Wednesday, 24 June 2015

2 degrees of separation and a new adventure

We were running shy of water after Barry and Pauline left on Sunday as we did a few loads of washing, so we investigated our filling options. As you may be aware, filling by hose is more limited on the Thames than on the canals, or at least that’s the way it seems. There are some water points which are just for filling bottles and have no hose fitting. So the symbols are different – a coiled hose and a tap. A trap for young players unless you have been forewarned, as we were by Jaq and Les. Thank you, friends!

So the options were to find the water point in Reading and we couldn’t work out where it was as we were each thinking it was near different bridges (either Reading or Caversham). David phoned about that and I phoned the lock keeper at Cleve Lock to make sure that the info we had been given was still current re water availability.

We decided to head for Cleve Lock on Monday – through a variety of weathers – wind, sun, heavy rain, more sun, showers. But as we had used pretty much all of the water, we needed to press on. When we got to Goring Lock, we met Fred, probably the nicest lock keeper we have encountered. And that was in spite of my throwing the rope at his head and then coughing a mouthful of tea over him!

His suggestion was that we go up through Cleve Lock and get water then come back through the lock and moor up on the meadow. When we saw the meadow we decided we would stop immediately, and forego/forgo/which? water overnight – we knew there was enough for cups of tea, face washing, teeth cleaning and essential toilet flushes. So up we moored and relaxed. The sun had come out and it was a trifle windy but it was a beautiful spot. We got out the table and chairs, the wine (doesn’t that go without saying?) and the cheese, hummus and crackers and settled down for a pre-prandial session. Shortly afterwards two narrowboats travelling in convoy turned up, and moored fore and aft of us – we had selected the best spot of course. But they were both slightly shorter than us and more expert in their coming alongside the bank techniques.

Janet and John on Renaissance took their dogs Coco and Snoopy off for a walk, and we invited Mike, Marian and son Guy from Duxllandyn to join us for a drink and nibbles. More glasses, wine, food and chairs were assembled and we settled down to continue the pre-prandial session. David and I had already decided that it was actually our prandial session as we didn’t require more food. Janet and John arrived back and joined us, then went in for dinner, and MM&G brought their dinner out.

As you do, we asked about their kids and they mentioned that one son Adam is a musician in the RAF. Aha! Maybe he knows Hamish Dean? Yes he does, they play together. Did Adam also perform the fanfare at Kate and William’s wedding? Yes, he did.

Well, there you go for two degrees of separation – Hamish and our son Tim were best buddies when we lived in Wanganui back in the 70s. His mum Mary and I were best buddies then too and spent lots of time together. As it was 6pm in the UK and at least 5am in NZ, I decided that Hamish’s mum and dad needed to be woken with this news. A text was sent and a short, sleepy one came back. Sorry, Mary, but it was too good an opportunity to miss!

After dinner and a shared dessert that Marian provided and Guy’s expert predictions of when the sun would reappear from behind the clouds, we all boarded Duxllandyn and played Hearts. By good luck rather than good management I managed to win – I do not know how that happened but there must have been some vestigial coaching messages from David left in my brain somewhere! Things like short suiting in the preliminary card passing, suck play, second player plays low, etc.

It was a lovely fun night and I went to bed way, way past my usual bedtime.

They all departed in the morning but not before we’d had a chat and I got a photo of them all apart from Snoopy who was tied up waiting patiently for the departure call.
L-R Guy, Marian, Janet, John, and Mike, and Coco (or is it Snoopy?)

We do hope we catch up with them all again.

Yesterday morning, we went up through the lock (Fred was on duty at Cleve and I didn’t throw the rope at him or spit on him yesterday), got water, chatted with the crew from a fabulous dutch barge, Lady Emma, who told us Wallingford was lovely to moor in. We then turned around and went back through the lock and moored up where we had been an hour before, just facing the other way. One of the fab things about the Thames is you can turn around pretty much anywhere!

We blobbed, did more washing, showered, went for a walk down the canal path. We had a drink (non-alcoholic) at the Swan at Streatley and found out we could moor there next time if staying for a meal, went in to Goring and found the butcher’s and bought burgers for when the grandsons come to stay and a few cheeses for when our friends Warren and Peter come to join us tomorrow. I hope the cheeses are up to scratch because Pete is a bit of a connoisseur …

A fabulous relaxed day in wonderful summer weather.

This morning it was turn around, go back up the lock, re-fill the depleted water tank, say goodbye to Fred and cruise on to Wallingford where we were moored up before noon. We have paid for 2 nights’ mooring and are heading out soon for lunch. David is preparing by having a shave but he is also watching Prime Minister’s Questions, so shaving is intermittent …
We had lunch here at the Boat House - it was OK but David's serving of risotto was too small for over £10.

And here we are, moored up across the river by the splash pool and park - it's a quick walk to the pub that serves an Australian unoaked chardonnay - nice tho.

The new adventure of the post title is that twice in the last three days, David has had a go at steering the boat! On Monday he asked to do it when we were on a long straight and very wide stretch. One condition was that I was not allowed to leave the deck. This morning however, I asked him to take over as I needed the (DWOD) dunny without delay (I know, too much information!) I had found somewhere I could pull over and he could hold the boat but as it was an end of garden mooring he wasn’t keen. Said the better option was to steer alone but at almost tickover. Fine by me. So he was left alone and did a grand job. When I came back he kept steering and I gradually raised the speed. His steering is fine – after all he has taken a shift a few times at night steering a yacht across the Cook Strait (“Just keep the mast between those two stars, David’”). I think he finds the stars easier to see than skiffs and coaches’ boats though – and they can’t be crashed into. 
And he's smiling!!!

So from now on he will be taking a shift each day. I don’t mind if he likes me to stay close, and I will like having a bit of a break from being the steerer when it’s only the two of us on board. Yay!!

1 comment:

Jaqueline Biggs said...

You are entirely welcome friend! We shared with you as She and Vic shared with us which is one of the things we love about the boating community.

So you met up with Irene and Ian! We've been hoping to do the same for several years now but no joy yet!

All in all as I catch up on my blog reading it is heartwarming to read about you and D on other boaters' blogs too; a bit like a Kiwi boater's version of Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!

The pic of you cutting David's hair is wonderful. It is good to read that he is feeling confident enough to do some driving and you have both relaxed into a Thames state of mind. As they say, no worries!