Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Henley to Reading

Saturday saw us moving from Maidenhead to Henley, and on Sunday  we cruised from Henley to Reading.

David sorting a rope coming in to Henley.
Even the boat houses were out of our price range ...
Beautifully decorated eaves and soffit
We are through Henley Bridge and looking back
Lovely apartments, a party boat and plenty of cash ...

·      A plethora of skiffs on the river both days. There was a schoolgirls’ regatta at Henley, and a schoolboys’ one after Shiplake Lock, and lots of practising and coaching in between them. It makes for interesting narrowboating with the practising crews and crews returning from their heats travelling backwards at speed and not always on a parallel track to us … Intersecting lines came to mind several times. But I just edged closer to the bank and went into neutral to give them time to correct their trajectory. The occasional little toot on our over-loud horn let them know we were about. At one point at the boys’ regatta they got hailed by the marshalls to keep right and keep checking behind them, then he apologised to us. We weren’t worried – it was great to see kids out and active.
·      At Shiplake College there were about 7 crews out and they were zigzagged across the river. It looked really cool but there was no way we could go through them. We just stopped and watched them until they were aware of us and edged over. I think their coach was a bit concerned though.
About 40 seconds before this, these skiffs were spread out across the river. It did look cool and the kids were very good natured.
·      There’s also a lot of older people into rowing too, and they take it seriously enough to have coaches coming along behind in their little motor boats.
·      From our observations, every schoolgirl rower and every young woman rower has long hair – didn’t see one with short hair. All wore their hair up in ponytails. What is that about?

I don't remember where this was and I don't remember noticing the shark's teeth on the dinghy. But now I've seen it, it reminds me of the shark's teeth that Dad painted on the dinghy he built for us about 55 years ago. It lasted for about 30 years before the bottom rotted and my brother put his foot through it when we were on the far side of the river ...

·      On Saturday, I had given up and was hating the locks, and wanted to get off the Thames as fast as I could. Every lock keeper seemed to have different ways of doing things and gave different instructions; at our first staffed lock of the day, I’d been growled at for hovering back from the lock and off to the right, instead of tying up outside the lock. Being growled at really set me up nicely for the day – not! Then my capability at steering into and settling in a stable fashion at the side of the locks seemed to go from bad to worse!!!! AAARRRGGGHHH!!! I said to David that if it wasn’t so expensive, I’d pay to have the boat trucked to Oxford to avoid more locking on the river!
·      But fortunately that afternoon David was growled at by one lock keeper for coming into the lock enclosure while we were waiting outside the lock for it to empty (tied up of course!!), and he was told he should stay on the boat. Back he came, and our technique now is so much easier. We hand the ropes to the lock keepers and let them do the work. I think I could get used to that!
·      We met some nice people back at Hampton Court moorings, Phil and Deborah on their nb Four Miles On. We have seen them several times since then at locks and they are lovely. They told us to take things at our speed and not be rushed – good coaching. By the way, Phil is the master of mooring in small spaces. On Sunday arvo they moored outside the Tescos in Reading. The space he got into was about 6 inches longer than their boat – Impressive! As we walked across the river at Reading we saw them and were most un-English in our behaviour as we shouted and waved to them from the bridge …
·      The lock keepers at Caversham Lock were lovely.
·      I think the secret on Sunday was that I wore my boots – goretex and leather, brown lace up, very butch. They are my lucky boots, like tennis and golf players etc have their good luck charms. So everyday from now on on the Thames, I am wearing my boots … To be honest, it’s only because I stubbed a toe on Saturday and I need to keep it covered.

There is lots of it about on the banks of the Thames.  
David dropped an NZ $2 coin over the open cabin bilge - he is trying to find it. It isn't there - it fell behind the step ladder above his head ... But this isn't the money I meant!
David's $2 won't buy him this ....

or this ...

We moored up in Reading on Sunday arvo at Churchill Meadows. A lovely mooring with bollards and just enough room for us. A small boat could fit either end of us, and we were in the middle of the space – we could have moved to either end but the mooring wasn’t straight so we’d have been sticking out into the river. No one turned up though so it was quiet.

We thought lots about our dear friend Melita over that 24 hours – she lived in Reading for some time and every time we came to visit her when we were living in London and Church Enstone, we had to phone for instructions as we couldn’t find our way to Earley … In the end, Melita gave David the Microsoft maps package which he used to use on the laptop as we travelled. He had to go out to the car 10 minutes before we were due to leave so he could set up the little satellite searcher on the sunroof and get the package up and running and enter the address we were heading for. If he didn’t get there before I was ready, he used to get grumpy if I started driving before he’d got the directions sorted, even if I knew my way out of Church Enstone …

Barry and Pauline:

We are so lucky to have such good friends in Barry and Pauline. Barry was with us for over a week, and Pauline came for both intervening weekends. As well as being great fun, they were a tremendous help while David and I were stressing over the locks, and were able to take over when I needed a break. It is a bit tough being the only steerer, so it’s great having people on board who are extremely capable.


I am getting more suntanned as we move along. However, there was the heaviest rain with lots of thunder on Saturday late arvo/early evening, hence mooring up next to the schoolgirls' regatta at Henley. And it was mid-summer’s day on Sunday, and while it ended up being warm, it started out like this:
I am wearing shorts, but only because I can't change into jeans while steering. I have a long sleeved top, a fleecy, and my goretex windproof jacket and leather glove (only one as the iphone doesn't respond to leather, only my soft and lovely skin) - it may look sunny but it was bloody freezing! I nearly called for my scarf it was so chilly. And even Barry, who is the hardest hard man we know, was feeling the cold. David had his stress to keep him warm though.

No comments: