We really didn’t want to leave our lovely mooring by Beale Park (thank you for the tip George); the only non-perfect aspect of it, was that it was only a 24 hour mooring. Still no big hardship, every one that passed had happy smiling faces, and the weather was glorious! After what John calls a ‘Scania Hubcap’ breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, cheese omelette, mushrooms and tomato – yes this is our ‘keto’ diet) we were fit to embrace our ‘incredible’ day.
Our first lock of today’s four was Goring Lock. Approaching was rather tricky as there were two boats waiting go up the lock on the lock landing (so no room for us). There were boats moored rather near the lock, with a weir opposite pushing Cyan over towards the moored boats, she wasn’t able to ‘tread water’ easily. Still we managed, and within minutes we were called into the lock by the lock keeper.
As we left the lock we realised the rubbish bin was below the lock, with the fuss of trying to keep Cyan from ‘hitting’ moored boats below the lock, we never noticed the rubbish area. The very helpful Lock Keeper offered to take our rubbish and deposit it in the bins for us, but we couldn’t allow that, and thanked him for his kindness.
We wondered what the story was behind the derelict property below. Why was such an expensive property boarded up? It looks like it’s been unloved for decades.
Between Goring Lock and our next lock ‘Cleeve Lock’, the author of our guidebook ‘The River Thames Book’, who was/is a volunteer lock keeper on the Thames, let his political side slip and some! Quote:
“The setting is perhaps moderately more attractive since on the Oxfordshire bank lie the backwaters and streams of Cleeve and its mill, not overcome by the mass gathering of tax-losing motor craft as at Harleyford but perhaps enhanced by the manicured lawns and trees of the property of the tax loopholed gentry. To the west lie the water meadows, as yet unsullied by rapacious developers, held off for the time being by the blessed conversationalists.”
Sadly we have encountered a degree of snobbery by some in their very posh ‘gin palaced’ boats, and I can only imagine how these ‘elites’ arrogantly treat some of the lock keepers. This attitude reminds me of the posh upmarket cars owners, against the older bangers on our roads. Though in the main, especially on a wonderful day such as today, the ‘comradeship’ of boaters and lockies warmed ‘the cockles’ of our hearts!
We were soon at our second lock, Cleeve Lock. Cleeve lock was also manned by a pleasant lock keeper. As we left the lock he took our centre line, helping us to temporarily moor Cyan while she was topped up with water.
The weather was really hot by now, and it was brilliant how everyone appeared to be enjoying the Thames.
The Thames has now (significantly) ‘calmed’ down; we’re now cruising without any official ‘Stream Warnings’. An altogether more relaxed cruising experience.
What fun! The boat ‘Waterlily’ must be the smallest ‘steam boat’ in the world! Can’t help but wonder how the top canvas doesn’t catch fire with the chimney going through it. The chimney must be seriously insulated.
The sun was now high, and we were getting quite hot. We tried to moor in several places, but unfortunately suitable mooring places were taken.
We approached Benson Lock as several boats were exiting. The lock was unmanned (it must be around lunchtime), and John was about to jump off Cyan before entering the lock to work the mechanism when a man shouted down from the lock asking if John would like him to work the lock… great, he must be a boater wanting to come down the lock. Obviously John thanked him. John took Cyan into the lock, and the man closed the gates behind us. We securely tied Cyan, both fore and aft…… but where was the man? The man had gone! We were now stuck in the lock! There was nothing for it, John climbed on Cyan’s roof, then climbed on the lock landing to ‘press’ the buttons.
The vintage ‘work horse’ Gosport (built by Braithwaite & Kirk for the well known carrying firm of Fellows, Morton & Clayton) passed us, we couldn’t make out the ‘tug’, but we think it’s Bascote.
Still looking for a place to moor without success, the banks were rather high, and any attempts were thwarted by silt.
Just before Day’s Lock, we disposed of our rubbish, and used the Elsan services. Day’s Lock was also manned by a pleasant Lock Keeper. As we were the only boat in the lock, it gave the Lockie time to chat. The Lockie lives in a Keeper’s cottage nearby, and he works the weir’s sluices. He can be called out of bed at an un-godly hour to open the sluices during heavy rain.
There used to be moorings along a farmer’s field outside from the lock, the farmer would visit the moorers rattling a charity tin, boaters would contribute what they thought the mooring was worth, and the money went to a local charity. Sadly the farmer had to take several boaters to court because they wouldn’t move, and since then, he doesn’t allow moorings. These squatters appear all over the network, and it’s a shame they are allowed to ruin things for those who abide by the law.
We didn’t have to motor far when we found ‘another’ perfect mooring. We’re now moored on the ‘Thames Path’ side of the river, and alongside what looks like a hay/silage field.
Today we heard our first cuckoo! When we moored we watched and listened to two woodpeckers calling each other, and hammering out messages!
Must mention what looked like an ‘unusual’ bird in the water last night, the bird was swimming low in the water with seemingly bobbles on it’s back; the binoculars revealed it was a female mallard type duck, giving her brood a ride. We’ve never seen this before, isn’t nature amazing?
There’re no notices here saying there’s a fee, or stipulating that we can only moor here for 24 hours. Therefore, we thought we’d take the ‘day off’, and watch boaters cruising the river from our deck chairs on the bank!
Today we’ve travelled 13.75 miles and 4 locks.