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  • clivenmel

May 14th

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;} We were just preparing to leave our mooring this morning when a small cruiser passed us, heading towards the lock.  So I quickly trotted down to the lock to ask the lock keeper to wait for us, whilst Clive untied the boat and headed for the lock.   The weather forecast for today was supposed to be clear in the morning with showers in the afternoon, so we wanted to get as far as we could before the rain arrived.  However it was really pleasant as we cruised on down the Thames, a bit overcast but quite warm.    It was sooooooooooo lovely to be back on the broad reaches of the Thames and the locks are an absolute dream, other than jumping off and pulling the boat into the side I don�t need to do anything at all, one has a man to do that for one!  He he!  Yes there are lock keepers at the locks who do all the strenuous work of pressing the buttons to raise and lower the paddles!   We pootled on down the river, passed Shiplake and Wargrave and were stunned by the absolutely fabulous houses that line the riverbank � just incredible!  Then all of a sudden we were in Henley!  We did a quick 180o turn and moored up on the left bank � which meant we were in Oxfordshire, if we had moored on the other bank we would have been in Berkshire!   Once we were safely moored we headed off into Henley itself to do some shopping.  Henley is a very upmarket town as you can imagine and of course there are no run of the mill cheapo supermarkets like Somerfields and Morrisons, only a Waitrose!  So we had to slum it and do our shopping there!!!  There was also an open market and we have managed to buy ourselves a sports bag to double up as a suitcase for our holiday in July.  We couldn�t do with a suitcase, nowhere to keep it but the holdall folds completely flat.   Once we had done all our shopping we headed back to the boat for a quick lunch before setting off again.  We didn�t want to stay in Henley overnight as you have to pay for the moorings, which is about a tenner!  Just as we were getting ready to leave we saw a strange spectacle.  Obviously this is how the ladies of Henley have their children walked in the afternoons � I wonder how the dogs get walked?   I must say Henley is more like a seaside town than anything, there are sooooooooooooo many boats!  Big ones, middle sized ones and teeny weeny ones.  Including a large paddle steamer called New Orleans!  As we were approaching the bridge there was a church on the left, this is a 16th Century church called St Mary the Virgin and we understand that this is where Dusty Springfield is buried.  Once under the bridge we saw that the right bank was a hive of activity � they were getting ready for the famous Henley Regatta which this year runs from the 1st to the 5th July.  The regatta was first held in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two world wars.  As we continued down the river we could see men driving pilings into the riverbed to mark out the course for the races and then up ahead was a small island with a rather pretty building on it.  This is called Temple Island and is actually where the races start from.  The Temple itself was designed by James Wyatt as a fishing lodge(?) for Fawley Court, which is just a bit further downstream, in 1771.  It was built in the Etruscan style and is now a venue for private hire for banquets, weddings, corporate functions etc � we didn�t look at the price list but you can imagine��������.!   We passed the aforementioned Fawley Court a short while later and on the opposite bank is the church at Remenham.  Jenny Agutter got married here � not a lot of people know that!   We soon arrived at Hambledon Lock and the lock keeper asked us if we wouldn�t mind waiting a little while as he was expecting another boat.  We of course obliged and Clive had a chat with the lock keeper whilst we were waiting.  A few minutes later another narrowboat arrived and came into the lock.  Even with two narrowboats in there was still masses of room in the huge lock!   Hambledon village�s claim to fame is that this is where the Midsomer Murders drama is filmed!   We had decided this morning that the best place for us to moor tonight would be at Medmenham Abbey where, according to our map, there are visitor moorings.  However when we arrived there weren�t!  We tried a couple of times to get the boat into the bank but it was far too shallow and we were in serious danger of beaching, especially if the river levels were to go down during the night, which does happen!    Clive was very disappointed as this really was a lovely spot and he was intrigued by the history of the abbey.  It was a Cistercian monastery originally but in the 18th century became infamous as the venue for the original Hellfire Club!  This was an exclusively aristocrats only club and was basically created by Sir Frances Dashwood to entertain his high ranking friends and associates with orgies and debauchery, wearing bizarre masks and costumes!  However the venue�s location became public and therefore the Hellfire Club moved to a more secret venue.   We continued on our way looking everywhere for a decent mooring.  We finally found one just before the Hurley Lock, it is very quiet and secluded, the only drawback is that there is a charge of �4 per night!  However unless somebody comes to collect it from us it won�t get paid!  Lets hope they don�t knock on the side of the boat at some unearthly hour tomorrow morning!   For the last few days we have been astounded by the number and variety of birds skimming the water for insects.  Also all the waterfowl have been pecking insects off the water too � especially the ducklings!  We could see that there were lots of insects flitting around just above the surface of the water, but we couldn�t help but notice great numbers of a larger type of insect flying around the boat but we weren�t sure what they were. Finally this afternoon one landed on the hatch and I managed to get a photograph so that we could identify it.  It turns out to be a type of Mayfly, Ephemera danica.  These insects only live for a very short time and that is if they are not eaten in the meantime!  They are certainly on everybody�s menu!  As far as we are concerned they are perfectly harmless.  Oh good!   It never did rain today, it stayed cloudy but warm and fine all day.  However just as we had finished our dinner this evening it started to drizzle and is still doing so!  Oh well, it doesn�t matter now.  We will see what tomorrow brings.                                                                                                                               

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