Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Dark Shadows, catastrophe and heritage trails

Monday 27th June to Wednesday 6th July 2016

We hung on in Thrupp for one more day before finally heading off early on Tuesday morning down to Oxford to moor up in Jericho; Sue and Andy veered off at Dukes Cut to head west on the Thames; Dot and Gordon carried onto Jericho where both boats moored up – there were what you might call “plenty of moorings for this area” and thus we had no problems.

We had seen most of the stuff in Oxford but still managed to while away a couple of hours before getting a message from Dot and Gordon– “fancy a drink” in Bookbinders – “hell yeah”.

A couple of bottles of red went down rather well before we walked back to the boats.

Just a late afternoon drink - Gordon was up for it!

Not long after, catastrophe hit – just simply wanting a cup of tea, the kettle was taking a bit of time to boil and would never have done so as we found out.
I had changed over the gas bottles just a day earlier, but we were out of gas – I can only blame myself for not tightening the connection fully – no chance of purchasing new bottles until the next morning.
Gordon came to the rescue loaning us their spare bottle for the evening; following morning we returned it; moved the boat down to the East Street mooring and strolled down to the Calor Gas Centre just a few hundred metres away and bought two new bottles – just £52 – back on board they were properly installed and we were literally “cooking with gas”.

First lock of the day - self service - the cruiser behind us was game coming in with us

Wednesday and we were ready to head off early; just waited got Dot and Gordon to come down through Isis Lock and then we headed off; we caught up with Andy and Sue who the previous day had about-faced and made back towards Oxford on the Thames but with no moorings until Sandford Lock had to settle for that.
Caught sight of and said hello to Tony (alias Peter) and Helen on nb Holderness who had moored there also – Diane had been reading their blog and knew they were around.
The three boats continued down to Abingdon where we moored up; Festina Lente morred behind us and Ewn Ha Cul carried on to Day’s Lock.

We had stopped at Abingdon last year but I had not been able to have a good look around and Diane liked the town so we thought that this was a good place to stop and with pleasant mooring it was an easy choice to make.
A bit of shopping and a bit of walking and we were largely satisfied; perhaps another day to just relax and enjoy the open space that we had been afforded would have been nice, but we do have a bit of a schedule (yet again!).
So it was onto Day’s Lock where it seemed that a great gathering of boats had occurred – well at least enough to make sure that the available mooring spots were all taken, but never to worry we breasted up next to Ewn Ha Cul and were behind Richard and Sharon (nb Oakapple).
We were being shadowed now as Holderness appeared from out of the sun (well just from the west) – they ventured through the lock to find a mooring spot below – hopefully.
Again, last year I had missed the walk into Dorchester; Dot wanted to see the archeological dig (in the middle of the allotments – probably likely to find an ancient carrot and cabbage as much as anything else).
The archeological dig - or is it just that the potatoes are ready for picking

Morning view...

...evening view

It was a lengthy walk into the town, but essentially it was well worth it – it has been the scenery used for many films and TV  shows – most notably Midsomer Murders – a visit to the church and to the museum and it would also have been an afternoon tea but the cafĂ© wasn’t open - as a very last resort we opted for a drink in the pub – oh well, the sacrifice was worth it.
During this touristy bit we were surrounded by Tony and Helen – the dark shadows had found us – so the total for a drink now rose to 8.

from left, me, Richard, Sharon, Dot, Helen and Tony (at the back), Gordon and Diane
(at the front)

We knew they would be and it passed to be that they are a lovely couple with a good sense of humour – despite being from Hull, but we won’t hold it against them, just that Hull is in Yorkshire (sorry Jim and Joan!!)

Back to the boats; there was a bit of a gathering on the bank but the lack of any warmth and some tiredness necessitated a retreat back.

Earlyish (well very early - before 6am) next morning we cast off and the two boats headed further on – Ferndale and Ewn Ha Cul – we stopped at Beal Park; D and G carried on further – we had wanted to moor here to have a look at Basildon Park, which according to my lovely (distance-challenged) wife, was just a short walk away.
After jumping fences to avoid the road without a footpath and then hiking half the length of the A329 we found the entrance – it was then just a matter of an uphill climb to challenge the Tour de France climbers – we made it and luckily the air ambulance people were on standby with the oxygen tent already set up.

Despite the trek it was a particularly lovely property to look through – a property that has had a bit of a sad and abused history until a couple bought it back in the early 1950’s and saved it from ruin – restoring it to its appropriate grandeur.

Passed by Seyella in Wallingford - pretty well sure that they would have moved on by now

The entrance - found it after miles of trekking...

...but the house was well worth the effort

This is the Shell Room - just for Elaine

Going down the hill was much easier and the boat was just where we had left – thankfully!

Cruising along the Thames in the early morning is such a delight - just something that needs to be experienced..

We had said to ourselves that we would like to moor in places that we had not stayed previously and until this point we had achieved exactly no new places; now we would have a chance to see something new – and where do you think we picked – lovely Reading – some very lovely moorings well above Caversham bridge where we had stayed last year had become non-mooring sites – due to the lobbying of the well-heeled snobs across the river who had tired of seeing boaters getting to stay for free.

This was the early picture just down from the lock that Diane operated - the gate on
the right is where she would need to come through to get back on the boat.
Unfortunately I didn't get a photo, but moments later these cows all crowded around the gate,
and poor Diane couldn't get through - her "fear" of cows didn't help either.
The faint cries of "help" could be heard and after tying the boat, there was a little bit of
hand-clapping to move them all away.

Anyway we decided that the environs closer to the bridge would be just as nice – and they would have been had it not been few hundred geese and swans that inhabited the area – it was not that they were particularly noisy (only at about 4:30am) but it was the extraordinary amount of shit that they left behind after stuffing themselves all day.
Still we spent a couple of days there (we cleared a path through it all from the boat to the footpath) – we explored Reading a bit; found where D and G moored in the town and had a few drinks with them; of course, we found the Waitrose for the free coffee and as our visit also covered a Monday, Diane was quickly onto having lunch at the Slug and Lettuce.
Overall it was a pleasant experience.

The Kennett - going through Reading...

...and the old castle - now off-limits due to unstable stonework

We met a lovely lady from nb Lunas – Evelyn (cannot remember her husband’s name – sorry about that) – well when I say met, she rapped on the side of the boat and after a brief chat with Diane, very politely said that I needed to get a hurry up and get the blog up to date – how could I refuse? I wasn’t game to argue with her – she was about 2 feet shorter but I am sure she would have pummelled me.
So now I am getting it done.

Managed to spot this fellow at one of the locks...

...before he flew off

...and these guys waiting to be fed breakfast

The moorings were only for 48 hours so we needed to move, this time heading towards Hambledon Lock moorings – downstream from Henley.
Unfortunately Diane was talking to someone at one of the locks who told her that Elton John would be there in concert the following night – that was it, we had to find moorings in Henley and she would find a spot somewhere where she could listen to the concert.
I gently pointed out that Wales were playing that night also – which would she do?
At that point in time, Wales could wait.

Well we found a mooring spot, just up from Ewn Ha Cul, with Festina Lente a few more boats closer to town – yes we were all back together.

A little excitement in Henley, as though regattas were not enough; the Argentinian Steakhouse was obviously doing too many steaks much too well done - a fire broke out in the back area and all patrons were safely evacuated as well as the staff - also every other shop, cafe and restaurant for 50 metres in every direction

We managed to find a heritage trail to find out a bit more about the town; Gordon and Andy decided to do a heritage trail of their own – the history of some of the pubs in the town – so absorbed in the historical facts of these establishments, we found them just in time to direct them back to the boats – not inebriated, but they would have been happy to continue.

The girls at play on their favourite tree...

...and this - if only!

As it turned out the concept of listening to the concert lost it’s appeal and all three boats moved off the following day – Ewn Ha Cul went on and on and on; we opted for the free mooring above the lock at Marlowe and FL were able to drop in just in front of us.
We had definitely not been here before – apparently Steve Redgrave was born here.
Again, another heritage trail to follow here – these are very informative and free of charge – just book with Diane (you also have to moor in the same town as us as well!)

Part of the exclusive heritage trail tour

I understand that he is giant of a man in rowing circles, but
Marlowe favourite son - Steve Redgrave - has a slightly
larger than life statue.

Here we stayed for the night – very quiet and very peaceful – but sadly it was not a hoped-for win to Wales in the semi-final, but they have done very very well indeed!!

Just a photo of what appears to be a pretty normal post box - much the same as
you would see anywhere in the country ...

...not sure that the collections would be likely to be too regular - certainly it
would be difficult to post and collect

61 Miles, 29 Locks, 4 Lift Bridges
YTD:  376 Miles (602 km) , 258 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4125 Miles (6600 km), 2957 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

1 comment:

  1. It's not a Castle in Reading but an Abbey that was knocked about by Henry 8.