June 6th 2010 - Oxford
I know, I know! You have been wondering where on Earth we are and what we have been doing - sorry, just been too busy relaxing and enjoying ourselves to do a blog!
Well, where were we! Ah yes Stuart and David duly arrived around 2ish and we set off and went for a cruise. It was a lovely afternoon and we had a very enjoyable cruise. We went up to and through Boveney Lock and up as far as Dorney Lake then we turned round and cruised back to Windsor where we moored up in the spot we had left earlier. We decided to go for a walk and maybe a wee drinky poo. We ended up across the river in Eton no less! We found a pub and popped in for a drink then walked back over the bridge to Windsor. Stuart and David had parked their car near the boat so they walked back with us then it was finally time to say goodbye. Goodness knows when we will see them again but I am sure we will be back down on the Thames again one day, we love it so much.
So we stayed one more night in Windsor and then the following day, Saturday, we continued on our journey but we didn't go far because it started to rain. We moored up at Dorney Lake in a really lovely spot just before the Eton College Boat House where we had moored last year. It was very peaceful and quiet - lovely.
Quite out of the blue we received an email! It was from a gentleman called Ken who we had met in Ely last summer. He lives aboard NB Halcyon. He has kept reading our blog over the months and noted the other day that we were in Windsor. His email told us that he was only a little further up the Thames in Cookham and suggested that perhaps we could meet up when we arrived there. We sent him a reply saying that we would contact him when we got closer. The only other thing that we had to take into consideration now was the Grand Prix! Once again we needed to find a spot with a good TV signal where Clive could watch the race.
We really enjoyed our cruise up the Thames on the Sunday morning. We passed some stunning properties, especially in Bray where some of our well known celebrities live, like Rolf Harris for example. The scenery was also wonderful, this stretch of the Thames is really lovely. I had phoned Ken during the morning to let him know we were on our way and asked him about the TV signal at Cookham. He said it wasn't very good where he was moored but if we pulled in a bit earlier on Cookham Reach we should get a good signal there. He offered to meet us there to show us the best spot to moor. Sure enough as we approached the spot we saw him up ahead waving his arms to attract our attention. We pulled in but couldn't get right into the bank, we were at least a yard off! Ken took our centre rope and helped Clive to moor up - I couldn't get off the boat!! Anyway, once we were tied up Ken said goodbye and headed off back up to where he had moored Halcyon and we agreed to meet him up there after the race.
Once the race was over and we had had a bit of lunch it was time to cast off again - easier said than done! There were lots of people out walking their dogs and taking the air it being a sunny Sunday afternoon so I called out to one gentleman and asked if he could give us a hand by holding onto our centre line whilst Clive untied the fore and aft ropes and pulled the pegs out. He very kindly agreed and Clive was soon back on board - we couldn't have done it without him! It was only a very short cruise up to where Halcyon was moored outside The Bounty pub! We moored up in the last remaining mooring spot - we could have done with a shoe horn to get us in, it was quite tight! Then Ken suggested we all go into the pub for a well earned drink - what a good idea!
Ken, Clive and the boats.
Whilst we were enjoying our drinks in The Bounty's sunny beer garden we caught up on all the gossip and Ken informed us that since we last saw him in Ely he had met an American lady called Patricia and got married! Evidently she met his dog Taffy first and fell in love immediately then she met Ken the following day and the same thing happened! They got married a couple of weeks ago whilst moored in Little Venice. Unfortunately we didn't get to meet Patricia as she had flown back to the US to tidy up some lose ends. Evidently she really enjoys reading our blog! One exciting thing happened whilst we were moored outside The Bounty, it was quite windy and there were lots of little sail boats out on the water zipping about then Clive spotted a much bigger yacht with rather too much sail for the windy conditions - sure enough it suddenly keeled over and completely capsized!
It was fascinating watching everybody gather round and lend a hand and slowly, with the help of several people, they managed to get the boat back up on her keel again. I was amazed at the height of the mast! I have put a series of photos in the gallery showing the process of righting her.
Clive and Ken popped back to The Bounty later that evening for another pint and a chat whilst I stayed on board and relaxed.
The following morning we said goodbye to Ken and set off again. Yet another lovely cruise followed, through several locks until we finally pulled up on a lovely rural stretch and moored up for the night. This place was really lovely and the views were absolutely fantastic, we could see for miles and miles.
Lovely view from the left bank
We spent a very peaceful night here, it was absolutely silent apart from the odd quack or squawk from time to time! There was a small fee for mooring here, £6 to be precise. About eight o'clock that evening we heard a small boat engine and then the boat itself appeared right next to Lady Arwen - he pulled up alongside and we opened the window - "I've come to collect your mooring fee" he said! Well that's novel anyway!
It was so nice here we decided to stay another night. I took the opportunity of sorting out the blue planter on the bows - I got rid of the old dead conifer and planted a new little conifer I had picked up at Tesco's. It looks much better but the trouble is there is a really big gap - I need to find something else to fill that now!
That's much better - apart from the gap!
The next morning we had a cuppa and some breakfast then got ready to leave our lovely, peaceful moorings. We also realised that it was June 1st - goodness me, June already! Only a few minutes after leaving the moorings we were passing through Henley, the site of the famous Regatta! As it happens we were a bit early, it doesn't happen until June 30th! Actually maybe that's a good thing, imagine trying to navigate the river whilst all that is going on - it would be like the M25 on a Bank Holiday Monday!!
Through a couple more locks and we arrived in Reading. Well the outskirts at least. The first port of call was Caversham Boatyard, we needed water, a pump-out and diesel. We didn't have any trouble finding it because we had been there last year on our way to the Kennet and Avon Canal. Once filled up and emptied so to speak we set off again but only a short distance. We knew there was a large Tesco store right next to the river only a little bit further so were keeping our fingers crossed that there would be some moorings available. There were - well just! We managed to pull into a little spot between two trees and used them to tie up to! Then it was off to Tescos to stock up!
Once back on board Clive set off again whilst I put all the shopping away and made some sandwiches and a cuppa for lunch. We didn't have too far to go though. We finally moored up in Caversham next to a lovely park, again it was lovely and peaceful. By now we were between counties, Berkshire on the left bank and Oxfordshire on the right!
The following day, Thursday June 3rd, we set off again after breakfast. We were heading for Wallingford because I know for a fact that there is a launderette there! Once again we had a really lovely days cruise, the countryside all along the Thames is really beautiful and it was lovely and sunny and warm. We finally arrived in Wallingford and were delighted to find some lovely new moorings adjacent to the town's outdoor swimming complex. There was just enough room to squeeze Lady Arwen in behind a Dutch barge and a cruiser! The place was absolutely heaving with people. All along the banks there were people picnicking, sunbathing, swimming in the river and, which was quite scary to watch, leaping off the bridge into the river!! Well what can you expect in a beautiful location like this when the sun is shining and its hot and its the school holidays to boot!
We were too late for the launderette so I planned to go first thing in the morning. In the meantime we both went and sat on the deck with a gin and tonic and our books - lovely!
The following morning I traipsed up to the launderette with my washing and sat reading my book until it was finished then carted it all back to the boat. I had decided, as it was such a lovely warm, sunny day, that I would only wash the clothes and not use the dryers, so we needed a nice place to moor up out in the country somewhere so that I could hang up my smalls to dry without blushing! We cruised for about an hour and then arrived at a really lovely spot near the village of Dorchester where the little River Thame joins the big River Thames. The only problem was that the banks were quite high. However we managed to find one spot where there was a chunk missing in the bank and it was a perfect spot for getting on and off the boat using our plank! We soon got tied up and up went the whirlygig and in no time at all my washing was blowing in the wind - smashing!
It really was a lovely spot, again it was peaceful and quiet apart from the constant birdsong which was absolutely beautiful. I went for a little walk at one point and found the River Thame. It looks so lovely here, more like a small lake than a river but only about 100 yards round the bend it joined the Thames.
The River Thame
Once again we both sat on deck reading our books and sipping gin and tonic until finally Clive gave in and nodded off. Some time later I jerked awake realising I had done the same! Gosh it is hard work relaxing isn't it!
The beautiful day was rounded off by a beautiful sunset - ahh life is sweet!
The next day, Saturday June 5th, we cruised for about three hours and ended up in Abingdon. This is a very busy spot, similar to Wallingford in a way and again it was extremely busy. We didn't think we were going to get a mooring until we spotted a space adjacent to Abingdon's outdoor swimming pool just big enough for Lady Arwen! We quickly moored up and had some lunch then we went for a walk up into town as we needed a few bits and pieces from the supermarket. On the way back we popped into the pub for a wee drink and then headed back to the boat. Being next to the swimming pool we expected it to be noisy and it was, however at one point during the early evening we could hear raucous screaming and yelling and on looking out of the window spotted three young girls swimming in the river! I don't know what they were screaming about but they kept it up for quite a while - we were very relieved when they finally got out and dried themselves!!
We couldn't decide whether to move or not this morning. The weather forecast said rain. However it certainly wasn't raining when we got up but it was cloudy and grey looking. In the end we decided to chance it and set off. We cruised all the way to Oxford without a single drop of rain! We managed to find one spot left on the moorings below Folly Bridge and soon had the boat tied up and the hood up. Still no rain! However a little while ago whilst Clive was up on deck (under the hood) reading his book and I was typing this blog, the heavens opened and we had a really heavy shower of rain. There were several people out on the river in various craft such as punts and canoes who suddenly got drenched - it was quite funny seeing them frantically rowing and poling for the banks to try and get under cover of the trees! It didn't last long though and the sun is now shining once again.
So, until the next time - I'll try not to leave it so long - promise!