Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Saturday, 29 June 2013

29th June'13

We are now at Kingston, where we have had a lovely afternoon with Terry and Barbara and an excellent lunch. Decisions have been made. I've rung the marina and we're going in on Wednesday to allow us time to go back to Hampton on Monday, then get down to Teddington and through onto the Grand Union on Tuesday, as there are apparently some good moorings at Brentford and then on up to Willow Tree on Wednesday. That leaves me tomorrow for a bit of retail therapy. Not that I need a lot and am waiting for the next few pounds (lbs) to disappear before buying anything but a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

Leaving Hampton Court - this is the view from the river - as we left our moorings another boat came straight into them! Popular spot.

A couple of paddle boarders - the first we've seen since Windsor where the place was alive with them. The photo doesn't really show it but there was quite a swell on the water - nutters!!!!!

Terry and Barbara with John outside the White Hart. As I said I had the best lunch I've had in a long time - goats cheese and leek wellington with new potatoes, fine green beans and white cream sauce. MMMMM to die for.

This is the said White Hart - just north of Kingston Bridge and I would recommend it to anyone. It was only about 5 minutes from the boat and we discovered that Hampton Park actually comes to an end here as well. Impressive grounds.

I took Paddy for a walk in the park and found an Ice House. It was a lovely day but Paddy didn't like the fact that John had come out with us and then disappeared to find a paper and do his lottery so I had to drag him in one direction and chase after him in the other. The joy to discover John coming to meet us was immense!

It's a very vibrant mooring here - lots happening. There are numerous bars on the other side of the river and we have had all sorts of craft coming and going. Here's the Dragon Boat that went up and back, drum banging all the time. I don't know who expends more energy - the rowers or the drummer. It's surprising here how the boat is affected by passing craft - it seems that the wider the river gets, the more we get flung around as boats go by us. Paddy is not at all happy.

We had problems finding a mooring today. We wanted to be near a road so that we could meet the others but that wasn't a problem, finding somewhere empty was! We went downstream and just missed the last mooring here and went further down and turned, thinking that if the worst happened we'd have to moor on the Surrey side, pay and have to walk back to the bridge, but as we were coming past a couple shouted out that we could moor up alongside them. Thanks Graham and Jean on Maid of the Mist. We moored up next to them but by the time we got back from lunch another boat had disappeared so we moved into that space. Simples.

Friday, 28 June 2013

28th June '13

Last night we moored at Walton on Thames - never seen so many pubs in such close proximity! I also had my hair done, which was a nice bit of pampering that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Today we woke up to the same weather we went to sleep with - rain. I checked the forecast and it appeared that it was in for the day so we went for it and got down to Hampton Court. We are moored right outside the golden gates and it's all rather nice.

Our friend Barbara, who we haven't seen for years, works as a gardener at the Palace here and gave us tickets to get in so we enjoyed ourselves immensely but only managed to get around about half of it and didn't see the gardens or the maze so we've decided to come back as it's just so beautiful. We had to get a weeks licence for the Thames as it was cheaper than 3 days, which is all we really needed, so we'll spend a couple of extra days mooching about.

One slight disaster today - I went into the towels cupboard and discovered that the shower inlet had been leaking, so John had to hike into Hampton to buy some stuff and he has now mended it, so all is well. Thank heavens for a handy man!

Look who was coming into the lock we'd just vacated today - Gloriana - the barge that Steve Redgrave et al rowed down the Thames in the Jubilee Regatta. She was amazing.

Here's the stern as she enters the lock, wow!

Despite not having a name on show, we are pretty sure that this is the houseboat that Pink Floyd used as a recording studio for many of their albums. If not then it's just a very impressive houseboat!

Definitely a bit of name dropping going on tonight - look who we saw at Hampton Court! He was agonising about getting a divorce from Katharine so he could marry Anne. I didn't like to tell him it would all go pear-shaped and that she wouldn't last long, seemed a shame to upset him, it being his palace and all.

I took so many pictures it was hard to know which ones to include - the place was just so amazing. This ceiling is in the entrance to King William III's apartments. It sort of wraps around the walls and the ceiling and is really breathtaking.

This was the ceiling in Henry's Great Hall - so beautifully crafted. Apparently he rarely ate there himself but despite that he had wonderful stained glass windows fitted when he married Anne, then changed them when he married Jane. Oliver Cromwell had them all changed to plain glass when he lived there and then Victoria had them replaced with stained glass in honour of Henry! Oh well, what goes around, comes around.

Just to show that not all the pictures were of ceilings - some were of stained glass, etc, here's one of the servants staircase from Henry's apartments - they are the most splendid 'downstairs' stairs that I've ever seen. They are usually very narrow and dark and a bit manky, these were beautiful.

Back to ceilings! This is another of Williams, in a relatively small room that held a huge bed (you can see the hangings) and little else, but it was where he actually slept apparently.

Is this the original 24 hour clock I wonder? It was dead on time, striking 4.00pm as we were there. It is incredibly ornate and the photo doesn't really do it justice, but I did my best.

John was just checking out the wine cellar! all empty I'm afraid. quite impressive though - this photo is specially dedicated to Natalie and Martin!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

26th June '13

moored on the Thames, just outside of the Wey navigation. Wide open spaces again! Anyway back  to yesterdays photos....

Thought this was worth a picture. Very homebuilt but what an individual look! Not sure I'd like to steer it but certainly a novelty.

This old oak is determined to stay alive -- no innards at all but still managing to sprout a goodly crop of leaves. How resilient is that? Trees fascinate me, and I wish I knew more so that I could identify them, but there again, that's what John's here for. I do know oaks though (mostly due to my time working at Sherborne Butterfly Farm and having to go out and pick specific leaves for various moths to lay their eggs on and for the caterpillars to eat), as well as a few others, but not enough really, since I consider myself a country girl.

It's very disconcerting to come out of a lock and see the bank ahead of you. Luckily we knew that the navigation was to the right - this one caused us a few problems on the way up but was pretty easy coming back. The nice thing about these locks is that you can leave the gates open after you, so John can climb on board while we're in the lock and then we both sail happily out together. There's enough water going down all the time so that it doesn't need you to shut the gates, suits us!

I think I've mentioned the signage on this stretch of water before - well here's proof - we were actually going past it when I took this as you can't really see it before you are parallel to it, at least this one wasn't covered with reeds or low tree branches like most of them. The sign is about 12" square.

How's this for a wonderful sight? the poppies could be seen from a long way away and really caught the eye, the photo doesn't really do them justice, they were magnificent.

We're arriving at the Anchor at Pryford Lock. Nice pub. If we ever come down this way (Wey) again, we'll only come as far as here since Mum could get up to here and we can turn and now we've done it we don't really feel inspired to go the full length again.

I took some photos of the Thames Valley Morris Men but unfortunately I took them on the phone then transferred them to my ipad and erased them from the phone. Then I realised I needed them on my computer and sent them to myself by email. Now they are sideways on and I feel a bit of an idiot. Anyway here it is - don't break your necks looking at it but I wanted the proof that we'd seen them.

For some reason last night I had a really bad stomach ache and was unable to sleep, which kept John from sleeping as well. I still felt a bit groggy today so we have just come off the Wey and are now moored at Weybridge in a sort of no-mans-land (or water). The Wey is to one side and the Thames is on the other and we are just sort of here.

This is the view from the window, looking out to the weir coming down from the Thames, the lock that we came through at Shepperton is to the right of this.
Here we are and in the background you can see the entrance to the Wey navigation. We need to sort of turn hard right when we leave to return to the Thames proper. I'm starting to feel human again and look forward to a complete return to full strength tomorrow as we continue our journey towards Brentford.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

25th. June '13

Just a quick update on the iPad. We're back at Pyrford Lock and have just had a great meal in the Anchor. Must stop eating out! There were a side of Morris Men there, it took me back to my (almost) youth! For those who don't know I used to be a Morris Dancer in the late 70's / early 80's.

I'll add photos when I'm on the computer.

The washing machine stopped working today, but my hero managed to sort it out. Not so easy to do in a confined space, but all is fully functioning again now.

The sky was a lovely shade of pink tonight so looking forward to sunshine tomorrow as we return to the Thames.

Monday, 24 June 2013

24th June '13

Looking at the photos I think this blog ought to be called 'interesting corners'!

We've made it up to Godalming and are now on the way back. Godalming, although a nice enough place in itself, doesn't really seem to like the navigation. We expected some good moorings, and possibly some sense of getting somewhere and although there were some moorings, they were all full and we ended up amongst the nettles and long grass on the other side of the wharf. There was no sense of this being a beginning or an end to a journey, it was just there.

We have found signage really poor on the whole navigation and it hasn't been at all clear where to go at some points - this was just around a corner with the sign (small) actually on the weir itself - some warning might have been nice?
The last third of the trip is definitely the most bendy - here is another beauty! The wind was coming straight under the bridge as was the current - not nice.
This - believe it or not is Guildford. They have done nothing with their waterfront and the few places where it is nice - there are no moorings although plenty of room for them. I'm sure they're missing out, because if  a boat can moor, they will stop and when they stop they tend to spend money. You just feel very unwanted here. I'm so pleased we took the lock keepers advise about where to meet Mum as there was no-where in either Guildford or Godalming where we could have stopped and she could have got aboard.
This sign made us laugh on the way up and even more so on the way back when we'd seen what was ahead. It may have been true in 1653 but certainly not in 2013. Such a shame - the public moorings were in a really grotty area that we wouldn't have felt secure in, tucked out of the way behind a warehouse.
Another in the set of bends - you can just about make out the extent of the corner - nearly full circle. As with all of them it was tricky yesterday in the wind and against the current, but today which is much calmer, none of them have been noticed really.
This was my first view of Godalming as I came up through a lock - let it be enough to say that I didn't take any pictures of the wharf.
A bit of excitement today - we went into a lock with 3 pairs of canoes all lashed together and all was well until we reached the bottom of the lock when the front pair got jammed as their plank was a bit too wide! We had to put some water back in the lock so that they could get the plank into the ladder abatement. Then of course as we pulled out, it moved them so that they were once again jammed. Luckily they managed to lift it clear and we all survived - we noticed that they portaged them though the next lock!
We leave the lock to cheering!
This was another corner that caused problems yesterday - I didn't have the camera handy at the time so this it today's view. yesterday the bridge and bank were full of gongoozlers and there were a load of rowers on what is now our right that made getting around just that bit more interesting! Why is it never easy when you're being watched?
We had hoped to moor just to the north of Guildford at a wharf we'd spotted yesterday but a boat that left Godalming just before us got the last place. We are moored about half a mile on, between 2 road bridges that's quite noisy but at least there are bollards and we can get close to the bank. Just after we stopped I said to John that no doubt the aforementioned boat would probably go past us at some point, right on queue, there they were! Couldn't believe it - 10 minutes later and we'd have got our good mooring. Grrrrr.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

22nd June '13

I wrote a lovely (to my mind) blog last night that suddenly disappeared and cannot be found. I was so fed up with it that I abandoned any attempt to re-write it so here I am - the day after mid-summer trying again!

This is just beyond where we moored the night before and we went into the marina there - a really easy to get into and out of place, which was pleasant and it cost £10 for a 10 minute pump-out, which was pretty reasonable we thought. They also have fuel, water and an elsan point there, which has been noted for the return journey.

This is the only remaining turf lock on the navigation, but the gates were both open since it's only used when necessary. The countryside opened out along here from being densely wooded to suddenly being able to see into the distance. It's surprisingly flat around here, which I don't associate with Surrey - certainly the bit I used to live in was very hilly.

I'm still amazed by the age of this navigation and can't get over how advanced they were in terms of waterways and transport systems, when you think that the road system was still very basic and most people rarely left their villages.

This is Newark Priory, still in ruins nearly 500 years later - but still there! Says something about the method of building then.

Here we are basking in the evening sun after a good downpour earlier. We are moored by Highbridge which is only about half a mile away from the New Inn at Send where we'd planned to meet Mum. We'd wandered down and had (to my mind) a very disappointing lunch and I was quite worried about how it was going to be the next day.

Today we discovered what all the neon yellow posters with arrows on that had been adorning all the bridges and locks since we've come onto the Wey, were all about. There is a London to Brighton trek today and tomorrow for the British Heart Foundation. Hundreds of people are walking (some running) past the boat today going from Epsom racecourse to Brighton racecourse, continuing overnight, although there's a campsite for the faint-hearted (or the less crazy ones in my view). At least the weather's not too bad for them, a few very light showers but generally quite warm if a bit windy.

We cruised down to the New Inn and walked up to the shops to do the obligatory lottery and buy a paper to tell us what's on the TV we can't watch (can't get a line to the South apparently).

Here's me and John with my Mum and her friend Jenny outside the boat! We were able to get Mum aboard so now she knows what we're talking about when we mention our home! We had a brilliant lunch in the pub so all my fears from yesterday were unfounded (should have had Fajitas yesterday instead of ham, egg and chips). Thank you Jenny so much for bringing Mum to see us AND for the lovely cake - lemon drizzle - can't wait for tea-time (soon).

Tomorrow we head off through Guildford towards Godalming - not sure how far we'll get, we shall wait and see. Oh I heard a cuckoo in the distance yesterday and the parakeets have disappeared!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

20th June '13

Despite the forecast - it hasn't rained today - whoopee!

We got to the final lock before the Wey and found an elsan point - it's strange the things that can make you happy! What with filling up with water and fuel in the last couple of days, all we need now is a pump out and we'll be happy bunnies.

Turning off the Thames after Shepperton Lock - the Wey is down there somewhere - left and right into the lock are the instructions we had from the lock keeper.

It wasn't that left apparently and then there's a clue!

He mentioned a lot of trees and not being sure we were going the right way - so presumably we are!

This must be one of the very first locks built - apparently the navigation was started (by someone called Weston - an early ancestor?) and then halted because of the Civil War - wow - that's impressive. It used to go from Weybridge right down to Chichester Harbour, but now it's only navigable as far as Godalming - there's a section off to Basingstoke but that gets complicated and we don't want to go there anyway! They are opening up the Wey and Arun canal and in fact we have been on a boat trip years ago on the short section that was open then. Another restoration project that relies on volunteers raising funds for the materials, fighting councils and begging  for grants and then doing the work themselves in most cases. I really admire them all.

We finally arrived at the first lock since Reading that we've had to do ourselves. I waited with the boat and John disappeared across the road. This is the pretty bridge that I was looking at, it crosses the actual river Wey hence the name of the town....

Next to it is the slightly less than pretty bridge that takes you onto the Navigation - do you see the two smaller concrete posts with white tops? well those indicate that you have to swing out to the left and come back to the opening on the other side of them at right angles to where the boat is so that you can get in the lock. Luckily I'd remembered how to steer the boat into locks after a break of a week so all was well.

We'd been warned that the paddles were tough on the Wey and John certainly struggled with them  - he had to do a short turn and then move the windlass around to get a good enough purchase to turn them for the first few turns - still we got there in the end.

This is the huge mill next to the lock - it's actually 3 separate buildings but unlike so many of them, these are all renovated and lived in as far as we could tell - they really looked lovely and what a prime site?

We had real problems finding somewhere to moor - we tried 2 likely sites but couldn't get close enough to moor, even with a gangplank but eventually found this site - this is the view behind us and there's no-one else around - pretty idyllic we thought. We've taken Paddy out for his evening walk and discovered a pub hardly any distance away with public moorings outside - typical. There's a small marina opposite where they have an easy to access pumpout so happiness is ours!

Things I have forgotten to say in the last couple of blogs.... is it a good year for roses? or are there just lots of lovely ones around here? we have seen wonderful profusions of all colours, shapes and sizes and lots smelling properly of roses. Very nice indeed. We have also lost the red kites and the cuckoos over the last few days but on the Thames found parakeets by the hundred. Here we appear to have a resident heron in the field opposite - what patient fishers they are.

Tomorrow we will move on and hopefully moor outside the pub where we're meeting Mum and Jenny on Saturday - it may mean we have to eat there tomorrow as well but we all have to make sacrifices!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

19th June '13

Hopefully I have a better signal now so here goes! Our visit to Windsor....

Health and Safety seem to have missed this little gem so far!

The Royal Standard flying in the breeze - it was Garter Day and so the Castle was shut on Monday - we heard on the news that night that Philip was coming here to convalesce, so presumably the flag will be here for a while, presuming the Queen stays with him I suppose.

We had a lovely warm evening that day and I got this shot from out of our hatch since this life size model was poised there. It's a Hurricane and was presented to Windsor because the chap who designed it came from here (I think).

I've got loads of shots of the Castle but won't put too many on, I promise - but here John is smiling, and that's really unusual in a photo so it had to be included.

Here's St Georges Chapel - this is where the ceremony was held yesterday and we could hear the singing across the town - it was lovely.

We watched the changing of the guard ceremony but to be honest we were both very disappointed. It was really slapdash and we were expecting military precision at it's best. Considering who was at home and might be watching out of the window you'd have expected better. We were stunned at the number of petite women guards. Both of us thought that there was a height requirement for the regiment but apparently not. All a bit of a let down I'm afraid.

After lunch following our trip around the castle we headed off and all along the river, where it follows Windsor Great Park there are no mooring signs alternated with these! They really don't want you to moor there do they? Slightly more intimidating than the usual 'Private No Mooring' signs.

We found some decent moorings next to the 'Bells of Ouzeley' another pub mentioned in Three Men in a Boat, but apparently the original got bombed and the one now standing is a new version. It was typical that here we were, moored opposite a pub and we were too full from lunch to eat and there was no-one in the area to visit us. We shall remember this in a few days time when we are hunting a pub in Guildford where we can moor for my Mum to visit us!

Anyway back to the picture - we took on some sub-letters at the mooring. As we were about to take Paddy out for his evening walk, a skiff turned up with 2 rowers who were booked into the hotel behind the pub and were nervous about leaving their boat, we were more than happy to have them tie up against us and Paddy guarded both boats last night!

They turned up as promised this morning, and it turned out that Marcel was writing an article for the 'Lonely Planet' magazine and James was his trusty friend taking photos and generally helping out.

While we were getting the boat back around ours, we discovered they had a stowaway! Alexander Beetle - a beautiful stag beetle well over an inch long. We got him settled back on land and here he is acclimatising himself to his new terrain.

Here they are leaving us - Marcel rowing and James waving to us - they'd come down from Oxford since Friday and were hoping to get to Hampton Court today - good luck lads, hope you made it and remember to let us know when the article is coming out.

We went for a walk around Runnymead and saw the JFK Memorial.

The Magna Carta Memorial.....

.... and eventually after a long walk uphill through the woods, the Air Force Memorial.

John went in and had a good look around and took this photo of Runnymead and the Thames from the top of the tower.

After this we had a well earned cuppa and a bun at the cafe at the bottom of the hill and got back on the boat and have moved on and are now moored at Laleham -  we'd never heard of it either but it's after Staines and before Shepperton. A very good mooring and FREE!

We found the boat today that we'd been told about to get fuel. He is based at Windsor and was in Staines today - he cruises up and down this stretch and if you're on a narrow boat it's far easier than trying to get into any of the marina's, which are full of tupperware tubs. He's not a bad price either for this part of the world and I told him I'd give him a plug! The boats name is NB Merchant if you're in the area.

Tomorrow we are going to have to explore a boatyard or marina though since elsan points are very few and far between - it's all pumpouts on the river apparently. Our map shows an elsan point just before we get to the River Wey so hopefully we'll find it - things are getting desperate here!