Summer has returned

The last few days have been lovely again, but the mornings are definately autumnal.

early morning mist

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!

boats moored opposite Tesco Reading

I don’t know why but this one reminded me of the pirates of the caribbean. Room for lots of bongo drums

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.

Reading festival anyone?

Queue’s already forming. Security looked busy as they were checking everyone’s bags before entry.

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.

autumnal trees

mother and baby for my friend Amanda

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.

evening sunset at Pangbourne

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.

view from our mooring

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.

meeting Buddha

lovely gardens

stone monkeys

beautiful dahlia’s

slowcoach

basking in the sun

mum and baby

meerkat on duty

a spitfire that had been in Cornwall till 2 years ago.

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.

morning mist

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.

Sonning to Henley on Thames

We are having a quiet Sunday so as I have lots of pictures since the last blog thought I would do another one.

We had a relaxing 3 days at Sonning. We had a good walk with Izzy to the outskirts of Reading in the morning of Friday 18th August, and saw this little gem on the way.

nobody was at home

Just hope this stays intact and nobody vandalises it. Chatting to some locals though it transpires that Uri Gellar left a bent spoon sculpture at Sonning before he left, but the locals didn’t like it and had it taken down.

Sonning church

dutch barges are very popular on the Thames

I had a walk at lunchtime with Izzy to the lock as the sky was looking dark and ominous. I spied a small boat flying the St Piran’s flag in the lock and called out asking where they came from. To my surprise they answered Roche! Small world. She told me to have a pasty when we got back, but I said we weren’t going back till November; but we will definately have one then.

I just got back to the boat when the heavens opened and we had a thunderstorm and heavy rain. This carried on for about an hour.

Saturday 19th August and we were on the move nice and early. The lock keepers don’t start till 9am so we did the lock on our own. Easy to do as there are instructions and they are electric.

leaving Sonning lock 

We carried on to Shiplake lock as there was a  sanitary station there and once dealt with we carried on. I was just about to turn the lock in our favour when we spied a boat coming up, so we waited for them. It was the hotel boat Tranquil Rose who we had seen before on the K&A.

Hotel boat Tranquil Rose entering the lock

and in the lock

I worked the mechanism for them. They were heading for Reading for the pump out as the one at Shiplake was broken; but they were then turning and going back toward Kingston with their guests.

Thames views

Thames houses with river frontage. Dread to think the cost and upkeep of these.

interesting boat

We decided to head for Henley and take some photos; we didn’t want to venture too far downstream as we had to get back toward Wallingford for the end of the month. The plan was to take photo’s turn round and head back. As we entered Henley I spied some moorings and told Charlie to pull in, but he carried on! We ended up on the regatta moorings. Now this weekend there was a Rewind festival of 80’s music that we had been told about but temporarily had forgotten. It was further downstream but multitudes of people were walking down the path to it, and many ferry boats were up and down all day taking people to it also. We were bumping up and down like never before. We decided to stay one night only at £10 a night. We had a brief walk into Henley for a few supplies and the town was also very busy.

entering Henley

Angel pub before Henley Bridge

another desirable “des res”

We had a quiet afternoon on the stern deck watching all the boats go up and down. Opposite us was  the Phyllis Court Club and there was a wedding going on.

I spied the bride

and the bridesmaids

the wedding venue

amphibious car

Off again early this morning. I mentioned to Charlie about stopping at the town council moorings but he had other plans. We shared Marsh lock with a cruiser, and had to work it manually as the electric had been turned off to stop the festival goers fiddling with the lock (so we were told). I managed a few more early morning shots of Henley along the way.

Henley views

18th century Henley bridge

carving of Thames

and Isis on the bridge

steamer

another smart residence after Marsh lock

We were pulled up and moored by 10am in a nice quiet spot. Sunday lunch in the oven and blog all updated with many new photo’s. May need to have a sleep this afternoon to make up for all the rocking last night!

Sunday view from the stern

our quiet spot at a place called Poplar Eylot

Newbury to the River Thames

Tuesday 8th August and the weather for the rest of that week was forecast wet and windy. We shuffled a short way to get off the timed moorings and moored opposite the boatyard, where there were no time retraints. We had a lovely supper with Stephen the evening before. It turned out rainy all day so I made a gingerbread and also started an attempt at making a bow fender. We had heard from our friends Carol and Steve with a view to them visiting us at the end of the month; I had given them a few options and they have decided on Wallingford on the Thames. We finished our bow fender and it is a beast, just hope it fits!

Thursday 10th August and we set off with Stephen to Thatcham. Mary was still away so we got into a good rythm working the locks. We got held up at one though due to the low water levels. CrT operatives were at the lock letting water down as a boat had become grounded. We missed a photo moment in the Monkey Marsh turf lock though as 4 boats managed to squeeze in. One moored in Thatcham I walked to the co-op with Stephen and partook of some cheapies (reductions).

Friday 11th we stayed put as sunshine and showers prevailed. Saturday 12th August and we moved again to Woolhampton getting grounded along the way. Mnaged to get pulled free by Stephens boat. Mary was due back on Sunday but she made a surprise return on Saturday, so time for a glass or 2 of wine.

Sunday 13th August it was sunny so we had a couple of walks with Izzy around the fishing lakes. Blackberry picking in the afternoon and all washed and in the freezer. Home cooked roast beef with all the trimmings. Heard from Carol who informs me there is a music fest on at Wallingford on the weekend they are visiting. Argh!! thought we had it all sussed with moorings as well. May have to go back to the drawing board as to where we can moor. Monday 14th August and we had a along cruise to Theale. Still travelling with Mary and Stephen. Stopped at Abingdon for the necessary sanitary and water.

lift bridge after the lock in Abingdon

some rather smart horses in a field. many had yellow straps around their necks. I was wondering if they were security tags as the horses were certainly thoroughbreds. Maybe my friend Amanda knows.

a couple of heavy cobs in the same field reminding me of my horse Miranda

The locks are getting heavier again now we are back on the Kennet. Many of the balance beams are certainly not balanced and it takes a few people to actually move them.

moorings at Theale

Tuesday 15th August and it is my birthday. I had a walk into Theale with Mary checking out the co-op and the charity shop. Mary had invited us already for supper in the evening. This would be the last get together for a while as they are turning right on the Thames to get back onto the Oxford canal, and we are turning left to have a mooch toward Henley. We had a lovely meal of chilli and rice with lemon tart and blackberry sauce for desert. All washed down with red wine. Mary surprised me with a small birthday cake with candles but the wind wouldn’t allow them to stay lit for long.

birthday cake

I shared the cake with everyone, and Mary and I went blackberrying again.

evening get together on my birthday

Wednesday we set off early (07.30) to get onto the Thames. We had  a fair way to travel and a few more heavy locks to negotiate.

Mary and Stephen leading the way off the Kennet

At Reading we turned into the loop where the abbey ruins and gaol are, hoping to stay if we could. One boat already there moved off shortly after we arrived. Lovely moorings that would have been handy to explore Reading, but on the notice in the small print stated it was £9.50 per day, so we had a quick cuppa and moved on. If it had been 24hrs free then pay we would have stayed; think the council should rethink their payment policy as it might encourage more boats to stay there.

Gaol arm in Reading

Through Blakes lock then waved goodbye to Mary and Stephen. It will be strange not being with them after almost 3months.

Kennet mouth

We cruised to the first lock at Sonning (arriving at 12.30) which is free for 24hrs then £5 per night (max 2 nights); so I phoned up the TVM (Thames visitor moorings), hotline and booked us in for 2 nights. Lovely spot in the sun watching all the boats going up and down.

Summer holidays

The weather is certainly school holiday weather. It has changed dramatically, but mustn’t complain as the canal certainly needs topping up. The summit pound where we had got grounded a couple of weeks ago is now closed to navigation for a while; just glad we are past there. Since my last blog we have stopped at Froxfield, Hungerford, Kintbury and now Newbury.

At Hungerford we stayed for 48hrs on two different sites. Went to the market on Wednesday and managed to get a toasting fork and a tripod for the camera. 2 things we had been searching for. Thursday 3rd August after arriving at Kintbury, we just managed to speak to our grandson in Oz for his 8th birthday, as the connection wasn’t very good. Mary and Stephen have been slightly ahead of us; as we catch them up it is time for them to move on!

We had a lovely surprise at Kintbury. They have a horse drawn trip boat here, and we were lucky enough to have it go past the boat. The following pictures show how they get the ropes over the moored boats.

starting off

lifting the ropes over the boats

man on roof also lifting the ropes

Charlie with the pole ready to help if necessary

beautiful horse

nearly through

and through the bridge

happy passengers

It was the highlight of this last week’s trip. We didn’t hear it come back in the evening, and suddenly the horse was walking past us. I had Izzy on my lap and she was shaking; she has never been that close to an animal that big before.

Saturday 5th August and we set off really early for Newbury.

an unusual storage option that we saw along our journey

We met Ozzie fuel boat in one of the locks and topped up with diesel and a new gas bottle. New experience for us filling up in the lock! We just got moored in Newbury above Newbury lock when a thunderstorm started, with thunder, lightening and torrential rain. We had managed to get the stern hood up but not the sides so got a bit wet whilst putting it all together.

On Sunday we moved down to Victoria Park moorings on a 48hr bit. We were last here 3 months ago. It doesn’t seem possible that the time has gone that quickly. Mary has returned home to see her new nephew, so Stephen joined us for pie and mash and a couple of bevvies. More sunshine and showers today. I had a walk through the park to Aldi; then we had a look in the chandlers here that is closing down, but didn’t see anything we needed. And a walk into town for a look round once more with Charlie (he didn’t look round last time). We are invited to Stephen’s for supper this evening, then we will be off again tomorrow. Shouldn’t be long now before we are back on the Thames, and then decisions as what to do next.