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On the Source – Day 34

Well, it's time to put this particular chapter in my Weyward Lady 'Travels along the Cut' blog to bed. We never did make it to the source but in truth we never intended to. Kelmscot in Oxfordshire was as far west as we got. Going any further just involves twisting and turning along a very narrow river finally ending up at Lechlade, not our most favourite of riverside towns. Given we never ventured on to a canal, we had a very good, just as interesting, and infinitely easier passage by staying on the Thames. But not as challenging.

Going up the River Wey on Wednesday morning we encountered some of the worst boating weather I can remember. We did have a modicum of good fortune however.
Going through Thames Lock the first lock on the River Wey

At the second lock we met a narrowboat which not only was it coming down, which meant the lock was set, but it had come through the lock to turn and go back upstream. Serendipity!
Three hours later we were safely tied up in Pyrford Marina and, 1/2 hour after that, home having a 'nice cup of tea'
Now the only reminder of our adventure away is five washing machine loads of laundry (plus ironing) and a garden that would be better suited as the set of Jurassic Park.
I'm sure I didn't have that chin before I went away. Let's put it down to camera angle. Please.

Anyway, thanks from Pretty Officer Sue and Cap'n Ed and we hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as we've enjoyed writing it.

Pip Pip

On the Source – Day 33

It’s encouraging that some developers do give a bit of thought to what the final outcome of their developments will look like. If one takes where the Eton boathouses once stood it would have been so easy to knock them all down and build luxury apartments that had no relationship with the past but that’s not what’s happened. What is there now is  fit for modern day living apartments but still encapsulates a reminder of what was once there. Very nice. Cobham take note!

We managed the journey from Boveney to Weybridge without getting wet. Cold, but not wet. We were early enough to get a mooring space on the wall below Shepperton lock. This meant we could go ahead meeting our neighbours, Miriam and Patrick at the Minnow. Shortly after mooring I did pop up there to book a table for the evening, and to check out/sample the comestibles and beverages just to make they were of a sufficient standard for our guests. 

Not my picture. The sun’s shining in this one!

They came to the boat first and I think were genuinely quite surprised that actually we hadn’t been living in damp squalor for the last month and that one could search on top of the roof with a magnifying glass, and still not find a log or a wheelbarrow. 

Today we go in to Thames lock first thing and wend our way up the River Wey or ‘The Ditch’ as it is affectionately known. Rain is planned for us all morning so I might actually, for the first time this trip, don wet weather clothes  before we set off. No lockeepers to do the work now!

On the Source – Day 32

Today we leave Boveney Lock above Windsor where we moored last night, to begin our last day on the Thames. And although it’s threatened, it’s not raining. 

Yesterday was different. A day of two halves. The first half it rained and the second half it rained harder. That said there was a two hour bit in the middle, sort of half time, that was quite pleasant for late autumn. It was at this time that our visitors Keith and Jane plus their dog  Millie arrived. 

After coffee and biscuits, the biscuits supplied by, and mostly eaten by, Keith, during this window of reasonable weather we managed a trip up to  Oakley Court where we had a spot of lunch. I have to say the food falls into the ‘ok’ bracket but the staff are lovely. Very smart in their Ted Baker blouses and very helpful. The outside terrace had either not opened that day due to inclement weather or had closed by the time we arrived so we ate in one of the sitting rooms, at a couple of small tables they had put together. Nothing seemed too much trouble and definitely service with a smile. 

We weren’t the only ones to enjoy excellent service in Oakley Court.

After lunch we went back through Boveney Lock and instead of stopping, I foolishly decided to take everybody for a run down to Windsor Castle.  As the castle came into sight, it started pouring. Although I turned immediately, it didn’t stop till after ‘lights out’ later that evening.  

Keith had a minor dig that I have not mentioned him in my blogs before. This may have something to do with, as the very busy socialite that he is, not visiting us during the blog writing season. He also reminded me that he talks about me in his blog a lot. If you can spare a moment follow this link and you’ll probably see why http://www.cageyenne.co.uk/wp 

I’m sure you’ve head of ‘A Day at the Races’ and ‘A Night at the Opera’ well last night in Windsor it was ‘A Night at the Races’. It must have been an awful night as well, for so many people.

And as the horses pass the 6 fathom marker

 

Going all that way, losing all your money, and getting thoroughly soaked in the process. Not good. And spare a thought for the jockeys and if you have any sympathy left save it for the wretched horses who don’t get the option of choosing not to go. 

On the Source – Day 31

A rude awakening this morning. No, not that sort of rude awakening, this rude awakening was a swimming marathon taking place right in front of our bedroom window. Allegedly 500 swimmers swimming from Henley to Marlow

 We were well into the thick of it by the time we set off on our journey to Marlow. There would have been no point waiting any longer and besides I love a challenge. My thought process told me that most of them were dressed in rubber, so one must assume most of them would, in the event of a collision bounce off or, at the very least, bob back up again 😉. 

As it happens I managed to avoid them all, but I have to add, on a serious note, that the marshalling of the event was appalling and I will be expressing my views and genuine concerns for safety to the event organiser. We stopped in Marlow to pick up some bits and pieces and whilst there I was able to find the organiser’s name. 

People were struggling with exhaustion exacerbated by ridiculously constructed steps.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great event but they need to be more stringent with safety implementation and be made much more aware of the vulnerabilities of their competitors from the angle of a river boat user.  

We arrived at Cookham where by some minor miracle there was a suitable space and we were able to moor on Bellrope meadow, our Cookham mooring of choice. 

The proposed agenda for later in the day was to meet a friend of mine, Simon. I first met Simon, a carpenter/joiner (not quite sure what the difference is) when he made and fitted new windows at home. Having done a first class job, he then went on to make some clever constructional changes to the inside of Weyward Lady. We became friends over this period and as he lives in Marlow I thought it would be great to meet up. 

We met at The Crown at Cookham Pound. I assume that maybe either this must have once been a pound where either the working boats could get off the Thames and deliver or collect their cargoes or at the very least an area full of water. Either way it would have been a very different sight back then than that of today which is green grass and a car park. The Crown is not the greatest pub in the world but they did serve a very decent pint of Youngs. I would normally say my beer of choice, but I’m struggling to find one that isn’t!

Later Pretty Officer Sue and I had one of our games of Scrabble. Actually two games of Scrabble, after the first game ended when the board inadvertently got jogged badly and the game had to be abandoned. There may be some significance in the fact that the jogger’s opponent had taken an unassailable lead of 100+ points. Still accidents happen. 

On the Source – Day 30

Who would have believed it’s Day 30. Where does it go! It’s funny, well it’s not actually, how, as one becomes older, days seem to gallop past. As I said to somebody recently , when I’m home I seem to put the dustbins out every day. Anyway I digress. Actually I’m rambling may be a better way of describing it. 

It’s  our last day in Henley and we are sharing it with Jon and Jenny and their Son’s dog Maisie or Maisy, I’ve no idea how you spell it but there again neither has the dog so she’s not going to be offended.  

We always have to plan for our guests arrival regarding not just food, etc., but also making sure both the boat and us are presentable. This all takes time so things follow a sort of order, the last thing on the agenda is for me to make myself clean and wholesome. This all goes out of the window if, like today, the guests arrive an hour early! As I said to Jenny, if they had arrived much earlier she could have brought us tea in bed! Anyway luckily the car park ticket machine completely outwitted them, it is the most complicated machine ever invented, and delayed their arrival enough to allow me to getting presentable. Just. 

Then it came to getting Masie on at the front of the boat. Coaxing and gentle persuasion didn’t work so bribery by biscuit and a shove on the rump and she was on. She ran straight through the boat faster than Justlin Gatlin,and, nanoseconds later jumped off the other end, tail wagging. This is a jolly good game she thinks, I’m sure. So, further coaxing, far doors closed, bolted and barricaded and she’s back on board again. In the meantime Tilly is all a bit nonplussed about the whole affair and takes to her hideaway bed under the table. Once the dogs are settled, coffee and flapjacks are served, not to the dogs obviously. 

It’s sunny. Even I can’t believe it, so off we go. A pootle up to Marsh lock, turn and then a run downstream along the regatta course. Past Temple Island and down to Hambledon lock, turn and back up to Henley. Well that’s what should have happened. What I hadn’t bargained for was the torrential downpour of very very wet rain that fell just after we turned back up from Hambledon. 

Anyway problem solved as to where to have lunch. I just let the wind and rain blow us into the bank and then tied up to stakes hurriedly shoved into the ground.   Of course once all this had been done, it stopped raining and the sun came out. It gave the girls an opportunity to, after lunch, walk the dogs and Jon and I an opportunity to stay on the boat on the the pretence of washing up, but actually to talk well constructed and well thought out rubbish. The girls walked down to Temple Island where a wedding was occurring. They had problems picking the bride out. There were beautiful flowers lovely music but no bride. Two grooms but no bride. 

Also on the riverbank, an amphicar rally was going on. Extraordinary. 

All looks like something out of Top Gear.

I was not aware that so many of these cars from the sixties have survived. I would have laid money that most would have rusted or sunk, or both by now. But no, there were quite a few of them, although I must admit you would never catch me in one.  

We moored down below Temple Island for the night. Didn’t even hear any geese to complain about. 

Sunset on the Thames

Not a bad view out of the other window either 

Moonrise on the Thames

And if you have to wake up looking at something this view isn’t bad either

On the Source – Day 29

As mentioned in my previous blogs (not yesterday because, as you may have read, I didn’t write one) we are in Henley until at least the end of today, Saturday as it is a lovely place and very easy place to have visitors.  

Let’s just say that’s dew not rain, shall we?

No guests in the morning allowed me sufficient time to touch up some of the black paint on the hull where the lock sides have made unprovoked attacks on me. There’s no doubt about it, a tin of Hammerite black smooth covers a multitude of sins. Weyward Lady is back looking fit for purpose, unlike my back which definitely isn’t. 

On a less painful note, yesterday my old friend Willy and his wife Jane came to the boat plus their son’s dog Oscar. Leaving Tilly and Oscar to guard the boat, (with a partition door between them of course, well we don’t want any of that hanky-panky going on while we’re not there), we went and had lunch in Henley. The Villa Marina by Henley bridge, to be precise. 

Expecting the rather expensive restaurant that I have frequented a couple of times during previous regatta weeks, I was very surprised to discover that, at lunchtime, they only offered a 3 course set price menu for £18. But it was a very extensive menu, almost too extensive we thought and so for that reason we didn’t have high expectations. But we shouldn’t have worried, we were totally wrong and very pleasantly surprised. The food was excellent and the accompanying wine(s) fairly priced. Definitely worth a return visit. 

Today we have Jon and Jenny also with their son’s dog Maisy. Or perhaps in photographic equivalent

 
As the weather seems to have finally turned back to almost summer-like we will take the boat out for a run and lunch on board. Personally I can never have too much of the Thames at Henley whatever the weather. 

Just finally, I promise, finishing the subject of hireboats that run their engines late into the evening it turns out it is not entirely their fault. Talking to the lady on the neighbouring narrowboat, I gather that these ‘le boats’, as they are branded, are fully equipped with many accessories, televisions etc, all which run off 240v and all of which need the engine running to work. The hireboat companies actually advise people to have the engine running when moored. It’s just not right! Mind you, someone on a nearby private Tupperware boat ran his noisy cheap Screwfix generator for an hour yesterday morning at 0730am and when challenged (not by me for once) he replied he was only running it because his wife wanted a shower. What was that all about then? What’s wrong with a quick dip in the Thames? 

Tonight we are planning to moor downstream by a Meadow or field. What will I write tomorrow if I can’t find something to complain about? It will just have to be the noisy geese again. 😄

On the Source – Day 28

Hardly anybody read my blog for Day 27 so today, as a punishment, you are all going to go without and I’m not going to write one!!  

Which is a shame because I can’t tell you about the altercation I had with a hire boat last night for running their engine at 2130. Also I can’t describe the terrific wind when we brought the boat down from Sonning this morning, going sideways at times.

You also won’t get to hear about the guests we had on board today, Hilly, Ian, Kevin and Sally, and the amazing bottle of Chateau Musar 2002, a particularly cheeky little red from the Lebanon that one of the guests brought. A wine review describes the wine as exceptional, having ‘a complex nose of cigar box spice, warm leather, ripe morello cherries and blackcurrants’. I can only say it had all of that. 

The other guest brought a Grenache based wine from the Nevarra in Spain. Grenache was once the second most planted grape in the world and whilst it fell out of favour it is still capable of producing some very good wines and this was one of them. Pity I can’t tell you that as well.  

Anyway,  it will be business as usual tomorrow and so I look forward to entertaining you with more self- indulgent rubbish. Pip pip. 

PS. If you ever feel like  ‘sharing’ my blog on any social media I would be most appreciative.