Saturday, 18 July 2015

From Windsor to Henley without a gin or a Pimms

Monday 13th July to Thursday 16th July 2015

Today was a bit of a catch up day - Sue and Andy needed water and elsan use; we needed to empty cassettes as well; we had a full load of washing to get done, so nothing else for it but to cruise a mile and then return back to Windsor.

There had been a bit of drizzle around and sadly it didn't go away whilst we were cruising, emptying and filling - it really only stopped when we returned.

There is a certain feeling that you get when the water tank is filled and the cassettes are emptied - as Andy said "a certain satisfaction that things are right".
He is right - suddenly these jobs do not need doing for at least a few days (or more - hopefully) and we can relax.

Later that evening Diane and Sue headed off to the theatre in Windsor together to see a production of Sherlock Holmes leaving Andy and I on our own - I might add, each on our respective boats.

The following morning - Tuesday - Diane and I headed off to Windsor Castle again for a free re-visit using our tickets from Saturday.
We had wanted to see St Georges Chapel again and also Queen Mary's Doll's House.
Luckily for us that we had visited on Saturday and seen The State Apartments then, as today they were closed for a function - we had some pity for the people who had made the journey only to be told that this large part of the castle was not open - some went in anyway.
Yes, she was at it again - taking illegal photos inside
St.George's Chapel

Candles lit - this time for Lauren and also for Diane's dad

The figure of St.George slaying the dragon located in the chloisters
of the chapel

Apologies about the photo quality here - all done  surreptitiously - this was interesting - Admiral George Cockburn died in 1853, yet somehow made a diary entry in 1860 - from beyond the grave.
This was amongst an exhibition we saw when viewing the Doll's House - Diane was eagle-eyed spotting it.

We were away from there in about 2 hours and back towards the boat - along the way we mugged a couple of people - namely Elaine and Paul who were just on their way out for a walk with Bombo and Sammie.

Once back at the boats, with Sue and Andy aswell, the chairs were out, the kettle was on, Sue was whipping up a batch of cheese scones, chocolate brownies were there and the talk was happening.

Ever the perfect host - Andy making sure of the teas

enough said!!

Paul at home - outside, T-shirt and shorts (and those bloody crocs) - oh and a
beer as well

Caught !! - Sammie getting a treat 

Steamboat Willie (aka Alaska)...

...and the duck

No, not a new breed of waterfowl, this is the new Olynmpic sport of synchronised river swimming with tote bag in tow.
These three were on their way upstream as we sat and watched.

We spent a very enjoyable couple of hours chatting away and waving at passing boats.
Later on, we all trekked up into Windsor to The Two Brewers for dinner.

At dinner and generally at large

They had very kindly made up a table for us when Sue had rang earlier to book - all of their larger tables were already reserved.

The meal was completely complimentary to the rest of the evening and without too much alcohol being consumed. Fortunately for some of us the return leg was now downhill and we made it without too much problem.
no more to be said about this
The next morning I looked up from my work - quite early in fact-not long after 7:30am to see a familiar face at the window with a pair of legs behind - the face elonged to Sammie and the legs to Paul - hadn't they been to bed - way too early for them, but here they were to bid us farewell as we would be moving off soon enough and they would also be on their way into London for a week.
As usual it is always hard to say goodbye to them and we shall miss them until we see them again.

It took both boats a bit longer before we were all ready to set off - the first mile we already knew from our brief outing on Monday but after that it continued to be new territory for Diane and I; we are enjoying cruising along the Thames - more than we thought we would.

Our erstwhile companions - Andy and Sue

Finally calling it a day at Cookham, Andy made a sudden course correction as a mooring spot was found - Festina Lente fitted quite nicely and we again breasted up to them.
Sue was quickly into gear and to use Paul's terminology the "Flat-Bread Floosey" was quickly at it again in the kitchen whipping up her trademark filled flat-breads for lunch.
We all ventured for a look at the village of Cookham - a nice little place - a quiet drink at The Crown before it was time to go back.

A boat in front of us suddenly came to life - well at least the engine did and boy didn't it half smell - not just the sudden burst when it first starts but horrible burnt oil fumes that continued on - we had to close all doors and windows which made it a bit warmer inside.
Diane and I eventually went outside to sit and enjoy the evening dusk and a cuppa; watching the sail boats and a few rowers on the river - how much better can it actually get than to take pleasure from all of this.
The engine suddenly ceased it's brief active life at just before 8pm and the odourous smell dissipated, we sat for a bit longer before the bugs eventually annoyed us enough for us to return inside.

Next day we were once again heading off before 10am, not that we had set any time to be moving - just what happens on the day seems to be OK for all of us.
More new sights and places to cruise past; more locks being operated for us; more cruisers to frighten in the locks (not really).

Cliveden  Hotel - perched on the hillside overlooking the river

Passing through Bourne End and who should we come across but Sue and Vic on No Problem - Vic was busy holding onto the boat, whilst Sue was off accosting some poor defenceless marine hand (sorry Sue, I am sure it was all innocent enough) - unfortunately we were not able to stop.

not too many building photos but I liked the look of this one - even if it
a hotel now.

a chance for some quiet reading at the end of the garden

Sharing a lock and carefully holding the slimey chain
A brief stop immediately after Hurley lock for some elsan dumpage and before we knew it we were heading down the rowing course at Henley-on-Thames; I am not sure how far we had intended to come but it seemed to me, the night before that we would be just short, but here we were.
Henley bridge

Where's the guy holding the ladder in case it slips
in the wet?

Picturesque Henley

Blimey!! - look at theprice of diesel here at Henley - and that is just the
domestic rate; but if you think that is bad....

...spare a thought for the "poor" old cruiser pilot - unleaded is way cheaper from
the local garage and just using a few jerry cans from the garage would help to
pay the bill for all of the gin

Sue was confident of finding mooring places for both boats, but that looked less than certain as we were cruising through - a Festival of Traditional Boats is taking place here this weekend and these things usually mean everything is full - but true to her word there were spaces beyond the bridge (well almost a mile past) where we were not breasted up - Ferndale with her fat bottom was out a little bit but not too far.
After we had finished mooring formalities, I spotted Andy sitting on one of the benches there and quickly grabbed a couple of beers and we had a bit of a sit and a chat in amongst which, Sue and Diane decided that they needed to hit the shops.
It wasn't long before Andy got a call from Sue with instructions from Diane to measure my head, which we managed to get done - you never give much thought to the size of your noggin' that much, well at least I don't, so it surprised me when the final figure came out at 60cm (you can change it to inches) - that seemed a bit different to what I might have guessed.

After the beer we each went back to our respective boats - I always have some work to do and with the peace and quiet at this time (as I also have in the early mornings) I tend to concentrate better, but I was still looking at boats going past.

I had got through a fair amount of what needed doing when a narrowboat was going past - blue in colour; windows as normal and waiting to spot the name - Mary H - hang on, I know that boat and there on the stern were Linda, Richard and Muffin.
They had cruised a long way to finally catch us - there sometimes is a nice feeling to being stalked.
They were also lucky in finding a mooring spot right where we were - immediately in front.
By the time I had got out, Andy was already on the job with their centre-line in hand.

Of course once they were moored up suitably, Sue and Diane arrived - all the hard work was done girls!

Diane looked and looked again - there was quite a bit of a gap between Festina Lente and Mary H and she felt that it was a few inches deeper there than where we were perched out a bit from the side, so dutifully Ferndale obliged with moving down a bit and she was right again (does she ever get tired of it?) - we were closer into the side.

I still wanted to finish a bit more work - I know what the next few days will be like so it is nice to be ahead a little bit, so I went back inside; I could hear that Diane and Linda were chatting away.
Diane came back in and we had something to eat; I did a bit more and we eventually finished off the evening outside again much the same as the night before enjoying it, Diane trying to take selfies of all of us with the iPad - succeeding in taking shots with 3 of us in the background (4 including Muffin) and her occupying much of the foreground - the better ones were immediately posted to Facebook.

With most of us keen to see a bit of the festival we will most likely remain in Henley until Sunday morning, and that will give us a good chance to look around this much talked about town - Diane is armed with her famous walking tour map and script.
The only downside of where we are is the TV reception - we cannot get ITV4 so alas there will be inconsistent viewing of leTour - a few visits to 'spoons with their  WiFi will suffice - a heavy price to pay to see the (bike) race - although, barring any complete misfortunes, it looks like another British win.

22 Miles, 8 Locks
YTD: 562 Miles, 326 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3456 Miles, 2447 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 36 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges

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