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  • clivenmel

March 24th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} There was a suggestion that it might rain on Sunday morning � the weather had definitely changed, although it still looked quite pleasant outside there was a very chilly wind blowing in from the North, there were also some grey clouds on the horizon.  However we hadn�t planned on cruising anywhere � the launderette awaited!    So I sorted out all the washing, stripped the bed, gathered up all the towels and we set off for the launderette.  It wasn�t very far away and when we arrived it was empty, not a soul in sight.  Once Clive had helped me to carry the bags to the laundry there was no point in him staying, so he went back to the boat and I got started on the washing.  I managed to get away with two washers � one large industrial sized one that took all the dark stuff and the bedding and a smaller one took all the lights and the towels - �7 and �4 respectively.  They were also quite quick machines too, only half an hour to wait.  That was all reasonably painless and I read my book in peace.  Once the washing was finished I loaded up four dryers � the dryers take �1 coins and these last about 7 minutes � it�s a total rip-off!  I kept having to go along the off-license, which was at the end of the block, to get more change but the dryers kept devouring �1 coins and the washing didn�t seem to be getting any dryer!  Clive arrived to help me to fold and pack but there was some washing that was nowhere near dry and we had actually run out of cash, having spent �26 and there wasn�t a cash machine anywhere near!  So we packed it all back in the bags and headed back to the boat.  Once there we lit the stove, really wound it up and also put the central heating on.  I rigged up three washing lines across the boat from the window poles, hung things over the radiators, the window poles themselves, the airer and even hung two shirts in the cratch.  By this time the boat was like a sauna, so we went shopping!   By the time we got back to the boat from our shopping trip into Oxford a lot of the stuff was dry and we could gradually reduce the amount of stuff festooning the boat!  I have definitely decided that we need a whirligig washing line as this will be extremely useful in the summer.  Washing at the launderettes really isn�t too bad, but the drying is exorbitant. All we need is a plastic parasol base, the sort you fill with water, to secure it on the stern deck and Bob�s your uncle!  Actually we had thought of getting a parasol anyway � our cruiser stern will make a lovely �patio� in the summer when we are moored.  I can just see us sitting under the parasol supping our G and Ts on a warm summer evening � lovely!   Anyway, its great to have drawers full of clean clothes, nice clean bedding and lovely fluffy clean towels again!   We only briefly caught up with Robin and Julia again that afternoon.  They had driven to Bristol in the morning to fetch Julia�s father who was coming to spend a few days on the boat with them.  However we managed to have a chat with them this morning, Julia came on board to chat with me whilst I was cooking a Bolognese sauce and Clive and Robin had a chinwag up on the bank.  Robin has given Clive lots of useful info about moorings and water-points etc on the Thames.  Then it was time to say goodbye � they are heading North and we are heading South but we are hoping to meet up again sometime in the summer, possibly in East Anglia, which will be nice.  Farewell Locksley.   I have to just add here that it was as a result of visiting Robin and Julia on board Locksley about 18 months ago, whislt they were overwintering in Foxton, that we made our minds up to pursue our dreams and embark on this adventure. Soon after saying goodbye to them we headed off ourselves, leaving the dreaming spires of Oxford behind us.  About half an hour later we arrived at the Iffley Lock.  There was a weir on the left (to be avoided at all costs) a bridge on the right and the lock ahead. However - as we approached the lock entrance we saw loads of canoes in front of the lock gates! At first we couldn�t tell what was going on, then we realised they were waiting to enter the lock.  Sure enough the gates opened and all these canoes paddled in, we needn�t have worried though, it is a big lock and there was plenty of room for Lady Arwen to share the water. Once the front gates were opened we let the canoes get well ahead before we left the lock ourselves.  The nice thing about these locks on the Thames is that there are lockkeepers operating them electronically,  so other than holding onto the rope and keeping the bo at into the side I don�t have to do any work at all � lovely!   It was really lovely cruising along the river, it makes quite a change from the confines of the canals � it seems huge.   However Clive tells me that the difference in piloting the boat isn�t a great deal.  He says you occasionally feel a bit of a pull to one side if there is an eddy or a current and of course as the river is flowing we go a little faster than on the canal, using less power from the engine.    The next obstacle was the Sandford Lock and this really is huge!  I mean HUGE!  You could probably get six boats like ours in at once!  This lock is reputedly the deepest on the Thames at 8� 10� � not of course the deepest one we have negotiated, but by far the biggest in every other way! Once through the lock again we had a very pleasant cruise along the river and soon saw up on the left a rather imposing edifice called Nuneham House.  Not a great deal can be seen of the house itself from the river but evidently it is where Victoria and Albert spent their honeymoon in 1841! Unfortunately we couldn�t see anything of the grounds either, which is a shame because the famous gardener �Capability� Brown designed them.  We also have it on good authority (the canal book!) that one Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) used to row Alice Liddell down to Nuneham as an alternative to their more regular forays upstream to Godstow.   A little further along we saw the perfect house for us, a lovely cottage, next to the water with its own mooring - the absolute des res. However even with the recent plummeting house prices I somehow don't think our budget would stretch to this one!!! Whilst we were cruising along Clive was delighted to spot a Great Crested Grebe, the first one we have seen since we set off back in September!  Unfortunately of course I had the wrong lens on the camera so he looks like a pea on a drum!  The GC Grebe is Clive�s favourite water bird � they are such handsome birds, wish we saw them more often. It wasn�t long before we arrived at Abingdon Lock but before going in we needed to fill up with water and get a pump-out.  Clive wandered down to see the Lockkeeper to get a BW pump-out card as it was a self-operated machine.  Unfortunately the Lockkeeper wasn�t back from lunch, so we decided to top up the water first.  The lockkeeper duly arrived back from lunch so we got our card and did the necessaries, then just as we were ready to head into the lock another boat arrived, so we shared water with them.  When we came out of the lock the other boat headed into the nearby marina as this was their base, we continued on and managed to find a lovely mooring just on the outskirts of Abingdon.  It seems strange to be in such a wide open space for a change, but its very pleasant indeed.   Tomorrow we will go on an expedition into Abingdon itself.  We are in no rush to go anywhere and these moorings are five days maximum stay, so we may well stay put for a couple of days and explore.

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