The last few days have been lovely again, but the mornings are definately autumnal.
We stayed at Poplar Eyot on Monday and took advantage of the free mooring and did some internal housework. Don’t know how it gets so dusty inside! I also ordered a car to take us and our stuff back to Cornwall in November. It has been overcast all day, so doing housework seemed the sensible thing to do.
Tuesday 21st August and we moved back to Sonning for one night. We had to negotiate Shiplake lock along the way. As it was before 9am it was self service at the lock. All started well but as the mechanical procedure started to lift the sluices it all cut out. The only option now was to use the wheel to do the work. We had done this before at Marsh lock and it wasn’t any easier this time (and I hadn’t even had my weetabix by this point either). Two boats were coming down so between us all we shared the opening and closing of the lock gates. Sanitary station after so stopped to do the business and fill up with water. Sonning lock was manned by the time we got there so nothing for us to do except secure the lines. I had a walk along the towpath and the little tree pixie house had been virtually destroyed. The toadstools had gone, the ivy round the door had gone and the door had been damaged. Why do people do this? I really don’t understand their mentality. It was a wonder the pixie doorknocker was still there. Such a shame.
Wednesday 23rd August and we were up early again to move toward Reading. We managed to get in at the Tesco mooring and I set off with the trolley to get a few supplies until we can find somewhere suitable for a Sainsbury delivery. On my return I was greeted with “we are not stopping here”. A boat moored opposite had started it’s bongo drums music and it was only 10.30!
Off again and through Caversham lock. The moorings by the park were virtually empty and we were tempted to stop to explore Reading, but it was the weekend of the Reading music festival, where apparently 100,000 visitors were expected to attend. It was only Wednesday and things were getting busy already.
The area of the festival stretches all along the riverbank and even on the other side where camping was apparent. So we moved along hoping to get in at Mapledurham; but no there were many boats moored and the spaces that were available were too shallow for us and our days of leaping are over.
We ended up at Pangbourne on their 24hr moorings. I did ring the council number to ask if longer was an option but at the moment it is under consultation. I think we surprised a cruiser crew though when we offered them to breast up; they declined the offer but said we were the first narrowboat to ever make such an offer! Well done us. We walked into Pangbourne to the Co-op there and purchased more jars of our favourite olives so now have a small stash. The sunset in the evening was spectacular.
Thursday 24th August and off again this time stopping at Beale park. There are signs stating 24hrs free so we moored up. There was already a dutchbarge moored further up that we had shared a lock with 2 days before so they were obviously not taking any notice of the sign. We walked Izzy along and found a place to moor further along in open farmland with no signs at all. At least our conscience will be clear.
Weather getting warmer again and sunnier, and Friday 25th August we did an early morning shuffle to our chosen mooring spot. Being B/H weekend we usually stay somewhere quiet if we can to avoid the hustle and bustle that usually occurs. We also have our friends coming on the 31st August, so wanted to hold back from the Wallingford area if we could. Lovely spot.
We walked into Beale park for a look round. I had taken Izzy for a long walk in the morning and found someone’s fishing permit; so after investigating the fishing club’s website found a phone number. After speaking with a chap it was decided I could leave the aforementioned fishing permit at the reception area at the park. Good deed done for the day!!
Beale park was opened in 1956 being the inspiration of Gilbert Beale. He had a passion for peacocks and had 300 of them. They still roam the park today (maybe not the same ones though). The park covers over 300 acres and was originally farm land. It was established as a charitable trust, and the bird collection includes owls, parrots, and exotic wildfowl. It also has a collection of small mammals and it houses the National collection of model boats. It also has a kiddies swimming pool and play area so was very busy around this area. Gilbert Beale died in 1967 aged 99yrs. There is a charge for entry but it is reasonable and it gives you a short train ride on the park’s train. Some pictures follow of our visit.
We took out a mortgage for a coffee and muffin to keep us going till we got back to the boat.
Saturday 26th August and it is our son’s birthday, so we surprised him with a video link via FB. Another sunny and hot day. I didn’t choose the right day for the oven being on, but I managed to make a cheesecake (using up some soft out of date ginger biscuits for the base, a small amount of soft cheese that I had left over, and 3 flat peaches); homemade pizza; gingerbread and a small loaf. Quite satisfying to get things done in my small oven.
Today sunny and hot, mornings are still misty.
Decision time as to whether to move forward or back to the elsan point before our visitors arrive. We are planning a move tomorrow, but I think Charlie wants to go forward to check out moorings for next weekend.