Terrific thunderstorms during the night. It started about 4 o’clock, really hard rain, loud thunder and lightening. But by the morning it had stopped and the sky was mostly grey, but with some blue.
10 locks and 9.5 miles today. Yesterday we shared all the locks, today we shared none. In fact we saw very few boats at all. We met a trip boat at Dunmill lock. It was taking a load of women on a hen party trip but, other than that we didnt meet any other boats at locks.
The locks on this section are much easier than those the other side of Newbury. The top gates have ground paddles, rather than gate paddles, which make life much easier when coming up.
We have moored before in Hungerford, above the lock by the church. But there wasnt room there this time so we are moored just below the lock.
We arrived just after one o’clock, had lunch, then went for a wander round the town and popped to Tesco for a Chinese meal for tonight.
Hot, hot, hot today. It’s still 26 C at five o’clock!
Shortly after setting off this morning we caught up with narrowboat ‘Amy’ at Woolhampton swing bridge. They let us through and we then spent the rest of the day with them sharing the next ten locks, and several swing bridges. We worked together well as a team. The couple on board, Graham and Jan have a similar boating background to us, except that they are now liveaboards cruising for the summer and spending the winter in a marina near Foxton.
We both moored up just past the West Mills swing bridge on the outskirts of Newbury. We popped into town to have a mooch round the shops and visit Sainburys to top up the fridge and grocery cupboard.
We were sat at the front of the boat when we were asked if we minded someone checking under our boat for freshwater shrimps! A lady who was doing some scientific research then used a net to search under our boat. She didnt find any at the front, but at the back netted about 5 little tiny creatures. These she put into test tubes to take back anf identify which species they were!
We set off at 7:05. It was warmish then, but has got much hotter, peaking at 27 °C at around 4:30.
Last time we came this way we got exhausted on this stretch as we tried to do too much. Today we have taken it easier.
The river through the ‘Oracle Centre’ has traffic light controls as it’s twisty and can have strong flows.
At Fobney lock the by wash comes out with great force immediately below the lock, making for ‘interesting’ manoeuvres getting in to the lock!
Most of the locks on this stretch are hard work, but we took it slowly and by two o’clock were at Aldermaston so decided to stop. However our first mooring was too close to a noisy road, so at about 4:30 we moved on about half a mile to a much quiter spot.
Earlier in the day, as Heddi was leaving the turf sided Garston lock the throttle cable broke (again!). I can normally fix it in about 20mins, but working in a hot engine hole, on a hot day was very exhausting, so it took a little longer.
Our original intention was to stop at Wallingford last night, which is more like half way between Oxford and Reading. But in the past we have found it difficult to get a mooring at Wallingford, hence the decision yesterday to stay a Abingdon. However that made for a longer day today as our Thames licence meant that we had to off of the river today. So it was another 7:30 start.
There were very few boats about, the Thames was quieter than we have ever known it. Also very few lock keepers on duty. Of the 10 locks only three were manned, the rest were on “self service”.
This section of the river is very picturesque. With several interesting bridges.
Whitchurch toll bridge, built of iron in 1902, was said to be ugly at the time, but is now preserved for it’s architectural interest.
As were were waiting to enter the last Thames lock at Caversham there were two narrowboats coming up. One of them, a hire boat, had put their centre rope around a bollard. They obviously hadn’t just gone round once loosely, but had made it fast. Consequently as the boat came up it listed alarmingly. Luckily the lock keeper saw and opened the bottom paddles to drop the water. If that had happened on a ‘self service’ lock they could easily had sunk the boat!.
Now moored up on the ‘jail loop’ in Reading. Off to Prezzo for a meal tonight courtesy of Tesco vouchers.
Just a quiet tootle down the Thames today. We didnt really need to but we made our usual start at about 7:30. Out through Isis lock to the Thames. At that hour the lock keepers aren’t on duty, so it was Abingdon lock before we had to hand over cash for our licence.
We are meeting our daughter’s in-laws here for a meal this evening. So the afternoon has been spent doing a bit of shopping and just chilling out.
The moorings here are excellent, provided by the town council.
During the afternoon, whilst I was making the lasagne, Heddi went for a walk. Just as she came back my phone rang. It was Sue,our friend from home.
Sue: “Where are you?”
Me: “In Abingdon”
Sue: “I think I’ve just seen Heddi walking”
Me: “Yes, she’s just been for a walk. Are you in Abingdon then?”
Sue: “Yes, I’m working here for a few days”
She said that she finished at six, but had to be back for dinner at seven. Heddi invited her over for a G&T at 6.
So we sat out in lovely sunshine enjoying an unexpected drink with Sue until Anne and Richard arrived for supper.
Before we did anything else today the boat had to be cleaned. So we moved a few yards to the lock and washed the dirtiest side that we couldn’t reach last night. All this was at 6:30 am !
A really good day weatherwise. To start with we saw far fewer boats than yesterday, but by the afternoon it was busier, but no queues or holdups..
Coming through Enslow you can see these. They always seem a bit incongruous here in the countryside.
We were aiming for a mooring in Oxford that we have used before. It’s by bridge 240 (Aristotle Bridge). There is usually space there and it’s further from the noisy railway than some of the other places. Mooring in Oxford is often difficult because of all the liveaboards who never move.
We arrived about two o’clock. After a cup of tea we embarked on a 4+ mile walk around Pool Meadow in lovely warm sunshine. There were lots of couples and families out enjoying the weather. Some small children were even swimming in the Thames.
We arrived at the marina yesterday and found these next to the boat. Some shopping for foood and stuff yestarday then an early night.
Off and away at 7:30 in a lovely bright and sunny morning. At only the second lock there were 8 boats (4 up and 4 down including us). But it calmed down a little after that, thoigh we did meet a boat at most locks.. A stop in Banbury for a full English, then on again. We managed to get part of an old tyre round the prop going through one on the many old bridge ‘oles where there used to be a lift bridge. At first I thought I might need a hacksaw or similar to get it off, but eventually I managed to untangle it..
Going past the “Pig Place” ( a farm shop by Nell’s Bridge) I saws this.
My first car was an A35 van like this. That was way back in 1970. Mine wasnt in as good condition then!
Whilst we were in Somerton deep lock there was a terrific storm, really hard and heavy rain. Heddi was down in the lock on the boat, I quickly ran under the bridge for shelter. The storm was over in about 10-15 minutes, but not before I had got soaking wet opening and closing again the botton gate.
It wasn’t until after we hade moored up for the night above Heyford Common lock that we realised that during the storm the rain had washed a whole load of mud/algae/dirt off of the lock walls and onto the boat. It was covered in grim.
I tried to get some off with a broom, but it was mostly on the canal side.
Another cooked breakfast ! Then journeying on to just opposite the engine arm at the top of the Napton flight. We are due to meet up with some other Cutwebbers in the Folly Inn this evening. We will walk down the locks as we dont have time tomorrow to get back to the marina if we go down the locks. We walked down this afternoon to see how long it took (about 40 mins). The towpath is VERY muddy in places.
Showered G&T (Heddi) glass of wine (me) then set off at 6:30 for the pub.
We got back to the boat at 10:45 – not too wobbly after the cider. A very pleasant evening was spent chatting with friends old and new.
We arrived yesterday after a ride up across the Cotswolds in the cold and wet. I tried to get the Eberspacher going, but it wouldn’t fire up. Got the fire going instead.
This morning, after a cooked breakfast, we reversed back across the marina to top up with fuel and get a bag of coal. Then set off up the Claydon flight. The weather was good to start with, but gradually deteriorated thhrough the day. Stooping for the night just before The Wharf Inn at Fenny.
They have a small shop at the back of the pup where we bought a few bits and pieces.\