|I can’t believe it is nearly a month since my last update – I really must do better, but the days are going so quickly!
So, to catch up…….
We stayed in Kintbury to have our back cover fitted as we couldn’t get a reply from the marina in Newbury. We’d wanted to go to the marina so that Sarah could get close by with the van. Kintbury has a boaters’ car park very close to the canal, so it seemed the best option. This meant that we did get our sausage rolls after all – yay!!
Sarah was working on the cover until 6.30 pm on Tuesday 13th August but we decided to move after she’d gone as we’d been there for two days already (two day mooring) and the forecast for the Wednesday was horrible and we didn’t want to have to move in the rain. We arrived at Marsh Benham at 8.30 pm, our latest cruise yet. We moored up, had a quick dinner and went to bed!
Wednesday was indeed horrible; two wet dog walks but holed up inside otherwise.
We moved to Newbury on the 15th August – 3 months to the day since we left. Seemed fitting. It was also 8 months to the day since we got our gorgeous Sally.
We stayed in Newbury until Sunday 18th Aug, catching up with supermarket shopping and buying a few bits and pieces whilst we were in a bigger town. The weather wasn’t great – it would’ve been handy to have a cover over the back! 😁 We were moored opposite the marina in which we used to stay – strange to see it from the “other side of the tracks”! We popped in to say hello – it was nice to see them again!
Sarah needed one more visit to finish the cover, so we moved towards Aldermaston after we left Newbury. We’d booked into a marina for two nights so that she could get close by with the van to finish the cover. We moored between Thatcham and Newbury on Sunday and made the rest of the journey on Monday 19th Aug. The weather was strange on Monday – heavy rain – raincoat – sun out, hot, raincoat off – and repeat – several times! There was one downpour whilst I was steering – even Sal thought that it was beyond a joke and took herself inside! Tony was walking to the next lock and managed to shelter – mostly – under a tree. We both got soaked, though!
We arrived at Frouds Bridge Marina on Monday afternoon, it is lovely! Very well kept, nice bloke as manager, friendly people, great location. It’s the sort of marina I wouldn’t mind living in, if that’s what we decide to do, when our travels are over.
Sarah arrived on Tuesday 20th as planned, fitted and fiddled with the cover until she was happy. Tony loosened a fitting to rotate it a little – it fell off the frame and into the drink – he’s getting to make a habit of this! He has now lost two pairs of reading glasses, a few lids (from boat polish bottles etc), a screwdriver and various other bits. Some we manage to fish out, most we don’t. Basically, if it’s not nailed down and it can fall in, then it will! We spent a good couple of hours trying to fish the fitting out without success – me lying flat on my tummy, arms up to the elbows, going through the (smelly!!) mud from the bottom! Fortunately, we had plenty of hot water thanks to the electric hook up and water point next to the mooring – a long, hot shower was in order and enjoyed!!!! We are very happy with the cover. We need to get used to putting it up and down and to find the best way to do it. It’s similar to putting tents up and down from our camping days!
We moved to literally just round the corner from the marina on the 20th Aug where we stayed for two nights. We continued our journey towards Theale and Reading with Liz and Pete’s visit on the 30th August in mind – we needed somewhere near to a station to meet them, with reasonable moorings, too. We were also looking for a good meeting spot for the rest of the family to visit – good parking and a nice place to have a picnic. We did a fairly long trip (for us) and moored at Theale on the 22nd August. On the way, we came across the second turf sided lock, albeit not as big or pretty as Monkey Marsh – Garston Lock – and it had a good sense of humour! There was a boat coming out of the lock as we approached, so I drove straight in and positioned the boat on left to shut the gate. I shut my side, Tony shut the other. Tony walked to front of the lock, back gate his side swung open again. I pushed boat over to save him walking back and jumped off and shut gate again – the other gate swung open! Tony walked round to shut the gate, the other swung open! As soon as you shut a gate and turned your back, the gate swung open again – good game, good game!! We were beginning to lose our own sense of humour by this stage so Tony actually roped the gates together until I was able to let a bit of water out to keep the gates closed. All good fun!
Theale was good for access to the station for meeting with Liz & Pete but the picnic spot was disappointing (the car park looked like the hangout for the local drug dealers!), so the search continued for a good spot for the Daborn family to meet. We moved on the 23rd Aug and moored at The Cunning Man pub – the canal (although this bit is technically river) is very pretty along this stretch. We took advantage of the proximity to the pub and had our dinner, which was very nice!
We stayed by the Cunning Man pub until 6.30 pm on Saturday 24th, when we had a Sainsbury’s delivery to the car park, which worked really well. We then moved a short distance to Fobney Lock; we were still moored up and everything tidied away by 8.00 pm, though.
We left Fobney early on Sunday 25th and traveled to Reading to check on moorings for when we needed to drop off Liz and Pete; it was very quiet and we saw only 2 or 3 other boats. It only took a few hours to get there and back to Fobney – just as well as it was hot! It would’ve been nice to have a quiet afternoon but the local young chappies were having a go off road on their motorbikes very close to the canal, so our peaceful day was really vroooom, vroooom, vrooooooooom!! One of them even shot past – at speed – on the towpath so we were pleased that Sal was inside!
On Monday 26th, we traveled to Tyle Mill to fill with water and moor for the night. Unfortunately, Tony managed to lose another pair of reading glasses AND sunglasses as they fell into the water – along with himself!!! It was whilst I was steering into a lock landing, I heard a big clonk, thought I had hit something on the edge or underwater, turned round and Tony wasn’t there! He went right under!! It could have been very nasty as he was right at the back near the prop and I was very close to the edge! I don’t think he realised how wet he was (hair plastered to his head) as he came up, climbed out and complained that his underpants were wet! Everything was wet! He stripped off and had a hot shower straight away. We continued our journey, stopped to fill with water and then found a beautiful mooring in the shade right next to an open field, known locally as The Cow Field. Fortunately, it had no occupants on this occasion – I’m a little wary of cows, so I was quite relieved! This was very close to where the poor young PC was killed, the road nearby was still closed whist the investigation continued.
We stayed at the Cow Field for another day and spent the day doing a couple of little jobs – more varnishing, covering a padded “perching” seat for the back for when we’re underway, so the person who’s not steering can “perch”, and bathing the dog – she was definitely overdue!! It was still hot and the shade from the tree was very welcome.
We had decided by this stage that Frouds Bridge Marina was the perfect spot to have the family day – it ticked all the boxes – near to the railway station to meet Liz and Pete, good parking for the family arriving in cars and a pleasant spot for a picnic. So, we left Tyle Mill and our lovely moorings on Wednesday 28th August and made our way to Aldermaston to moor in readiness for Liz and Pete’s arrival on Friday. I went on the bus to Sainsbury’s just outside Reading on Thursday to stock up with a few things and we also did an online shop to be delivered to the marina on Friday, ready for the family coming on Saturday. I’m sure it takes just as long to do it online as it would actually going to the shop! Liz and Pete duly arrived on Friday, we had a quick cuppa, then moved round the mile or so to Frouds Bridge Marina.
The weather didn’t exactly play ball on Saturday but we still managed to have a picnic – some use of brollies and sheltering in cars was needed but the sun came out later in the afternoon. It was lovely to have everyone all together, although Livv was “hen-doing” so couldn’t be with us. Dave and Mel with Ben and Bailey, Rhys and Ash, Jim and Graham and Paula all came to see Liz and Pete. Sally was grumpy and kept growling at Bailey, funny girl!
On Sunday, we had a longish day, moving to the moorings at the Cunning Man. We got on well, Liz had a go at steering whilst Pete elected to work the locks.
We stopped for lunch at Theale, completing our journey after lunch. We moored up, had a quick shower and went to the pub for dinner. Unfortunately, they had run out of roasts and we had a somewhat disappointing meal. Shame. On Monday, we had a shorter journey to take us into the centre of Reading. Moorings aren’t great in Reading but the Bel and the Dragon restaurant allows customers to moor outside so we had a very nice meal in there!
We had a relaxed morning on Tuesday 3rd Sept and then walked with Liz and Pete to the station so that they could continue on with their fabulous holiday! They are off to Iceland and their Baltic cruise – lovely! Tony and I stayed in Reading for one more night and left to continue our journey on the 4th Sept. We cruised the short distance to the moorings outside Tesco, enabling us to stock up for the week ahead. Two trips and cupboards, fridge and freezer full again! We then moved just across the river to top up with diesel and have a pump out – one full tank and one empty tank! Good to get it the right way round!! Then, on the advice of the lock keeper at Caversham Lock, we cruised for a good couple of hours and moored on the private moorings of Mapledurham House – £5 per night but beautiful and absolutely worth it!! The only thing was, the Estate Manager didn’t come to collect the fee, so it was, in fact, free!
So far, the river has been lovely! Some of the properties along the Thames are dream-worthy! You can only imagine the wealth of the owners. Hope they appreciate their good fortune!
We’ve had three lovely days and two lovely moorings on the Thames so far. We moved from Mapledurham House on Thursday and spent two nights at Pangbourne then to Beale Park, just south of Basildon, today. We have booked into a marina in Oxford so that the boat is safe when we leave it to go to the log cabin in Devon for Jim’s 30th birthday short break; we are meandering so that we don’t get there too soon. Consequently, we have gone very short distances and stopped when we’ve seen a nice mooring.
The River is really beautiful! I’m enjoying it immensely! We have seen some lovely birds – kingfishers, swans and herons, as on the canals, but we’ve also seen grebes, cormorants and various geese (including Egyptian Geese). Sal was a bit disconcerted by the sound of the wash on the side of the boat made by passing craft, which you don’t really get on the canals, but she soon got used to it!
We are getting used to putting up and taking down the back cover – it makes a huge difference now that the cooler evenings and mornings are coming!
Sal didn’t seem bothered by the wideness of the river – quite happy to stand or lie on the back and watch the water go by – I wonder what she thinks?? Back in lifejackets for all three of us, happily, she doesn’t seem to mind hers at all!
Speaking of Sal – we had a bit of a breakthrough with the recall training (although I hope I’m not talking too soon!!). After all the dog treats we’d been using for her training, both bought and home made, we found that she was enthusiastically returning to us for…….bread!!! Who knew!! We have even felt confident enough to let her off the lead for short stretches. Not sure we’d ever let her off if there was any danger that there might be any sheep, rabbits, deer or squirrels to chase – not sure we’d ever get her back! It is lovely to see her off lead and free, though, even if only for a short while!