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Archive for October 1st, 2008

The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 45

Posted by indigodream on 1 October, 2008

Marlow to Boveney Lock

Sunny Sunday in Marlow

Sunny Sunday in Marlow

Marlow’s obviously a very popular mooring spot so the assorted wildlife is very tame here, as the shrew showed us last night. Knowing that boats are easy prey and boaters are a soppy lot, the local ducks chose to start pecking at the side of the boat at 2.30am. They carried on right through ’til daybreak. Richard slept through it, but I lay awake trying to persuade myself to move from our very snug bed and wave a boathook at the marauding ducks. But I couldn’t face it – I had to content myself with muttering muffled threats from under the duvet. The boat’s getting quite chill at nights now that the autumn’s arrived and Blue and Lou are back to sleeping swathed in blankets.

A typical Thames weir

A typical Thames weir

Ducks apart, the morning in Marlow was beautiful – there was a light mist on the water but a periwinkle blue sky above promised another fine day. It was a classic English morning – rowers shushed by gently, accompanied by the shouts of their less than genteel coaches, church bells rang out in the distance and the towpath was already occupied with dog walkers and joggers exchanging cheery greetings.

We set off in good spirits – dodging the rowers to join the main stream. Our first feature of the day was Marlow Lock which boasts an imposing view of the associated weir. I think that most of the Thames weirs are just as large but a fair few of the locks are tucked away down long cuts so you don’t get the full impact! We got to the lock moorings first this time so we had plenty of room to tie up securely, but the lockside pontoon soon filled up. For information, you

The lockside judging panel is in place!

The lockside judging panel is in place!

can actually moor on both sides of the pontoon – the cruisers behind us hadn’t realised and stayed on the river – well back from the weir and using their generous bow and various other thrusters to stay out of trouble.

As we left Marlow Lock we noticed another potential mooring spot on the left – a fine pontoon with easy access to a park/picnic area. We’ll have to remember this for the future as the moorings above the lock can be crowded.

Further down we spotted The Bounty pub (on the right hand side). It looked very welcoming and had convenient overnight moorings. We’ve never noticed this place before – my guess is that the moorings have always been full so we’ve just cruised on by. We’ll make it a target on one of our future trips.

More money than sense? An englishman's home is literally his castle around here....

More money than sense? An englishman's home is literally his castle round here....

We meandered down to Cookham via the neat village of Bourne End. Once again we were accompanied by lavish woodlands and sumptuous houses and felt very grand to be on the water in the middle of it all. Cookham is one of our favourite places and, unusually, there were lots of moorings here – we’ve just squeezed in on previous visits. There’s good dog-walking here and the Bel and Dragon pub in the village is very dog-friendly.

By now it was lunchtime and the glorious weather persuaded us to take our time and stop off to eat. We decided to head for the Cliveden islands a little way below Cookham Lock. There are lots of fine moorings on the right hand side along Cliveden Deep but we fancied having our own island, as we did last year. Ha! The islands were jam-packed with moored boats – I think we’d all had the same idea

The popular Cliveden Islands

The popular Cliveden Islands

and the island that we’d had to ourselves before was host to at least six cruisers and associated picnics. We had a nice chat with our neighbours on Fortuna Major III (who had an aged spaniel so lots of dog talk ensued). Blue and Lou had a little rummage but we were forced back to the vicinity of the boat by a vulnerable chocolate cake! I’d like to stay overnight here sometime (£6 a night but the National Trust don’t always collect) – the bank moorings looked particularly fine as they’re flanked by a deep woods which looked very exciting for dogs.

We’ve had a huge audience at every lock – it seems as if the whole population of the southeast was out and about enjoying the river. In the midst of this jolly crowd why did I get to talk with the only miserable git! At Boulter’s lock I was accosted by a gloomy bloke who had looked through the kitchen window and started

Lots of boat enjoying this fine day!

Lots of boat enjoying this fine day!

the conversation by warning me that the plateful of fried bacon on the cooker was going to go off in the full sun. He told me about it three times and seemed very distressed that I wasn’t leaving my post at the bow rope to attend to it straightaway. As the meat was some cooling slightly out-of-date bacon that I’d cooked for the dogs I knew it would vanish long before it had time to go off! This information wound him up even more so I tried to change the subject from my errant rashers to the lovely morning and how nice it was to see people enjoying watching the boats. I was told in no uncertain terms that “it’s because they haven’t got money like you lot – not all of us can afford what you do, you know”. Of all the locks in all the world why did he have to walk up to this one?? 🙂

Fancy dress rowing - a new sport for the 2012 Olympics?

Fancy dress rowing - a new sport for the 2012 Olympics?

We needed to get back to Reading for the car so we contemplated mooring very early in Maidenhead. But I didn’t fancy the moorings above the lock – they’re so close to the road. But we had a pleasant surprise – there are very good moorings on the left below the railway bridge, well away from the road, council run and only £6 per night. But it was such a splendid day that it seemed a shame not to enjoy the river a little longer so we pressed on.

We were now looking for a secure mooring for the week, rather than just a night, so we started ringing the lock-keepers as many of the locks have visitor moorings. Boulter’s lock didn’t have any moorings but he did advise us that the Maidenhead moorings were secure. We squirrelled that fact away for later as the town doesn’t really look that promising. Surprisingly, though, the lock-keeper at

Bunny rowers - better keep Blue away!

Bunny rowers - better keep Blue away!

Romney lock warned us that ultra-posh Windsor wasn’t a good place to leave a boat unattended – who’d have thought it? Unfortunately Romney lock has lost its visitor moorings (how very careless!) so we plumped for Boveney lock.

The lock-keeper at Boveney Lock couldn’t have been more helpful. He sorted us out with a mooring below the lock facing the weir (£8 a night). It was quite imposing to be looking down the weir’s throat and the boat was rocked gently by the constant flow. The only trouble with Boveney lock is that it is quite isolated – Richard cheekily hitched a lift to Windsor from a passing trip boat and caught a train from there back to his car in Reading. In the meantime my big plans to clean the boat got wiped out by another long dog walk.

On canals, the dogs can have extensive rummages around and between locks but that’s impossible on the Thames. The locks are widely spaced and your crew stays on board (lock-keepers are so convenient). There’s no question of being able to pick errant crew members (i.e. Blue) at the lock moorings on the other side as they’re full of incoming traffic on a busy Sunday.

However, we did stop below Bray lock to visit the rubbish point. There’s tremendous flow from the weir here and I tried to moor by poking the bow in first then bringing the stern in. Stupid stupid – did I learn nothing from the approach to Gloucester Lock?! Ok, when you’re trying to moor with the flow then bring the stern in first, secure with a rope then swing in the bow – the flow will make it easy. Better still, turn the boat round and moor against the flow – this gives you total control and is much easier….

Boveney Lock

Boveney Lock

Anyway, I was feeling a bit guilty that the dogs hadn’t had much excitement so I took them on a long exploration along the Thames path. There was fine rummaging here and plenty of places where they could get safely into the river for a splosh. We walked for just over a mile then turned back as they were looking a bit weary. But Blue had a surprise in store for me. In a stretch of largely rough footpath we came across a terribly civilised area of mown lawn and decorous rowing lakes called Dorney Reach. Blue went off for a rummage while Lou and me paraded primly round the perimeter. I was enjoying the “aaaahs” of the passersby at the sight of the sleek greyhounds when I suddenly heard their cries change to “uughh!” Blue had caught a fat rabbit and was strutting proudly across the lawn with said bunny dangling from his mouth! We beat a hasty retreat – people’s nerves just don’t seem to be up to this sort of thing! It took a while for Blue to relinquish his prize but the rabbit was heavy and he soon got fed up of carrying it around – I quickly lobbed it into the undergrowth. No, I

Windsor Racecourse (oppsite our moorings)

Windsor Racecourse (opposite our moorings)

don’t feel guilty – rabbits aren’t endangered and some fox at Dorney Reach will have a feast courtesy of Blue! This gave both dogs a new lease of life and they raced down the path back to the boat.

Soon after we got back from our walk, Richard came back and we walked up the dark lane to the car (allowing Blue to have yet another run) and drove home after a perfect weekend’s cruising.

Dog Update:

Blue and Lou slept ALL DAY on Monday and barely moved on Tuesday! The rabbits in our garden are frolicking merrily in complete safety!

We’ve been a whole 5 weeks without a visit to the vet – almost a record for us. But Lou (whose turn it was) managed to fall/run into a (car park not lock) bollard on her walk this evening and sustained multipe strains/bruises and cuts. She’s on strong painkillers, rest, limited exercise and full sympathy for a week. I knew that our vet-free interval was too good to last……

People who read our blog…..

Our ‘statistics’ page lets us know the search terms that people have used to find our blog. We were mystified to find the following search term today – “big brested women”. Now, I will confess that I’m generously endowed but I did think they’d be better off with Greygal’s post!

Ah, there’s a lesson for the men of the world – learn to spell or enquiries about ‘brested’ women will lead to a lesson how to parallel moor a narrowboat 🙂

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