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Friday, 5 September 2008

Reading to Lechlade........nearly

Thought you might like a pic of the crowds moving up the towpath to get to the Reading Festival. The Salter Steamers were running ferry services from alongside Reading Bridge to Caversham Bridge until the early hours of the morning, shifting tons of beer and other essential festival stuff.

Tuesday 26th August and we return from our trip to Leicester and the National at Autherley. We went on Monday, a good choice as the site was crusting over and there was little mud to be seen and it was a bright day. We went with our eldest daughter and family and the journey from Leicester took under an hour by road, and we were thirsty as we arrived and popped into the IWA lounge, immediately bumping into David & Wadly with Pat & Terry with whom we should have been moored up if we had got our timetable in order. We had a good chat, getting up to speed with latest info before ambling off and meeting John, Wendy and Beryl from our group during the afternoon. With other chats to friends from our Region and others from earlier Festivals it made a pleasant afternoon to add to viewing the displays. We think, however, we will give them a miss for a few years now.

We set to cleaning Lily from top to bottom, plus giving her a polish and doing the washing whilst still tied up at Cavenham Boat Services who made us very welcome. Before we left on Thursday afternoon we had a fender eye re-welded on after it came detatched somewhere on the K&A, plus filling up with diesel at 85p ( remember we saw diesel at £1.09 along the K&A ). The mooring was very reasonable at £7 per night, including electricity and totally secure tied up in the middle of the river. When we cast off we reversed downstream a few yards and tied up alongside Cavershan Park, I polished the other side of the boat and we walked into Caversham and got our Thursday curry fix at Wetherspoons before re-provisioning at Waitrose.

Friday 29th and set off at 2 and bought a 15 day licence, and found that if we want to extend it to 30 days, we only will have to pay the extra £30 or so. Its expensive though at £131. We did this at Mapledurham Lock, where we also bought delicious ice creams, and we then cruised on to moor for the night at Beale Park.

On the way there we came across a load of very inexperienced skullers!
The day showed signs of promise with occasional glimpses of the sun after several days of grey overcast. It was a pleasant mooring.

Saturday 30th. I woke early and it looked as if the sky was clear, but after I'd woken up properly the clouds had rolled back only to disappear and give us a glorious day. We really stretched ourselves and cruised all the way to Goring Lock, all of 2 1/2 miles. We tied up, wandered around, did a bit of shopping, bought the papers, chatted...........lovely! I wandered further than Carol into Streatly

and as I ambled towards the church I saw a box of Bramley apples with a "Help yoursef" sign. I took a few and made a small donation. We had seen a lovely lot of blackberries near the lock...lovely again!
Goring lock with lovely flowers from hanging baskets on the bridge.

Sunday 31st. Bye sun! Cloudy, heavy mist and as we passed through Goring Lock & looked back at the valley we could hardle see the hills that constrain the river. It rained in heavy showers at times and after 5 miles and 2 locks we tied up at Wallingford to have a look at the place, and we were glad we did. As we walked around we could hear loads of bells jingling and then saw loads of Morris people. It was the Wallingford Bungfest when loads of teams assemble to have a rattling (jingling) good time. I enjoy Morris dancing, Carol hates it, but she puts up with me.

We walked to the park where we found a full festival site wth a great beer tent and loads of stalls, including some selling interesting foods. Many of the salls seemed to be selling hippyish things, but despite the weather everyone seemed happy. If you like this sort of thing they seem to put it on the weekend after the August Bank Holiday weekend. There was a lovely assembly of minature traction engines too and I do love steam power.

Apart from this it was a lovely town with an interesting set of castle remains as bashed about by Cromwell. There is a good sized Waitrose too, and as we returned to the boat we came across a wedding party doing photos on three cuisers before the bridal party proceeded downstream to a reception at Moulsford, though they didn't invite us to join in despite Carol being perfectly dressed for the bash.

Monday Sept 1st dawned bright and nearly warm but t clouded over by mid dasy and the wind got up and it rained by 5. We cruised to Dorchester, mooring at the mouth of the river Thame. It is a lovely town with a fabulous Abbey. A very old Roman town 2 hotels and a pub plus antique shops a shop and a Post Office.

This lovely & very different window with the stone cut into the shapes of branches and leaves.

The museum doesn't open till 2 and we wanted to be away, bt there is a big Iron Age history as well as Roman history there. We picked some lovely eating apples off a tree growing on a green before setting off again, ending up at Abingdon that afternoon with the wind strengthening all day. We moored alongside the wall by the Anchor.

Tuesday 2nd was to be time for exploring Abingdon. It had rained and blown hard through the night, but was calmer and drier as we set off on foot. I have to say we were very disappointed by Abingdon, we have seen many more interesting places on this trip. We would have gone into the old town hall to look over the museum, except this week it was closed as they changed their displays.

Abingdon old town hall and museum.

At 1.30 we set off and moored in Oxford opposite Christ Church Meadow. We had heavy rain and thunder in the evening and over night.

Wednesday 3rd, bright at start but wind getting up and we experienced strong flows around Osney lock and other places. Wind got very strong at times and we had one very heavy squall. Locks above Osney are not power operated but are very well maintained. We had some lovely sunshine at times but the wind made it cool, and we tied up at Newbridge, with a strong flow forcing us onto the side. 14 miles and 6 locks (2 worked ourselves) made this a big cruising day . Worrying forecasts for weather due, especially on Friday where there were early warnings of severe weather. We decided to look at the latest forecasts, and they showed the same, so we decided to run back to the Dukes Cut & the Oxford Canal the next day.

Thursday 4th and we had experienced more rain overnight, more forecast and very dark overhead. We set off at 9, passed through the bridge & tried to turn, failing at the first location but just managing it at the next, if we hadn't we would have cruised up to the next lock to manage it. By the time we reached the second lock,Pinkhill, yellow boards were out and the narrow boat owning lock keeper said he recommended the running for shelter we were doing, and by 12 after just 3 hours we were on the cut, covering a distance that had taken us over 5 hours the day before. I then had a whoopsy. about half a mile from the river I saw the line extending straight ahead, but as Lily's bows were alongside, I saw a left turn, and a signpost telling me to turn left, the sign being hidden by trees. Full reverse, but I couldn't stop the bows from overshooting the turn, worse still they swung over an into a banch overhanging the turn. Inspection by Carol revealed the headlight broken off its mounting, and the pole it is mounted on bent a bit, a job for later.

Anyway by 2pm we were tied up below br 240, just where we moored when we were in Oxford in June. There was a new addition to the run into Oxford in the form of a lifting bridge to allow contractors working on the A34 overbridge reconstruction to cross the canal. The bridge was raised by 4 hydraulic posts, one at each corner, controlled by radio from cntral controller, and took at least 5 minutes to rise to navigable height. We only had about a 10 minute wait, but a boat that followed us dow had waited for over 45 minutes on their way up the canal.

The weather had been reasonably good, and we were fortunate in missing one deluge where the lock keeper reported that the stair rods were bouncing up about 6 inches! Less wind than Wednesday, but rain after we tied up. We have decided to stay here and go by train to see our youngest grandchildren over the weekend.

Interesting observation, on Thursday night it rained a bit, and on Friday we have had showers, a few have been heavyish, but far from what the forecasts we had been given, have we been over cautious?

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