Wednesday 31 August 2016

Sandford Wednesday 31 August 2016

The quietest night on the Thames so far this week, just as well I set the alarm clock. This is the mouth of the River Thame which we had backed into.DSCF5660

We were away at 9 AM and up to Days Lock, there was no waterDSCF5661 at all running over the weir next to the lock and very little over the main one about half a mile upstream. Chatting to the Lock Keeper at Clifton Lock who I think was a volunteer and came from Norfolk I was informed that the next lock Culham was on DIY operation and it would take 20 minutes to fill and he was right. When we arrived another Narrowboat was waiting and his wife setting the lock. By the time we left there were 4 boats above waiting, 2 coming down the lock cut and one below waiting to come up. I wonder why they man Clifton lock which is only small and fast compared to this one and have no one here. Along this section Didcot Power Station seems to haunt you moving aroundDSCF5668 as the river twists, even more so now knowing there are still dead men’s bodies in there.

Abingdon looked a picture with all its hanging baskets in the sunshine, a chap had a water bowser and pump with generator to water them, I bet he filled the bowser from a tap when the river is feet away.DSCF5669 

There were loads of mooring spaces in the town as we made our way up to Abingdon Lock. The lock keeper said he had to replace the official sign with one people would understand.DSCF5671

We stopped above the lock to dump the rubbish and also eat lunch, one of the boats there had rather a lot of Cray Fish traps onboard both his dingy and his Narrowboat.

DSCF5673 DSCF5672

After lunch we continued to Sandford lock where we planned to moor outside the Kings Arms for the night and have a meal, there was just room for us on their mooring and I went in to let them know we would be in later to eat and would it be OK to moor overnight. The reply was “Yes sir that will be fine, its £10 a night please” so we are moored on the field opposite, I just wish there was another pub near here so we could eat elsewhere.

Today’s Journey  map 39 14½ miles, 5 locks in 5½ hours

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Dorchester R Thame Tuesday August 30 2016

Not such an early start this morning after a very quiet night last night. The temperature actually dropped into single figures early this morning and there was a very heavy dew.

We were away at 8-45 am and shared all the locks. One was on self service so no lock keeper present, we went up with 2 other Narrowboats and although the lock is supposed to be 133 ft long, I didn’t have a bollard behind me and I had to hold the tiller over to miss the walkways, maybe the chap at the front was holding back.

Today has been a day of Kingfishers but I only managed to photograph one of them, we saw two chasing each other and I managed to capture this one flying, you can see his shadow below him.DSCF5638 We passed L’Orage looking as lovely as ever. For those that don’t know she is one of the Little Ship that went to Dunkirk to help with the evacuation and was owned for a long time by Raymond Baxter.DSCF5645

This strange structure is I think an artificial cliff for Sand Martins to nest in, I have no idea how successful it is but there is a Sand Martin CharityDSCF5649


Approaching Benson Lock from below you have to keep well to the left as you come up to the lock moorings as the area is very shallow and protected by these green buoys.DSCF5651 Tonight we planned to moor in a spot we have used before when we have been this way, its the mouth of the River Thame which runs up to Dorchester. Luckily for us there was no one else there.DSCN1451 There is now a charity doing conservation work on the river, cutting weed and pollarding trees but there are still several halfDSCF5653 fallen trees near the entrance which is a very sharp S bend so I decided not to try to get to town this time. I do know people that have done it. While I have been typing this (do you type on a computer?) a couple in a canoe have just been up to the town and back.

Today’s Journey  map 38

13 Miles, 3 locks in 4¾ hours

Monday 29 August 2016

Beale Park Monday 29 August

Well no planes last night but the boaters were on the go most of the time including 3 AM and before 6 AM just before the rowers started.

We set off at ten past eight, looking back there was mist on the hills, but the sun was burning it off rapidly. I am sure there use to be public short term, ie. shopping moorings in Henley but I DSCN1443couldn’t see any signs to indicate that when we past today. There are still rings in the face of the wall.

Going up the Henley waterfront in front of the rowing museum we were following a wide beam and a large cruiser, Marsh Lock is only  137 foot long so with those two in front we wouldn’t get in behind them, then at the top of the island the wide beam turned back downstream so we were in with a chance which worked out OK, While the Big cruiser reset the lock ready a small cruiser turned up and there would be room for him beside me.

Above the lock we came on another wild swimmer heading up the Thames, the orange buoy is very light like a balloon but at least there is something to see.DSCF5611
At reading we didn’t need Tesco and a good job too. I thought they were charging for these moorings, but it doesn’t look like it.DSCF5616 The old boat is still on the bottom on the opposite side and I expect it will stay there for some time to come. 

DSCF5617 DSCF5618

One of the boats moored outside Tesco was a Fuel boat but what was unusual was he had a push butty strapped to his bows, but I couldn’t see his name or prices.DSCF5620

Better Boating were selling diesel at 79p/lt which is good for the Thames and if you take the advert in from Towpath Talk you get 5p discount. They don’t say if that is per lt. or the total bill?DSCF5621 Reading Festival was this weekend and the hordes where all heading homewards, a few looked as if they hadn’t  slept all weekend and lots were wearing wellies. I don’t think they neededDSCF5623DSCF5625 them as they all looked clean. Not only,were they walking but there were water taxis and trip boats full of them. It makes you wonder where they all go when they leave the festival, is it coaches and trains? some had next to no baggage when others had 4 wheel trolleys. I didn’t realise it was such a big event, they even build a suspension bridge over the river to get to the camping site.DSCF5626

The site must be a good mile and a half long including the camp site.

I felt I had to post a photo of this spoof post box that has appeared on the wall of the railway embankment. The wall runsDSCF5629 down into the river so there is no access other than by boat. In 2013 it was attached to the central buttress of a bridge on the Thames, again on accessible by boat. Details HERE. The other thing you may notice is how brown the water is, further downstream it was crystal clear but now its as thick as any canal.

Whitchurch Bridge was rebuilt in 2014 but it looks as if it is already going rusty. It even has its own web site HERE. DSCN1446We came up Whitchurch Lock with 2 canoes, on shot in right on my stern and then went down the side of me before we had any ropes on, the other had problems going in the right direction and missed the mouth of the lock, well it is only 18 feet wide. Above the lock were three pretty little tugs painted in the company colours .DSCF5634

We were aiming for Beale Park as tonight’s mooring and there were quite a few boats moored there already, one of them this smart cruiser which I think comes from the Norfolk Broad, one of Martham Developments old hire boats probably built the same time I was born.DSCF5635 I suspect the registration number is the old Broads Authority number. O and yes, there were people swimming in the river here.

We passed the entrance to the lake and then slid in behind the island in to a nice secluded spot away from the main river traffic.

Today’s Journey  map 37 17¾miles, 7 Locks in 6¼ hours

Sunday 28 August 2016

Henley Sunday 18 August 2016

Last night as usual the planes suddenly stopped flying over. There was a wedding at the Rowing Club and there music didn’tDSCN1435 disturb us, I still managed a poor nights sleep, I don’t know why because it was really quiet.

We were away at ten to eight this morning, the first to leave, but DSCF5585the boat  moored ahead of us caught us up while Diana was setting Bray lock for us as it’s DIY outside manned hours.
I had a rain coat on much more than I had it off today with some heavy showers, but it was a good days boating, we had a good run with no big delays at any of the locks and apart from Bray there was at least one lock keeper at each.
I am glad I don’t have to buy my diesel on the Thames as this red diesel which is reduced duty is more expensive than the road diesel I put in the car with full duty. Considering they are buying it at about 70p lt if you include duty at a 40/60% split its a good margin. The petrol is exactly the same as you buy at the pumps. a good 30% mark up. DSCF5586 We passed Oakley Court looking very splendid even in the miserable weather. They were setting chairs out for an outside event so I hope the rain held off for them, its been much better this afternoon.DSCF5587

Some of you of a certain age may remember a place called Skindle’s Nightclub in Taplow. it didn’t have the best of reputations but had some great bands play there, I wont go into what the clientele played at, full details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skindles It is now being developed for housing.DSCF5595

Cliveden House looks as imposing as ever as you make your way up Cliveden reach, it also as a chequered past, I wonder if its something in the water supply to Taplow as both properties in Taplow.DSCF5599 Another steam boat Alaska was getting ready for her guests at Bourn End, this must be the best looking steam boat in the UK.DSCF5602Below Maidenhead we came upon a Dragon Boat, not something you see every day on the Thames. This one was full of smiling faces.DSCF5604  As we came into Maidenhead lock there was a Narrowboat from Fenny Compton who we have shared locks with this trip on the Grand Union, the Lee and now the Thames. At the top of the lock there was another group of canoes waiting to enter the lock to drop down, they must give the lock keepers nightmares. Just think of something going wrong with all of them and half a dozen large cruisers.DSCF5605 We decided we would bite the bullet and pay £8 for a mooring in Henley so have moored on the side of the regatta course. I had expected a bloke on a bike coming for the money but he turned up in a water taxi. There has been a regatta going on today between nice wooden rowing boats, some one man and some two. The effect they have on an 18 tonne Narrowboat when they go past is surprising.

Today’s Journey  map 36

19½ miles, 7 locks in 6½ hours

Saturday 27 August 2016

Dorney Lake Saturday 27 August 2016

Away at 8 this morning, although the planes were noisy until about 11 after that it was quiet but I still didn’t sleep very well so it was no problem getting up today. Managed to get a better photo of the Humber Keel Daybreak as we passed her this morning, we had been behind her under the willow. DSCF5561Moored just ahead of her was this boat. DSCF5562

The first lock was still on self service when we arrived and a large vessel came in behind us, 2 hire boats arrived to come down as they had to be back at the yard for 9 am.

Bell Weir lock house has a painting depicting the Magna Carta  on the end of it facing the lock. It was supposedly signed not far form here.

DSCF5566 DSCF5567

  At Runnymede we saw the first of three Steam boats, this one was a paddle steamer the Lucy Fisher with a vertical boiler.DSCF5568

Carrying on towards Windsor I wonder if this house holder will be covered by his insurance for this damage to his wall, I somehow doubt it.DSCF5574 His next door neighbour is the owner of a cruiser which he keeps it over the river but above the water on a folding frame which I guess is hydraulically powered.DSCF5575

Then just around the bend a rather posh house with large gardens comes into view, on the down side ins on the landing flight path for Heathrow Airport but I am sure that is only a minor problem. I am sure if the owner was hard up she would be able to make a few bob from letting the moorings at £5 a night they must be half a mile long and all hard edged so maybe  £10 a night.There was quite a long wait to get into DSCF5576 There was quite a long wait to get into Romney Lock and a good queue built up behind us while waiting for the lock.DSCN1412 The Lock Keeper had squeezed 11 boats in coming down and the last few were rather slow in entering the lock. He said he could have got another couple in if need be. Plenty of room for a Narrowboat down the middle.DSCN1415 Once they were out it was our turn and we were right at the front, but this lock fills from the sides so its not so turbulent at the front but the boats do get pulled to the centre.DSCN1416 This was us coming out, I had let the cruiser with the fenders go ahead as he would have passed us soon as we were out anyway.DSCN1417

Streetley the second steam boat of the day had just loaded in Windsor with a private party and a string quartet on the bow.DSCF5581 
We stopped for water just before Windsor By-Pass bridge, the mooring was a bit tight as there was a speed boat moored to one end of the water point mooring but they soon moved it when they saw we were coming in. Just after we had finished taking water the Water Bus came down the slipway directly in front of us, it caught us both on the hop and we only managed a photo once it was afloat.DSCN1418 Once full of water we moved off and the speedboat moved back to the middle of the water point moorings. When we arrived at Boveney Lock there sat Streetley waiting to get into the lock,DSCN1419  this lock is much smaller than the next one down. Being small once Streetley was in there was no room for us so we and 3 small boats had to wait for the next locking. We thought we would moor by the Dorney Rowing lakes, I could see lots of boats there so thought I would moor by the concrete just prior to that and went hard aground, it took several minutes to extract us from this, the boat would rock and screw round, but didn’t want to come off, eventually it did and we moved up to the 24 hr moorings right at the end of the lake. There were three cruisers there all spaced out so I asked the chap in the middle one if he would move back a bit, he said why, you’ll get in there, he said he would move back of forward if I wanted him to but felt sure I would get in. He was right, he came and held the bow for us and the chap from the boat ahead came and took the stern rope just as the wind was getting up. I had to make two attempts at it as the wind was stronger than the river flow, but we tucked in nicely between them both. Mind you we are still on the flight path for Heathrow so another short night.

Today’s Journey   map 35 12 miles, 6 locks, in 6 hours