Follow by Email

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

From Oxford back to Debdale

Wednesday August 12th

We are heading back to Debdale as we have Emily(7) and Annabel (4) with us next week & we need a car. Annabel is very keen on going for a cruise, but it only lasts for 10 minutes before she wants to do something else. Carol also has a doctor’s appointment so it all fits in well.

Getting older is not all fun. We love our life afloat and seeing things at leisure, but our bodies don’t perform too well. Apart from aching joints, many of us need pills to keep other things in order, and I realised last night that we were close to running out. We had prescriptions but just needed them making up, so I set off first thing into Oxford as Carol was on her last day’s supply. I had to go to a couple of chemists to get them made up and it took some time, and then I walked to the motor factors to collect additional alternator belts. Getting back at lunchtime and the intermittent light drizzle of the morning continued through the afternoon. We hoped to moor at Thrupp but all moorings were taken so we cruised on past covering 7 miles, 4 locks & 4 lift bridges to a pleasantish mooring but with a road nearby. People coming the other way told us that Cropredy was very busy for the Fairport Convention Festival the next weekend.

Thursday 13th

Bright start and promised well and away at 9. Filled with diesel at Kingsground, not cheap (and 2 days later Dusty and his fuel boat passed the other way and it would have been much cheaper!) but at least we are now full above the level that caused us trouble as we left Battlebridge. Slowish cruising meeting boats at all locks. Also had ½ hour wait whilst BW did some work backfilling towpath works. We made steady progress with boats at most locks, some reporting 4 hour waits at Somerton Deep Lock the day before but we went straight in. The boat coming down was owned by the owner of Oxfordshire Narrowboats, those very smart blue boats with fresh paintwork. He said their bookings were 30% up on the previous year, and that year had been a record.

Achieved 14 miles & 9 locks till 5.30. Had a lovely BBQ with our new machine bought at Hampton Court Flower Show moored opposite a new smallholding, going over in morning to get home reared pork & sausages.

Harvesting is progressing apace around the country, and it is noticeable that the barley has much shorter stalks than of old, cutting down on the amount of straw produced. A good idea too you might say seeing the great stacks of bales lying around farms, year after year. Farmers also fertilise after harvesting, and this lovely device was wandering over a field under its own power spreading what smelled like sewage works output!

Friday 14th

Lovely start & great forecast, we crossed over the canal at 9 to get the meat, but found despair. The couple who had developed the mooring and smallholding had been burgled overnight. Their steel container had been broken into and their brand new mower had been stolen, where the credit card bill with its purchase on it had still to arrive, together with chainsaw, strimmer and other tools. We sympathised with them, even more when they told us that they had been struggling with getting insurance, waiting 8 weeks for the quote, which still had to arrive! They said enough, what meat did we want, we told them, off she went to get it, and returned empty handed as the burglars had been there too, clearly they had been watched and we worry that their other kit and livestock could soon disappear too. We hope the Police will actually do something, but we left them to trying to get their lives back together.

A stop in Banbury over lunchtime and away at 2, we cruised on slowly, hitting Cropredy at about 5. Amazed at how big the Festival was, boats extended over about 2 miles with boats 2 and 3 abreast in places making meeting another boat a problem. Fortunately all other boats had stopped so we went through on tickover withot meeting any, stopping at 6.30 after covering 11miles and 10 locks.

Saturday 15th

Bright and breezy, but it clouded over and we had the odd sprinkle of rain in the morning, but during the afternoon it cleared. We set off at 10, just behind another boat, but after under a mile we were at our first lock and we met other boats through the Claydon flight. Lunchtime coincided with us reaching Fenny Compton and it seemed a good idea to enjoy a pint, and a very good pint of a Cornish beer it was too.

We then continued and stopped for the night at the top of the Napton Flight. I then set too and polished the port side of Lily, the first time since April and how it was needed!!! It was noisy here with yapping dogs. At the neighbouring farm the British National Flyball Championships were being held, a 4 day bash with possibly 10,000 dogs taking part in 4 dog team races.

On the way today we passed this house with its ha-ha. I have always loved these and would have loved to own a home that needed one, but I wonder what the great god Health & Safety says about the unprotected drop? The lovely old one tree trunk bridge is no more, here it is, but note the new bridge supports, but I’m sure it will be a more standard bridge this time.

Sunday 16th

An incredible start to the day with sun streaming through the side door onto us in bed, but it was breezy. We dropped down the 10 locks to the sanitary station, before stopping at the Bridge Inn for a surprisingly good £4.95 Sunday lunch main course. The Black Sheep bitter was good too.
Water Buffalo alongside Napton Locks

The much photographed Napton Mill
After lunch we cruised slowly into Braunston, mooring outside the marina at 4. Carol the set to the work on her troughs as the lobelia was looking sad and surgery was required. I set too scrubbing the mess from the flowers off the roof, before polishing the starbord side of Lily. A good day, she now looks presentable again. 10 miles & 7 locks.

Monday 17th

Walked into marina to see if fender maker was open, he wasn’t but I saw President, historic steam powered narrow boat, getting up steam, and I guessed she would be going up Braunston locks and onward to the national IWA Festival at the top of the river Soar. It seemed sensible to go sooner rather than later, so at 9.15 we were off and met Kingfisher, a shared ownership boat, at the bottom lock. We had a pleasant passage up the flight with them, crossing several boats descending.

Braunston tunnel followed and we only met one boat in it, a fibreglass cruiser with large white balloons on the side, and out into fine weather. From a blue sky before the tunnels rain had fallen, but after the tunnel we had a fine day. We stopped at Watford Gap services for papers & coffee, then on a bit further for lunch, during which time President and her unpowered butty Kildare passed us. When we reached the Watford Flight we were able to follow them up, but it was very slow progress. They stopped for a cup of tea, we were out of the top lock at 3.20 and cruised on in the improving weather. Met one boat in Crick tunnel before stopping just before 6 at bridge 22.

It is very sad to see a badly neglected boat such as this when only a couple f years before it was clean, polished and loved.

Yelvertoft marina is being dug out by a large team of backhoe excavators and about 8 all wheel drive dumper wagons. I noticed part of the excavation looked to be in a sort of shale rock, I just hope they had a proper ground survey before they planned the job and that they allowed for making the rock waterproof!

Tuesday 18th

Dawned bright & breezy but the day clouded over as afternoon progressed. We made steady progress in the shallow pound, though the level was almost on the weir and in bridge 28 something hard scraped the bottom of the hull. Met innumerable boats, including 3 in Husbands Bosworth tunnel and arrived at the top of Foxton at 2.30, and had a 2 ½ hour wait for our turn. Enjoyed the ice cream, though, and President & Kildare arrived by 3.30.

Dave Stott, Chief Engineer of President

We moored overnight in the bottom basin and went to Bridge 61 for a drink. Chatting to Tony Matts in his new garden area over a pleasant pint of Langham Brewery's Bridge 61 ale the first of about 16 hot air balloons passed over. One of the balloons was seemingly fairly steady, then suddenly lost height, perhaps he ran out of gas? Anyway the crowd of multicoloured envelopes passed over and landed about half a mile away.

Wednesday 19th

President & Kildare came out of bottom lock about 9 and tied up outside the Foxton Locks pub for the day. Foxton Boat Services trip boat, Vagabond, was walked past Lily, her 11 foot long drive shaft had sheared and she needed to moor alongside a bank where a crane could gain access. We also saw a couple of Brookfield Bowling Cub colleagues waiting to ascend the locks, we didn't know they too are boaters. After a few pleasantries we set off back to Debdale where I ordered a new water pump. We have two pumps in parallel but one of them had started dripping water though it still seems to pump well. As we reached the marina this burnt out boat was moored outside. We understand that it was vandalised near to Blaby and has been brought here by its insurers for craning out & disposal.

The blog will now pause for about 2 weeks while we do domestic things.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Cruising with the family

Sunday 2nd August

We set off to walk into Oxford, but noticed there was a space free above Osney Lock & dashed back to move Lily there. We moored outside a pair of EA signs, one telling us 24 hour mooring, the other, newer one, saying 24 hours free, the next 2 days £5 a day and £50 a day after more than 72 hours. Carol had to get back to Leicester to see the doc and would be leaving this evening, returning with Sally by road on Tuesday, so it was ideal. We then took the kids into the city and did a bit of sightseeing plus had rather good Thorntons ice creams. After despatching Carol off by rail the three of us had a good evening on Lily.

I had a row with the ticket office when trying to get Carol’s train tickets on Saturday for her journey the next day. I’d done an online search & got a good price for the next day. I got to the station well before 5.45 with 2 windows open, one for Todays Tickets…..with no-one going to it, the other for All Tickets. A couple were at this window for a good 5 minutes, they left & then a woman went up to buy a railcard, and then arrange a journey. It took over 15 minutes!!! Be Warned. I got to the window at 6.03 told the woman what I wanted, only to be told that the Apex tickets have to be bought before 6. I pointed out that I was only late because of the queue, but she said the system would not allow her to issue a ticket after 6. The price she wanted was around double the price I had!! She did help me a bit though by recommending I get 3 tickets for the journey, one Oxford to Banbury, then Banbury to Birmingham, and then Birmingham to Leicester. It saved over £6, but I was still cross!

I had to extend our Thames licence. 15 days cost £141, to make it up to 31 days only cost another £30!

Monday 3rd

Started off fine, but clouded over & wind got up. We did a bus tour of Oxford to let the kids see some of the sights, and the tickets included tickets to Oxford Castle/jail. We booked this tour for 2pm, and after our bus tour we went to a Thorntons Café where they had a very calorific hot chocolate whilst I enjoyed my coffee. The jail tour was interesting, with it being very obvious why jail population was reduced by deaths through typhus, cholera and other diseases. We were also able to go into what had been a cell until 1999(? Or thereabouts?). It had been built for one prisoner and was adequate for that, but by the closure 3 men were in it, including their slop bucket, in their cell for much of the day and with only a few inches width between the beds. No wonder there were riots!

Alongside the old jail is a new hotel, and they have utilised the old cell block as part of the hotel, a very interesting development.

Tuesday 4th

We did domestic duties plus a hot chocolate trip to Thorntons before Carol, Sally & John arrived. A lock keeper arrived and pointed out we had overstayed the 24 hour maximum, and I pointed out the second sign, which surprised him. He must have been a decent bloke because he was called Ian McDonald, anyway he accepted that we would be away in the morning and would not take any money, though I was happy to pay.

We had a lovely meal Carol had prepared before she left, before playing Uno & Rummikub. John & I went off in the car to see if there was any parking near where we had moored last year (there wasn’t) so we could sort out where we would meet up on Friday. Before we drove off I started the engine to top up the charge & warm some water. When I returned there were alarms buzzing, but the others had been laughing so much they hadn’t heard them. The alternator warning lights were on & when I looked below the back deck steam was rising and drive belts to both alternators were off. I reckon the engine alternator/water pump belt went & it got tangled with the other one & threw it off too. The engine belt was the original one and had lasted 6 years so I couldn’t complain. I had spares & soon had them running again and was glad of the lights that are installed below the deck.

Wednesday 5th

Went on-line to see where there was a motor factor & found one just along towpath below Osney Lock. They had a spare for the big alternator, & I ordered one for the other one. The spares place was on an industrial estate and the building opposite had changed to a happy, clappy church, but I noticed a blue plaque on the outside so went to investigate. In that building the first ever super conducting magnet for MRI scanners was invented and made.

We set off at 10.30 in lovely weather, stopping for lunch above Kings Lock before cruising on and mooring for the day above Eynsham Lock, which has 2 x 24 hour moorings. It also has a lovely picnic area and we made the most of the tables for our meal, but wondered how many people have a picnic there eating shepherds pie and cabbage!!! Pre-planning of meals sometimes doesn’t work perfectly.

I walked into the village for some essentials. What a pretty place, do go and visit it. It has a wonderful bus service to Oxford too with frequent busses running almost right through the night. On the way there were wild plum trees & damson trees laden with fruit, we’ll gather plunder another time.

Thursday 6th

Lovely weather at start but wet day forecast. Off at 10.15 (amazing we got beds put away and breakfasts eaten by then) Started cruising with shirt off but it started sprinkling shortly afterwards and it was raining by the time we stopped for lunch. Then it poured and during afternoon we had intermittent deluges. Carol got worried about flooding and it looked as if getting to Lechlade was off again this year. Last year when we ran away from the rising river we turned above Newbridge, with difficulty, a lock keeper said normally people turned just below the next lock, Shifford, in these conditions.

When we got to Shifford Lock the landing stage was under water, the lock keepers said they had had 3” of rain in 2 days. We went into the lock & spoke to the keeper about where we might wind, but he wasn’t too sure of anywhere. We came out of the lock & tied up and went down to look at the possibility of winding below the lock but there was a tree down in the water and we did not think we could do so there, especially with the flow coming from the weir.

Unhappy, we cruised to the end of the lock cut and made fast for the night in quite a nice spot, if only it would stop raining.

Friday 7th

Wet overnight but fine and sunny when we got up and the river level had dropped about 3”. I had a recurrence of the electrical problem with no 12v system. I called the boatyard & followed their suggestions without success, last time it seemed to clear when I stopped the engine & re-started, but it failed this time. Then I remembered a part I had replaced last year, a relay in the instrument panel where I had to make as good a connection as I could with the kit I had. I took the insulation tape off it, tightened things up & bingo!!.

At 10.30 in bright sun we used the bow thruster to push the bows into the flow whilst keeping the stern in with a rope round a fence post. It was a doddle!! It was a hot day and menu planning scored again as Carol had made a hot soup the day before! We arrived at Eynsham in good time and moored up, waiting for John to join us bringing with him a curry from our favourite curry house on Catherine Street. He eventually arrived at 9.10!! Curry was good, but it was a good job we had scone and jam for tea beforehand.

Saturday 8th

A fabulous day. We all got up late and cruised down through Oxford and part way back. We had stopped in a pretty spot for lunch and then managed to squeeze in above Osney to let me get train tickets for Carol for Monday. Carol needs to get to the hospital for a simple test and would be going back with the others on Sunday & returning by train and that superb bus service to Eynsham (bus stop by the river) on Monday afternoon. After this we showed Sally & John the Oxford college rowing clubhouses before turning back upstream. We then cruised on steadily before stopping for the night above Kings Lock in a beautiful spot on a lovely evening.

Sunday 9th

Another late start on a lovely morning. They say there is a worrying shortage of butterflies, but looking out of the boat windows the air above the meadow was alive with them. Sam got out his fishing net, he’s a bit big for it now but he’d caught a perch in it the other day. Suddenly pandemonium, he’d got 3 crayfish in one go. Hannah got 2, I caught one and in the end we had 9 in a few minutes. They were all the dreaded American red claw variety that we are not allowed to put back, so we boiled then for 5 minutes and enjoyed them! We intend to go at it big time in future, but they are a bit of a pain to shell.

Anyway, we returned to Eynsham for lunch at The Talbot. Carol strangely had a desire for a roast dinner & they offered it, and very good it was too. The Arkels beer was good too, dispensed from barrels racked above the bar. Back to the boat we moved to a different mooring point (£5 per night) a few yards upstream and played games and the kids caught grass hoppers and fishes before they all left me in peace just before 8. I then spent the evening and following day putting things away, tidying up and doing loads of washing.

Monday 10th

See above, plus some bits on the internet and reading Sunday’s paper before Carol returned safe & well at 7. Naturally it rained just after I had put washing out to dry!

Tuesday 11th

Bright at start, and cleared to sun by 1. We walked into Eynsham to look around more before returning with bags and pickers and collected some lovely blackberries and incredible Victoria plums. They are delicious and just being allowed to fall off the trees onto a car park. After lunch we said our goodbyes to Eynsham, struggling to get off the mud that had grabbed Lily’s hull. By 4 we had come off the river and got a mooring just above Isis Lock on the Oxford Canal. The general state of repair and maintenance of the Thames locks is very good with a special mention to the display of begonias at Godstow Lock. Apart from the flooding risk problem upstream it is a lovely river to cruise, and very lazy with no locks to work!

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Thames Ring, The Queen and onward

Tuesday 14th July

Rain at first then showery sun as we cruised 4 miles and 4 locks to Battlebridge where we moored outside the London Canal Museum and re-provisioned for our guests and greeted them as they arrived off the train at 18.00. Carol fed us all royally and we took them for a walk to see the flower covered pub and Kings Place, the building we discovered just before we left as our previous 5 week stay ended. We followed this up with games of Rumikub.

Wednesday 15th

Heavy overnight rain then showery at first but a reasonable forecast, with wind. I had woken at 2 and realised that though I had booked to go out of Limehouse, I hadn’t booked to come in at Brentford. I tried to console myself with the thought that I hadn’t been told I needed to as I booked out at Limehouse and that they would have done it……….but I didn’t get back to sleep! At 8 I rang Brentford, and I should have booked, but he would ring back within 90 minutes to let me know if we could do our trip………..he rang back and we were off.

We had a steady windy cruise to Limehouse with some squalls, but I was concerned how windy & how choppy it might be on the Thames. I looked at the lock keeper’s CCTV image and he said it looked OK to him, and it was usually said if you got through Tower Bridge, then you’d be OK, but of course it was up to me!! I looked and decided OK so at 4.20 we locked out onto the tide flowing fast upstream.

It was choppy in places and there were many fast moving boats around. We also had one bridge where the light above the navigation arch was flashing white, meaning we had to slow until it stopped flashing. In the Tideway Guide there is a useful guide on horn signals so when I heard a sequence I looked it up and found that the “ship” was going to execute a complete turn to port. The ship was a very powerful tug with a load of rubbish containers behind and it’s manoeuvre was carried out without incident.

We all enjoyed the sights as we passed through, sadly the weather was not so bright, but at least it stayed dry for most of the trip until we approached Brentford when it threw it down in two or three dollops. We arrived at Thames Lock at 6.30, just when we were expected though we had not pushed it. We tied up above the first lock in the new visitor moorings in bright sun. Great moorings, but take earplugs as it’s near Heathrow.

Thursday 16th

Dawned bright but with a poor forecast, but I found a disaster as I lifted the engine cover and found loads of oil under the engine. The engine oil level was right, so it had to be hydraulic oil, Lily has a hydraulic drive system. The oil level gauge has always been indistinct, and was this day, so I unscrewed the oil filler lid. There is an integral filter below the cap and I could see oil at the bottom, but was there a small reservoir in the filter holding this? I sat down in the engine bay (plenty of room to do this) and pondered what we should do, when I noticed a line of oil running down from the top of the swim, under the silencer. Some time before I had changed the engine oil but had not managed to find anywhere to dispose of it and one of the “cans” had been resting on the silencer and with the prolonged high speed running the day before it had melted and released about 2 litres of oil. Relief, but what a mess!!!

Problem over (apart from the mess) we used the fabulous facilities at Brentford before setting off for Paddington Basin at 9.50. Slight showers but no coats and weather improved steadily all day. Followed boat up Hanbury flight who left top gates open as well as the odd paddle, we nearly caught them but were out Norwood Lock at 12.30. Mike and Annette wanted to walk through Kensall Green cemetery as we cruised past, but had to rush back as it seemed there was no gate open at the eastern end. As we reached the Sainsburys in Kensall ice creams were in demand, but as we went in reverse to slow we picked up something that totally stopped propulsion and we ended up crashing into the towpath side. When I got down through the weed hatch there really wasn’t much left to remove, and we then carried on into Paddington Arm arriving at 6 and got a great mooring.

Friday 17th

Annette and Mike left at 10.30 and Victoria and her not so new baby joined us for coffee causing us to set off at 2. As we reached the end of Islington Tunnel it was all stop for half an hour whilst a fallen tree was moved sufficiently for us to pass. The boat waiting with us saw it fall just before they arrived and had a wait of some 3 hours. The weather, reasonable at the start, steadily worsened as we approached Limehouse where we arrived at 8.15 for a quick meal and bed, early start tomorrow.

Saturday 18th

We entered the tideway at 7 on a bright but breezy and none too warm day and cruised up with Time Machine, a wide “narrow” boat. No traffic to speak of. We did the Boat Race in 38 minutes about, dodging rowers as we went, and arrived too early for Richmond weir. It was just starting to rise to let the retained water out, but 15 minutes later at 10.05 we were through and an hour later we were £141 poorer with a 15 day licence. We may stay longer but given last year’s experience of buying 15 days and only getting to use 3 before the floods stopped play, we are playing it cautiously. We finished the day at Walton on Thames. Good, free mooring, dry but a cool wind, we explored the town and provisioned as needed. 29 miles and 3 locks

Sunday 19th

Sun, cloud, showers and windy I noted. Didn’t set off till 12 and cruised till 6 on an interesting cruise up to Windsor, mooring for £4 (to Eton College) opposite Windsor Castle. The alternator ruined another drive belt but I soon fitted a spare, but found the weed hatch was leaking a bit. I cleared out most of the oily grot under the engine.

Monday 20th

The Queen came to see us!! Well to be precise she went swan upping for the first time in her reign, starting from the lock just above Windsor (Boveney Lock). We had shared several locks the day before with a pleasant couple in a lovely 1960’s wooden cruiser who act as a tow boat when the oarsmen are tired and they told us all about what happens. We walked up to the lock on a really lovely day and got good views of HM arriving and boarding the lovely steamer Alaska, and as she came out of the lock we were barely 5 feet from her. We followed them on foot upstream and watched the upping taking place before we returned, wandered around Eton briefly before Carol collapsed having walked far too far, but when would she ever be likely to see this again? I walked on into Windsor to see things before we settled down for another £4 night.

Swan Upping

This pageant is undertaken every year from the middle of July and it involves marking the new cygnets. Swans on the Thames are owned either by The Queen, The Worshipful Company of Dyers or The Worshipful Company of Vintners. Teams from each organisation proceed up the Thames before cygnets can fly and therefore whilst they are still in family groups. The uppers gather together the family group and tie together the birds’ feet which makes them docile. The uppers then check from the markings on the parent birds who owns them, and the new cygnets are marked accordingly, and where the parents are of two different owners, the cygnets are shared out accordingly. During the process the birds are given a health check before they are returned to the river.

The uppers row up river in skiffs with expert crews who are apparently able to outpace their motorised company. It seems that other members of the Companies come along on trip “steamers” to enjoy the show. The teams doing the work seem to have an enjoyable time together in the evenings too,

Tuesday 21st

Wet at first and poor forecast and rain before the first lock. We had coats and sweaters on and off all day before we arrived at Marlow after 4 hours cruising and were allowed to moor at the lock, tying up just before it poured down. It cleared later and we ambled round the pretty town. 12 miles and 4 locks.

Wednesday 22nd

Weather slightly better to start but generally showery and windy and we were off before 9 as we wanted to get to Reading for a medical visit. Last shower was about 12 and we saw the swan uppers at it again. We arrived at our preferred Reading mooring outside the prison at about 3. It being Wednesday we went to a 2 for 1 film seeing Public Enemy at a performance that saw us walking the streets at 12!!! Reeve from Debdale had moored in front of us.

Thursday 23rd

Reading hospital was great when I had my accident and was great again, getting things moving and enabling us to get our GP to get things moving. We then moved on to Cavenham Boats base on Fry’s Island where we had arranged to leave Lily over the weekend whilst we returned to Leicester for a friend’s birthday party.

Friday 24th – Sunday 26th

Into Leicester by train. Projected strikes on St Pancras line saw us use the Birmingham route, changing once and getting off at Narborough where Carol’s car awaited. Good party and stayed at my cousin’s house, going out on Friday night for a curry at our favourite Vishal Restaurant.

Monday 27th

We were off early to Sally’s to collect Sam & Hannah to bring them back to Lily. Train journey was fine & we were back on board by 1.30 and topped up with fuel at 60/40 and set off back to our other Reading mooring by the prison. Walked around town and ate at Wetherspoons before Rumikub.

Tuesday 28th

Kids refused to wake up, Sam eventually did so at 9.30, Hannah a few minutes earlier. We cruised to Henley on a so-so day, but no rain, mooring near finish post for Regatta. Thought we hadn’t been charged the £6 mooring fee but found it stuck to the offside window, he obviously comes by boat. Walked around the town to see the sights.

Wednesday 29th

After heavy overnight rain it was windy and sprinkling as we set off back for Reading at 10.45. We stopped for lunch on Hallsmead Ait in a lovely little spot and though it didn’t rain it was a cool day, with us arriving back in Reading at 4.

Thursday 30th

We went by train to Hampton Court, we couldn’t fit our cruising in to get there by boat & back to Oxford in the week before Sally & John join us. We watched the rain hit the train and also whilst in Hampton Court were sheltered from the showers, and all these had finished before we went out in lovely sun to do the Maze & gardens. The Palace was well worth a long visit, and it is a must to watch the acted out scenes and also to grab the audio tour guides. This year they are majoring on Henry 8th’s quincentenary and the actors & actresses were excellent and had us all in fits of laughter……..not just us as their ad-libbing also saw them corpsing. We have lots more to see on a future visit and it could be worthwhile taking out a membership of the Royal Palaces to see the several ones that can be visited.

After a really superb day the train took us quickly back to Reading and a sample of Wetherspoon’s curry night, yummy!

Friday 31st

A bright and sunny start and we need to get cruising, off by 9.30 round the corner to moor outside Tesco to re-provision before moving onto Caversham Boats to tip the old engine oil I meant to tip last weekend. We had a lovely day, super weather, got a pleasant mooring (if precarious) for lunch above Mapledurham Lock. Lovely ice creams at Goring Lock and carried on sheltering from the sun before we found a good, free, mooring at Shillingham Bridge. Arriving at 6 we had covered 20 miles and 7 locks in the day. We’ve had days of giggles and laughs with the kids and they have done most of the steering.
Kids are great when you want a photo

Saturday 1st

We may have cruised fast for us, but this skiff passed us!!

Dry at first but raining by the time we set off and with a poor forecast. Slight technical hitch with no 12v charge, wiggled wires didn't seem to do much good, and motor wouldn't stop on key and bow thruster was U/S. I stopped the motor by finding solenoid & when I restarted everything was OK & has been fine since!?! Off at 10 and few showers through day. Shared locks again with Empire, an ex-Challenger boat. Moored below Abingdon for lunch and then used facilities at lock. Dry during most of afternoon but dull and overcast as we cruised on to Oxford. Arrived below Osney Lock at 5.15 to find it on Self Service and a boat trying to come down. Whilst they did I popped up to see if there was room to moor above the lock and as there wasn't we tied up a bit below the lock in a good mooring. 18 miles & 6 locks.