Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Thursday 29th June '17

Well what can I say about last night??? Certainly one to remember. Warning to future guests, whatever happens I'm likely to share it on here, so be warned!

Our guests arrived on time, bringing red wine (Ali and Jason) and vodka (Ian). We got straight down to business with John bringing out the Whiskey Profile Kit, and Ian avidly reading the recipe leaflet. They started with sampling the ones we had, Ian approved of all of them and was incredulous that they were made from vodka and so the mixing began.....

John with a mixing jug and his little bag of tricks.

The audience were completely enraptured with the magicians performance.......

Guess who drank the most? Ian was well impressed and managed to drink the entire half bottle that had been made plus finishing off most of what we had. To be fair John helped a bit, but it transpired during the course of the evening that it was Ian's birthday the following day so it became a bit of a party. I would like to say at this point that I had a small (very small) glass and drank black decaf coffee for the rest of the evening so my halo was shining brightly. I did apparently let Jason and Ali down since they were hoping I could turn water into wine! I'm good, but not THAT good!

The evening culminated in Ian spilling Jason's red wine all down the front of his trousers and somehow after that it wasn't quite the same. I offered to wash them for him (after he'd gone back to the boat to change) (it wasn't one of THOSE sort of evenings) but he declined and insisted he'd get them to a launderette in Newbury.

We left the next morning about 10.00 but hadn't seen sight nor sign of Ian, although Ali waved at us from the window. I hope they liked the surprise we left for them....

.....I'd kept some happy birthday banners from my birthday and knew they'd come in useful. If you read this, we hope Ian enjoyed his day xxx

It was another day of locks and bridges at very regular intervals. 7 miles, 9 locks and 4 bridges in a bit over 5 hours!

A busy days chatting over locks for the lads.

When Jason had to stay on his boat in the second of the turf locks we encountered John found Lock Man to chat to instead. Ian and Ali had told us about this chap last night who just seemed to hang around Monkey Marsh Lock and help boaters.... and here he was. A bit like a yetti really, barely seen and not believed in by some and hard to photograph because they blend in with the environment.

Another lock, another conversation!!!!! Believe it or not TWICE during the day Jason was close to losing his boat because of not paying attention. Once the rope undid itself and the boat nearly careered into the front cill on the lock and the second time the gunnel got caught under the edge of the lock. I think he'll be pleased to see the back of us. Mind you I think John will miss the male bonding thing. There haven't been many boats coming the other way with women for him to get lost in conversation with, forcing me to shout at him when the lock is full!

A rather pretty dutch barge we spotted with a lovely display of flowers. I wouldn't want it myself but I do think it looks pretty on other boats. It's as much as I can do to keep a small pot of herbs on the roof, and that's only because John waters it from time to time. I tend to have a neglect it and see what happens attitude to plants.

We also spotted this rather lovely old tiller on a boat. They used to be very ornate and this is a good example. Huge heavy things to manoeuvre though I would imagine.

Finally coming into Newbury there was an inflatable canoe with two girls in, with an alsation desperately trying to jump in with them. They had to get to the side to let one of them out as she was soaked through and the dog bounded in the water again and was jumping at the boat and I just managed to catch it as it got the oar in it's mouth! They were both laughing so I guess it was OK. I'd have been terrified, but then I'd NEVER have been in a canoe. I really don't like water enough to want to be that close!

So we ended up in Newbury, as planned. I caught a bus out to the college for a Slimming World meeting and had lost 0.5lb which is going in the right direction at least and then I walked home. Nearly 2 miles. Glad to be sat down and we shall watch a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory and have an early night after last nights shenanigans. Tomorrow we have to hunt out somewhere to eat where Chloe and Sam can park when they visit on Saturday.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Wednesday 28th June '17

Not sure I should be let loose with technology.....yesterday I mentioned that my camera hadn't been charged.....what I SHOULD have noticed was that far from being not charged, it was without a battery because THAT had been fully charged while we were in Reading. So no pictures yesterday was a case of lack of brain rather than anything else. I had to admit it because John has read the blog recently and if I hadn't he'd have probably put a cutting comment!

Here we are this morning leaving Sheffield Lock. The last time we moored here we were with Simon and Ally and we'd had a brilliant barbeque. The weather wasn't as good this time I'm afraid, after a night of rain it brightened up a bit but was not exactly high summer.

Here we are sharing a lock with Jason on board Mithril Three. We've had a lovely day  with him (well we enjoyed it) and got through the six locks and numerous lift or swing bridges a lot quicker because we got straight into a good rhythm.

To give him his due, he tried to get away before us but we caught him up at the first lock and then wouldn't let him go. We even stopped at Aldermaston together to fill up with water and empty cassettes, and you don't get much closer than that! Actually they both looked a bit green after the cassette bit, apparently it wasn't pleasant in there. I was busy with Paddy so avoided that pleasure.

I can't remember the name of the lock but here you can see the bridge going over the road that had to be moved before we could get in the lock. When there's two of you on board it's not too bad, one sets the lock and then opens the bridge while the other takes the boat through. If you're having to do this single handed then you have to moor, set the lock, open the bridge, get the boat through into the lock, go back to close the bridge then operate the lock and it takes quite a while to do this. Having two boats makes it so much easier, and far quicker.

Jason had opened this bridge so we were going through to get to the next lock to set it for him. Simples.

We'd done this one for Jason - I hope you are all paying attention to this - quiestions will be asked at the end.
It's just so nice to have company and to top it all, Jason made my whole trip by saying of John "I'm amazed you ever get a word in!"  YES! I KNEW he talked more than I did.......SO happy!

some of the locks are quite violent when the paddles open. It's as well not to be TOO close to the front gates usually.

Incidentally these pictures are not necessarily in chronological order because for some reason my computer can't store them in a simple 1,2,3 system. Instead it does so many and then repeats the numbers again with a sub, number and it's a real pain trying to sort them out. Just in case anyone was going to be picky and know which order the locks come in!

Scalloped edge to this one - not sure why - seem to remember there is a reason but it escapes me and I dare say few will care. If you really do care that much maybe you could Google it? Add it to the comments please.

Jason spotted a CRT message saying that there was a tree across the river but when we got there, some of the branches had been sawn off and we were able to get past it, albeit, scraping along the bottom a bit.

We got through Woolhampton Lock, which has caused me problems in the past, whether I'm used to it or have improved or whatever it was easy today, in fact I had more problems getting around the bridge that came first! I think I was overcompensating for what was to come and panicked too soon, so by the time I got to the lock I was past worrying!

We've managed to moor at the top of the lock and so has Jason either side of a boat called Clarence. The couple came out and helpfully moved it to make room for Jason and we've ended up inviting Ian and Ali (sorry if the spelling is wrong) around for a malt tasting tonight after telling them about John's Whiskey Profile Kit. Jason has gone to find his car and if he get's back in time he'll come around as well. That's what boating's about, meeting nice people and spending time with them. Mind you John's a bit worried about how much Ju left after Saturday night but I'm sure we can find something.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Tuesday 27th June 'a7

Just a brief catch up tonight because despite being in a mooring with mains electric I managed to forget to charge either my camera or the computer.......ooopppps!

On Saturday Jess and Ju arrived late morning and so we had a good catch up and lunch. Then Jess and I went into town to get some necessary bits and pieces, the men were left with the washing up and then going into the pub.

When we got back us girls had a bottle of champagne nicely chilled while the men continued at the pub. Then after a brief respite for them coming back for an hour or so we went over for a meal. Not the cheapest but definitely worth it. I would recommend the Bel and the Dragon in Reading to anyone.

Surprisingly neither man felt brilliant in the morning! Can't imagine why..... Jess and Ju returned home and I abandoned John to allow him time to get his head back together while I went back into town for the bits that I didn't get yesterday, also just because I could. It's nice to go into town on my own sometimes, plus I was building up my steps. It appears that my Fitbit has died again. This is the third one and I'm not sure whether to replace it or get something different.

On Monday I went down by train to visit my mum. We had a nice couple of hours and then I had a rather long journey back as the connections weren't exactly synchronised! Still I got back and we popped in to have a (much smaller) meal again. Another lovely dinner. That's five different mains we'd had and all were great.

Today we left our mooring. It seemed quite sad since everyone had been so friendly, we've promised to pop in for a night on our way back down to the Thames.

Paddy isn't quite himself. He seems very reluctant to jump up on the seat at the back, and has been struggling to get on the settee, and is finding the run up the back steps much harder. It's as if he's aged years overnight. Completely unconnected, he had a tick today and amazingly I knew that I'd bought a little gadget a while ago to remove them, even more amazingly I knew where it was. It worked beautifully. He didn't even seem to notice and those that know Paddy know how strange this is!

We've got to Sheffield Lock today and stopped just as the rain started. It hasn't stopped since so timing was great, hopefully tomorrow will be better because we need to get closer to Newbury as I'm hoping to get to the Slimming World meeting there on Thursday night and we've got some of the family coming up to see us for lunch there on Saturday.

Once we've seen them we'll turn around and return to the Thames, then have a week getting to Brentford before heading towards Little Venice! Tomorrow as soon as we're underway I shall plug the camera in and hope to get some photos for the next entry.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Friday 23rd June '17

Yesterday was Isolde's first birthday. I hope she had a happy day, I'm sure she will have done,

Also yesterday we were expecting a lot of thunder and rain but as we awoke there were two claps of thunder and a smattering of raindrops on the roof. Then a little while later when we were up, just after I'd walked Paddy there was another five minutes if that of rain and that was it. It turned a lot cooler and I considered putting another layer on but didn't bother in the end. We dragged Paddy around Beale Park in the evening and both somewhat regretted not wearing jeans, because the path became very overgrown in places and there were lots of stinging nettles around. We survived the experience though and at least we had a decent walk.

Today it's been a bit changeable. The sun has been really  hot at times but there's also been a lot of cloud and some cool breezes.

We left the mooring mid afternoon as we weren't wanting to go too far, just into Reading so there was no hurry.

We got to Mapledurham Lock and used the pump out, It was very efficient and only £10. We were very impressed, that's all it takes to make us happy, a good pump out! John was also able to empty his cassette and we got rid of rubbish, Strangely though they didn't have water there, There was a tap for filling containers, handy if you're on a plastic pig, but not much use to us. Luckily we knew we'd have water when we got to the moorings otherwise it could have been tricky.

At Caversham they have a new pedestrian bridge that is somewhat similar to the Millennium Bridge in London. We have a feeling that they were constructing it the last time we were here. If it's been there for ages, I apologise and you can leave a comment. Still waiting for some!

We actually got a mooring right outside the Tesco at Reading, this has never happened before, there's been no spaces along the whole length of the mooring in the past but we were directly outside and so we were able to moor up, fill a big trolley and push it to the boat where John was able to lug it all down and I had the joy of putting it all away. It truly is amazing how much space you can find on a narrow boat.

Then it was time to turn into the Kennett and Avon Canal, still at this point very much a river and it was running quite fast, We hadn't had to deal with any current up to now and it felt a bit strange. There is one lock to get up before we could moor and naturally, the first lock John's had to do for a while and there's another boat coming down. I watched him help with the top gate, close the paddles and then open the bottom paddles and sort out the gate for them and when the boat emerged there were the two men on the back who I'd seen and two women sat in front doing sweet f..a... I love John dearly but I do wish he'd stand back and let others do their own work sometimes.

We are now moored at the Bel and the Dragon in Reading. It's just before the gaol where we usually moor but it much nicer. They have water and electric, don't charge a mooring fee as long as you spend money in the pub. Jess and Ju are coming tomorrow and staying over so we're going to eat in there with them, we've been in for a drink with the people in the boat next to us, Victor and Eve who live on their wide beam, The Great Escape. They were lovely and we hope to catch up with them again before we move on.  We're likely to go up towards Newbury on Tuesday as we want to be back on the Thames in about a week so we can have a week to get down to Brentford then a week to get to Little Venice, hopefully meeting some friends along the way. If you're in the area, please get in touch and we'll try to arrange something.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Wednesday 21sy June '17

The longest day and also the hottest June day since 1976. The difference then was that it went on for weeks and by all accounts it's going to rain tonight or tomorrow.

Yesterday I walked back to Benson Lock so that I could  meet one of my ex-students (and friends ) Mahala. It was lovely to see her again and although she only had a half hour lunch break we had a good catch up. She left college 10 years ago and the following day married Steve. I sang a solo at their wedding during the signing of the register so it was quite a special day for me as well. We also went along to their elder son's naming day, so we've kept in touch through the miracle that is Facebook. I know a lot of people don't like it but I can stay connected to so many special people who I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with in the old ways, so I love it.

This morning I went along to the Slimming World meeting at Wallingford. It was the nearest I've been to my usual one at Willington. Unfortunately I'd put on a pound but I now have three weeks to lose three pounds, so I'm going to try really hard. To be honest I'd have thought I'd have melted at least a stone off but apparently it doesn't work like that!

This was looking back towards the moorings - you can't even see it under the trees. John had swept the roof a bit and was moaning about being under trees, but the shade was bliss.

This is the pub that was by the official moorings. You can moor free during the day but they charge £5 a night, it's also in full sun and there's a high climb up to get off the boat so we were much better off where we were.

When we arrived we'd said that we'd go there for a drink on Tuesday evening but then John was too tired, While I was off visiting Mahala he managed to get himself there and have some beer and chips for lunch but said we'd go back last night. He was tired again. So it's a pub I never got into.....not that I'm feeling badly used or anything.......

Once I got back to the boat we headed off downstream. We had to re-do our Thames licence as it had lapsed but now we are all legal again, once we'd got to the first lock. We also had to fill up the water, as we'd had a couple of days of showers etc and I'd done a load of washing as well.

While we were filling up, a boat called Penguin went through, no problem but when we got to Goring, they'd got the last mooring, where we'd been hoping to get in. To add insult to injury they didn't even stay there as now they are moored a bit behind us. Such is life.

Once we were full we had to wait for another boat to go down plus two to come up and as the lock-keeper had gone for lunch John took over and helped them all through! I think he's found his vocation in life, at least it didn't involve standing in the heat turning paddles as they were electric, and he utilised the lock-keepers parasol!

While John was off enjoying himself the star-board lookout gave himself some time off to enjoy the shade!

The old 'ferry' cottage. So beautiful, we decided that if we win the lottery (we don't do it) we'd like to buy it and have the boat moored outside. It would be plenty big enough after the boat, and a tad cooler at the moment.

After everything that John has said about people swimming in the river, tonight the heat got to him and he had a (very quick) dip in himself! It gave him a chance to try out our safety ladder, the first time it's been used, as the bank is vertical here. He got out and had a shower straight away by the way.

We are moored at Beale Park tonight, couldn't be much more different than the last two nights. We're in full sunshine and I checked the bedroom temperature earlier and it was 35 degrees, plenty hot enough I feel. We need to get a pumpout in the next couple of days as we are going into Reading for the weekend. Our friends Jess and Ju are coming up to see us and stay overnight so it will be easier for them to find somewhere to park and I desperately need to do some 'heavy' shopping so am hoping for a lift! The Tesco is the other side of town from the moorings.

Time for me to go and have MY shower I think, but I'll do without the dip in the river first!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Monday 19th June '17

It's hot, it's very hot, it's very hot indeed. Not yet noon and we're moored under some willow trees in relative shade.

I forgot to say the other day that apparently the fishing season had just started and we were having to stay fairly close to the bank because of the rowing eights on our port side. There were several fishermen and they have this horrible habit of leaving their rods in until the very, very last moment. Well one didn't! The line got caught on the bow of the boat and he hung on to his rod for grim death and eventually the line broke. So sad. He was quite abusive. Tough.

Ruins in the Abbey grounds in Abingdon, seen on our walk with Paddy Saturday evening when it was marginally cooler.

Queen Victoria, again in the Abbey grounds.

One of the many pubs in Abingdon. Apparently (according to the pub blurb) the probable explanation of the name is that it shows a broad face to the river. Whatever reason it may be, I've not seen another one anywhere - but I'm ready to be corrected.

This is only here because our friends Carol and Ian have a boat (and a business) called Tickety Boo, and I thought they might like it.

Leaving Abingdon and the elegant bridge with the Church spire behind it is always a lovely sight I think. I dare say there may be an earlier picture of this, but unlikely to have been taken on such a bright sunny day. We once again started off before 9.00, this is becoming an unhealthy habit.

A rather elegant cormorant. John doesn't like them because they tend to eat a lot of fish, but then if he had his way, HE'd eat a lot of fish so there you are.....

We were hoping to moor above Days lock, where we've moored in the past, in fact on every journey we've done down here so far, but there was a sign that was illegible from the water and there were cattle with VERY large horns in the field next door with an open gate in between so we didn't stop there. I checked with the lock-keeper and he said the farmer was trying to dissuade people from mooring and he'd erected fences all across the meadows. He suggested we might be able to moor by the mouth of the River Thame which was not far below the lock. We kept a look out and saw a mooring that would be fine for a plastic pig but we weren't sure. John said we could try so we did. We got in nicely, with the front and centre ropes on pins and the back rope around a tree. This was quite exciting I thought, I'm not really into wild mooring, but this was lovely.

Now those of you who've been reading this blog for a while may remember when we were last on the Kennett and Avon, we had to go down to a lock past Bath and moor on a lock jetty. You may also remember that we ended up moving on because of the kids that were using the jetty as a launch pad to jump into the river. WELL..... guess what. within an hour or so, loads of youngsters were on the other side of the river mouth (about 10 foot away) swimming, shouting and generally enjoying themselves.

We stuck it out because we knew that we were unlikely to find anywhere else to moor on a Sunday as there were LOTS of boats out on the river. The main problem I had with the kids was the language. the F word was their word of choice and it punctuated every sentence.

In the heat of the day I cooked John a roast lamb dinner because it was Father's Day. I must have sweated off a good few pounds while he and Paddy sat at the back in the shade.

This was the mooring this morning once it was all quiet. I took Paddy into the nearest village which was Dorchester on Thames, and is one of the places used to film 'Midsomer Murder's' I spotted no bodies and managed to walk on my own across a field without being murdered so  I reckon I did well. I was going to take John to buy him a beer but he was reluctant to leave the boat while the kids were there and they didn't leave until after I'd had my shower, so he went without.

Today we've only come a few miles along and are moored once again under willows, tied up with all three ropes to trees. I'm getting quite wild in my old age. It's lovely and cool and there's a place for Paddy to dip his toes. It's too deep for him to go in voluntarily, he doesn't like deeper than tummy height!

Looking worried that he's going in too deep! Yesterday on his walk he suddenly leapt down a bank and went into a very muddy side pool of the Thame. We had to get a bowl of water and rinse him off before he could get back on the boat, dirty little dog!

While we were travelling I tried to keep Paddy cool by draping a pillow case over him, John dubbed him Lawrence of Arabia's dog! Needless to say he pushed it off as soon as I stopped stroking him.

Here we are, moored up. We may stay here until Wednesday because there's a Slimming World meeting there that morning and moorings are hard to find. We're not in any hurry but there's unlikely to be a blog for a day or so because of lack of things to say and possible power to run the 'pooter.

By the way we now know the sound a red kite makes, it's like a dog whistle that just keeps going! We had a nest of them close to us yesterday. We have also seen another kingfisher and two green woodpeckers today. Last night on the back of the boat John had two kingfishers fly by, peeping as they went! He thought they were probably just fledged and out for a trial fly-past! We have more red kites here judging by the noises!

By the way, I'm not getting any messages apart from after the first day. I KNOW that people are reading it and it would be lovely to get some feedback.....please????

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Saturday 17th June '17

Neither of us slept well last night, it was noisier than we'd been used to and apparently some boats went by at about 2,00am. There was shouting in the distance at one point and Paddy was barking at something as well. Anyway it culminated in us getting up BEFORE 8,00am, and leaving before 9,00. It was just as well really because it's become a scorcher of a day.

There were lots of boats moored around Oxford and they had changed the channel that we'd used before, so we went past the pub called  The Head of the River. However once we'd cleared the city and left all the rowers behind, of which there were LOTS, it became much quieter, to the extent that we hardly saw a soul for most of the journey.

A beautiful goose for those of you mistaken souls who like the Canada's. This is what geese over here should look like, unless they're the domestic white ones. Just saying.......

Looking back at a lovely tranquil stretch of river, it really was blissful today.

This is our view from the hatch for the rest of the day and night, we're at Abingdon. We've been past here before but not managed to moor here for a night so we're rather pleased with ourselves. Despite getting here before 1.00 we still seem to have got the last mooring and although it's a bit of a walk from the town (we're just under the lock, hence the view of the weir) it's a lot quieter than further up, which is opposite a park that is full to the brim of families and a pub which is equally crowded.

We've had an ice cream and ate it sat under the shade of a tree in a breeze, it was lovely!

Here's the red kite from yesterday, I got some more shots of them today but this is still the best!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Friday 16th June '17

I hope the internet is good because I've got LOTS of pictures I want to post from the last few days.

We had a walk around Lechlade and it was mostly a typical Cotswold village with lots of lovely warm golden stone buildings with stone roofs in many cases, but this old coaching inn went against the trend with the chequerboard brickwork.

Some lovely gargoyles on the Church which WAS in the local stone that I'd expected.

As we were leaving our mooring at the pub (nice meal by the way) this was looking over to where we had been moored - we'd seen the cows coming over last night and were very pleased that we'd moved, although there is a boat in almost exactly the same place we were in. The boat in front is obviously a local permanent moorer because they had an electric fence erected around their mooring!

Father Thames reclines next to the top navigable lock. He seems pleased with what he sees!

It's confirmed - I do have a thing about skies! This was just an unusual cloud pattern and it also shows that the sun has been shining on us and we have enjoyed a few beautiful days. Unfortunately that has meant horse flies. John has got away without any and I have three. Guess who wears the repellent? John insists that they like it and I'm beginning to wonder. It's from Neal's Yard and was quite expensive but came highly recommended. I may not buy any more.

John was taken with these gates on the way up, but I'd missed them (probably on tea duty) but I caught them on the way down. Strangely they don't lead anywhere, and merely open onto the front section of garden that is unapproachable apart from the river, and there's no landing jetty. Answers on a postcard please.

I took this with the zoom lens but haven't done any editing. We have had these going over most of the way up and down. They are out of Brise Norton apparently, if that's not the spelling it's because John's off looking at the Pitt Rivers Museum (and I'm not!).

Not something you see everyday on the river - well not the Thames anyway. Don't know if it's a crocodile or an alligator. We had an interesting discussion on what the differences were, but since we couldn't see it's teeth we were left in the dark.

A mobile home with a difference! This swan seemed completely unruffled by the fact her nest was gently moving with the current.

This is Tadpole Bridge. It didn't explain why but it's rather elegant. I discovered that the bridge I'd photographed and put on last time was called Ten Foot Bridge because apparently there used to be a weir there that was 10' across. Makes perfect sense when you know doesn't it?

I saw this on the way up but didn't get the camera ready in time. The sign says 'No Mooring', the pill box is about 10' the wrong side of a fence and there is an impenetrable bank that is probably at least 6' this side of the fence, so we decided not to be rebels and try to moor there. We are SO unimaginative!

I put this on my Facebook page with the same caption but is this or is this not Toad Hall? We've seen lots of possible Ratty holes along the riverbank, no sign of Mole but he's quite shy. This is where I'd like to live once all the weasels and stoats have gone of course.

This is my best photo yet of a red kite. There were lots of them and at one point John counted nine of them all flying in one area at once ( I was on tea duty) If you can click onto it to enlarge you can see the amazing markings on it's back. Proud of this one! for some reason I can't get the enhanced close up to come up. I shall try again.

Other things that have happened but no photos taken were that we stayed on Shifford Lock again and there was a fence newly put up with a sign 'Bees Nest, beware!' We also noticed next to the water point that there were lots of holes in the bank with bees going in and out. The lock keeper told us that there were four bees nests just around the lock, not counting the mining ones, so at least they are doing well in one environment.

Also we saw a kingfisher, fleetingly as always but at least I saw this one! Such beautiful birds, you always feel the day is going a little bit better when you see one.

Also I managed to lose a shoe into the river at a lock, and with some nifty use of the pole I managed to salvage it! I put it on the top of the boat and by the time we got to Oxford it had dried out enough for me to start wearing again!

I went for a long walk (1.2 miles) to a Slimming World group this morning and have got my 2 stone award, of which I'm very proud. I'm also now only 2lb away from my target so I'm going to be trying extra hard in the next few weeks to loose them, as I've promised myself some new clothes when I get there!