Back On The Cut!

We decided last evening, while being moored at the top of Eynsham Lock, to wind Cyan. Instead of going to Lechlade, we’ll start our journey to Cambridge; though we’ll return back on the Thames at some point for sure. We’ve had a brilliant time!

Yesterday we temporarily moored at the bottom of Eynsham Lock while sanny duties were carried out. While moored a boat came out of the lock, and crashed into Cyan. The other boat was manoeuvring to keep the green buoys on its left, stearing rather close to where we were moored. The fierce weir, and a strong wind, caught the boater off guard, and he lost control. He was very apologetic, but his boat didn’t half give Cyan ‘punch’. We were told by the lock keeper that the green buoys had been dragged too far towards the lock landing by a narrowboat that got tangled up with a buoy. The buoys are placed to warn boaters of a bank of silt that had been washed down by the weir. The ‘crash’ has unnerved us a bit.

This morning we woke at our leisure, after breakfast, and after Rusty’s walk, John gave ‘one’ half of Cyan a good wash, she was such a ‘dirty girl’. We then winded or turned her around so John could wash the other ‘half’. After filling Cyan’s tank with water we dropped down Eynsham Lock.

Leaving Duke’s Cut Lock behind

A short cruise brought us to Duke’s cut, and onto the Oxford Canal.

Venturing onto the Oxford Canal

We can see how we’ve been spoilt cruising the Thames. Firstly, we’re having to work the locks ourselves (Gosh aren’t they small!), then we’ve got to work harder to steer Cyan, cruising her in deep water was a doddle.

We passed a couple of narrowboats that we recognised, Bones and Milly M. We used to follow their blogs religiously.

Well done mother duck, eleven little ones. Hope they survive.

We’ve moored by ‘The Jolly Boatman‘, and we couldn’t resist popping in for lunch. A pint of Abbot, and fish and chip lunch was delicious. The fish was cooked with scrumptious ‘Abbot ale batter’! Our ‘diet’ has been forgotten for the day – our ‘memory problem’ might stretch two days as we’ve booked a table for a Sunday Carvery tomorrow.

Today we cruised just under 8 miles, and 5 locks.

The Thames Is Getting Narrow Now

We had another ‘early morning alarm’ At 6am it was rowers and their coaches on bikes, with ‘megaphones’! Apparently it looked like we moored right at the end of their training ‘sprint’, turning around behind Cyan. There were groups of male and female rowing eights, and single and double sculls. Instructions were being barked out from the ‘Thames Path’ via megaphone, and instructions being barked out by each cox.  By 9:00 a.m. it was all over. You’ve got to admire the tenacity of these ‘youngsters’ to get out of bed that early in the morning to train on the cold Thames. This smashes the image we generally have of youths, hugging their beds until the last minute. It was an experience we were pleased to see.

Around 10 a.m we left our mooring.

A row of rowing clubs! Each with their own university house crest

Now which way do we go?

Apparently we could have gone either side. We took the right hand channel.

 

From this point on, boat sizes are severely restricted.

The ruins of Godstow Abbey – destroyed by the Reformation. Seeing the artists patiently sketching the ruins, really makes me envious, I’d love to be able to paint.

We saw a sight that we’d have never believed it, until we actually witnessed it.

Way ahead in front of us was a herd of about 50 cattle who were mulling about in the Thames’ water. I was waiting until we got nearer to the cattle to get a better picture. Also watching the cattle was the horse below…

Then all of a sudden the horse started running towards the cattle, spooking and rounding them up, he herded them  out of the water.

It was like a scene from a cowboy film, but without the cowboy! As soon as they were out of the water, the horse pranced back! You could see he was very pleased with itself and commanded a lot of respect from the herd. Was the horse just having a bit of fun at the expense of the cattle? Or was it trying to keep the cattle safe?

Job done!

High and dry!

The Thames is now quite narrow in places.

    

We’re now moored at the top of Eynsham Lock after battling with a strong weir race below the lock,  and the restricted access resulting from the heavily silted area by the lock landing.

Today we’ve cruised 8 miles, and through 4 locks.

Pirates Onboard

Yesterday we visited Abingdon, it’s a beautiful and historical market town. We’d planned to pick up some fresh fruit and veg, and John wanted to find some stainless steel screws, but after a short time, John’s foot started to hurt, so we returned back to Cyan, but not before I bought some plasticised cotton material to make seat covers for the cratch.

This morning we were rudely woken at 4:30 a.m, by about 50 excited geese who were on the grass by our boat. Not sure what the fuss was about; had one of the young goslings been attacked?

While we were moored in Abingdon, we got familiar with the local goose population, especially one family group of three adults and 5 goslings. We watched anxiously  as adult geese fought off vicious swans, playful dogs, and dive-bombing black headed gulls in their quest to protect the youngsters. When John returned from taking Rusty for a walk, he was confronted by a Swedish family on holiday on a ‘Le Boat’, who had moored in front of us. The mother wanted advice on what should be done about a dying duckling. Her little girl in particular was distressed as the duckling was dying near our boats. The other adult ducks had abandoned it, such as it is in nature when faced with imminent death. The little girl had made the dying duckling a pillow out of a tissue, and she was terribly upset. I don’t think John helped the situation at all when he said the gulls will come and carry it off, and that will be the kindest thing.  Whoops John…. that was just a bit too ‘brutal’!

We left our mooring at about 11 a.m. on a bright breezy day.

We had a fabulous view of ‘old’ Abingdon

Venturing under Abingdon Bridge

Our first lock was Abingdon Lock, where I was asked by a little girl if I was a pirate! “Yes of course I am, but I’m a very kind pirate”!

After the lock we topped up our water tank, dumped our rubbish, and used the Elsan service. It’s always a nice feeling when all three chores are taken care of.

A Thames Galleon!

Wisteria adorned some gorgeous properties

We’re now moored just after Iffley Lock, practically just outside ‘The Isis Farmhouse’. (Sad the name ‘Isis’ has now been so maligned!)

‘The Isis Farmhouse’, used to be called Isis Tavern. Strangely enough it doesn’t have direct road access. The beer used to be delivered from the river. I was fascinated to read that during the 1800’s the Landlord would receive 5 shillings, or 7 shillings for each corpse removed from the river, depending which side of the river the corpse was retrieved from.

Though a gammon joint had been slowly cooking this afternoon in Cyan’s oven; we thought we’d visit ‘The Isis Farmhouse’ for a drink, and if the menu looked appetising, we could have dinner there. But what a mucky dive it turned out to be. I sat in the huge garden with Rusty while John bought us both a drink. He returned with a pint of beer for him, and a half for me, the beer was cloudy and it fizzed! John took it back, his was swapped with a relatively decent pint, I declined. We returned to Cyan, and  had a very tasty gammon dinner.

It’s busy where we’re moored with rowers. Now we’ve decided to travel to Cambridge, we’ll be meeting their opposition.

Today we’ve travelled over 7 miles, and through 3 locks.

Gypsy Kings, Here We Come!

We had the ‘day off’ yesterday, and left the Spring Bank Holiday cruisers to the Thames, while we watched on.

Another fine day dawned this morning; and we set off about 10 a.m.

At our first lock of the day, Clifton Lock, we shared the lock with a boat skippered by two lady ‘Waterway Chaplains’. Which was a strange coincidence as we were explaining the role of Waterway Chaplains with our ‘ecclesiastical’ friend, Maurice, last evening. Clifton Lock was unmanned, the ladies closed the gates, worked the sluices, then opened the exit gates, and we closed them after exiting the lock.

To close the gate, we temporarily moored on the lock landing. As there were no other boats around, John took the opportunity to have a quick look in the engine ‘hole’ to inspect the water situation while the engine was cooling down. A small top up to the coolant level and all was well!

Nothing like a paddle on a hot day

Easy to imagine a four poster bed was sailing down the Thames

Clifton Hempden Bridge

At first we thought these two Red Kites were fighting; reading an article on the internet, it appears this behaviour is part of their mating ritual

Spot the boat…

After sharing Culham Lock with the two ladies, we ‘glided’ into Abingdon. What a fantastic place it is too.

We’ve moored on a great mooring, over the way from St Helens Church (once again, thank you George). Mooring is free for 3 days.

Loving the neighbours!

 

We’ve now got a new plan! Today we booked two tickets at ‘The Corn Exchange, Cambridge,’ to see ‘Gypsy Kings’ on their UK tour. So we’ve got to be in Cambridge before the 9th July. CanalPlan.org.uk calculates:

“… 262 miles, 2½ furlongs and 136 locks from Abingdon Bridge to Jesus Green Lock No 1. 

This will take 110 hours and 31 minutes which is 15 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes at 7 hours per day.”

The trip is via Lechlade, so (hopefully) we’ve plenty of time to meander over to Cambridge.

Today we’ve cruised 7.5 miles, and 2 locks.

Best Spring Bank Holiday

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.

Wallingford Bridge

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 owners are very proud of ‘Waterlily’

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 fancy brickwork on this boathouse is amazing – a work of art!

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.

Just As I’d Imagined The Thames To Be!

After John and Rusty had been for their walk, I made for the Pangbourne shops. It was a little complicated finding the shops as I had to ask no less than three people the way; for some reason I kept getting lost! The route didn’t appear to be as simple as ‘Google Street View’ made out!

The little ‘high street’ had just the shops I was looking for, including a charity shop (Age Concern). I’m trying to find cheap ‘everyday’ glasses to replace those that was smashed when Cyan tilted a couple of weeks ago. Sadly I wasn’t successful, which means we’re still using our best crystal glasses for everyday use.

There is a ‘Cheese Shop’, where I just had to visit, and buy half kilo of extremely strong cheddar cheese. I could have bought other varieties, except I’m worried our fridge is already overloaded. I popped into the CoOp for fresh strawberries. Then the ‘old fashioned iron mongers’ had to be visited (just love mooching around those places), and I bought a tube of ‘grate blacking’, and a pot of ‘Stain Devil’ for those oil stains. The butchers was next, and 8 fat ‘old fashioned recipe’ sausages was bought, together with two very thick pork chops (a request from John). I could easily have visited the very tempting bakery, except we’re not eating bread at this time.

The last shop was the chemist. My heart went out to a painfully shy redheaded lad of about 12 or 13. He was in the chemist with his dad, who was explaining all the different types of razors, aftershave etc. Poor lad was growing up, and he looked so self conscious.

John’s GP had previously prescribed ‘prescription only’ painkillers for his knees that worked really well. We’ve discovered this ‘drug’ can be bought over the counter, branded as ‘Feminax’. Feminax is sold mainly for ‘women’s troubles’, but the package states it’s also suitable for rheumatic, and nerve pain. So we’re trialling Feminax to see if John gets some relief. Obviously, we laughingly went through all the corny jokes, like what size bra John would be needing… 🙂 With breakfast he took a couple of Feminax pills as instructed on the packet, and so far so good!

When I got back to Cyan, breakfast was cooked and eaten, and Cyan was soon pushing off from our mooring.

Pushing off from our mooring

The view from our mooring

View across the way from our mooring

We’re moored on the banks of Beale Park, a great place to moor especially for children.

Our mooring is idyllic! Today has been just what we’d hoped it would be on the Thames.

We’ve got the deck chairs out, and we’re looking forward to chilling this evening on the bank.

Within a couple of hours today’s wash-load was dried and put away.

Today we’ve travelled 1.5 miles, and one lock.

A Long Yet Enjoyable Day!

We didn’t realise how near we were to the ‘action’ at Henley. Even in the dark rowers were training hard, and again as the dawn chorus sang.

This gorgeous boat was moored opposite us last night, it looks good in the daylight, but in the dark it was prettily illuminated

We were also moored quite near to ‘Temple Island’, the other side of the island is the starting point for  regatta races. 

The Temple on ‘Temple Island’

During the days of the regatta (4th – 8th July) you can hire the ‘island’ to entertain up to 40 guests, where they will scrumptiously wine and dine!

Posts mark out the channel for the races to take place.

‘Post painters’ taking a break from painting the posts

A boat with a huge ‘thumping thingy’ for ‘thumping in’ the posts

Suspect this is where races finish

Phylis Court, famous hotel and venue for corporate hospitality during Regatta week

Henley ‘High Street’

Could be a des res for someone!

I’ve come to the conclusion; swans like to be around us. There are many places for them to build secluded nests, but they do appear to prefer being around humans

Reading Bridge

Cables support the new Christchurch pedestrian and cycle bridge at Reading

When we set off on this trip back in February, we’d planned to cruise the Kennet & Avon. Now we’re heading to Lechlade, and back down to join the Oxford Canal.

Entrance to the River Kennet, leading to the Kennet & Avon Canal

At our first lock of the day, Marsh Lock, the Lock Keeper mentioned that the ‘problem’ boats, moored on the Tesco mooring at Reading were being moved on. He said it was about time as one of the boats had been moored there for four years! Many boater have complained these boats are stopping boaters from shopping.

It’s good to see the moorings are being refurbished (or are they being extended?).

Opposite the moorings is this boat.

Trying to think of something ‘positive’

An Egyptian goose (which we thought was a duck) flew in front of us, and dived onto a female mallard duck which had about a dozen little ducklings with her. There was such a fight, eventually the goose swam off, while the mother duck herded her little duckling between a boat and the bank, out of harms way.

What on earth possessed the goose to attack the female mallard and her brood? I thought these geese were cute, but not anymore! See more info

It’s been a brilliant day! We’re now moored at Pangbourne, before Whitchurch Lock. Tomorrow, before we push off, I’ll be visiting the ‘famous’ butcher (Greens), and visit Lloyds pharmacy (I forgot to tell Mr Tesco to bring John’s toothpaste, he’s had to use my brand).

Today we’ve cruised 18 miles, and 6 locks.

Cruising Through Rowing Country!

Tesco delivered yesterday, it was rather a relief as we were running short of fresh fruit and veg.

The Tesco man was great! “How are you going to cook your belly pork joint?”, he asked. Then he continued to talk me through a great recipe. The driver’s skills are definitely ‘wasted’ in his job, he should be in (what I’d call) Tesco’s ‘home economics’ department, providing shoppers with inspiration. It turns out he’s a chef, and used to manage the Spade Oak Inn. I took his name, and said I’m going to write to Tesco’s Head Office to congratulate them on the ‘talents’ of their driver.

The weather was rather miserable yesterday, changing from one minute to the next. The spates of heavy rain must have registered on the water level, as last evening, the part of the Thames we’re on was on ‘yellow boards’ again with “Caution Stream Increasing”. Being newbies on the river, we sticking firmly to the rules, and the ‘rules’ on riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk/ advises:

“CAUTION STREAM INCREASING – We advise users of all unpowered boats not to navigate and users of powered boats to find a safe mooring. This is because river flows are likely to strengthen and red boards could be displayed very soon and without warning.

John phoned the Lock Keeper at Marlow Lock for travelling advice, the Lockie said the yellow board was on the cusp, and that we’d be fine to cruise. So at 11:00 we said ‘so long’ to Jill and Graham who are boat-sitting ‘No Problem XL’, and we pushed off. Our mooring on Spade Oak Wharf was £5 a night, with money going towards ‘Thameside Preservation Trust’, it was a good mooring with a rubbish bin provided, mooring rings, and a decent wharf to moor.

Our first lock of the day was Marlow, where we had ideas to moor just after the lock.

Mooring fees here was £7 a night, with no mooring rings/posts, and no wharf, but the real reason we didn’t bother mooring here was because of the sheep. There’d be no fence between the sheep and the boat. While Rusty hasn’t shown any interest in sheep, nevertheless, his instinct is to herd. We didn’t think it was a good idea having him in such close quarters with them, just in case he thought it would be a good idea to ’round them up’.

Above Marlow Lock, there’s the historic ‘Marlow Bridge‘, it’s the only suspension bridge on the Thames. Built by Tierney Clark, whom it’s said used the model of Marlow Bridge to build Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest:

“The Budapest bridge is known as the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and is named after Count István Széchenyi who, in 1839, invited Tierney Clark to design and build a bridge across the Danube. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube below Vienna since Roman times. Destroyed in World War II, it has since been faithfully reconstructed. The main span is 666 feet long; for a time the longest in the world. A plaque (unveiled in May 1998) on the Széchenyi Chain Bridge commemorates the link with Marlow Suspension Bridge.”

The  famous Marlow weir was in spectacular high flow as we navigated carefully by.

One of the many beautiful properties that called out to our camera

Obviously an ‘Englishman’s home’

There are so many red kites in this part of the world, John’s in his element!

It’s not very clear, but on top of the post is a cormorant drying its wings

Below is Medmenham Abbey, it was on the market in 2015 for £10 million. Medmenham Abbey was the home of ‘The Hell Fire Club’, where naughty things happened – see the link for more information.

We moored along the bank of a park, which is great for Rusty! The charge for mooring here is £10, which was collected by a ‘man in a boat’!

We can certainly tell we’re in ‘Henley country’, rowing is serious business in these parts. The weather’s promising to be glorious over the weekend, and John wants to cruise on tomorrow, leaving Henley behind for enthusiasts over the holiday weekend.

Today we’ve travelled 8.5 miles, and 4 locks.

Meeting A ‘Famous’ Boat

Pleased to say the yellow weather alert for rain didn’t materialise yesterday, if we’d had the month’s worth of rain in one day the Met Office were predicting, I think we’d have had to stay safely on our mooring until ‘the flood’ had subsided.

Last evening’s sunset

A brilliant sunny morning greeted us when we woke this morning, and we soon had Cyan ready for today’s journey.

Since Friday, this has been our lovely and peaceful mooring.

We were moored within National Trust property, and near Clivedon House where Lady Astor had her home. Cliveden House is now an ultra expensive special hotel. We thought Cliveden was pronounced ‘clive-den’, but we were corrected by a local who pronounced it as ‘cleev-den’ (which sounded rather like ‘clifdon’).

I believe the house below is called ‘Spring Cottage’, starting from £2,000 you can stay here for time, it’s just simply gorgeous…see here.

A glimpse of an opulent age.

Cookham Lock, our first and only lock of the day was manned. As soon as we left the lock we temporarily moored for sanny, rubbish and filling water tank duties.

Leaving Cookham Lock

What a fine beach tree!

Chocolate box houses

We knew we were close to where ‘No Problem XL’ was moored, and we thought we’d missed it – just when we resigned ourselves to not seeing her, she came into view.  Just behind her, we managed to moor Cyan.

We’ve been following Sue and Vic’s blog; blogging their ‘continuous’ journey on both of their ‘No Problem’ boats for several years, as we did with other boat bloggers. I believe we can categorically say: it’s because of Sue and Vic’s blog we joined the community of many continuous cruisers. We can only thank Sue and Vic, and the many other boater’s blogs that kept our ‘dream’ alive until we could make it a reality. To all boat bloggers; thank you!

Sue and Vic are not at ‘home’ presently, but it was a pleasure to meet Jill and Graham who are ‘boat sitting’ ‘No Problem XL’. I’m sure we’ll meet up with Sue and Vic before long, and then we’ll be able to thank them in person for their informative blog.

A pleasant lady from ‘Thames Preservation Trust’ knocked on our boat to collect mooring fees; we’ll be here for two days as a delivery from Tesco has been ordered. Mooring here is £5 per day, and Mr Tesco delivers tomorrow.

Today we’ve travelled 2.5 miles, and one lock!