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

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