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Boat Blog: Micro-odyssey Day 2

Posted by indigodream on 10 April, 2012

Saturday 7th April

Runnymeade to Cookham Lock

This just about sums up the day's ambient energy level!

We had the slowest start to the day – brilliant!

Although Archie started a hound commotion at 6.30am, they all settled down after being given a big fuss and we had a lie-in ’til gone 9am. Sarah and Andy quickly got dressed and took the hounds to the park while I took my time to shower, dress and put the boat back in “day” mode with beds and bedding put back into place. The nearby Italian restaurant is more of a cafe and advertised “the best coffee outside of Italy” – well, we had to try it! Sarah and Andy went off to get some takeaway latte’s but they were disappointed. The staff were just arriving at the cafe around 10 minutes after their advertised opening time and were in no hurry to open up and serve their waiting customers so we left them to it – we can make our own latte’s!

While Sarah was organising the coffees, I got busy organising our next mooring – I estimated that the run up to Cookham Lock would make a good day’s cruise with a nice early finish (by our standards). I rang the lockie at Cookham – he seemed rather harassed but told us that he would have a 7-day mooring for us – £8 a night – bargain! So that was our target for the day. We’d need to get there before the lockie finished for the day at 5pm – there is gated access to the lock and island campsite – overnight visitors can get a key, but he was unwilling to give us a key as we were leaving the boat for a week. That wouldn’t be a problem – it was only a few hours cruise away and we’d easily get there by 4pm, even with our slow start.

Below Boveney lock - there are useful visitor moorings here (charge payable) as well as handy services...

Sarah got us underway and we enjoyed the river’s increasingly rural aspect. The  river is replete with history here – I spotted the ruins of Ankerwyke Abbey but I didn’t spot the 2,000 year old ‘Ankerwyke yew” – an ancient tree that apparently stands in the abbey’s grounds. What stories and secrets the tree must know – the Magna Carta was signed nearby in 1215 and there has been a Royal settlement of one sort or other at Windsor for over 900 years.

The river remained very quiet, though there were a few more rowing boats around today. I was amazed – I’d really expected the river to be jam-packed over the Easter weekend. We speculated on whether the price of diesel had put people off cruising, but would a hike in the price of fuel really affect people rich enough to have a £1 million plus boats moored up and idle on the river?

Just below Windsor, we shared a lock with an attractive wide-beam on a weekend jolly from Chertsey Marina. We shared a couple of locks with them, giving Sarah a chance to talk to them about the logistics of cruising a widebeam round the system. Sarah is still plotting her life on the water and every option is being carefully weighed up. Sadly the widebeam (didn’t catch the name) was stopping off in Old Windsor – shame, they were good locking companions.

Windsor Great Park was as grand as ever – there is still no mooring on the Crown Estate riverfront – it’s such a shame – the Queen could make a fortune in fees – there are a few miles of potentially premium moorings here. Maybe they’ll change their minds after seeing how smart the narrowboats look in the jubilee pageant 🙂 Windsor Castle is a bit of an anomaly – it comes into view then disappears as the river meanders around it – it’s hard to believe that such a huge edifice could disappear from view. It looms largest at the town of Old Windsor – the moorings here were pretty busy, but there would have been enough room for us on the ‘off’ side.

New footbridge over the Thames at Dorney - they'd better hurry up - only a few months to go before the Olympics!

When we arrived at Boveney lock, the lockies were just putting the lock onto self-service and going off to lunch. We weren’t in a rush, so we moored up below the lock to get rid of our rubbish, let the hounds have a pitstop and have lunch. Two narrowboats caught up with us and also stopped to use the services – the rubbish disposal, pump-out and elsan disposal are on the lock moorings; the water point is on the left on the ‘weir’ side moorings – makes sense when you see it.When they were ready, we moved into the lock with them – you could just about fit four narrowboats into Boveney Lock, though the first ones in have to move right to the front of the lock. I’d already asked about the length of their narrowboats (wish I’d written down their names – they were very pleasant) and we’d calculated that we could all fit into the lock – they were 59′ and we’re 60′.

However only two could fit into Bray Lock – the lockie told us we were 3′ too long to get in behind the other narrowboats! The variation is in the size of locks along the Thames is another great eccentricity – only 2 x 60′ narrrowboats can pass through the (relatively) tiny Bray lock, but the gargantuan Romney Lock (5 miles downstream) could accommodate four times that many.

Above Boveney lock we passed under the new footbridge over the Thames – it’s being built specially to allow spectators to reach the Olympic rowing course at Dorney Reach. I’m not sure whether it will be a temporary bridge – the local legacy group were campaigning for it to be permanent – I wonder if they won? The locals certainly look to be people of wealth and influence if their houses are anything to go by – I enjoyed Sarah and Andy’s amazement at the mansions lining the banks of Bray – I checked out a few estate agents – two of the riverside properties were on sale for £2.8million and £2.4 million respectively – and we’re not even at the expensive end of the river yet! We’re taking then through Marlow and Henley next weekend – we’ll need the defibrillator when they find out how much property costs us there 🙂

The somewhat dilapidated Bray film studios - famous as the former home of Hammer films and for the films Alien and Rocky Horror Picture Show. There's a campaign to save it from residential redevelopment...

It was turning quite chilly by the time we got to Maidenhead – that might explain why we had the lock to ourselves and why there wasn’t a single gongoozler – we’d normally have quite an audience here. The lockside ice-cream stall was shutting up for the day – it might have had some trade if it was selling hot chocolate!

As always I enjoyed the grandeur of the Cliveden Reaches and it’s associated islands – we’ve earmarked one for a greyhound romp on the way back – if we could get an exclusive mooring then Sarah’s pack could have an unrestrained run around – we reckon that one run up and down the island would wear them out for the day – remember, greyhounds don’t need much exercise!

We got to Cookham Lock at 4pm as predicted and the officious lockie impatiently directed us to a mooring spot below the lock – I was surprised – there are abundant moorings in the long cut above the lock so I expected to be there. The lockie was not of the usual sanguine variety who can cope with everything; this one gave the impression that he’d been put-upon since the day he was born and that his life had been a torment of harassment since then – it’s a shame! Still, he did sort us a mooring so I can’t complain. Nonetheless, I couldn’t bear to ask him whether he had a more dog-friendly mooring above the lock -he’d put us on a metal pontoon with narrow toothed slats – from a greyhound’s point of view it was like walking on a cheesegrater, so they didn’t!

Luckily Richard had come to pick us up in the car and came to meet us at the mooring – he carried each of the five greyhounds along the pontoon and associated steps – he was breathless by the end of it – showing just how bad his chest infection has been and how heavy greyhounds are!

Indigo Dream moored below Cookham Lock - it's a fine spot - there's also a campsite on the lock 'island'...

Richard was parked in the vicinity of Odney Lane – a short walk away on the fringes of Cookham village. It took a while to get the car loaded – getting three greyhounds (Henry, Archie and Herbie) into the boot was the easy bit; shoehorning Andy and Sarah into the back seat then piling Susie and Ranger on top of them was more of a challenge. But it was worth it – Richard soon drove us back to Teddington where we piled into our respective cars and headed for home.

I’d really enjoyed our cruise but I was so pleased to get home – the migraine I’d been holding off since Thursday bounced back with a vengeance and I was glad that we had two ‘rest’ days ahead of us. However the boat is in a good position for us to continue our micro-odyssey next weekend – hopefully we’ll all be in good health to enjoy it….

While we were driving back to Teddington,  Richard filled us in on his less than harmonious start to the day. He was woken by a hound commotion at 6am and went downstairs to find Poppy in a terrible state – staggering around and in a worse condition than she had been in on Thursday. He was worried that she was having another stroke and, when she fell over onto her back and was very distressed, he thought she was having convulsions and that it was all over. But then he calmed her down, made her have a short breather before she got her onto her feet, she started walking and within five strides she seemed fine; within 10 minutes you wouldn’t know she’d had a stroke (unless you were looking for the minute signs). He had some drama trying to get through to the neurologist to make sure that these symptoms weren’t to do with the new medication that she has for her back pain – eventually he got through and it sounds as if it was a little relapse of her stroke rather than the drugs. We’re pleased about that because her new painkillers seem to be working better than any that we’ve given her so far.

When I got home, Poppy was walking well (just the odd flicking of her wrist to indicate that there was something amiss). I got a hugely cheerful greeting from her and the rest of the hounds, though Lou is very very very very fed up with the huge bandage on her foot. We found out on Monday that Lou’s foot has to be bandaged for at least another four days and she has to stay on antibiotics – she is not impressed and being something of a drama queen about it – no changes there then! 🙂


Susie, ultimate top girl, taking advantage of Lou's absence to make herself at home...

Poppy on Saturday afternoon - recovered from her earlier relapse and well enough to walk with Ty and give him a big kiss (well, it can't be a bite - she's got no teeth!)....

Herbie hound was very quiet - once he found the sofa there was no moving him!

Archie, previous Olympic looking hopeful, may have peaked too soon - he and Henry spent the second cruising day fast asleep - it's too much for a hound 🙂

It's a plane-spotter's paradise along here....

Oakley Court Hotel - - apparently they welcome non-residents for afternoon teas and suchlike - I wonder if you can moor there - the river frontage is magnificent...

The river is so civilised here...

Strange to see such a small boat coming out of such a big lock - I wonder how it feels - especially in the turbulence of locking up...

That'll do! One of the many nice riverside 'mansions' in Bray - you wouldn't even need a double roll-over on the lottery to buy one!!

4 Responses to “Boat Blog: Micro-odyssey Day 2”

  1. neil said

    Q. What’s the best way to Cookham?

    A. Slowly over a candle.

    Sorry, I’ll get my coat.


  2. indigodream said

    Laughter is the best medicine – anyone know a good joke???? 😀

  3. Is Richard feeling any better? I hope your migraine has put you down

  4. indigodream said

    Well I can confirm that Sue has not been put down, though she is going to see the Vet later so watch this space. As for my cough, the Doctor was very wise and prescribed a 2 a day antibiotic (I am useless taking 4 a day tablets). I am sure that what I have been given is really horse medicine [1], the tablet is definitely big enough and it has been effective. I still sound like a steam engine at times but I am fairly certain that I will live!

    [1] Years ago my father was ill when we were in Poland. An uncle was a vet and he rummaged in his bag and produced these enormous tablets which were really for horses. He said take half at a time, broke the first one, looked at it, looked at my father mentally sizing him up relative to a horse and decided that a 1/4 tablet would do him. The horse medicine was incredibly effective!

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