Friday, 29 July 2016

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Sunday 24th July to Friday 29th July 2016

First up was the need to fill the water tank and empty the cassette which we managed to take care of at the Cowley Peachey services – the water tap here is much faster than the one at Cowley Lock.

It was a slow easy cruise into Uxbridge – for one thing the moored boats meant that we were slow anyway and for another there appeared to be something around the prop which would not budge.
This combined with a couple of sections of canal since we had got back on at Brentford which were heavily clogged with weed, was the awakening that we were indeed not in deep, flowing water anymore.
We were somewhere not like we had become used to.

I had hoped that we could clear the prop when we stopped for diesel at Denham Marina, but this was a particularly busy Sunday morning – a boat in ahead which was just about to leave and another had come in behind us and a further boat waiting out in the canal itself – we couldn’t muck about – afterall we could move, so the prop clearing would wait until we moored up above Uxbridge Lock.
We shared the lock with a cruiser – the guy seemed particularly keen for us to come in – we had visions of crushing the cruiser like a bug, if the water coming in was too fast.
In the end we both fitted pretty well; the water was slow coming in; and no cruisers were “killed” in the passage through the lock.
Finding a mooring place was difficult – plenty of boats and just a few spaces where sadly we could get in – guess that was why there were spaces.
We carried on to Denham Deep Lock, where we shared with another boat but as I jumped off to help with it, who should be on the other side but Nikki and Phil with the girls – Mia and Jess – just out for a bit of a stroll and they nabbed us.

We did finally moor above the lock, had a cup of tea and a chat and said we would see them later in the week – it is their house that we will be looking after.
We have moored here before and it is so lovely that it should be a more frequented spot – next time maybe.
On successive days we then moved along to moor below Stockers Lock and then in Rickmansworth – interestingly we had trouble getting TV reception but it wasn’t of any concern to us at all.
Our plan was to have a bit of a rest day on Wednesday – rain had been forecast anyway – we checked out the nearest cinema – Harrow – and the new Bourne movie was on that day – it was a no brainer for us.
On the train; tickets to the movie; lunch; then sit back and relax.
Now we love this series of movies anyway, but we had a special reason to want to see this one soon – and yes we were in it, well the boat made it into there, our faces were obscured behind the curtains -  so very pleased with that.
--- and we enjoyed the movie as well.
Just a few miles further along on Thursday and we had arrived at our destination.
We will be here for a bit of time – looking after the house and we have now turned this all into a chance to get through a number of jobs that have been hanging around for a time; also a chance just to take it a bit easier.
The biggest job that we have to do is to get the rest of the walls ready to be painted – Friday was the day – so, clear out as much as we could from both the lounge and the galley/dining areas – anything that would attract dust.
Then Diane sanded her way through it all whilst I washed the boat; after that it was vacuuming time and then put everything back – job done and “dusted” in about 3½ hours.
Bookcases cleared; knick-knacks all gone...

...the wine storage covered up... cleared...

...and ready to go

A great deal of relief for both of us to get that one out of the way.

So now we can enjoy the rest of the day and plan for the painting.
A satisfied look at lunch - glad that the job was done
I think the other plan that Diane has involves baby sitting the washing machine and the bath – access to unlimited power and hot water is now with her.

Not sure that he has enough fenders - maybe he is an ex-cruiser owner

11 Miles, 11 Locks
YTD:  482 Miles (776 km) , 311 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges
Total: 4277 Miles (6883 km), 3010 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Slow and then Go !

Sunday 17th July to Saturday 23rd July 2016

Well the moorings here are free for the first 24 hours and thereafter it is £5 per day – we had been here for two days, no-one had appeared to collect the money, so we thought we should make a quick slow run for it.
We didn’t make it very far, just 1 lock and 1 mile before we decided that the moorings at Chertsey Meads looked pretty good – so we stopped – barely an hour’s running time on the engine (half of which was just battery charging).

Diane had work inside the boat to do – she had started ripping off the wallpaper and the the underlying insulated wallpaper in favour of painting it all.
The bedroom has been done and now her attentions turned to the rest of walls.
Whilst all of this mess and mayhem was happening, I decided that I would be best served outside the boat and so the mushrooms were targeted – bare in mind we have had the boat for 6 years and not once touched them – they would now be polished – or at least remove the lacquer layer and the tarnishing.
It was a satifysing 3 hours work for both of us and the effects were noticeable.
Here are two panels that were done earlier, the light blue walls
are cleaner now and a bit brighter too..

...and match the rest of the decor

As I have mentioned a few times previously, some of our cruising agendas have revolved around being at certain places to take advantage of some specials from certain eateries.
Monday being a popular one with Diane and with a Slug and Lettice just up the river at Staines we were heading there – just 5 miles and 2 locks – but we came foul of it all!
Apparently at certain selected locations (Staines included) they were not having the 50% off food special – Diane found out after ordering and paying – we still stayed and enjoyed the food a lot (well 50% less)

We managed to catch up with the annual Swan Upping, which is conducted along the Thames between Sunbury Lock and Abingdon Bridge.
Not the main Swan Marker, but notice the feather sticking out of his cap

Still not the main man... he is, the Swan Marker, David Berber

The stop for lunch - there seemed to be about a dozen boats in the extended
flotilla for all of this - most seemed satisfied with the journey for the
free lunch

The weather has just been too fabulous lately and with an increase in temperatures again, the heat was starting to get to Diane (and to me – a bit). Inspired by Julie and Tony (nb Damper Van) and Dave (nb Cockney Sparra II) who all cooled off with a dip in the Thames (a fair way further upstream than we were), Diane got her kit off (but put her swimmers on in place) and took to the water(s).
Cooling off in the river - now to get out of there...

The mooring place in Staines was new and a bit higher out of the water than normal.
Only after getting in and cooling off, enjoying the water, did the thought then turn to getting out – a suggested use of a mooring rope with a loop in it did not work as expected; trying to simply lift did not work either; but we had spyed an old shopping trolley (already in the water) at the end of the moorings and with the help of a couple of young girls we managed to get Diane out – still she was a lot cooler than before she went into the water. trolley to the rescue - gotta be thankful for
the yobs who put it there

Tuesday arrived and today we out did ourselves with the shortness of the cruising – just 45 minutes total engine time – including a lock – and made it all the way to Egham.
Again the sun was out in it’s glory and we headed off into town for a few things and came back to the boat to cool off – just get out of the sun.
Later on we did hang our legs over the side and splashed around in the water with our feet.

Sunsets always seem a bit nicer along the river

We had no definite plans about exactly where we wanted to be or go at any stage – just to further explore the Thames and moor in places where we had not moored previously; so on Wednesday we made it to Windsor and caught up with Dave and Sue (Cockney Sparra II) as well as Tony and Julie (nb Damper Van).

We caught Sue and Julie at the pub, but we didn't tell Dave and Tony about it
We eventually moored on the island and had a very peaceful day and night there.

Diane received a text from her cousin asking if we were around anywhere local to them (Watford area) and would we be able to look after their house whilst they were away – things need attending to on a regular basis; as they had very kindly looked after our boat whilst we were away (in Mojacar) for a month, it is only fair to return the favour – “when are you going?” – answer “in 10 days time”.

No problem – so it was quick turnaround time and head back the way from whence we had come – on Thursday we made it to Weybridge to moor up as we had before – a return journey of one day to replace the four leisurely days to get to Windsor.
We contacted Brentford and Teddington Locks regarding passage times and booking the boat in – all sorted for Friday.

Friday was a long day but a bit of a break in between.
Approaching Kingston bridge

We made it to Teddington in short time, but with a 5pm locking-out, we had a bit of a wait, which was not bad at all – a leisurely lunch was involved and I got some work done as well.
Come the time and engines were started all around – 5 boats in the lock and drop down the 30cm or so and we were out – just a few minutes to get through.
None of us had done the journey this way – closest were ourselves who at least had gone into Brentford lock – so we knew where we had to go.

It seemed that the tide was on the very high side - we saw many places along the way where the river had flowed over to some of the normal pedestrian areas and in one place it was around parked cars.

the river was up a bit - here at Richmond...

...and here as well - fortunately by this stage it was on the way down

It was a fine and very uneventful trip; sunny skies with intermittent cloud; we got to see a few things that we had missed out on the trip up to Teddington last year.

Approaching towards Richmond with these lovely buildings looking down upon us

And Richmond itself

Not sure of this building but liked the look of it

But then came the time to do the turn across the outgoing tide, then back into the flow of water, followed by the final part making it into the channel.

At last the entrance, as highlighted by the "silver" sculpture
 - take the channel on the extreme left

And we made it safely

On this scale we had not experienced anything like this – in the end the “fears” of any danger were dispelled – sure the tide did take us along a bit, but we simply upped the revs on the engine and made it across, around and into the channel safely and with no problems at all.
Even the increased revs (up to 1700) were low compared with the maximum of 2300 rpm that we have done on the Ribble Link during that crossing.

(I now feel ready to tackle Teddington to Limehouse, which we would like to do sometime this year – it time permits!).

Brentford were ready for us and we locked through in a single minute (levels were about the same) – the lockie only needed to record our numbers and we were done.

We teamed up with nb Mill-Girl (Eric and Charlotte) for the Gauging Lock.
They are both from Manchester way (connected with the Worseley CC) and haven’t been down here before – we suggested a couple of more locks and a couple of miles where the moorings are usually good and there is a good pub – The Fox at the bottom of the Hanwell flight).
They accepted our suggestion and so we moored as planned – headed for the pub – they were planning to eat but we simply had a drink in mind, so when their meals arrived and our drinks were gone we let them get on with their meals and we explored a bit more of the area – not having had the chance on other visits.

We were planning to head to Yiewsley and Eric and Charlotte were going into London – so naturally, in the morning, we hit the locks “running” and had cleared all 8 locks in just over the hour – we bid them farewell at Bulls Bridge where a Tesco shop was their concern and ours was simply to get a few more miles under the stern.

A farewell to nb Mill-Girl and also to Eric and Charlotte - thanks for the journey
They are a very nice couple and easy to talk to with the loveliness that we have found so clearly present in most people from the north of England. We wish them well for their time and travels in London.

We made it to our planned stop and moored up, safe in the knowledge that our goal for later in the week would easily be met.

It would be nice if the excess in the daily heat could be toned down a bit and get back to something like a normal English summer – I miss a bit of rain and cold – but I know that millions of Brits rely on this current spell for their yearly dose of Vitamin D, sunburn and BBQ’s.

51 Miles, 27 Locks
YTD:  471 Miles (758 km) , 300 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4256 Miles (6865 km), 2999 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Nice Easy and Relaxed Days (I’d like to see that!) and a Stabbing

Wednesday 13th July to Saturday 16th July 2016

There seems to be a bit of a plan that we have when seeking a mooring in any particular place – the vast majority of times it works – only on rare exceptions has it failed us.

Part of that is being prepared to leave at a time which with the expected time of cruising will mean that previously moored boats have left and Voila!! – a space is available.
The chimneys of Hampton Court Palace - looks like a scene perfect for
Dick van Dyke and a verse of Chim Chiminey
Gordan and I were left on the boats this morning as Dot and Diane walked from Hampton Court Palace around to the moorings at Kingston – about 2 miles - through Home Park.
They were to phone back and then we were to follow – bringing the boats with us.
The Long Water in Home Park - part of the improvements made by Charles II
and around which were planted 758 Dutch limes

Peeking out from behind a tree this young deer was checking on Dot and Diane
invading it's territory

D and D left; we had some quiet peaceful time on our respective boats; phones ring; calmy leave Palace moorings; cruise around the corner; phone calls from D and D just to check on us (“where are you?”) – lo and behold we were within eyesight.

Moorings aplenty; we moor up; boats all OK – short cruise – all done for the day – now we can relax.

It was a very lovely cruise around – sun was shining brightly – perfect morning for it all.

After that, there was time for some work for me, before we all headed out for lunch to a lovely Chinese restaurant, Jin Jin.
The food was superb – can highly recommend it to anyone.

When we left, D and D fancied some shopping which lacked a certain appeal to Gordon and I – we thought that a little bit of man-time would be a good way to spend an hour or so.

We made it as far as the White Hart, which was reasonable close to our moorings, when the heavens opened – wouldn’t be able to get back now – Diane with all of her umbrellas wasn’t with us – only option that we could see was to make it wet on the inside as well as the outside – so we did.

One of the things about modern technology is that the mobile phone means you are never very far from someone wanting to check up on you and so it was the ringtone was a giveaway – “Where are you dear?” – said Dot to Gordon (I am sensible enough to leave mine uncharged and on the boat).
Apparently we had been invaded by pirates and they had a dog called Muffin – that would be Linda and Richard from nb Mary H – and not long after we had a full quorum of three at the pub with Richard’s arrival.
Then the rain came back again – aarrrghhh! trapped again – calls for another beer.

Timing is everything in life – whether it be picking the right time to arrive for a mooring or the right time to leave the pub, so that the next phone call (“Where are you dear?”) came just as we were crossing the busy Horse Fair road on our way back to the boats – we could honestly say that we were on our way.
Greeted by Linda and Muffin (Muffin was the one with the dirty paws and Linda the one with the big hug) we came across Mary H breasted up to us – as it should be when the spots have all disappeared (timing is everything).

Just like we have not been apart, we caught with things since we had last met.

About 3 weeks previously, I had slipped on the wet back end of Ferndale with my right leg crashing hard against the upper steel deck – the subsequent result was severe swelling, bruising and pain.
My trusty nurse determined as best she could that it wasn’t broken but the pain persisted and a couple of weeks ago we visited John Radcliffe in Oxford for x-rays which confirmed no break.
Minimal reduction in the swelling and pain now meant that she was concerned enough for us to visit Kingston hospital – at 8pm.
It is only 1½  miles up the road – a leisurely walk, some would say, but I had to push her as well as me.

We were seen, had blood samples taken, confirmed that there was no infection but no result on any blood clots.
Nurses (and doctors) have some type of perverse sense of humour – sense when it is as a joking matter to delight in stabbing a poor defenceless patient with sharp needles – even in the name of “just-in-case” – I’ll give them just-in-case.
I cannot show you a photo of the size of the massive bruising that resulted.

Hospitals - not my favourite of places

Diane was just as bad – smiling away demonically at the thought that she may be called upon to deliver more (if required) in the event of a blood clot – the smiling assassin.
We walked back to the boat (this time downhill) and arrived there about 12:15am with the need to be up in the morning to arrange for a scan and another trip up the hill.
So much for the short leisurely day – it was a long partly leisurely day (and night).

Morning came and it was farewell time again – both of the other crews were leaving – heading towards Teddington, Brentford and beyond – so hugs all around – then we were alone.
Bye to Mary H and crew - Linda, Muffin and Richard - see you soon

Another joyfull walk up to the hospital (seems like we here not so long ago), scan done, reviewed, leg prodded (with me yelping) and the good news was that all was OK – what do you mean OK? – well no infection, no breaks, no blood clots – just pain and bruising.
Another trip back to the boat – keep your leg raised and don’t do too much.
Oooh dear - look what's happened!!
At least over the last few weeks, Diane has taken on the role of checking the stern gland greaser and giving it a screw when she can – and checking on any water in the bilge.
Same day, she does her bit to ease my life by checking on this – “Dear, the container under the stern gland is getting full of water, I think you will need to empty it”.
“yep, and I will also need to repack the stern gland – if I tell you what to do, can you do it?”
The reply – “that’s a blue job”

So down into the engine bay to repack the stern gland – of course I could try and do it with my leg raised as requested but then I would need to do the job hanging by my ankles.
An hour later; job done – the overseer exhorted her approval and put away her whip (sadly no signs of leather or high heels).
Now we were at Friday – end of the week virtually – Diane had rung the pharmacy in Shepperton the day before – they had the script and she could pick up at about 5pm on Friday.
Hampton Court Bridge - majestic in profile.

Pretty much well photographed - but has just been revarnished - doubt that it
is Dave Gilmour there on the left giving it another coat

So off we were again early sticks – and made it to Shepperton by 10:30am but there were no spaces free at The Manor Moorings – next best we moved around to the moorings at Weybridge and plenty there so we stopped – very pleasant indeed.
The view from our mooring - around to the left is Shepperton Lock...

...but look at the Lockkeeper's cottage - sign me up for the job

We did a bit of a reconnoitre into Weybridge itself and upon return to the boat it was about time for Diane to take the ferry across the Thames (not the Mersey) and head up to the pharmacy – she had to be careful about the timing – the last ferry back was at 17:45 – if she missed it then a 2.9 mile walk.
Found these old gate posts when we walked into Weybridge - I have no history
on them but look pretty much like the entrance to the original estate.
I know someone will set me straight if I am wrong

Touch tennis courts in the Recreation Park in Weybridge.
Just a bit too small for the Murray clan.

Wonderment and she had returned by 16:30 – everything required in the bag.

It was a peaceful quiet night for us, not even a Happy Friday picture down at the pub – we needed a bit of rest and without a noisy pub next to us, that is exactly what we got.

What a lovely day Saturday started off and continued to be – practically full sunshine all day. We wandered into Walton-on-Thames (still a bit away from the river itself) for a change of scenery and decided to have a breakfast whilst there; a bit of shopping was completed (including the obligatory milk top-up) before returning.

Yes - that is where we are

This is for Paul and now Gordon 
We are not used to the sun shining as we were quite hot after the round trip and just needed to sit down and relax – maybe it is true that we are getting old.

With such a nice day unfolding, the idea of moving completely went out the window.

Eventually we made it to that nice and easy relaxed day!

12 Miles, 2 Locks
YTD:  420 Miles (676 km) , 273 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4215 Miles (6783 km), 2972 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Get-Togethers, Goodbyes and Good Luck

Thursday 7th July to Tuesday 12th July 2016

There had been some serious texting that had taken place the previous evening between Diane and Sue and others – a phone call being the final part of all of this – arrangements were being negotiated; travel times carefully worked out; watches were being synchronised.

All very military procedures worked out and an early dawn movement carried out.

All hush hush and on a need to know basis – which of course left Andy and I out of the loop – we didn’t need to know, we simply had to follow orders.

Shortly before 8am, it was engines started; fenders raised and ropes untied – we headed off – firstly a 180o manoeuvre to head downstream; one lock to stealth our way through.

The church at Marlowe..

Marlowe bridge

The restaurant "The Compleat Angler" in deference to the author of the book
- Izaak Walton (1594-1683) who was from Marlowe

saw these as we passed by and thought - not for me - an open window at night
and the sound of all that rushing water - I would be up all night

A bit quieter here but probably out of our price range

Letting the current take us, engines on virtual tickover to reduce the noise, we crept along until out prey was in sight.

Only trouble was that Diane had been texting to Carol on Still Rockin’ of our approach, so we had a welcoming party ready for us – we reached the objective 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Objective reached - Vic at the front checking out the invaders

George at the back making sure there are enough fenders

Festina Lente breasted up to Sue and Vic (No Problem XL) and ourselves with Carol and George.

It was a lovely get together, be it a bit early for some but with the sun trying to get through the early morning cloud cover, it was starting to get a little bit of warmth in the air.

Still Rockin’ would be moving off this morning and this would be probably our only chance to see them for a while, as well as Sue and Vic; we had never moored near here before, so Diane and George had spoken the previous evening about us taking their spot.

Anyway, it didn’t take long for an inspection tour of No Problem XL; for the kettle to be put on; and for the welsh cakes and biscuits to come out – we all gathered on the aft deck of Still Rockin’.
A little later nb Holderness (Tony and Helen) were approaching – a quick U-turn from them and they managed to moor up at the back – the cruiser had just left.
So the numbers swelled to 11 – if only we had a set of stumps and a bat and ball.
from left Carol (with Molly), Tony, Helen, Andy, Sue, George, Vic, Sue (other Sue), Diane and Betty
I have said it before, but it is get-togethers such as this that stick in your mind and make this wonderful life even more fulfilling.

But all good things must end – Helen and Tony were off and not long after so were Carol and George.

FL pulled in at the back – us at the front – Sue and Vic were staying an extra day to get things delivered and some things seen to on their boat.

By this stage it was approaching lunch time so a visit to the pub was not out of order – enjoyed lunch, sitting outside in the sunshine; the girls decided to walk into town afterwards and we all got together later on.
Lunch time and out on the deck at The Spade Oak

Coffee time!!

The following morning Diane and I took a stroll into town so that she could show me the place – I think the idea of fresh pastries had also crossed her mind.

After our return to the boat, everyone was awake and we thought it appropriate to head off about then as well, so goodbyes all around and both FL and Ferndale headed downstream – what a lovely time the previous 24 hours had been.

FL were ahead of us, as we had stopped for water – they found moorings at Dorney Lake – the site of the rowing events for the 2012 Olympics – in fact very good moorings.
There seemed to have been some kind of corporate events day on at the site – involving physical activities – the last being running – we caught the end of it.
Diane and I strolled around the lake in its entirety – Sue, Andy and Sue’s mum Betty returned to FL.
At Dorney Park - the sculpture at the back is a sun-dial - though we
couldn't see any results on this cloudy day.

It's a bloody long way to the finish line at the other end

It is quite a way around the course – up and back as well as the extras – about 5km in total.
Later on we sat outside to just simply enjoy the day – I think it was mainly tea that we were drinking but whatever it was we did just relish the chance to relax.

Next day we separated, Sue, Betty and Andy would be stopping in Windsor whilst we would head further along heading for Staines – again we hadn’t been there before so another place to see, that we would not otherwise have visited.
Windsor Castle - very majestic rising above the river..

...perhaps less so, from the other side...

...still for me, I would take this little cottage - private moorings and all
Down the way we came across the flotilla of Dunkirk boats making their way up to Windsor for a day of boat trips for people at a well-to-do function. Next week they would be heading to Henley for another gathering of vintage boats

Not in the same class at those above, this dragon boat and crew were out
for a bit of practice

The moorings outside the Slug and Lettuce were recommended to us and as they were free we took one.
As a public service advice notice - this is not the way to attach mooring lines - all lines should ALL be around the bollards -
but here in Staines it was the accepted mooring technique as we saw cruiser after cruiser adopting the same method.
Would have loved to have seen the effect if the fence had been not quite so stable.

Along the Thames, Staines would be seen as another typical late-developing town – there may have once been some sites worthy of note but these (if they were ever there) have either disappeared or been forgotten – it is a town like many others around the country – at least we got some shopping done and free coffee (Waitrose) – a market of sorts in the centre.

Although the moorings had been recommended, we had forgotten that we were there on a Saturday and that S and L whilst a nice place to eat, it is a late-closer (1am) – so we had a much-interrupted sleep – not helped by some idiot who jumped on the roof and back off again.
We then stayed up until the patrons had all left – the lights being on in the boat deterred any others from our boat, but we saw other boats further along receive similar treatment from guys with too much alcohol in them and too little sense.
The bad behaviour was not restricted to the guys, with one woman (could not call her a lady) deciding that she needed to pee – so with knickers around her ankles and dress hitched up around her waist she did her business – her friends helping her re-dress and support her intoxicated body – not a nice enduring memory of Staines – sort of lived up to it’s name.

Not really wishing to stay any longer we were off again, this time making for Shepperton; along with Dot and Gordon (nb Ewn Ha Cul) we had booked to cruise along the Basingstoke.

D and G had indicated to us that there were some good moorings at Shepperton around the side of the original course of the river – before the Desborough Cut was made.
Of course, they are desirable moorings and a bit confusing – we worked it all out and managed through luck to grab the last mooring in the correct location (some of the length is NO MOORING and some 24 hours).
With no-one else moving and both Ewn Ha Cul and Festina Lente fast approaching there was only one option – they both breasted up – fortunately we were on rings and therefore no problems with any pins loosening overnight.
Three boats breasted up - we were still less wide than the two large
cruisers that were here earlier

enjoying Dot's famous pasties - at least Andy was smiling

Adding more glitter and glam to the boat was this dragonfly
courtesy of Dot's skills - thanks Dot and worth every penny

I am not going to repeat Diane's title to this picture which she
put on Facebook - which referred to the uppermost character
Trouble x 5 and there is Gordon the chief mischief maker at the back

Diane made arrangements with the Boots chemist to accept a prescription; made arrangements with her surgery to send it to Shepperton; we walked around the area; sat outside and enjoyed some more tea/coffee/red wine/cider – decided that we would spend an extra day – afterall we were the last to arrive – had to adjourn to FL to escape the rain for another get together.

Part of Diane’s aforementioned arrangements included posting a letter to the surgery – I of course “got volunteered” to go up and post it – but I was especially touched that Andy and Gordon thought that they should act as escorts/guards on my sacred duty – so we headed off at about 6pm on our entrusted mission.
This walking to the postbox and guarding work can become quite thirsty work so naturally we had to stop along the way back to take on refreshments – but I suspect that the girls knew what we were up to – can’t get anything past them.

On the Sunday we had received word that there were problems on the Basingstoke and a call on Monday morning confirmed that the locks at Brookwood were out of action – with no guarantees of when they would be fixed (despite some not-too-confident reassurances that it would be only a couple of days) we reluctantly cancelled our passages and received a full refund. The main problem for us was that with a non-refundable passage along the Wey we could end up just doing a few miles on the Basingstoke and need to return without seeing the canal in its full splendour.

Early mornings have become the usual for all of us now and Tuesday was no different – we untied from everyone else and were away about 8am – but not before there was much hugging and kissing (and that was just the guys) – FL were heading west again – we were heading east.

Down through two locks and a few miles – our new objective were the moorings outside Hampton Court Palace – these are also much sought after – imagine our surprise when we found a huge choice of where we could moor up – so we did.

One other reason for the early start was that there was a reasonable chance of rain (and not the light stuff either) – weather predictions were spot on – just as we headed out for a walk, it came down – luckily Diane has been known to have an umbrella or two on her person.
We had already been to the Palace so it was other things that we wished to do.
This precipitation wouldn’t stop us from crossing the bridge and have a bit of a wander around East Molesey for a bit.

Wet days are not to be sneezed at – they are meant to be enjoyed in a different way – and walking in the light rain (as it had now become) without it being cold was equally enjoyable to a lot of other things we could have been doing.

It is still nice to return to the dryness of the boat and the relative warmth (i.e. without the wind) – but we had had a lovely couple of hours and just doing not much at all.

The moorings here are free for the first 24 hours – so tomorrow it would be another day of cruising – but the plans were for a short day.

32 Miles, 13 Locks
YTD:  408 Miles (653 km) , 271 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4157 Miles (6651 km), 2970 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges