Friday, 31 July 2015

It's not a bloody kissing-gate, Andy!

Wednesday 29th July to Thursday 30th July 2015

We were outside not too early this morning to bid farewll to Linda and Richard, and of course to Muffin; they were heading backtowards Oxford for a meeting with someone at the weekend - we will be catching up with them on the South Oxford sometime after the weekend.

Our late departure time was dictated by the pharmacy and waiting for some of Diane's prescriptions to arrive; we made use of this with a last look around the shops - particularly the antique and charity shops; I headed off for a haircut - yet another charming lady hairdresser - I seem to be able to get these ladies to want to run their fingers through my hair - and all with Diane's approval.

As we were heading off for our walk into the village, our progress was somewhat barricaded by part of the bovine herd; seems their access to the river and drinking was right by the gate under the roadway; our attempts to move them were fruitless as we couldn't quite get on the side where they wouldn't charge at us - a walker coming the opposite way eased the situation and his presence behind said cows moved them pretty quickly.
It was only Diane who was apprehensive bloody scared of them and this wasn't helped by Andy darting through the gate and holding it closed (with Diane on the cow side) - he was proclaiming that it was a kissing gate and demanding his payment from her - until she yelled "It's not a bloody kissing-gate, Andy" especially with her too near to the bovines.

We popped into l'√Ārtigiano for morning coffee (and petite cakes) - all very nice indeed - when we come back it will be a visit for lunch, the menu looked quite good.

A little after noon was unmooring time and we were on the move for just under the two hour mark, finally mooring up at Kelmscott.

Funnily enough, it had been quite cloudy during the cruising, looking very much like rain, but just after we had completed everything, it started to rain - good timing I say.

Later on we made the decision that we would pay a visit to Kelmscott Manor which was very close-by - in fact, it was on the way to the pub.

This is a 17thC farm manor which has essentially been in the hands of one family until the 1930's when it was passed onto Oxford University and then in the 1960's it has been the property of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

It is best known as the country retreat of William Morris, the renowned designer and writer who took a lease on the house in the 1870's until his death in 1896.

The man himself

To me it was a quite warm and inviting house to live in and owes much to the additions during the mid 19thC.

the bedroom of William Morris

two persian brass peacocks

bedroom in the roof space

and more open space being utilised

the original kitchen

After looking around the grounds and visiting the outside loo with 3 side-by-side seats (we only viewed, and did not use), we exited and found our way to the Plough Inn for a drink.

the three loo toilet

even mucking around these two were still competitive

Charming in its own way, it appears to have lost some of its character with modern changes around the bar and interior in general, but retains it's popularity with the locals - plenty there for a drink and early evening meal.

Exploring further we found the church which held the remains of William Morris and also many of the Turner family, who had owned Kelmscott Manor for all of those 300+ years.

now it's official, she is preaching to all within earshot

it cannot be seen well, but the inscription is for that of William Morris

We completed a round trip and found ourselves back at the boats, a little more tired than when we started out.
Thursday morning was a bit of a contrast to the previous day, with a blue sky and sun brightly shining - we hit the river not too early, wanting to make it to Tadpole and moor up there - it seems that the moorings at the pub must be booked through the pub to guarantee a spot - one was already taken and we could have breasted up on the other.

England in sunshine is so very nice 

This B-52 C-17 was buzzing us as it was completing circuits (thanks to Tom and
Paul for setting me straight)

Problem was that the boat that was booked in was there for the wedding and reception that would take place later in the day.
Not particularly fancying what might be a possible boisterous and celebratory night - especially outside on a nice evening, we headed off again and rather luckily found a nice mooring at Chimney - we did need to breast up, but it was peaceful and quiet; the late afternoon and evening sun was magnificent.

Both Sue and Diane had organised the washing machines during cruising and almost immediately upon mooring the washing lines were up on each boat and washing was furiously pegged up to take advantage of the wind and the sun.
It was poetry in motion with the pair almost competing against each other to finish first.

It has been marked in the book as a must-try-and-get-into spot for the future.

Still quite amazed at the number of boats that are still coming by cruising at after 7pm - looking to moor up - along this stretch where there seems to be a dearth of available spots anyway, and they are by this late hour, already occupied - their problem not ours.

11 Miles, 5 Locks
YTD: 644 Miles (1036 km) , 357 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3538 Miles (5694 km) , 2478 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 36 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Relaxing slow cruising - forget it!!

Saturday 25th July to Tuesday 28th July 2015
I forgot to put this is the last blog - here she is about to get into the kebab

We do not like making schedules - must be here for this night and there for that night - much better for us is that we travel for 3 hours a day and then moor up - something that we have had the luxury on the canals of doing (and then ignoring when we want).
At the moment however, we have a pressing timetable of being off the river on the 2nd August - we know that we can extend but that then will upset things further down the line.

An upcoming wedding in August dictates that we will need to find a place to leave the boat and other things shortly after that necessitate being at certain places by certain times.

This boating malarky was meant to be a bit more relaxed - what with all of this and working as well I am almost ready to give up - well give up work at least and retire; but not yet - not with a wife still to support.

So, as a consequence of all of this we have been putting in a few more hours travelling this week.

Saturday we left Abingdon and the three boats all travelled together around the city of Oxford and through locks and under bridges which until then we had only heard people speak of in varying terms. The weather cycled a bit between fine and sunny to cold to windy to a bit of rain - just like being back home in Melbourne, where this variety has made us a bit more hardy than those north of the Murray River.
Apparently a hotel boat - more like a renovated pirate palace

Unusual roof for the centre section

Approaching Oxford

These canoeists weren't in any danger from the boat on the right (it was still tied up)

A lovely spot on a sunny day - just wasn't like that when we passed by

The end of the line for those 3-stories plastics - Osney Bridge

Godstow Lock ....

....and the remains of the Abbey beyond the lock

On the left towards Duke's Cut and the right is the Thames (from whence we came)
Eventually we moored up after Eynsham lock to enjoy some of the late afternoon sunshine and with a few cows for company.

Looking down on Eynsham Lock

Look dear - he's taking our picture - now smile
The cows were particularly friendly towards the boats - not coming exceptionally close but too close for Diane, whose idea of a close relationship with a cow is seeing a steak, well-cooked and on her plate.

Up on the bridge at Eynsham is a quaint old toll road...

...and see the charges - would like to see these on the
M6 Toll Road
As I have said above, we have a need to keep moving and the weather predictions for  Sunday followed the line of rain, rain and followed by drizzle. An opening existing early in the day and so Ferndale and Festina Lente untied ropes and left the moorings - Linda and Richard had intended to stay put with the rain and would catch us up after that.

In the morning we spotted this before we left.

We made it as far as Babcock Hythe before the allure of good moorings and the forboding of dark clouds forced us to moor up.

The Ferryman pub may also have been an influence in where we stopped, but almost immediately after tying the last of the ropes, the heavens opened and we were inside - venturing out for a pre-lunch drink at the pub.

Diane made lunch this week with Sue supplying her now famous summer pudding - echoes of Sweeney Todd in the background.

After lunch and before we were drunk  finished

We didn't do much in the way of exploring any further than the short stroll to the pub -the weather had made it impractical.

Monday arrived with a much improved forecast and we had tentatively looked at a reasonably target for today's cruising and firstly Tadpole was mentioned, then one of the lockies mentioned Kelmscott. In the end we went all the way and moored up at Lechlade beside the cow-laden field - Diane mentally slicing them into roasting joints, steaks and sausages.
Old Father Thames at St.John's Lock (Lechlade)

During the day, Diane had done all of the steering allowing me to stay inside to work - only emerging for lock duties. The end result of a long day of steering (I daren't say steerage) was that she was tired, exhausted and worst of all, had a blister on her steering hand (have to make sure that is better before we head back)

Two crazy sistas

I like the look of this but cannot remember where it was - will make a note on
the return journey.

We had been keeping in contact with Linda and Richard throughout the day and although they had further to travel and started later,they were approaching as we were heading over the bridge to the pub.
I returned to help them moor up in the blustery conditions and provide instructions of where we were heading.

The six of us were all around the table having the usual banter - interrupted by a Spoodle pup being carried by a young lady (at our age, young is a relative term) - the oohs and aahs from the females at the table was astonishing.

Just a group photo - take no notice of the number of empty glasses on the table
- it's the full ones that count... we still won't count the empties - Linda was enjoying it all

cute puppy - or what?

Lucky the owner was nearby or he would be part of the crew on Festina Lente

Linda and Richard, during their travels that day had lost the use of their 2kW inverter had died - worse was that the washing machine was sitting silent - the gasp was load - What no washing possible!!! It's a major catastrophe!!

It also meant that the microwave was out of action and to counter all of that plus a long day, they both decided to tryout the menu of the pub whilst we four did a bit of a walk around the village before heading back to the boats for rest.

NO NO NO!!! -way too early for Xmas stuff yet

Lechlade - the main street - lovely Cotswold stone buildings

A bit like the spire at Braunston - a guiding beacon for boaters

Tuesday was clear, bright, cloudy and still windy, but definitely dry.

The viber messaging system between all the women was active again - but the most unusual was from Linda - "Anyone have a 150 amp fuse?" - not your usual request and not something that you are likely to find quickly.
Strange as it may seem, I did happen to have a 300 amp fuse - a spare that we had when our master fuse blew a few years ago.
Richard was over literally before I had put the phone down; comparison made; fuse received with thanks; and in five minutes the message came that the power was on again - inverter was working again - so I guess the washing would now get finished; but fiscally speaking it meant that the possible cost of replacing the inverter was averted.

Diane and Sue explored the village a bit more -somehow or other they found tea and scones with the full works - amazing how they do it.
Richard and Linda headed off to meet friends at The Trout - I guess happy that everything was working again.

After completing another day of work, Diane returned and we decided to go out for a walk further along the river to the confluence of theThames and the Colne and at the same time we took Muffin along -just like old times for us and Diane only called him Banjo just the once.
The Roundhouse in the background - and my lovely wife in front... the end of the navigable Thames - it comes in from the left and the Colne
from the right

As Diane would say "pass the mint sauce"

35 Miles, 15 Locks
YTD: 633 Miles, 352 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges
Totals: 3527 Miles, 2473 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 36 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Catch Up

Sunday 18th July to Friday 24th July 2015

I have been just bloody bit slack this week but fortunately Diane has been even worse (see her blog Thumperand Bilsons Adventures).

I plead extenuating circumstances - we have been travelling most days and then there are new places to see; work still has to be done; le Tour takes a degree of priority, so at the end of the day as the eyes are falling shut and then rising early to get work done, there simply has not been enough time for me to sit down and write the blog.

What I intend to do is use this installment to bring it all up to date primarily pictorially with some words and then try to stay that way (fingers crossed).

Between last Sunday and Friday evening we have travelled from Henley all the way through to Abingdon, and you can see the stats at the bottom of this page.

Before leaving Henly, this lot decided to bounce around on an old fallen tree limb

Along the way we have stayed overnight at

The owner agreed it was a Yoghurt pot and hence the boat name

The start of the Kennet & Avon

Alpacas along the way

Could not believe that this crew pushed off into the path of an oncoming
boat and then decided to stop rowing - bloody idiots

Beale Park

The best that I could get - kingfisher in flight

I think this is a Red Kite

Bovines - just for Diane

just a few of the boats that we had seen last Saturday - all moored up together.


Before we actually got to Wallingford we stopped off for a bit of a look around in Goring

the main street

inside the church

heading back to the boats

The Boat House at Wallingford - good food and ales

the mooring were all full - we were forced to moor wild before the bridge

Relaxing and helping the local economy

It was a little warm so Diane took a paddle and was joined by Muffin

Days Lock

a walk into Dorchester was followed by.....

I like this sign and the thought process in its creation

Every July there is a resumption of the archeological dig of the Roman ruins
in Dorchester

a walk up to the topof one of "The Clumps" to oversee the whole of the area

Looking down onto Days Lock - we were all moored above the lock in amongst the trees

High enough to capture the flight from just above


On Thursday morning we were greeted by a misty start to the day

Sue and Andy in  their Happy Hats

A great sight as you arrive in Abingdon

We spent 2 nights here because I needed to go to Watford on Friday to pick up our mail and sort out a potential problem with my immigration application.
On Thursday we had a call from Diane's aunt - Maggie - about a letter from Manchester (from our solicitor's) regarding the need to have my biometrics completed for the application. It seemed urgent in what she had read to me over the phone so arrangements were made to go.
When I finally got there and could read the letter, it was actually the second request and the time limit was a problem - it is here that I explain that I did get a bit angry about the way the solicitor had simply forwarded the Home Office letter without marking it URGENT and also without emailing me that it was coming - both of which we had asked them to do. Similarly with the first letter back in June - so they will get a rocket up them in the form of an email for Monday morning.
Anyway, I found a Post Office that does the biometric measurments and finderprints; the guy behind the counter thought everything should be OK - the application number was still open and current  - all the things were completed, paid for and transferred on line. So will keep everything crossed that we are OK.
By the time I arrived back at 6pm (left at 8:30am) I was just a little tired and pissed off with the solicitors, but I did find that Diane had locked herself out of the boat (one of the spare keys was missing and the other did not work properly).
Definitely a time to head to the pub, so we dragged Andy and Sue out of their comfort and once at The Nags Head (confirming that they were dog friendly), Linda, Richard and Muffin joined us as well.
A few guinnesses and some lively music had brushed away all of the days events and we had more than a few laughs - the best being as we were on ourway back to the boat, with Diane wanting a kebab - her banter with the young guy behind the servery was comical and enjoyable.
No she wasn't drunk (or ferschnickered), she just fancied a kebab (all because she had been locked out and had not eaten properly before we went out).
We are now heading further north and west to seek the end of the navigable Thames and will head back to the Oxford Canal to be there around August 2 - there we have it, a plan of sorts - well really a plan that will happen because our Thames licence expires on August 2.

36 Miles, 11 Locks
YTD: 598 Miles, 337 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3492 Miles, 2458 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 36 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges