The final few days.
Saturday 6th October
As forecast, it was a wet day and so I was going to stay put until Sunday. This was one of the Thames Visitor Moorings, so I duly registered my mooring, which is free for the first day. I was on the end of the moorings, so decided to move further along where the bank was somewhat lower and easier to disembark. I had decided to do this whist the further mooring was still free at 11am in the pouring rain and harsh wind that was blowing – not a day for boating, although there were many others on the move. I have no problem staying in one place for a day, as there is always something to do on board, but after that the wanderlust sets in.
Mid afternoon I walked to The Catherine Wheel and what a surprise it was after the last time I visited some five or more years ago. Then it was an uninspiring place to go and I think it had just been taken over by a young couple. Now it was a busy community pub, with an excellent selection of ales and good food to be had. Certainly a pub worth visiting.
I had a walk around the few shops that were in Goring and surprisingly there is quite a selection. Back on board I planned the next day’s boating, intending to stop above Sonning Lock on EA moorings, however things changed on Sunday.
Sunday 7th October
After all the rain yesterday, it was a total change to sunshine all day, albeit through a thin veil of cloud. I was hoping to get through the locks with the same boat as yesterday, but a phone call from my mate Barry put the brakes on that as I had not left the mooring by then.
When I reached Caversham, I spotted nb Merchant coming towards me (Chris Iddon’s fuel boat), but he went to the right of Fry’s Island and was travelling at a fast pace. Needing some diesel, I turned and gave chase, but could not catch up¸ so eventually had to slow down and retrace my steps. I was pitting a 32 HP engine against a 72HP Gardner, so there was no competition. I still had half a tank full and 40 litres in reserve, so enough to get home.
On the approach to Caversham Lock, which already had one boat in it, the lockie opened the gate to let me and another boat in. After closing the gates again, he then opened the sluices on the bottom gates; it was only then that we realised he had not closed the top sluices, which resulted in him running the length of the lock to do just that. This was a first in my experience and could never be done by a boater, because of all the interlocks in place.
Another thing that came to my attention was the existence of a Steamer Switch in a small locked box on the outside of the lock keeper’s cabin. This is to enable any of the trip boat crews to operate the lock just as the lock keeper would without the interlocks, but only they have a key.
I pulled in for water above Shiplake, where there was another boat already at the water point. I waited some 15 mins for him to fill and remove the hose and it was then that I became suspicious that he was using that as an excuse for a long mooring time and I was right when I looked to see that the tap was turned off. It was quickly removed on request, but no apology or excuse was given.
I had read on Canal World Discussion Forum about the restriction placed on mooring outside Tesco at Reading by Reading Council and some London parking firm, where they wanted £9.95 for mooring despite the length of stay and there were notices to that effect placed along the moorings. When I got there, there were no notices to be seen and I walked the length as far as Kennet Mouth. I then asked some continuous moorers what the situation was and discovered that one had actually paid the penalty fee amounting to £60, whereas another who refused to pay was eventually charged £360, but still refused to pay and was taken to court, where the case was dismissed. The interesting thing is that the some of the signs have been papered over with local community events and others have been removed. I wonder who did that? The news was that the mooring checker was not due for another week, having told the continuous moorers that. Now that the signs are no longer visible, I wonder what will happen next? Needless to say, I did not pay for the night I was there.
Plenty of boats moored at the Tesco site.
I had a walk to The Jolly Anglers on the K & A to include it in the database. Not a very inspiring pub, although the beer was good.
Monday 8th October
I left Tesco at 10am after doing some essential shopping and it was a glorious day to be boating. All was incident free and I wanted to get to Boulters Lock by the end of the day. It took until 5pm and by that time was starting to get chilly. I moored where I had done in the past, in the lock cut, close to the road, so it was rather a noisy mooring.
Tuesday 9th October
I was hoping to meet up with Barry and crew on the NBT pair at the mouth of the Wey, so really I had to get a move on if I was to get there before nightfall.
Passing through Windsor at midday was just the wrong time to meet up with my youngest daughter, so I pressed on. The weather was even better than yesterday, which is quite amazing for the time of year.
Lunch was eaten on the move and I was making good progress. The engine was continuously at 1500rpm and did not complain, for which I was grateful. Eventually I arrived at the Weybridge moorings about 6pm and once securely moored up, the breasted NBT pair could be seen emerging from the Wey and berthed in front of Stronghold. I was invited on board for a hearty meal, after which we repaired to The Old Crown to swap stories and relax over a beer or two. After two long days of cruising, it was well deserved.
Wednesday 10th October.
A beautiful day was forecast and it turned out to be really warm and sunny. My winter fuel supplies were loaded on the fore deck, but had yet to be split up into half bags, so that I could lift them. Diesel still had to be pumped into the tank, so that the containers could be refilled and there was quite a bit of work to be completed before I went home. I decided that would be on Friday, which gave me a day of grace.
I was in the process of tying up, when there was a horn blast and there was my mate Dave – well what a coincidence that he should arrive on the same day as me! Many tales to be recited between us, so we repaired to The Pelly and sat outside in tee shirts, it was that warm. Almost a perfect end to a Summer Jaunt, which didn’t take me very far this year.
Despite sadness at going home and the end of summer, I really cannot complain about my daily walk to the pub and back:-
Typical October sunset.