Thursday, 30 June 2011

Just one of those weeks...

After a 7.30am start we got to Reading Tesco moorings for 9am & by 10am I was collecting my repeat prescription from the Post Office, so far so good  but when I got to Boots I found a problem with the script as one of my regular meds wasn't on the list & I had taken my last tablet in the morning ( cutting it fine, I know!).  I went to the NHS walk in centre as  recommended by the pharmacist & an appointment was made for me to return in the afternoon to see a doctor. 
As I walked back to the boat it was fast becoming a very warm day, the sort of humid, sticky warm that leaves you drained so by the time I had returned to town to see the doc for another script & walked back to the boat again I'd had enough & we decided to stay put.
A very warm & uncomfortable night followed & Mark was woken at 4am by the sound of someone trying to steal his bike. Bleary eyed we got off at 9am & 1st stop was Better Boating for some diesel & a gas bottle.
 We plodded on downstream, next stop was the service point at Shiplake, no sooner had we put the hose in the tank than a boat ( plastic 'norfolk broads cruiser' type) pulled up, a woman jumped off & paced up & down the pontoon outside our boat. She spotted Mark & asked if we'd be long " err, we've just started to fill up" so she hovered.... the hose was one of these big bore jobs, like a fire hose & it doesn't take long, maybe 20 mins, I passed her the hose, she put it in her tank, we untied ready to move up to the lock & with that she was putting the hose away!! She can't have put more than a few litres in,  words fail...
 As we cruised through Henley preparations were in full swing for the
 Regatta which started yesterday
                               Temple Island which is at the end of the nearly 2 mile course
A rather small waterfront property for these parts but I liked it.
I think there where 7 boats neatly fitted in Hambleden lock, us the only narrow boat among the sea of plastic. The sky had began to darken & as we waited for the lock to empty we had a cracking thunderstorm which certainly freshened things up a bit. 
We found a spot to moor on the Westfield Farm Moorings & tied up in the rain. £5 a night but we'd had enough for the day so it seemed worth it.

Yesterday we moved off at 8.30am, no real aim in view ( apart from free moorings!) 
Marlow Bridge, we pulled over to the visitor moorings & walked the short distance into the very pleasant town for a paper & a coffee in Costa.

As we approached Maidenhead there was a long line of  visitor moorings with lots of space so we pulled over but only stayed long enough for lunch as a road runs adjacent to the river & it was quite noisy so onward. We spotted the next visitor moorings just through the railway bridge but the only vacant spot was right next to the bridge, noisy again... we eventually found a rural spot just before Bray lock, needed to squeeze in between a couple of bushes but it was okay & apart from being under a (Heathrow's?) flight path nice & quiet. 

So all okay until Mark ran the engine at 8pm ( yes I know, but no-one else anywhere near!) for half an hour, when he turned it off the battery alarm stayed on, loudly shrieking & there was a smell of burning. So what to do? Mark's having a look & I'm trying to ring River Canal Rescue, after all that's what we've been paying for these last 3 years, time to ask for help but no-one answered the phone, I tried different numbers but no joy, I put a message on the Canal World Forum  to see if anyone had any ideas but everyone had the same telephone numbers. 
As it was getting dark eventually Mark managed to get the wires out of the back of the battery alarm & the noise thankfully stopped. I had turned my net book off at 10pm to conserve power & when I logged on to CWF this morning I had had  a message last night to say that RCR were aware of the phone problem.
When I rang them at 8am they explained that they'd had a glitch in their system so when they switched to out of hours emergency calls it hadn't worked. Steve, an CWF member also works for RCR, spotted my post & alerted RCR so not long after I'd given up & turned off their phones were on again. 
Anyway one thing that Mark had figured was that our starter battery was the cause of the problem & had connected a leisure battery as a starter & we could start the engine so we moved back to Maidenhead after breakfast to make it easier for the RCR engineer to get to us.

 Aaron arrived before lunch, took him a while to figure out how the battery alarm could still sound when the isolators were off, he thinks that 2 plates in the battery collided & that somehow caused reverse polarity, he gave some reason for the burning smell  & then he lost me !! But he put everything back together & pronounced us safe, we just need to get a new starter battery asap. 

The other fun thing that happened today was we discovered an infestation of earwigs!! We had noticed a few more than usual but I whilst waiting for RCR this morning I decided to clean the windows so I got my bucket etc & went to roll up the side of the cratch when I spotted some of the beasties & when I looked in the nooks & cranny's they were everywhere, so the cratch was off & flung on the grass, the dodger was off the back as we found more hiding in there. There must have been hundreds. A quick Google about the life cycle of the earwig & it would seem that the females had been there all winter hibernating with their eggs which have probably hatched in the spring. I know they are harmless & don't bite or sting but still, ugh!  Anyway every corner has been poked & swept, I even broke my trusty fly swat getting rid of them.

So once all was back to normal I left Mark on the sofa ( he's got a sore knee, bless) & walked into town for a few bits & bobs including a new fly swat from Robert Dyas ( I do like that shop)
We are stopping on the £8 a night moorings tonight but as yet no-one has been for the fee ;-)

Sunday, 26 June 2011


We managed to find a spot on the Tesco moorings in Reading on Thursday but only stayed long enough to do a grocery shop & admire the gardening skills on this interesting vessel moored across from Tesco.
  Onward then on to find a spot for the weekend, preferring to be out in the countryside we eschewed the moorings in Sonning itself & found a spot about a mile further on.
The bank's a bit high & uneven, it's the 1st time we've deployed our gangplank 
garden shears have been put on the shopping list ;)

 Sid enjoying lying in wait for flies in the long grass

The weather has been iffy with some showers until today when it seemed to remember that it's summer & it's been a scorcher.  Mark walked to Woodley this morning to get the paper, watched the Grand Prix & some Glastonbury stuff interspersed with soaking up some sun, but it was too hot for me so  I've spent the day sat on the back in the shade watching the world go by.

 It's been a busy Sunday on the Thames  with all sorts of boats out & about. 
Apart from the endless procession of gin palaces I also spotted...
this elegant launch..

  a steam driven one..                           
& an interesting older boat 
or two.
We need to back track tomorrow as I am hoping a prescription will be waiting for me at Reading Post Office, so we shall do an about turn & hope to get a spot on the Tesco moorings.
 From there we can walk into town, get the prescription picked up & filled, return  to Tesco for a food shop & then off downstream again to use the services at Shiplake, that's the plan anyway....

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

 A later start yesterday at 9.45am & much shorter cruise of just an hour.
The imposing Gatehampton Railway Bridge built by Brunel, it's looking in need of some TLC.

 Last nights mooring at Beale Park
Yes we are facing upstream as we'd passed this spot & turned round to moor up, no problem on these wide waters.It was a lovely spot, we saw kingfishers, great crested grebes & plenty of red kites, unfortunately I didn't manage any decent photos.
Sid loved it, dashing about chasing flies & hiding in the long grass, he is getting better off the lead now & doesn't stray far from the boat. 
This morning we weren't in a rush to get off, Mark had gone for a run & I was having a bit of tidy up so I let Sid out for a while, when I went out to check on him I spotted a red kite circling just above the mooring  it looked like it was very interested in Sid & was so close I could have had a great photo but of course the camera wasn't handy. Sid was brought indoors fairly swiftly much to his disgust. Not sure whether it would have taken a cat but better safe than sorry.

By the time I'd finished my chores & Mark was back from his run it was raining, it was 12 o'clock when we finally made a move as it seemed to be easing, we left the back cover on, just taking the sides off... 

 for which we had reason to be thankful as within minutes the heavens well & truly opened!

This great crested grebe didn't seem to mind the rain.

Thankfully at Whitchurch lock the lock keeper was on duty, armed with a brolly as the rain was hammering down. We stopped just south of the lock on Pangbourne Meadow moorings  & got a bit wet tying up, half a hour later the sun was out & it's been a lovely afternoon.
Tomorrow we shall head for Reading, hoping to be able to stop at the Tesco moorings to get the weekend shopping & then probably potter along till we see a spot we like & that has a TV signal.

Monday, 20 June 2011


 We decided not to bother going back up through the lock for water this morning assuming we would pass a water point at some point today, which we did... eventually.
An early start at 6.45am and for the first time we cruised with the back cover up, 1. because it was a bit chilly & 2. because we could, with no low bridges to go under but as the sun warmed the day up we soon took it down again to enjoy the sunshine.

           We did go a bit faster just for a few minutes but we soon dropped back to 3-4mph, 
our engine seems happier just plodding along.

 Elegant bridge at Shillingford

Waiting for high tide?

lots of boat houses, smart..
 & humble
We filled our 25lt water container at Culham Lock (no hoses allowed) in case we found an overnight mooring before we could fill the tank. As usual we had no definite plan of when or were we would stop but I did want to stop off at Wallingford to call into the hardware shop so of course the moorings were full. So we carried on, enjoying the river & the scenery having lunch on the move. I spotted quite a few red kites circling above us but failed to get a decent photo.
On arriving at Cleeve Lock we spotted a water point just before the lock so we now have a full tank. Through Goring Lock we found some space on the 24hr moorings & as it was 1.45pm we decided to call it a day. We may only just potter along but I was surprised to see we had done 19 miles ( & 7 locks but as they are either done by the lockies or if on self service, just push button so no real effort involved) in 7 hours.
After mooring up we walked up to the village shop for the Guardian & some ice creams then not long after we got back on board the rain started, good timing....

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A Wet & Windy Abingdon

Tuesday dawned sunny & warm as forecasted & we had a very pleasant cruise down the Thames. It did feel strange to be on wide deep water after a year on the canal system but we were still happy to trundle along, rarely going faster than 3.5 - 4 mph.
The other difference we have noticed is the locks, well not the locks themselves as they are very similar to the big locks on the Aire & Calder that we are well used to, no, the few we have been through up to press are all immaculate & most have well tended gardens to boot. 

Iffley Lock garden.
We had no firm plan as to where we would moor up so as we came down through Abingdon Lock & saw the welcoming sight of a long bank of firm edged moorings with plenty of space we wasted no time in getting settled in. 

Poppy moored in Abingdon, the weir in the background.

Turns out that they are 5 day moorings & free,  Abingdon seems to welcome boaters.
We arrived in warm sunshine but it wasn't to last, the rest of the week has been showery & windy so no BBQ this week. Abingdon has shops aplenty & from our spot we can walk into town via the bridge or the scenic route, across the lock & the weir then through the abbey gardens.

                                       baby coots in the Abbey Stream, not pretty are they!!

Even though the weather has been poor we've had plenty to entertain us, from watching the kayakers practising for white water conditions under the weir to checking out the gin palaces  & Mark doesn't have to keep muttering about us banging about as they whizz past because we don't! 

Our 5 days are up so tomorrow it's time to move on, we shall turn round ( no winding hole needed as nice & wide here) to go back up through the lock to fill up the water tank & empty the loo's before coming back down. Again we have no plan & shall just potter along though the weather may play some part as to when we stop as rain is due midday(ish). 

Monday, 13 June 2011


After spending the last few days at Thrupp this morning it was time to move on & thanks to an early wake up call from Sid we were at the service point by 6.30am this morning. It was misty & grey, a hangover from yesterdays downpour, it gradually cleared but not before a last short shower. 7 miles, 2 lift bridges ( bridge 233 was a pig, I just couldn't pull it up so Mark had to do it whilst I steered for a change) & 5 locks & we are finally on the Thames, just. 

Poppy waiting for Isis lock to fill.

We found a spot on the moorings just below Osney Bridge & I walked up to Osney Lock & parted with £150 in exchange for a months visitor permit. 
By now it was lunch time so we walked into town & had a bite to eat but gosh it was busy & noisy! All a bit much really when you're used to the peace of the canals, so we didn't hang about   (being tired after our early morning didn't help!) we found a Sainsburys,  picked up a few necessities then back to the boat.
 After a bit of a sit down with the paper & a cup of tea I dragged Mark to Wickes as I have been doing a bit of decorating/remodelling & wanted some stuff. The bathroom has been painted  & the side hatch has annoyed me for ages as the wood trim was fitted badly so we have bought some new wood to redo it. Watch this space....
Blue skies now & with  more sunshine promised for tomorrow we are looking forward to our 1st  days cruising on the river

Sunday, 5 June 2011


It's a couple of weeks since the last post as I've been off  visiting family in Scarborough & then Eric has been to stay on board for half term. 
Whilst in Scarborough we went to visit Forbidden Corner near Middleham up in North Yorkshire &  Rob,Nicky & kids drove up from Hull to meet us there. The grandkids love it & the adults don't mind it! If you ever get the chance to visit it's well worthwhile.

A few words to guide you through the labyrinth
some of the clan
 Rob explaining the finer points of something to Fin
& some good views of the Dales

 Scarborough harbour,no Narrow boats here!

Once back in Banbury with Eric we spent the week cruising down to Kirtlington & back. The weather behaved itself & we had some good overnight moorings.
 One night was spent at the old quarry at Kirtlington which is now an SSSI.  It doesn't look much from the canal but worth going for an explore although we didn't find any fossils. We also explored the lovely village, very 'Miss Marple' & found the village shop for an ice cream. 

  Wild strawberries from the old quarry, small but sweet & tasty
 Yours truly waiting for 'Poppy' at Aynho Weir lock
  Eric waiting for Somerton Deep Lock to empty
 'Poppy' in the lock & yes it is deep...

 Bridge 193, most of the lift bridges were open but not this one,
 needs a BW key & a strong arm or two.
 Relaxing with a great view just past Bridge 193
No trees or roads so Sid off the lead, but all he really wanted to do was hide in the long grass.
On Friday we stopped off at Upper Heyford, we fancied an ice cream & decided to find the village shop which is signed from the bridge, only I didn't look properly so Eric & I walked right through the village & back to find the the village store is at the boatyard.... oh well, anyway when we got back to the boat we met fellow blogger Maffi who's been at this blogging lark a lot longer the me. It was nice to have a natter & put a face to the name.

Eric has returned home today ready for school ( & exams ) tomorrow. It's very quiet!  We shall move tomorrow up through Banbury to the 14 day spot between the railway & the motorway taking advantage of the service point as we go past.  Not an ideal spot but it will do while I catch up on the laundry etc & then we will wind, come back though Banbury, use the services again, stop off at Morrison's to restock the cupboards then it's south to Oxford & the Thames which I am really looking forward to.