Thursday, 21 May 2015

Two more days on the Thames

Leaving our very quiet mooring at Wargrave on Wednesday morning …..

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…. it wasn’t long before James’ interest in riverside properties got into full swing.  This old, thatched cottage built on stilts and out of reach of most major floods has survived the test of time and is in superb condition.

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Further upstream and Sonning Court holds a prominent position on the river we cruise past the village. (all the spoons in this house are probably bent!)  

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The narrowness of Sonning Bridge limits quite a few of the larger craft from going any further.

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Black swans at Reading.

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Approaching Caversham lock with part of the Reading skyline in view.

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Leaving Caversham – they don’t build houses like this any more!

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The sign at Mapledurham Lock reminds us how far we’ve travelled and how far we have to go on the Thames. (the half mile seems to be VERY important!)

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Wednesday’s mooring at Goring-on-Thames, just below the weir.

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A very pretty cottage on the backwater in Goring – very typical of this beautiful village.

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We ate out on Wednesday evening – taking the advice of John and Louise on nb “Plodding Along”. we very much enjoyed the food and the atmosphere of this lovely old pub – The Catherine Wheel.

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On our way today, Thursday, and the Middle Thames becomes much more rural and the bridges start to take on a different character. This one at Wallingford has seventeen arches (!) but the river flows through only four of them.

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Just past the bridge the visitor moorings at Wallingford hold a special memory for us. Back in 2008, in our previous boat, we held on for dear life here for a fortnight after the river rose five and a half feet over night! Since then, we hold great respect for this river.

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You have to keep your eyes peeled to spot the River Thame quietly entering the Thames. The River Thames above this point is often referred to as both the Thames and the Isis.

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The distinctive spire of Culham village church.

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Only three of the cooling towers of the disused Didcot Power Station remain after the recent demolition of the other three.

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Approaching the ancient town of Abingdon where, below the low bridge to the left, the River Ock (again very quietly) enters the much larger Thames.

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A closer look at the very attractive waterfront at St Helen’s Wharf, Abingdon.

Our mooring this Thursday evening is at Sandford Lock close to Oxford where, tomorrow, we’ll be leaving this lovely river.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Our First 3 days on the Thames

We’ve had three days on the River Thames already.  Sunday saw us leave Thames Lock at Brentford for a very pleasant cruise upstream towards Teddington lock and the end of the tidal part of the river.

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Being sunny and being Sunday Richmond was buzzing as usual.

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Hampton Court, as always, was impressive – proudly displaying it’s golden gates.

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Our mooring on Sunday evening was at Weybridge where we happened to moor up next to fellow bloggers Dave and Allison on nb “Free Spirit” who we had a very ‘busy’ chat with on Monday morning before we left. Good to meet you guys.

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On the Thames every minute has something interesting to catch the eye, admire or enjoy. For James the endless supply of properties – old, new, stylish, outlandish or whatever keeps him happy, so there’s a lot of “punctuation” with house pics in this post.

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This is one residence which wont come onto the market any when soon!

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Our days are not all leisure, and our mooring on Monday evening in Windsor gave us the opportunity to get some work in. 

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After cleaning the roof Doug got onto Facebook and discovered that cruise friends Jenn and Justin, who we met recently on Queen Mary 2 during part of their world travel, were not only in the country but in Windsor and in a pub only about 500 yards away! Suffice to say they were at our door in a trice and we had a great hour with them before they had to leave to fly to Europe the next day. Amazing and spooky is all we can say – great to meet up with you guys and keep safe.

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Next, after Jen and Justin, came friends Alastair and Chris and we had a great couple of hours with them as well. What a great evening.

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Today, Tuesday, the weather has been off and on with tremendously heavy showers, hail, high winds and thunder. Once the showers were over the sun shone wonderfully and none of it spoilt our enjoyment. Most of the Thames locks are attractive and beautifully kept – Boveney Lock was no exception.

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If the inside of this hotel is as awesome as the outside it must be blooming expensive!

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Cruising through Bray (and you have to go through because they don’t allow you to stop!) is a feast of residential opulence ………

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….. where a Slipper Launch is almost a must outside the house.

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Leaving Bray behind and onto Maidenhead where we’d made arrangements to catch up with friends and fellow bloggers John and Louise on their lovely boat “Plodding Along”. We had coffee and cake and one of those good old catch up chats.

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Thanks for your hospitality L and J and we’ll look forward to catching up again with you “oop north!”

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Outside Maidenhead we’re treated to the huge and glorious “pile” of Cliveden bearing down on us from its imposing position above the river.

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Alone! and very much par for the course all day. So very quiet everywhere.

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Leaving very pretty Marlow with its famous suspension bridge ……

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….. we were pleased to be hailed by blog readers on nb “Black Bess” – great to meet you in passing and we wish you safe cruising.

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A happy chappie amid bright sunshine and the next looming storm.

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Starting the mile straight towards Henley, where they’ve already placed the lane markers and the regatta isn’t until July!

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The river has certainly excelled in atmosphere today.

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The ‘polished’ waterfront of Henley-on-Thames …….

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…….. and, just beyond Henley, this evening’s mooring at Wargrave. (Of course we have to moor opposite something nice!)

Sunday, 17 May 2015

A Fortnight of catch up.

It’s been two weeks since our last “canal kick” when we attended the Canal Cavalcade in Little Venice. The often visited lovely Isle of Wight was our destination last weekend when ……….

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…… we went to friend Jonathan’s birthday BBQ. A great time was had in his very windy cliff top garden. Lighting the BBQ in the face of a westerly gale was an achievement in itself!

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A quick hop back from the Isle of Wight on Sunday had us in Southampton and meeting cruise friends Lance and Vanessa. We had a very nice al fresco meal on the waterfront with the fantastic backdrop of “Queen Victoria” at Ocean Terminal. 

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Later in the afternoon we retired to the Duke of Wellington.  The building has original foundations and cellars from the 12th century when it was called The Bere House. It took on its present name after the Battle of Waterloo and we love quaffing the occasional pint surrounded by its lovely old timbers.

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Last week Doug’s parents, Derek and Vilma, popped up from Devon for a few days and we had some splendid moments with them. Selsey came up trumps as usual and provided some lovely sunshine.

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Selsey’s had more important coastal defence work carried out recently, claiming back some 12 feet in this case and halting some rapid erosion.

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We enjoyed a pre theatre meal in Prezzo before seeing Alan Ayckbourn’s, Way Upstream at the Chichester’s Festival Theatre ……

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…… where the most extraordinary set greeted us when we arrived. A boat floating on a lake with a forest behind!

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The boat moved around the lake and we had thunder, lightning and rain!

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And talking of boats – here we are today (Saturday) on ours. “Chance” is finally out of winter moth balls and starting to shake off the awful fur coat that’s grown on the hull over the last few months.

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Heading down towards Brentford to get onto the Thames tomorrow we found the lock flight at Hanwell with all the bottom gates open and paddles up! Although we had to work twice as hard as we might have done it was sunny and warm and Asylum Lock was as atmospheric as always.