale Park

Pangborne meadow was completely stuffed with boats, many of them doubled up; so we continued on to Beale park. That too, was very busy by the entrance. Again, with many boats doubled up. But, a little further on upstream, just around the bend, it was completely deserted.

Lucky us.


We stopped off at Sonning, to visit our friend Chas (Nb 'Long White Cloud'). Then set off for Reading, and managed to get ourselves a mooring outside Tesco. Understood why there were so many boats moored downstream. It was a noisy night, with sub-bass rumblings drifting down from the festival compound, and many alcohol infused people wandering up and down the towpath. This morning, the whole of the park resembled this..

Discarded crapMoving on, as soon as possible.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


We've travelled 11.53 miles today, and been through 5 locks.
Temple, Hurley, Hambledon, Marsh and Shiplake.

When we set off through Temple lock at 11am, it was pizzling with rain. By the time we'd got through Hambledon lock, and up to Remenham meadow, it was another beautiful summer's day. No wind, No stream. Sunglasses required.

Stopped in Henley briefly for supplies, and carried on up to Shiplake. There were plenty of free mooring spaces available, but we settled for a real gem, just before Shiplake islands.

Towpath walk at Shiplake

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Temple Mill

Cardboard CastleSaid goodbye to our friends at Bourne End, and set off in the afternoon sunshine. Travelled up past the 'Cardboard Castle', through Marlow lock, to tie up alongside Higginson park, while we got some supplies.

It was very busy, again. And noisy, with people running their generators. But, we were lucky and found ourselves a space. Belly of Pork procured, we then set off for the peace and quiet of the free 24 hour Temple Lock mooring, which we were delighted to find was completely deserted. Don't mind sharing at all, there's space for two full size boats here. But it's always nice to have the place to yourself, with just the white noise of the weir for a soundtrack. Always get a good night's sleep here.

Temple Lock MooringsWe're hoping to make it up to Wargrave tomorrow, without stopping at Remenham or Henley. Because as soon as you set foot on land there, the bloke will be knocking for his mooring fees. We've heard people moaning about him up and down the river, and neither of us want to make him any richer. Remenham is a lovely spot, but there are equally nice places to stop, just a short journey upstream.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Bourne End

Oh well, it had to end, sometime. Our unbroken run of free summer mooring spots finally ended at 9am in Maidenhead yesterday. A very polite gentleman knocked on the roof, apologised for waking us up, and (in exchange for money) gave us this..

Maidenhead Moorings
Nowhere at all to stop at Cliveden islands, because they were completely stuffed with boaters out enjoying the summer sunshine and picnicing. Lunchtime was probably a dumb time for us to cruise through there, and expect to be able to find a 54ft space. But the journey was fun, in itself.

Popped into 'The Bounty' for a quick pint, and ended up doing an overnight at Bourne End marina. Peter the marine manager kindly shuffled boats around for us, so that we could squeeze in. Which we did, just about..

Don't step off the back!Alan & Sue (M/v 'Latitude') graciously let us moor up on the inside of them, so that we could hoist Sumo off of the front deck easier. Even though this meant they'd have to clamber on and off over our roof, in the wet. We're all very grateful.

Roof ScrambleBumped into Peter (Wb 'Big Baloo'), who was just visiting, and was happy to bring him up to date with our travels so far. Funny to think, that this time last year, we were wary and trepidatious about setting off into the unknown for the first time. Thanks for taking us out, and teaching us how to steer, Peter. Much appreciated.

Bourne End has great walksBourne End has some lovely country and riverside walks, which we all enjoy very much.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Moored at MaidenheadWe're enjoying a couple of days stopover in Maidenhead, because the river is heaving with people showing off their wealth at the weekends.

List to PortDid an overnight at Dorney lake, but despite the heavy rain, the river level dropped overnight, and left us lumbered with a significant list to port. We were grounded on some submerged sandbags filled with concrete, and no amount of reversing would budge us off of them. Two blokes on m/v "Minus 13" took pity on us, and helped us wobble ourselves free. Cheers guys..

From there, we were going to travel down to Windsor, to top up supplies, but there was a queue of over 20 boats lined up to get into Boveney lock, and we couldn't be arsed with the wait (or the aggrieved whinging from the inconvenienced). Nobody was travelling upstream, so that seemed the most logical direction to head off in.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Sunset at Old WindsorWe reluctantly left the luxurious surroundings of Shepperton and Lady Lindsay's Lawn behind us, and cruised ourselves up to Old Windsor in the pouring rain. But, when we got there, we were rewarded with a spectacular sunset. Spent the night tied up outside the 'Bells of Ouseley' pub. The owner of M/V 'Artemis' helped us to moor up, which was kind of him.

Some National Trust money had obviously been well spent at Runnymede, because there were several nice new narrowboat length pilings to tie up on, if we so wished. But after our long unbroken run of free mooring spots, we were feeling too tight to pay for anywhere, and pressed onwards.

Today was a similar story. Cruised ourselves up to Windsor & Eton in the pouring rain. Again, with looks of sympathy from canopied cruisers, and narrowboat owners ensconced within the dryness of their pram hoods. But we loved every minute of it.

Currently tied up on the Windsor leisure island, with our first fire of the summer. Still heaving it down. But now we're warm & toasty inside.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Lady Lindsay's Lawn

Cruised ourselves up to Shepperton, where we were lucky enough to find a narrowboat length mooring spot at Lady Lindsay's Lawn, tucked up behind the mass of cruisers...

Lady Lindsay's LawnSumo helped himself to blackberries direct from the bush, and we met up with Lisa, the lady who sold us our boat. At first, I thought she'd come out to inspect the back end of her boat, and make sure we didn't bump into it while mooring. Which is what most cruisers owners do. They pop out suddenly, like the shopkeeper in "Mr Benn".

As if by magic..But when she started waving, we recognised her. Apparently she'd spotted us further on downstream, and wondered if we were the same boat she'd sold in 2009. Nice to catch up on gossip, and the towpath telegraph from this end of the river.

On the lawnThis place is such a popular spot, because it's owned by the local council, who can't be bothered to collect any mooring fees, or move people on. Surprising, really. Given these cash strapped times.

Summer FruitsNot that we are complaining. When we step off the boat, we have our own little garden, and as many fresh blackberries as we can eat.

Monday, 15 August 2011

72 Hours

Sunny day at MoleseyWe all enjoyed our stopover at Molesey. We stayed put for the maximum permissable time of 72 hours, because it was such a nice, quiet and peaceful spot, with nearby shops, and plenty of good dog walking opportunities.

Victoria's BirthdayIt was also the first time we've actually seen the EA people do something. They were very proactive in patrolling, moving on overstayers, and slapping notices on unlicensed boats.

The 'Tesco Mooring'

Friday, 12 August 2011

West Molesey

Roy & Sue (Hotelboat 'Baglady') berthed alongside us last night, and recommended that we check out Kingston upon Thames. Set off down there this afternoon, but it looked too built up and "Londonish" for us, so we baled out, and headed back upstream. We're currently on the 24 hour free moorings at Molesey. Tree lined, quiet, & rich in history. Which is what we like...

James Sadler
Exactly 200 years ago today

Aeroplane in a tree
The Curious Incident of the Aeroplane in a tree

Hurst Park Racecourse
Suffragette Arson at Hurst Park Racecourse

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Overgrown Mooring spotI was searching for references to the mooring spots at "Lady Lindsay's Lawn" (stuffed solid with huge GRP cruisers when we passed it), and came across this...

As regards bank maintenance by Riparian Owners. The costs here are horrific, you think boating is costly then get a quote for 10 yards of bank restoration. PLUS to restore a bank requires permission from the EA with all the paperwork that entails. Yes! you can repair bank but if it's eaten away and has to be rebuilt, back filled etc. etc. Then it's a jobsworth happy day. You cannot take dredgings and put them on your land, they have to be taken away to a designated area. It's all a nightmare and easier to let it rot. I know I am tempted to do so every time I have to fork our hundreds of squids to fix something.

Makes sense. Next time I grumble about a designated mooring spot being overgrown and unusable, I will try and remember this.

Hampton Court

"Not many people could have done that", said the lock keeper as I pulled off a nifty bit of manouvering to get into Sunbury old lock. For some reason, he wanted us to use the old lock, when we were right up against the new lock gates. I used the trick Sue & Vic (Nb 'No Problem') taught me, to bring the bow around without any effort, then made a sharp left and right turn to avoid the telegraph pole and an unopened lock gate, which he couldn't be bothered (or was too busy) to sort out.

Sunbury Lock Bollard"Wow... that was ultra cool!", said an onlooker. "This guy's a real expert!". I was supremely chuffed with myself, and bored Sheena with it, for the rest of the day.

The Golden GatesPassed down through Shepperton, Sunbury and Molesey locks, before arriving at Hampton Court late in the afternoon. Where we got a nice mooring spot, right beside the golden gates of the palace. It's free for the first night, and then £5 per night after that. For a maximum of three days. An offer I think we'll be taking them up on, because there is so much to see and do around here. The royal park (dog friendly) is huge, with scores of deer roaming wild, through the trees, and over the golf course.

Hampton Court, as seen from the riverMust say that I'm really glad we've ventured down this far. Thought it would be much more built up than it actually is. What a nice surprise to find that it rivals the upper river for it's width, and variety of sights. If we do see another boat, it's rushing to get to the next lock, and then we have the river to ourselves again. There are quite a few free places to moor, as well. And people don't have their hand out as soon as you tie up, like they do in Henley & Remenham.

Highly recommended destination.

Monday, 8 August 2011


We've covered 9.71 miles today, and done 3 locks.
Old Windsor, Bell Weir and Penton Hook.

Set off late from Windsor, and enjoyed a pleasant cruise down to Chertsey, past the royal estate, Runnymede, and through Staines. We're currently tied up on the 24 moorings by Chertsey lock. The lock keeper said "You got here after 7pm, didn't you?". And "You're around the bend, I can't see you". So, he didn't charge us £8. Or anything at all. Nice one, Mr. Lock Keeper. Cheers!

Took Sumo for a walk underneath the M3 bridge (not nice), where we found Laleham Park (very nice). What looked like a windswept corner, when we tied up to it, turned out to be a very nice spot indeed. Glad that we stopped here. And will definitely be doing so again.

Chertsey Lock MooringRoast Chicken for tea.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Lovely Boating Weather!

Lovely boating weatherFriday, we stayed at Bourne End, where we were fortunate enough to get a spot just 20 paces from 'The Bounty' pub. A perfect opportunity for a few pints, catching up with gossip, and bumping into old friends.

Saturday, there was a large queue getting through Boulters lock. The sun beamed down on us for two hours, while we waited for over a dozen boats to work their way through it. The temper fuses of the inconvenienced cruiser owners were extremely short. And not helped by a snide and bitchy group of Americans on a hireboat. Some poor sod queue jumped, which nearly lead to fisticuffs. Us? We weren't in a rush, so it wasn't really a problem for us. Got a nice mooring just below the Brunel bridge at Maidenhead. As everybody else, zoomed off down to the next lock, to repeat the same process all over again.

On sunday, we cruised down through Bray, to Windsor, in alternating sunshine and downpours. We'd just got through Bray lock, when it heaved it down with rain, and there was a thunderstorm directly overhead. People in canopied cruisers offered me looks of commiseration for having to steer by tiller, out in the rain. But I loved every single minute of it.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Temple Weir

We've travelled 12.75 miles today, and done 5 locks.
Shiplake, Marsh, Hambledon, Hurley and Temple.

Hireboat stuck in lockOops. Hambledon lock strikes again. A hireboat got caught on the edge as the water was being let out. A prompt refilling by the lock keeper averted the disaster. While this was going on, downstream, a widebeam ran foul of the weir, and got pulled off of the layby, into the bushes.

Our journey was fine though. We got rained on a couple of times, but nothing that dampened our spirits. After the baking heat of the last couple of days, it was nice to be out cruising in a breeze. The bad weather also limited posing opportunities for the big 250K plastics. They were all tucked safely on their marina berths, and empty.

While I was turning us around this evening, a hireboat coming upstream whizzed in, and plonked themselves right in the middle of the public moorings. If I'd been selfish, I could have turned round in front of them, and made them wait. But I'm not that much of a git.


We've spent the last couple of days below Sonning bridge, visiting our friend Chas on narrowboat 'Long White Cloud'.

The moorings across the river where we stayed for 3 weeks when our head gasket blew, have had big signs erected next to them. They state that the hotel ('The Great House') now want £20 per night for the privilege of stopping there.

That's £10 more than Uri Geller's, 100m downstream. I wonder if they're surprised that nobody at all is using them. Or if that was their intention.

It's summerNew sniffs

Monday, 1 August 2011

Through Mapledurham

"Simply messing...about in boats -- or with boats... In or out of 'em it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not."

~ Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Most of the journey downstream was picture postcard lovely. Got bumrushed by large plastic hireboats a few times, but we just pulled over for a bit, and let them speed off down to the next lock. When we got back to 'Civilisation', it was a bit of a shock, because there were millions of people all along the riverbank. Never seen Reading so busy before. Narrowboats everywhere, of course. But most of the owners were in a remarkably cheerful summery mood. Lots of waving, smiling, and lifting of beer glasses.

Our biggest fanSumo travelled in the lap of luxury today, with his own air conditioning system. The fan only uses 1.3a. And it chilled him right out. He wouldn't budge.

Mapledurham PumpoutThe pumpout machine at Mapledurham lock is the best we've encountered so far. It has great suction. The rinse hose is as powerful as a pressure washer. And you get 10 minutes. Wehey!

Black Swans at Tesco Moorings, Reading.<br />We were shafted by a shiny shiny narrowboat owner at the Tesco moorings. They were berthed up, three abreast. Until they saw us coming. Then they pulled themselves back, into the last remaining space. Cheers for that, so kind. Thankfully, another narrowboat (Nb 'Eucalyptus') was just leaving, and they waved us in. Thankyou.

Big Bully

On our way down to Reading from Beale Park, we were bullied by the 'Caversham Princess'. Her skipper attempted to turn across our bow, after giving an incorrect sound signal of four long blasts, followed by three short ones.

It became obvious that he was "turning around to the left" when his vessel started coming straight for us, at a rapid rate of knots.

Once we'd seen him start to turn, we floored it. Not enough time for us to stop, and/or reverse. We found out that dogma can really shift, when we need her to.

10-20 seconds of maintaining his course, and we would have been comfortably downstream, out of his way. That would have been the safe thing to have done. But, no, he wanted to play the "I am a working boat, get out of my way" card. Down below Reading bridge, he did exactly the same thing to another narrowboat (which was coming upstream). Again, with an incorrect sound signal.

For what? Why did he turn himself around in such a hurry?
So that he could tie up at a Restaurant.