Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Goodbye Surrey

Ack.... A well dressed woman brought her two little dogs down to the river. They dumped right beside our boat (while she watched). Then she buggered off, without picking up after them. Just another typical tale of a day in Surrey. We've met some nice people on our journey downstream this year. But a large amount of inconsiderate and grumpy automatons too. If you ever feel the need to hone your "ignore people and look through them like a sheet of glass" skills... get yourself down to Surrey.... they are experts in the art.

So now we are making the long haul upstream, past the royal estate (where ordinary people like your or I are forbidden to land) and on to Windsor. Where we will not be stopping, because we don't wish to get pounced on and robbed again.

I can understand people's frustrations with the incompetent buffoons who rule and administer our once proud nation, while it crumbles away into nothing more than an absurd joke. But to take it out on each other, is inexcusable (I feel). As the Discordians say: "Don't blame me, man. I didn't do it".

The 'big dogs' bed

Little Ols ~ 16 weeks

Sooooo Comfy

As close as we got
London ran out of water. awwww, poor London. So Thames Water nicked 5 inches off of the river. Which caused us to run aground at Chertsey. So shallow and full of discarded crap, that a duck could stand up in it. The only mooring with any depth was already taken by the time we got there. Maybe next time...

Shepperton Lock garden

Penton Hook lock garden (I think).

Big ass trip boat

Dusk at Runnymede
Two friendly narrowboaters helped us to tie up here, though no help was really necessary. It was nice to see some smiling human beings again. The jets were noticeably absent for most of last night, so it was relatively peaceful. On our way down to Staines this morning (to stock up with supplies and razor blades), we shared Bell Weir lock with Sue and Vic :- No Problem. Nice to see them again too.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Narrowboat "Tibet"

Just rammed us, head on, into our bow. Left a substantial (one foot long) dent. Scared the dogs and threw stuff about in the front cabin. Did not have the good grace to stop or even apologise. If you see this boat..... Beware.



Sunday, 26 July 2015

Madness at Molesey

Molesey Lock ~ Saturday Morning Madness
It was stupidly busy. No moorings from Walton on down. The most popular spots, occupied by boats which don't appear to have moved since last season. Thankfully, most of these folk in Molesey lock seemed anxious to get to London in a hurry, so they didn't pull in at Hampton court. Apart from the narrowboat in front, who plonked himself in the middle of two boat spaces, and got the hump when we asked him to move up a ring, so that we could get in.

We saw very little narrowboat camaraderie at Hampton court, apart from Widebeam "Still Rockin". Carol and George introduced themselves while we were mooring up, and graciously offered Sheena a guided tour. We've often seen them bimbling about with their former narrowboat "Rock 'n' Roll", and it was nice to finally meet them in person. (my turn for the tour next time.... I was on dogwatch duty).

Boats: 3  Herbsmoking teens: 20+
Bravo, Spelthorne council. Your no mooring initiative has (almost) been a resounding success. The skunky spliff smoking area you most thoughtfully provided for your towns teenagers has gone down very well indeed. And I bet the town's business folk have just loved their loss in passing boat trade. Congratulations!

Bryndle and Sheena

A Grey Day in Surrey
Extremely lucky to get on LLL twice! But this stretch of the river is just "too busy" for us, at the moment. School holidays are not a wise or nice time to visit. Olly only needs short walks. The 'full steam ahead' passing tripboats rocked us about ridiculously, as the did the 'folks having fun'. We've turned around and are going to head back to the more sedate pastures of upstream.

Not the friendliest bunch of folks down here, either. As a rough guesstimate... you'll get approximately 2 hellos, and 8 blank and vacant stares returned out of 10.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Wehey! We got in, on Lady Lindsay's Lawn!

Just as a downpour of a shower started. We managed to squeeze ourselves in between mister "I'm going to run my generator soon", and mister "I haven't moved my boat in a year". Even though we have only ever been able to get in here once before, the place holds happy memories for us. Aside from sounding like a Marc Bolan song, and being a beautifully quiet place for an overnight, it was where Sumo found a cricket ball and stuffed himself with blackberries. 

Initially, we'd tried the Shepperton 24 hour moorings, but they turned out to be full of people who'd moored themselves 20ft apart. "No way", we thought, as we bimbled through the bendy channel to LLL. Especially as the Spelthorn council have designated 2/3 of it as "No Mooring" now. But today was our lucky day.

On the way down, from Laleham to Shepperton, we were slightly gobsmacked to see that virtually every single overstayer has vanished. Boats that we'd been seeing for years, that had become a part of the landscape, had just *gone*. Huge swathes of wall and mooring are now available to visitors.  I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it was very noticeable. All of the legitimate private mooring spots on the Eyot near Shepperton have vanished too. It's like somebody has gone through the area with a big broom.

Chertsey has two new "Short Stay" moorings too, presumably close to the shops. Those will probably be useful on our way back up. Perfect narrowboat height. So no hoisting of dogs up walls necessary.
MTB102 in Bell Weir Lock
It's been a pleasant and stress free journey downstream, so far. The Runnymede pleasure garden mooring turned out to be 'not so great', when at 8:30pm they switched the flight path, and the jets were flying directly overhead. And so close, that you can wave at the pilot. Again, I feel great sympathy for the people who have to put up with this racket every single day. They say "You soon block it out", but it is a ridiculous level of noise to have to endure on a daily basis.

Up close and personal
Shared Bell Weir lock with this, *and* a Dunkirk 'Little Ship'. It turns out that Sue was right, and MTB 102 was built for Vospers in Portsmouth. Chatting to the lady on the bow, whilst we were in the lock... I discovered: That MTB102 was the prototype, not only of the vessel class, but also for where to mount the guns and the torpedo tubes. She'd also coordinated the evacuation of Dunkirk. And Eisenhower and Churchill had been on board when preparing for the D-Day landings. The present crew are keeping the vessel floating and fully functional via public donations, because official donations apparently come with too many strings attached (unhistorical health and safety changes). They are enroute to a festival in Harwich when they get off the Thames.

Laleham Mooring
Enjoyed a quiet night here. Surprisingly empty, with not many of the berths taken up. Chatted (quite a bit) with Clive and Lynne on MV 'Two n Six'. A lovely couple who also cruise up and down the Thames.

Marlow 'Cheap Seats' Mooring
If you can get onto this mooring, it's free. The council don't own it, and can't sting you for twelve pounds. As you can guess, it is rarely vacant. This time through we were only here for the shopping, but I did notice the new signs in the park, saying it's only overnighters that will get charged. Like Henley, if you are there for a shop or a quick visit, they sensibly realise that you will be helping the local economy and won't rob you.

MV 'Festina Lente'

Narrowboat 'Black Dog'
Last saw this at Godalming, on the end of the river Wey. Looks likes she's been newly blacked and had coachlines added. It would be nice to meet the owner some time, but there was nobody at home today.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Right Royal Swindle

Arrrrgghhh.... Excuse me, but I have to get this out of the way first...

Weasel Words
We'd only been in Windsor 30 minutes, before the bloke popped out of the bushes, gave me a ticket, and charged us eight quid. He started on his "The sign clearly says....madam" bullshit to Sheena, and I was so 'kin livid, I had to go inside while he robbed us. On our way through Marlow, the signs on Higginson park have been amended to read only *overnight* moorings are charged. To ask (more like demand) people to stump up the full price, when they are going to be there for less than an hour, really left a bitter taste in the mouth. So Windsor, you are another place that can kiss our waterborne ass. Shameful, really shameful of you.

Olly's Daybed (note the apt headline)

On a lighter, and much happier note, we bimbled our way down through the Bourne End reach, and plonked ourselves on a nice mooring alongside the Cliveden estate for saturday evening. Sunshine, no current, and hardly any grumpy people on other boats. Well, 4 boatloads of landlubbers in their very expensive plastic cut us up, and ignored us, while racing to get into Boulters lock. But apart from that, it was all very pleasant.

"Bugger, there's somebody on it....", we said, as we reached the Dorney lake corner, we'd been hoping for next. But, it turned out to be Sue & Vic No Problem, and they graciously let us berth up next to them for Sunday night. Everywhere else was completely stuffed that evening (presumably, because of the moneygrubbing going on down in Windsor?). Enjoyed a lovely fireside chat and a beer with the pair of them. Sue pointed out a gem of a fruit tree too. So we all went scrumping.

Olly longlegs behaved pretty well, considering he was only 15 weeks old yesterday. But, this morning, Bryn let the side down by sneaking into our neighbour's boat, and helping himself to the remainder of Penny's breakfast.

Wooden Horse

Not impressed with Windsor

Swan Uppers

Press boat

A sneaky tow
This evening, we're on the 24 hour free moorings at the Runnymede pleasure grounds. Flight plan 'B' must be in force, because the planes are flying quite high tonight. The journey down here was easy going enough, if a little grey and overcast. As we get closer to london and surrey, it's noticable how many more miserable people with blank stares we are seeing.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Olly likes Blackberries

We've been heading downstream for a couple of days, aiming to pick up some internet dog munch at Bourne End. Hopefully, our new router too. The weather has been kind to us. And the Henley regatta and festivals are over, which made for pretty easy going cruising all the way down. Saw Andy & Sue's Festina Lente on the Henley park moorings, but nobody was home. The majority of river traffic was heading upstream, to the 'Traditional Boat' festival on the meadows of Henley. My favourite was the Anglo Saxon canoe, bedecked with crayfishing pots. Can't get more traditional than that.

Sonning Lock
I haven't seen the lock gardens of the upper reaches yet this year, but Sonning lock has been my favourite so far. Marlow has some quite impressive spherical topiary, but it doesn't match the sights and smells of Sonning. It was a real pleasure to go through there in the sunshine. Sadly, our mate Chas wasn't at home on his boat, so no opportunity for a beer and a catch up this time.

Shiplake College mooring
Wehey! Unbelievably, it was vacant again. Jumped at the chance of stopping here, because it is so very quiet and peaceful. The view around the bend is superb at dusk. The bats come out, and a swan lazily drifts by. Definitely one of our favourites. I read in a book, "Downstream" (a history of swimming in the river Thames), that the actress Margeret Rutherford taught Anthony Worrall-Thomson to swim from the meadow beaches here. Sheena said that fact was "Quite interesting", so I'll pass it on. The book is worth a read, too. So many facilities "for the benefit and health of the general public" have vanished, and been sold on, over the years.  Olly and Bryn certainly enjoyed themselves, splashing about like idiots.

Shiplake lock camping site
Some fragrant blooms I got the chance to sniff, before heading through Shiplake lock.

'The Boss' @ Shiplake lock

Just needed a Bond villain.

MTB 102 ~ Enroute to Henley
Nice to see one on the Thames, replete with it's original tubes. The shed where they used to make them, is on the island at Molesey. The doors have heritage status, because they are the largest surviving folding concertina type. The island was recently sold for 9 million and some redevelopment will be taking place. So I hope they continue to survive.

Olly is getting bigger

Knackered Bryn

Currently moored on the 24 hour moorings downstream at Temple lock. Not advertised by sign. And the mooring stumps are obscured by weeds. But it is a very peaceful place to stay for a night, and we always enjoy it here.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Bacon Rolls in Clifton Hampden

Culham Meadows

My Grandmother loved poppies
Tickover ~ No rush or hurry

Clifton lock cut

Olly in his House

Bryn's cruising station

In Clifton Lock

The only tiled roof in a thatched village
Well worth a wander

Friday, 10 July 2015


Haha, look at all the poor boat people!
(comment from yoot on towpath)

Olly likes Abingdon

Managed to find ourselves a nice quiet spot below the lock at Abingdon, and make the most of it's very generous 5 days free mooring policy. We were able to step on and off the boat easily there, which made oiking Olly out every 28.5 minutes that much simpler. He loves water. Looking at it. Drinking way too much of it. And splashing about in it. He detests coffee though. Recoiling in comical horror whenever he gets a sniff.

On friday evening, a bare chested drunken gentleman jumped onto our back deck, with the intention of pinching our ensign (he'd inadvisably and inadvertently announced...."I'm gonna nick that 'kin flag"). Bryn saw him and went ballistic. And he soon buggered off.

Unfortunately, I've dropped our wireless router into the sink. Which was predictably.... full of washing up water. It's happened before, and everything dried out fine. This time, however, it's not happy at all, and refusing to function. I'm back to "dongle in the window" mode until we can get a replacement.

Oh, and EA pump out machines have gone up to ten english pounds. It would be nice to think the extra money would be put back into doing some dredging, cutting back overhanging trees or removing the fallen ones. But, apparently, the increase is for 'the sake of convenience'. *rolls eyes*

Saturday, 4 July 2015


Tucked up in the Willows
We've spent a nice couple of days tucked up in the shade at Wallingford, where we enticed Sue & Vic (No Problem) to come and sample the delights of this beautiful and historic town. Amazingly, they've never stopped here before. It was great to catch up with them and enjoy a couple of pints in the riverside pub that doesn't like boats.

Cast off early yesterday, in the slim hope of getting a place to moor at Abingdon and pick up some supplies. When we got to Days lock, we were surprised to find the visitor moorings empty. So we stopped off there briefly to allow the boys a quick runaround. Way too hot to stop there for long, but they seemed to enjoy it. Just as we were pulling out, a narrowboat (Dilligaf) moved in. Guess they couldn't believe their luck either.

Bryn likes Days Lock Meadows (a little too much)
10 minutes upstream, we heard a loud "Paaaaaaaaaaaaaarp!". Turning round, we could see it was a narrowboat going full ahead, with the husband and wife gesticulating wildly from it's stern. Was it somebody we knew? No. Were we dangling our ropes behind us, in danger of fouling our propellor? No. Turned out it was just another knob in a hurry, who thought he owned the whole river. Ridiculous. There was enough space for the QE2 to pass us, without any drama. When we did get to Abingdon, we saw them tying up beside the bridge. Cheers, Nb "Verano". Thanks for that.

Over Zealous Volunteer

At Culham lock, the volunteer lock keeper was a trifle over zealous. We were the only boat in there. I'd just thrown my rope over the bollard, the boat was still moving slightly, and he was already in my face, hustling me to turn off the engine. He very nearly got a "I will turn it off when it is SAFE to do so". But it was too nice a day to be getting the hump with jobsworths.

Unfortunately, when we got there, Abingdon was *completely* stuffed. Fender to fender everywhere. Nowhere to even moor a canoe. So we moved on to a 'secret location' up above the lock (where it is quiet and peaceful, without any drunken behaviour and running generators). Going to try our luck again today, though I fear it will be pretty much the same. If that does turn out to be the case, I guess it is back to wallingford again for us. Shiny shiny boats don't like to get Willow sap on their roofs, and we are pretty much guaranteed finding a place to stop there.

oh, the joys of Summer.