Wednesday 12th October.
A day of rest again for me, with a few odd jobs thrown in, so not a lot to report.
In the evening I decided to have a meal at The Bookies again, as it was so good yesterday. I was early, so there were plenty of vacant tables. Having only a small appetite, I decided to go for two starters and chose soup de poisson with garlic bread and aioli, then moules farcie – a dish that I used to do at home with surplus mussels that I had picked and had to freeze. I must say that both were very rich dishes, the latter swimming in garlic butter, but absolutely delicious. How I wish that this pub was closer to home.
Thursday 13th October.
Another rude awakening this morning when a fast boat came past and pulled out the mooring pins at the front end. Suddenly the bow was on the other side of the cut. Slipping on trousers and sweater over pyjamas, I hastily took off the centre line and hauled the boat back to the bank, driving the pins back in. OK, so the ground was very soft, but speeding boats again?
The coal boat Dusty right opposite last night, but no one was around this morning until 09.00, when Jock and Kati appeared from home, which is another boat moored in the marina. I hailed them and asked for diesel and a bag of house coal. Although I had Phurnacite on board, it was difficult light from scratch and I thought coal would enable better ignition from the start of a new fire, which proved to be the case.
About midday, I let go for the moorings at Osney, just a short way away on the Thames. Plenty of space there at that time of day. This was where I met up with the Narrow Boat Trust pair of boats about five years ago, so memories were restored of that time.
A short walk to The Punter pub on the corner, which had changed considerably since my last visit, being now very busy in early evening. Beer prices were high though at £4.00 for a pint, so back to London prices it seems. The cheapest of all on this trip was £2.05 – bargain!
Friday 14th October.
It took me about an hour to prepare for travelling on the Thames. Moving the anchor, chain and cable to the stern end and tying the anchor upright with string, ready to be quickly cut free if necessary. Making sure that the chain is shackled to it and the warp tied to a stern dolly. The longer centre line was attached to the centre tee stud, which enables me to hold the boat on a bollard whilst descending the lock. Most lockies are happy for me to hold the boat in this manner, providing there are no other boats in the lock as there is no turbulence when going down.
I was pleased to see a lady lockie on duty at Osney Lock, that eased my mind at the first hurdle. She also made out a one week licence for the boat, costing £52. Another lockie was on duty at Iffley Lock, but Sandford was unattended, so I filled it and walked back to board Stronghold. Just at that moment a man was seen closing the top gates. I pressed the horn button and then he realised that I was waiting, so opened them again. So then I understood that two boats were waiting to come up, so no need for me to return to close the bottom gates. All good so far. At Abingdon, I could see the lock keeper talking to someone, but I had to water up first – the first time since Banbury. The lockie pointed out a recently vacated mooring, but I was hoping for one on the offside closer to the Town and sure enough, there was one there. So the first day on the Thames had gone well in my favour so far.
Saturday 15th October.
A late start to the day, but hoping to get to Goring in five hours for a free mooring. It really was a beautiful day with sun out most of the time, making it feel pleasantly warm.
A I thought, Culham Lock was unmanned, but there was a hire boat coming up, so I asked the steerer if he would see me through the lock and close the gates after me, to which he agreed. It took twenty minutes for the lock to fill and in that time another narrow boat came and moored up behind me – problem solved, as he also had a crew of one to help. I explained my problem and he agreed to help by working the locks ahead, although the next two were manned.
Plenty of these to be seen in the good weather.
An delightful little folly.
On exiting Benson Lock, I was confronted by a narrow boat in the shallows, almost surrounded by green buoys and obviously aground. A man was standing on the bow waving and holding the bow line. Why he was on shallow ground, when it was obviously buoyed to that effect, I never got to know. I offered to tow him off, but the following boat waved me on, as he wanted to let another boat into the lock. He then took the bow line off the stranded boat and tried to tow off in reverse, but ended up in the hedge. Taking the bowline to the stern of his boat was a better solution and he pulled the boat around the green buoys successfully. Why the other boat had gone aground I never found out, but the green buoys were obviously put there to mark it out and he was amongst them. He looked like an experienced boater, so should have know that green means keep them to starboard going upstream.
Stemmed up in the shallows being approached by nb Kilgharragh.
Kilgharragh tows forward.
Free at last!
I eventually got to Goring an hour later than planned. There were plenty of moorings at the far end of the bank, but as usual, there were metres of space wasted between boats and there was probably enough room for two or three more boats there. I fail to understand if these people are either selfish or unthinking.
Sunday 16th October.
My younger daughter was coming out to crew for me today, which was very welcome, except that the rain was lashing down. We set off in the wet, with her taking the helm and giving me a chance to catch up with the blog. Later in the morning, the sun made and appearance and it was really pleasant. We made good progress heading for somewhere beyond Henley. At £9.00 for one nights mooring, it is beyond belief, which I would imagine puts a lot of boaters off stopping there.
Mid-afternoon we stopped off at the Tesco mooring just below Caversham Lock to stock up the wine cellar and adjust the gear control once again. This time the gear was not engaging until the revs were quite high, causing a jolt to the engine with less control. It was a case of fine tuning really to get it just right.
After Shiplake Lock, it was starting to get cold and the sun was about to set, when I spotted a familiar mooring passed by several times in the past, never having stopped there. Just further down was nb Kilgharah, who did the boat rescue a few lock back. Taking my camera down to the boat to show the owner the pics of the rescue, I asked if he would like me to e-mail them to him, which was received with enthusiasm. It appeared that he had had a run in with a Le Boat hire boat earlier, when they insisted on overtaking at full speed on a bend, confronting another boat in the process. Despite warnings made by him and other boaters, they pressed on at full speed and came very close to a head on collision. Why is it that they think they are indestructible by showing such ignorance?