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Archive for October, 2012

Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 8

Posted by indigodream on 31 October, 2012

Rewind to Monday 17th September

Tadpole Bridge to Kelmscote (via Lechlade)

Big works at Tadpole Bridge..it was apparently built around 1784, though it’s by no means the oldest bridge on the Thames…

We woke reasonably early today because Richard’s sister, Danusia, husband Martin and dog Polo were coming cruising today, however we weren’t too sure when they were arriving. We made sure that we were dressed by 9am – shortly after we got a call to say they were nearly with us – good timing!

We set off, as always, with multiple cruising plans. We’d made parking arrangements with the Trout Inn, so Martin left his car there. It therefore made sense to do a there ‘n back cruise, but we doubted whether we’d make it to Inglesham and back in a day. We thought about not going as far as Lechlade so that we could get back to Tadpole Bridge in daylight, but we’ve been trying to get to the end of navigation all year and keep being thwarted, so we didn’t want to let go of that little dream. Ah well, I guess we’d have to play it by ear….again!

We set off upstream, enjoying the increasingly extravagant meanders and untamed landscape – well, apart from a few well-appointed and ancient properties. Danusia took a fancy to the rather lovely Buscot Rectory, just visible through the luxuriant trees; but she’s out of luck – its original owner left the property to the National Trust on condition that it was only rented to people with American literary connections – apparently the current tenant is an American author.

I was musing on why such a beautiful stretch of river is so unoccupied – it is surely prime development land. But then again, this is a great floodplain and there are few roads and even fewer bridges, so I guess, and hope, that the landscape will be unspoilt for many a generation yet.

Note: Wikipedia had a useful guide to Thames crossings – bridges and tunnels – here

We pressed on to Lechlade and decided to go right up to the Roundhouse at Inglesham, except that our progress was hampered by a 68ft hire boat that was rather optimistically trying to turn on the bend just downstream of the footbridge near the Roundhouse. For some reason, they believed that there wasn’t enough room for them to turn at the Roundhouse – hmmm – there definitely wasn’t enough room on the bend! They got themselves nicely wedged across the river – Richard offered his help, not having noticed that the wind and current had planted Indigo Dream in the bushes and he wouldn’t be able to help without getting his feet wet! Luckily we weren’t stuck!

Canoeists don’t have to go portage past the lock – we can’t remember seeing this before (which means it’s probably been there for 300 years -!). One for Jill of Contented Souls, who has been having great fun with her kayak – http://contentedsouls.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/ok-i-have-kayak.html

I was quite impressed with the hirers – they didn’t panic and eventually managed to free their boat and get it pointing back upstream (they were trying to turn back downstream). We passed them, with assurances that they were much better off doing the turn at the Roundhouse.

We pressed on and had a little cheer when we reached the Roundhouse at Inglesham – we’d finally reached the reasonable end of the navigation after our abortive attempt in May. I say ‘reasonable’ end because Richard is desperate to go further, having heard on the grapevine that it is feasible to get a narrowboat past Inglesham (especially when there’s a lot of water in the river, as there has been this year). The only thing that stopped him today was the St John’s lock-keeper’s dire tales of narrowboats going past the Roundhouse and either getting stuck and needing a rescue or having to reverse the whole way back!

I was on the helm for the turn, but I couldn’t remember how I’d done it last time – the intuitive way is to poke your bow into the sandbank and turn on that, but I had a vague memory that we’d done it the other way last time i.e. bow towards the mouth of the river Coln. I followed my intuition and planted the bow in the sandbank – then I remembered why this was not a good idea – the lively flow from the Coln kept sweeping the stern downstream, no amount of revs could bring us around. Bah – I really should have remembered! I let the stern come back downstream, straightened the boat and did the turn the other way – effortless – this time the flow from the Coln worked with us to turn the bow downstream.

We headed back with the idea of mooring at the Riverside Inn – the moorings in and around Lechlade were pretty full but we thought we’d spotted a gap. I headed for it, but the river was shallow and rocky there – I could get the bow into the mooring but the back would have been too far out (especially for the hounds). Being on the helm, I had the tricky job of getting us out of the pub mooring and through Ha’penny Bridge (named for the ancient toll) without drifting into any moored boats. I was quite pleased when I succeeded!

When turning at the Roundhouse, head bow first for this tree on the right – as you can see, other boats have turned here taking a bit of bark with them and leaving a bit of paint behind! The idea is to get close to the tree and let the flow from the Coln take yourround – crashing into the tree is not recommended ๐Ÿ™‚

We then headed downstream and turned upstream to moor (which itself was a palaver as the flow from Ha’penny Bridge can carry a boat turning broadside quite some way!). We eventually took up one of the few mooring spots left on the meadowbank to the left (looking upstream) – the spot furthest away from the herd of young cattle. We took the dogs for a quick splosh, then put them back on the boat while we took a wander around Lechlade. The town was as charming as ever – the unique Christmas Shop is, unbelievably, still in business – apparently it’s been there since 1984. I had a wander inside with Danusia – their stock was very good quality (as you might expect) but also more reasonably price than I expected. Having said that, I can’t imagine paying ยฃ3.95 for a single (but very nice) bauble!

We stocked up with provisions at the local Spar shop, which is rather good, and bought some sausages at the very expensive local butcher/deli, which was rather less good. We also bought a cake at the deli – it was rich but a bit dry – no wonder, I realised the day after that it was several days out-of-date when I bought it! When we got back from our bobble around town, we were pleased to see that the hirers had successfully turned at the Roundhouse and were safely moored on the meadow downstream of Ha’penny Bridge. We contemplated staying overnight in Lechlade, but I didn’t fancy being surrounded by cows – they’d already mobbed an inoffensive red setter lying quietly on the bank and forced it to run at speed back to his boat! And of course, cow poo is the greyhound’s favourite grooming product ๐Ÿ™‚

The plough at Kelmscott – well worth a visit…

We headed back downstream, enjoying the late afternoon light and wondering where to moor – Tadpole Bridge was a possibility, though we wouldn’t get there until after dark. The Nicholson’s guide showed a pub in Kelmscott, though a little walk inland, and we thought we’d try there first. What an inspiration – the meadow moorings at Kelmscott were pretty full, but there was a cheeky Indigo Dream sized space by the gate to the lane into the village – we quickly snaffled it. The mooring was great – the bank was at a nice height for Lou to step on/off board, the edge was even enough for us to bring the stern right in, the meadow is great for dog-walking, there were no cows and there was a shallow beach just perfect for Lou to have a splosh.

We found out that the Plough Inn at Kelmscott is dog-friendly, so we soon set off to walk the half-mile or so to the pub for supper. The path from the river to the village takes you past Kelmscott Manor, house of renowned designer William Morris, and the houses in the village are charmingly adorned with carvings. But my favourite feature was the unique stone wall lining the lane – great slabs of stone set upright and held by iron bands (photo tomorrow) – they were weathered and old, covered in colourful lichen and utterly tactile.

The pub is on the village square and it was tremendous – spacious enough for the hounds to lie-down comfortably, delicious food, friendly clientele and good service. It was also considerably cheaper than the food at the Trout (Tadpole Bridge) and the portions were more to our liking! The Plough has a few bedrooms which they let out as B & B – we met a couple who were staying there with their dog. They were delighted with the place – they’d come down from the north and were enjoying every minute. We were interested because we sometimes have a weekend break at New Year and this might have potential (if it’s open).

Danusia and Martin left at around 9pm – they had to get back their car at Tadpole Bridge. Although it’s only a few miles away by road, we were shocked to find that a taxi would cost them ยฃ26. We tried a few firms and the price was the same for each. Kelmscott is in the middle of nowhere and is too small to have its own taxi firm, so cabs have to come from Lechlade so you essentially get charged for that journey too! Never mind, they had to get home, and the price did include transporting Polo the dog!

Sadly Danusia (and company) had to leave left before her pudding was served so we had to eat it it – tragic! No wonder that we rolled along the path back to the boat….

Photoblog:

Meanders: See that footbridge on the right – we’ll be going under that in a minute…

Here we go – the river twists so much here that it takes ages to get to the footbridge, which, incidentally, is in such a remote spot that the steel beams at the heart of its construction had to be dropped into place by helicopter! It was installed in 2000 so it’s one of the newest bridges on the Thames (well, until they finish the new bridge at Walton).

End of the navigation near Inglesham – the channel to the left (looking upstream) is the Thames – apparently navigable as far as Cricklade by very shallow drafted boats…

End of the navigation near Inglesham: This centre channel (looking upstream) is the entrance toย  the Thames and Severn Canal, which is being restored – we can’t wait for this to be opened – it would make for some magnificent mega-ring cruises….https://www.waterways.org.uk/waterways/restoration/thames_severn_canal/thames___severn_canal_overview

End of the navigation near Inglesham: The channel to the right (looking upstream) is the river Coln – a tributary which has a brisk flow into the Thames – especially after rain. Turn your bow towards this flow when turning – it will help to swing you around, but mind you don’t ground your stern on the sandbank behind you!

Rare photo of me grinning – probably because I was on shift at the helm for all the awkward manoeuvres at Lechlade ๐Ÿ˜€

Looking upstream towards Ha’penny Bridge in Lechlade – there are extensive meadow moorings this side of the river – I think they’re free of charge here…

Father Thames at St John’s lock, Lechlade – it seems shame to use such a noble figure as a shovel-holder but apparently the sculpture was being badly defaced at its previous location so maybe this is as good as it gets!

The model mill/hamlet at St John’s lock is need of a bit of TLC….

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Dog Blog: Seven go boating (2)

Posted by indigodream on 30 October, 2012

15th/16th Septimber

I is very sad coz this is the last of me posticardies coz I hads to go home wif me mumi an’ the pack – I has had a hamazin’ holeedaze and hope I can stay wif me favrit Arnty agen soon. But I woz very tried, so it woz qwite nice to get home to me bed and snuggle up to me nanny and drink her tee wifout anyone complainin’…

I hopes youz all henjoyed me posticardies – Is will be ritin’ much more wen I’s next on holeedaze wif Arnty Sue – me mumi’s goin’ on holeedaze then too and will needs to know ev’ry day that we is up to mischif being sooper good….

xxx Henry B Beanz

Top o the mornin’ to ye all, now will ye look at that, bejesus Archie, you’ll be turning the milk sour wid that face – sort yerself out boy…
xx Eddie (de t’ick oirish one)

That’s me, Eddie, de oirish one, wif me old gerl Lou – she’s one fine lookin’ hound, to be sure, but begorrah she’s got a tongue on her…

This is me, your holeedaze corispondent – I’s just restin’ me eyes, reely. Snoozin’? Oh no, I can’t be snoozin’, I might miss sum himportant news… xxx Henry B Beanz

This is me best frend Archie, wot has got his proper face on now – this is his “cum to bed” face – ‘cept he just wonts your bed, he duzn’t wont you in it wif him, ‘cept wen he needs a pillow, or a back rest, or if he gets a bit chillies….
xxx Henry B Beanz

We’s the four musketeers – geddit? That’s me an’ Herbie an’ Eddie an’ Archie, wot Arnty Sue sed is the handsomest and the youngest so he is her D’artagnan.
O’ course, we’s all looking at those doggies are on the bank – they is runnin’ wild through a field of cows – jellus? Us? We duz luv to chase, but we dun’t luv gettin’ kikked in the hed by a angry cow!
xxx Henry B Beanz

Wen we gets bored of Olympic lookin’ we luvs a game of houndie ‘twister’ on the back deck ๐Ÿ™‚
xxx Henry B Beanz

Holeedaze is hexorstin’ – guess who this is – BIG clue – is not ME!
xxx Henry B Beanz

Snooies and sunbafin’ – that’s a proper holleedaze…
xxx Henry B Beanz
ps. I is not in this photo eifer!

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 7

Posted by indigodream on 29 October, 2012

Rewind to Sunday 16th September

Sandford to Tadpole Bridge

We’re in Sandford lock – finally ๐Ÿ™‚

Richard got us off early this morning – I was tired and grumpy, so I took myself out of the way by volunteering to be ‘lock-keeper – the lockies don’t start until 9am. Unfortunately, although the lock was set our way, the ‘public power’ settings at Sandford don’t allow you to just open the gates – you have to go through the whole cycle of opening the paddles to ’empty’ an already empty lock, then open the gates. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised this, having followed my common sense rather than the instructions. Because I’d pressed the ‘close paddles’ button when I thought that the lock was really empty, I apparently reset the whole cycle, which meant another 4 minutes before the gates could be opened. Lucky for me that the lock-keeper came on duty then or we’d still be there!

We soon got up through the lock and pressed on towards Oxford, Sarah’s alma mater, and my least favourite river-front!

We needed some supplies and had googled a Tesco store within a short walk of the river – we moored up on the right (looking upstream) by the (un-named) footbridge above Folly Road bridge. This gave Richard easy access to Tesco while Andy and Sarah took the six boys for a walk along the towpath opposite; I stayed behind and supervised Lou’s little bobble. It took around half-an-hour to get our supplies but the little Tesco Express did NOT have any dog kibble in stock – this was serious! We googled some more shops and, this time, stopped off at the popular moorings just downstream of Osney Bridge.ย  There’s a useful independent corner store in the Westgate Hotel building, a short way across the canal – they had kibble – phew – the thought of having seven hungry hounds and not enough food was scary!

Heron fishing at Sandford lock…

The Osney Bridge moorings are not particularly scenic, but they do give good access to the city centre and there is the timeless entertainment of laying small wagers on which boats would make it under the low bridge! The river was very benign when we passed by, but it wouldn’t have to come up very far before Osney Bridge became an obstacle. If you happen to moor in Osney then it’s worth checking out this local website, which lists amenities in the area.

We didn’t linger in Oxford – we were determined to get up to Lechlade, though at our current pace it seemed unlikely that we’d get there before Tuesday!

We were soon through Kings Lock and past the junction with Duke’s Cut – we turned left into the serious meanders – I swear that there’s not a straight line between here and Lechlade! The Thames is so beautiful from here on up, and the afternoon light, shining dappled green through groves of slender trees made everything seem unearthly and lovely – middle earth indeed!

When we cruised up to Lechlade in 2009, we were delighted to meet another rescue greyhound, Pa (racing name ‘Handsome Pa’) that lives with the lockie at Northmoor lock. We asked after him when we passed through today, and the lock-keeper rushed to get his wife, daughter and Pa himself. They’d been to the annual Retired Greyhound Trust Great Greyhound Gathering the day before and are total greyhound addicts (as most of us are!). They were delighted to see our combined pack of 7, though we kept ours on board to prevent too much mayhem. Just as well, on the way back down we found out that Pa lives with a cat and several small furry animals including pet rabbits and rats – our seven could live with them too, just not for very long!

The secret to building an Olympic looking team is maybe to start with a big strong squad – from left to right – Eddie, Archie (lying down), Ollie and Henry..

As we rose up the lock, Herbie hound made a bid for freedom and did an athletic leap onto the bank before haring down the towpath towards the lockie’s cottage. I was on shore but he dodged me easily, luckily, a passerby snagged his collar a minute later. Herbie was thoroughly pleased with himself and enjoyed saying ‘hello’ to Pa!

From Swinford onwards, bridges and their associated settlements become increasingly rare; but they also become more interesting. As the river narrows, so do the bridge arches, and as the river meanders, so the bridges seem more skewed.

We were finally free of the Heathrow catchment area, there was no shortage of planes overhead – right overhead. There was a constant traffic of unusual craft which we think was coming to/from RAF Brise Norton nearby. Luckily, Sarah and Andy are aircraft geeks enthusiasts and identifying the aircraft make/model became part of the afternoon’s entertainment.

Sadly, Sarah and Andy didn’t see the final meanders – we dropped them off at Newbridge, where they had booked a cab to take them back to their car in Goring. We contemplated mooring just upstream of the bridge at Newbridge – there’s a meadow there with some mooring/flood poles. However the bank was a little uneven and I thought it would be too much for Lou. In addition, there were numerous cars congregating in the meadow – fishermen gathering for a competition. Ollie excelled himself by first running towards a fisherman’s tackle nearby – I yelled at him to come back, remembering the murderous intent of the fishermen towards a spaniel who widdled on their gear on the Soar last year! Luckily, Ollie stopped short of the gear but then he raced towards the parked cars – he was having a thoroughly mad greyhound moment! We hastily decided toย  cruise on with the hounds towards our next potential destination – the Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge.

In a great bit of synchronicity, we moored up at the Trout Inn just as Sarah and Andy parked up – brilliant. They had an immense drive home to Suffolk ahead of them, so sadly they couldn’t stay for dinner, even though the Trout Inn is dog-friendly. We did a reluctant dog-swap – Henry was happy to go with them, but Ty would have liked to go in the car as well! I was very sad to see Henry go, he’s been very good company. Having said that, you can’t beat a Ty cuddle ๐Ÿ™‚

The photo just doesn’t do it justice – this stretch meanders extravagantly though plantations of slender trees – it’s a wonderful place to be…

It was only 6pm when we said our sad goodbyes, and the pub doesn’t start serving food until 7pm so we wandered back to the boat for a bit of downtime. The pub has a large and well-fenced garden but it was too cold for anyone to sit outside, this meant that we could let the Lou and Ollie have a good off-lead rummage – the pub garden was full of wild rabbits but the hounds were too tired to notice them!

We went back to the pub at 7pm – we had intended to take the hounds with us, but they were fast asleep when we left and showed no interest in coming. We were a bit disappointed – dog-friendly pubs are hard to come by so it’s nice to take advantage – especially one as posh as the Trout Inn. The service there was very efficient – they do a decent local cider on tap and a glorious, if pricey, menu. The food sounded so very good on paper, and although the portion of meat was good, the extras, like potatoes, were a bit lacking and, because the service was so fast, the meal was over so quickly it felt as if we’d hardly eaten (though logic says that we’d had plenty really!).

We had a nice chinwag with the delightful crew of cruiser “Millie Ann” – they’ve been owned by rescue whippets, though they don’t have any dogs at the moment. I don’t know how they’ve managed to resist the lure of getting another dog, but they are enjoying their freedom to roam, both home and abroad ๐Ÿ™‚

We were back on the boat before 9pm – the hounds had a last rummage and we were all in bed before 10pm – of course, Lou and I explored the pub garden in more detail in the “wee” (sorry!) small hours but it was magical. Tadpole Bridge is closed for extensive repairs at the moment (which must be causing difficulty – there are very few alternative river crossings around here) so the mooring was absolutely silent and very very dark – both rare commodities when you’ve come from the constant hum of London and its associated transport links.

Photoblog:

A colony in the making…

There aren’t many dingy places on the Thames – here’s one of them – trolleys and graffiti on an otherwise picturesque bridge…

The flood markings at Pinkhill Lock -scary!

Handsome “Edwardian” style regatta launch – she’s for sale! http://www.hscboats.co.uk/website/prdlillielangtr.htm

Another swimmer – you’re all MAD ๐Ÿ™‚

We loved the bright paintwork on nb Hythe – I imagined it would be new age youngsters looking for a cheap living on board, but when the crew passed us a few days later, they were white haired, and the man of the boat had a magnificent beard. Easy to forget that a’child’ of the 60s is now IN their 60’s ๐Ÿ˜€

One of the many military planes buzzing around the area…

This bridge is really annoying – the navigable arch is the low one on the right then you have to move quickly across to the left once you’re through – why can’t we share the higher centre arch – there’s good line of sight – bah! And double bah! because I can’t remember the name of the bridge!!!!

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Dog Blog: Seven go boating….

Posted by indigodream on 28 October, 2012

Deers everypawdy

I can’t send posticardies to me mumi this weekend becoz me mumi is HERE!

So I’s sendin’ YOU posticardies hinsted – oh, and Eddie’s sent sum too but he’s ‘oirish’ so don’t mind his langwidge – he’s not a literararary hound like me!

xxx Henry B Beanz

We’s had a hooge houndie hadventure – Arnty Sue woz so excitid becoz she’s neva eva taken a pictshure of without a single houndie bottom pointin’ at the lens. Can you work out who’s who – you’s will neva guess teh boyz so the ansa’s in the next pictshure xxx Henry B Beanz

Anti Sue woz even more hexcitid here coz Ty is almost lookin’ brave – that’s Ty on the left, then ME, then Archie, then Eddie, then Herbie then little Ollie – Lou’s in the back, wot is a wurry, coz she duz like bitin’ bums if she finks she’s being left behind. xxxx Henry B Beanz

Top ‘o the mornin’ to ye all – this is Eddie here – me ma sez I’m de t’ick one, but ta be sure, who cares when you’re as good lookin’ as me – “handsome is as handsome does” so dey say – I’ll be taking that to mean I can get away wit’ anything.
This is me lookin’ fer sqwirrils – squwirrils are the the very divvil ye knows – I may be t’ick but I knows me roight from me wrong – and sqwirrils are just wrong… xxx Eddie

‘Allo me old muckers, Herbie Hound ‘ere, in case you woz wonderin’, that’s the black dog, the silver hound on the tiller duzn’t ‘ave a name, poor sod, and is prob’ly the best behaved greyhound eva. Now I’ve got a reputashun for for bein’ most naughty hound eva coz I keep ‘elpin’ meself to food – any food, if I can reach it’s mine, common sense eh? But come on, that’s not ‘stealing’, it’s foragin’, “very on trend” I sez to me dear old mum. But I don’t fink she’s buyin’ it – maybe Arnty Sue will fall for it – she’s on the “soppy list” wot gets passed round ev’ry grey in the know, nudge nudge, wink wink….
Now, I used to be called “Tiny Tim” coz I woz a stray wot got very fin on haccount of havin’ no cupboards to forage in, but I see meself as more of “artful dodger” ….xxx Herbie

H’ok – Henry here wif your houndie puzzle numba 3 – who is who in diz pictshure? I’s will give you a clue – big scaredy wuss jellyboy Ty is hidin’ inside wif his head under the sofa….good lucks xxx Henry B Beanz

At last, a pictshure of a houndie’s bottom – Arnty Sue’s speciality – this is our new pal Handsome Pa wot lives at Northmoor Lock and sez ‘hello’ to ev’rywun, ‘cept he’s a bit shy. But see, even his bottom is handsum ๐Ÿ™‚
xxx Henry B Beanz

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 6

Posted by indigodream on 27 October, 2012

Rewind to Saturday 13th September

Goring to Sandford

A veteran of the jubilee pageant (see the pennant) – Ska’la’vagr – a Shetland Yoal – a traditional design that harks back to the Viking raiders. There’s more information here http://www.kgsvbc.org/Skalavagr.php.

I hate writing the blog in retrospect – especially when my notes from the day just say “Abingdon full”!

However, I’d really be having trouble with my memory if I’d forgotten that this was the day that Henry Beanz would rejoin his pack and we would take back our lovely big scaredy wuss jellyboy Ty…

Sarah, Andy and the pack (Ty, Archie, Herbie and Eddie) arrived in Goring late morning – giving us a few leisurely hours of pottering around and making use of the rubbish disposal facilities at the lock. We took the extended pack for a bobble around our little circular walk – needless to say, the 7 greyhounds were an extra visitor attraction in this already popular town!

We set off upstream just after midday – as always, we had many destinations in mind – the prime being Abingdon. We had a brief stop there a few years ago and have always intended to go back for a longer visit.

We weren’t in any hurry though, so we went through Goring Lock and filled up with water at the tap immediately above the lock. We were surprised by the number of rowers going through the lock – there was a charity event on – a massive sponsored row from Oxford to Molesey – a total of 80 miles – quite a feat, even if rowing downstream!

I remember that the next stretch of river is lovely – Sarah has been to the pub/hotel “The Leatherne Bottle” just upstream of Goring and confirmed that it is a good pub. It has a good stretch of mooring so we’ll have to stop there some time.

However, as my notes stated, Abingdon was full! The moorings on both sides of the bridge were jam-packed, with some boats brested up. We cruised upstream, turned around below the lock and cruised back down again (in case we’d missed a 60′ gap!), then we passed upstream again. A kindly narrowboater shouted across and invited us to brest up to him – we seriously considered it – he had a cruiser stern so it would have been easy for Lou to get off. But we did have 7 greyhounds on board and it was virtually guaranteed that I’d need to traipse across his stern in the wee small hours, so we declined.

The further upriver you cruise, the tighter the meanders – nice to see the landscape from all angles!

We decided to go up through the lock – we commented about the congestion in Abingdon – the lock-keeper told us that it was a lot of residential moorers. Apparently the moorings belong to the council (rather than the EA) and they’re not enforcing the 5 day mooring limit. We were disappointed but it was still early so we carried on upstream to Sandford lock.

We had telephoned the Sandford lock-keeperย  to check whether there were any moorings there. The lockie confirmed that the moorings below the lock were free, though I favoured the meadow moorings above the lock as there would be less of a jump for Lou. We tied up below Sandford Lock – Richard, Sarah and the hounds did a recce of the meadow mooring above – but apparently there wasn’t enough room for us. I was worried about the jump up for Lou, but the only other option would be to move up to Oxford, but we’ve not been impressed by the river moorings there, so we stayed put.

The Sandford lock moorings have very good dog-walking – there’s lots of sploshing places (for Lou) and the island is relatively enclosed; the meadow above is even better so the more trustworthy hounds could have a good off-lead rummage.

The pub in Sandford is not dog-friendly, but the hounds seemed happy to settle down to snooze, so we went off to find some dinner. The Kings Arms pub is part of the “Chef and Brewer” chain so it offers a reliable menu with huge portions – we particularly liked the quirky “”mini” plates e.g. platter containing five types of mini-pie or four types of mini-burger! We ate enormously and rolled back to the boat full of contentment.

There are some handsome bridges across the upper Thames…

We had a rapturous welcome – luckily the hounds were keen for a last bobble – this gave me a chance to convert the sofa into a bed and get some dog beds organised. The hounds were delighted when they saw the new bed in the lounge area – all apart from Lou, that is, she likes it when it’s a sofa and she doesn’t like having to move into the galley when we have guests to stay.

Cue another disturbed night – it took a long while for the 7 hounds to arrange themselves satisfactorily. Ollie soon escaped the chaos to take his usual spot on the floor at the end of our bed; gigolo Archie moved in between us on our bed; Lou was in the galley (on a 6″ thick layer of dog beds and sheepskins); the other four arranged themselves on and around Sarah and Andy’s bed. I’d love to say that all was peaceful once they settled, but Lou had her usual night hungers, then she was in pain and needed some tramadol – the whisper silent opening of the fridge door prompted a general hound commotion every time!

Ah well, who needs sleep anyway – at least Archie had sensibly decided to lie between me and Richard so he wasn’t disturbed when I had to get up for Lou ๐Ÿ™‚

Photoblog:

“80 blistering miles” as it says on this rower’s T-shirt – I admired their stamina (as I sipped my latte, munch my bacon sarnie and pushed the throttle)…

Wallingford Bridge – it’s an attractive spot under the blue skies – we’ll always have a ‘special relationship’ with the town having been stuck in floods here in May…

The Thames is so scenic…

The Boat House pub in Wallingford – that terrace was well under water in May – we often have better cruising weather in September!

We took a fancy to this place – Shillingford Court – the half of the house to the right of the photo is for sale at a cool ยฃ1.25 million – and it’s under offer!

We saw a few swimmers during the holiday – we think they’re mad – I have to resist the urge to ask them whether they believe that ducks get out of the water in order to go to the toilet!
The white swimming caps do make them more visible – they’d be hard to spot otherwise…

Some of the locks have fierce gate paddles…

This looks like a tree and its roots that have broken off from the bank at some point – must have been quite a storm that took it down…

The river becomes increasingly rural and isolated upstream – so beautiful…

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 5

Posted by indigodream on 17 October, 2012

Friday 14th September

Wargrave Marsh (opposite Platt’s Eyot) to Goring

Perfect rummaging for the hounds – I love the Wargrave Marsh mooring!

We have changed our plans so often on this trip that we’re going to have to borrow letters from other alphabets to signify them all – so here’s plan ฮจ….

We started the day with plans to get to Reading, pop into Tesco to restore our depleted stores ready for our weekend visitors then cruise upstream etc etc etc….

That plan was scuppered when we slept late (we’d had another disturbed night with the hounds) and had a relaxing morning at this most dog-friendly mooring – we found a sploshing place for Lou, the boys had a rummage, Henry chased a ball (briefly). I could have stayed here for days, but Sarah, Andy and four hounds (including Ty!) were due to join us on Saturday morning and we really needed to be a bit closer to civilisation. Nonetheless, we took our time and eventually cast off at 11.30am.

We had a slightly complicated day ahead as Ollie started his morning by rubbing his face along the edge of the bed – on inspection, one of his eyes was quite inflamed – he is prone to conjunctivitis so I felt he needed the attention of a vet. There was a chance that it would go away by itself, but on the other hand, if he’d scratched his cornea (quite common when hounds rummage in undergrowth) then it would need attention. We set off with Richard at the helm while I researched riverside vets.

The mooring opposite Platts Eyot – have I mentioned how nice it is here? ๐Ÿ™‚

I found out that there are surprisingly few vets within easy reach of the river. Now, for us that means within half a mile walk of a mooring. Ollie hasย  some compressed disks in his back and weak muscles (combination of his genes and his history of neglect). He’s fine day-to-day provided he doesn’t charge around too much or walk too far! The vets in Reading were at least a mile’s walk from the water; then past Reading there just aren’t many settlements – it’s gloriously rural, which IS glorious, unless you need a vet! In the end, the most accessible vet was in Goring High Street – they say they get a lot of ‘passing trade’ from the river – no wonder!

I got through to the vet just as we approached Tesco in Reading – we had hoped for a lightning fast shopping trip but the moorings were jam-packed. We were just contemplating bresting up to another boat when I sorted an appointment with the vet at Goring for 5.30pm. This meant that we had to shift in order to get there in time. We abandoned the shopping trip, hoping that we could top up our supplies in Goring.

Every shade and texture of green – there’s a “50 shades…” allusion in there somewhere but the trees finished their naughty business i.e. flowering (!) months ago ๐Ÿ˜€

We had a surprisingly swift trip upriver – all day we felt as if we were being held back by a combination of the flow and an unhandy breeze. In the end we got to Goring with time to spare. The helpful lockie at Mapledurham rang ahead and checked whether there were any moorings at Goring – he confirmed that there was space for us below the lock. This was not the best spot for Lou, there being a bit of a jump up/down to the path but we had few options – it would be too late to move on after Ollie’s appointment. We moored up then took the dogs for a walk – the Thames path downstream gives almost unlimited walking, but there is a useful little circular walk round the houses which suited our greyhounds just fine. Lou didn’t do the full circuit – as soon as she found a patch of soft grass in a nearby clearing, she lay down and roached until the boys came back round. Note: Roaching – lying like a dead cockroach – in Lou’s case, on her back with all four legs in the air – the sign of a contented and settled hound ๐Ÿ™‚

We walked through Goring to the vets – the village itself is charming, as are many along the Thames. We found a useful butcher, where I could top up on meat for us and the hounds (at a very reasonable price); there was a little shop/deli nearby but we weren’t so impressed with that – it was quite costly with a limited stock. At 5.30pm we wandered into the vet – the staff were very friendly and the vet did a very thorough inspection of Ollie’s eyes. He didn’t find much amiss and, by the time we got to the vet, Ollie’s eye was hardly inflamed at all. We took a precautionary tube of antibiotic eye drops anyway – we were about to cruise in really remote places so I’d rather be prepared. Ollie did a command performance in the waiting room – he just collapsed onto the floor, closed his eye and lay there with his long tongue lolling on the floor. Just as well we’d rung ahead and warned them to expect conjunctivitis otherwise they might have called in the cast of ER to save him! I was very impressed with the Goring Veterinary Centre – they were helpfulness personified and I felt that Ollie had a very thorough and thoughtful consultation. I am relieved that the emergency visit didn’t involve Lou though – she was still covered in bruises after falling down the steps – I’m not sure that a new vet would believe that she wasn’t being abused!

We wandered back to the boat and I spend a pleasant hour jointing chickens and making dog stew ready for tomorrow’s invasion – because we hadn’t stopped at Tesco we hadn’t got any hot chicken – now there’s a REAL emergency.

Lou enjoying the long grass – as long as she can sleep comfortably and eat well then I know she’s doing allright…

At 7pm we wandered back into the village – the vet’s receptionist had recommended the “John Barleycorn” pub– it was well off the High Street and we’d never have never found it if we hadn’t had a recommendation. Dogs are allowed in the bar – we squeezed in to the very cosy space – the hounds seem to fill the bar entirely! Lou and Ollie lay on their sheepskins but we think that this was Henry Hound’s first time in the pub and he was a little bit unsettled. Having said that, he was well rewarded for standing up in everyone’s way – it felt as if every person in the village came to say ‘hello’ to the hounds and give Henry, in particular, a big fuss. We spent so much time talking to the locals about the characteristics and care of retired greyhounds (they made the mistake of asking us – honest!) that we barely had time to eat our dinners! It was plain pub grub but very well done with, as I recall, really really good chips.

We got back to the boat full of goodwill after a very convivial night out – I had worried that the roaring of the nearby weir might keep us awake but we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

I’ve become accustomed, at home, to being woken at 2.30am and 4am by Ty, who is disturbed by the foxes that visit our garden every night. I had hoped to get more full nights of sleep on board, but Lou has been restless with pain every night so far. However, tonight it was Ollie that woke me up at 4am – he was hungry! I was strangely happy – Ollie’s not been eating and has been losing weight and condition – it was good to see him scoffing his dinner or would that count as breakfast ๐Ÿ™‚

Photoblog:

Lou having a splosh – she loves to paddle…

Lou posing – it’s almost impossible to take a good photo of her without displaying her shaved fur – this is a good one though ๐Ÿ™‚

That house in the centre was probably expensively designed but I can’t help thinking that it looks like several static caravans piled up on top of each other ๐Ÿ˜‰

I don’t know what these sculptures represent but I love them – if I didn’t spend all my money at the vets, outdoor sculpture is something I’d invest in…

Neat little ferry just downstream of Caversham Bridge…

Smart – now was this here last time we passed through or is it a new build?

Steam ‘launch’ – it looks so elegant..

The steam engine itself is a slab of a thing in the middle of the boat – even the timber cladding can’t disguise it…

They were setting up a huge dog agility course in this meadow – the competitors were just moving in and it all looked very serious (and the obstacles looked really high!) – that’s one for Sanity Again’s Sally – our hounds, including Henry, resolutely stuck their noses under the duvets as we cruised past ๐Ÿ™‚

This is one of the competitors – how professional is that set-up – they’ve even got a mobile dog run – that would be handy for the boat – shame it would block the towpath though ๐Ÿ™‚

We took so many photos of this stretch but none do it justice – this is such a beautiful river…

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Dog Blog: Henry’s Holleedaze – posticardies to me mumi (4)…

Posted by indigodream on 16 October, 2012

Fridie 14ff Septimber
Deer Mumi
I’s had a luffly snooze so now Iz got energies for rummagin’ wif me best pal Ollie – this is us sniffin’ where Lou’s dun wees (coz you gets into big trubbles if you sniffs her actooal bottom).
This is me favrit mooring eva… xxx Henry B Beanz

Fridie 14ff Septimber
Deer Mumi
Iz bin paddlin’ wif Lou but Iz only got me toes wet just in case – Iz not a diva like Archie….
Lou sed “come in for a proper paddle” but I runned away coz I didn’t wont to gets me delicate boys bits all cold… xxx Henry B Beanz

Fridie 14ff Septimber
Deer Mumi
This me doin’ zoomies back to Arnty Sue – I luffs my Arnty Sue – did’s I mention that she gived me a luffly brekfist this mornin’ – it woz yogurt ands hunny ands piches – ‘cept I duzn’t like piches. Me brekfist woz disturbed by thsi funny buzzin’ noise tho – I couldn’t work out wot it woz then I reelized it woz Arnty Su goin’ on about sumfink – wot’s that Arnty Sue – that woz YOUR brekfist? But it couldn’ts be – you woz drivin’ the boat an’ the bowl woz like just in the right spot for me…
On the subject of brekfist, mumi, I luffs hot chikkin, an’ yogurt an’ hunny (but not piches) so maybe at home we coulds have hot chikkin roasted wif hunny wif a dollow of yogurt on the side – that mights be sooper-licious.
Arnty Sue sez that the yogurt woz “no fat” so Iz not a fat puddin’ at all – an I did zoomies wif a tennis ball – so there! xxx Henry B Beanz

Fridie 14ff Septimber Deer Mumi
If Arnty Sue duz have a fault it’s that she’s always disturbin’ me snoozy time – sumtimes wif the camera, sumtimes wif a treet, sumtimes wif me dinna, sumtimes wif a hextra pilloo or a blanki and sumtimes she distrubes me wif a cuddle – is a hawful hard life for a houndie. Before I cums on holidaze agen maybe you coulds write sum hinstructions for Artny Sue so that she knows wen its hok to distrubs me and wen she shud let me snooze in peace. I wuds be ever so grateful if you coulds do that for me mumi… xxxx Henry B Beanz

Fridie 14ff Septimber Deer Mumi
Arnty Sue tooks me to the pub tonight – Iz neva bin to the pub before – this is me lookin’ all shy coz I wozn’t sure wots to do. Lou an’ Ollie lay straight down on their sheepies but Iz ‘membered wot Poppy Puppy sed – if you stands in the way then you gets lots of fuss. Arnty Sue sed that ev’ryone in the village gived me a fuss and sed “aaaw he’s so gorgeous”. Is had ham ‘n chips for me tee – I qwite likes the pub – maybe I coulds go to the pub wif you tho’ we’d have to leave hansum Archie at home coz he’d get more fusses than me.
So, brekfist, snax before beddies an now the pub – I luffs all these new fings wot I has lunrt on holidaze – but is ok – I duzn’t mind if I can’t hafs them at home if I can cum on lots of holidaze wif Arnty Sue… xxx Henry B Beanz

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey Day 4

Posted by indigodream on 15 October, 2012

Rewind to Thursday 13th September

Bray Lock to Wargrave Marsh (opposite Platts Eyot)

Nice juxtaposition of bridges…

We had a much better day today โ€“ Lou and I woke up refreshed and feeling more spry . Weโ€™d had a quiet night on the moorings but were up early so that we could talk to the lock-keeper and settle up any mooring fees – luckily he was very relaxed about our mooring there – phew!

It was such a pretty day today – the landscape lush with colour, replete with history and overtopped by sculptured clouds pinned to an amazing sky which shaded gently from the palest turquoise at the horizon then rising to a colour so pure that it could only be called “sky” blue. Priceless!

We enjoyed the scenic stretch through Cliveden – the trees were still green – every shade imaginable; we wondered whether they’d be every shade of red by the time we came downstream in a few weeks’ time.

We stopped at Cookham Lock and made use of the facilities – there is a useful rubbish point here and the best water point on the river. The water pressure here is astounding – our tank normally takes 40 – 60 minutes to fill from empty; in Cookham it took 10 minutes! Knowing this, we decided to do one of our long-overdue jobs – sterilising the water tank with Milton. We poured 1l of Milton into the tank, filled it, ran the taps to fill the pipes then left everything to marinade for 15 minutes. We then emptied the water tank – this took an hour – as I mentioned, the refill took 10 minutes! We flushed the tank and pipes and refilled again – job done! This took a while so when another narrowboat came for water we stopped operations and let them fill while we were fiddling about.

I love the contrasts of the Thames – either every inch of bank is densely occupied by property…..

While Richard sorted the water tank, I took the dogs for a walk – Lou was desperate for a splosh – she doesn’t like swimming but she loves to paddle. I found a suitable spot just behind the rubbish point. It’s a bit of a scramble through the undergrowth but well worth it – Lou had a great time. She waded in up to her belly then tried to drink the river by submerging her face in the water and lapping from there. This has never been the best drinking technique but it seems to make sense to Lou. Ollie and Henry were less keen – they dipped their toes in the water but refused to go any further. If you follow the footpath over the weir towards Cookham, there are other good sploshing spots in the weir stream on the left – for Lou they have to have a gentle slope into shallow water and no big jumps to get out.

I haven’t taken any notes from the day – I think I was too busy enjoying the waterscape at Cookham, Marlow and Henley – easily our favourite settlements on the Thames.

We shared locks with a number of hire cruisers from “Le Boat” – they are wide and flat so assembling the ‘jigsaw’ of boats in the locks was tricky at times. We did share a couple of locks with a small private cruiser – the woman of the boat was complaining mightily because two of the locks were unmanned. She whinged and whined – it took an absolute age to get into the lock as all that she could do was hold the boat – her husband had to go up to operate the lock, then come back to drive the boat in. After one lock, Richard took over as lock-keeper and thing speeded up a bit ๐Ÿ™‚ Obviously as narrowboaters we thought the lady of the boat was being totally ridiculous – self-operated locks with powered gates that just need the push of a button โ€“ bliss!

….or densely occupied by trees!

We were not sure where to moor for the night – we quite fancied Henley but we also fancied going a bit further. In the end we compromised – we went through Marsh Lock, just upstream of Henley, then scouted out some moorings on the left bank opposite Platts Eyot. There were no signs there, but it is marked as mooring in our Nicholsons, and there were a few even stretches of bank with deep enough water for a narrowboat. There were obvious signs of previous habitation in the form of the burnt black circles of camp fires on the bank. I had a wry thought that maybe this isolated spot played host to zombie druids but we decide to risk it! We tied up and enjoyed an evening on the most superb greyhound mooring that we’ve ever found. The bank was at an accessible height for Lou and we got the stern right in to the bank so it was an easy step off the back deck. There was a footpath leading away from the mooring in both directions – each end was gated/fenced so it was nicely secure. The place was deserted – no other boats came to moor and there were no walkers on the path. This meant that we could let the hounds off for a good rummage – not that they did very much or wandered very far – they’re all quite tired! But the principle of their having a bit of freedom was important ๐Ÿ™‚

As far as we could make out, these moorings are perfectly isolated with no services nearby (though Henley town centre can’t be more than 2 miles away, but whether there’s a path to get there is anyone’s guess). But the lack of services wasn’t a problem – we had a good stock of food and beer on board, including the remains of a hot chicken for the dogs, what more do we need?

We had the quietest night – the mooring was dark and peaceful, though Lou needed to go out in the wee small hours and needed more painkillers. Nonetheless we slept well and had an exceptionally relaxed morning, but that’s for the next post…

Photoblog:

I love the “Ovaltine” canvasses on this boat – she’s moored in Cliveden Reach – shame her name is covered…

The house here is a sensible height above the river – the only trouble is how to access the river frontage – this one has a hairpin path, another, which we didn’t manage to photograph, has a funicular-style rail – I’d love to see that in action!

Another boat flying a jubilee pennant – it never occurred to us to fly ours after the event – maybe we should!

Such a pretty day…

We were surrounded by such beauty today…

We’ve cruised under blue skies many times but there was some special quality about today – maybe it was the crispness of the autumn air…

I wonder what they’re filming?

Looking back towards Temple Island, just downstream of Henley…

What a fine view this manor house must have…

Is this the frame for a fine houseboat similar to “le bateau maman” that was moored downriver…?

Fancy trip boat…

The ‘stealth boat’ as featured in October’s Canalboat magazine!

View upstream from Henley towards Marsh lock….

Marsh Lock is beautifully maintained – the lock keepers take a great deal of pride in their surroundings. You can vote for the best kept lock at the moment but I don’t want to vote – I just can’t choose!

The ‘tunnel’ in the bank next to the riverside cottage leads to what used to be the UK’s most expensive property at ยฃ140 million in 2011 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/propertynews/8699258/Park-Place-Britains-most-expensive-home-sold-for-record-140m.html) but that’s been well pipped by a mansion in London currently for sale at ยฃ300 million!

Perfect mooring…

View upstream from our perfect mooring…

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Dog Blog: Henry’s Holleedaze – posticardies to me mumi (3)…

Posted by indigodream on 12 October, 2012

Thursdie 12ff Septimber Deer Mumi
We’s bin to Cookham today – I’s wee’d in Cookham before so it woz borin’ but I dids have a paddle in the river wif Lou. I fort Lou woz me new bestest girlfirend but looks – she’s bin sooper mean an’ hoggin’ ALL of the sofa so I’s had to make do wif a dog bed, two cushins, two sheepies an’ laters, Arnty Sue gave ma a pillow so I wouldn’t crick me neck. I duzn’t kno how Is goin’ to get any sleeps but Is will try me best… xxxx Henry B Beanz

Toodsie 12ff Septimber Deer mumi
LOOK! Is doin’ zoomies – Arnty Sue sez I duzn’t need a lead or a muzzle or anyfink – is perfick! Iz dun rummagin’ wif Ollie but after five minits I woz hexhorseted – is a big dilemma – I woz even too tireds to eat me supper, well, me second supper. I woz goin’ to have an ‘mergency snooz but I thoughts that Arnty Sue’s cup of tea might wake me hup a bit so I’s just helped meself to a little bit. Cor, wots a fuss, I’s only had a teensy bit, there woz plenty of tea left in the mug for Arnty Sue but she sed she didn’t wont it any more – between you and me, Mumi, I finks that Arnty Sue is a bit fussy…xxx Henry B Beanz

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Boat Blog: Autumn Odyssey – Day 3

Posted by indigodream on 10 October, 2012

Rewind to Wednesday 12th September

Desborough Island to Bray Lock

I believe this is the Manor which gave the settlement of Lower Halliford its name in the 13th Century..

We really enjoyed the mooring at Desborough and were in no hurry to leave in the morning. We slept, enjoying the peace and quiet, then we enjoyed a good walk with the hounds โ€“ Richard found a circular route to exercise the boys, nothing mentioned about squirrels, while Lou and I did a little bobble (she had to have a lie-down halfway but no harm in that!).

I love this part of the Thames – it has an interesting natural and built landscape and a wealth of wealth and history – often intertwined – click here for a potted history of the Shepperton area...

We eventually left the moorings mid-morning โ€“ I was half-afraid that fates would find a way to take us back to Teddington….

Fate certainly tried its best, despite designing our boat for our arthritic lurcher Indie, with deep steps with shallow risers, Lou still managed to fall down them spectacularly when trying to get out of the boat last night. Itโ€™s a long story, but Lou has the dog equivalent of a groin strain and she doesn’t have the muscle strength to hold her back legs steady โ€“ this meant that when she tried to get her back legs onto the first step, her legs flew out from beneath her and down she came.I was really afraid that sheโ€™d hurt herself badly but sheโ€™s just bruised, a bit sore but otherwise cheerful so we decided that we could cruise on. Weโ€™re now supporting her up the steps by putting our hands on her thighs to literally hold her legs together when sheโ€™s going up the boat steps (it’s more than your life’s worth to lift her). This seems to work โ€“ phew!

Good dog walking on the ‘West’ (upstream) bank of Desborough Island – nice beaches for a doggie swim too!

It was fine morning but I found the breeze to be a bit chilly โ€“ well, it is autumn. I resolved not to get so cold today and started layering up quite early in the day. This did seem a bit excessive given that Richard was in a T-shirt but I feel the cold!

It was only a short distance from our moorings to the main channel but we noted in passing that the west end of Desborough Island looks perfect for dog-walking, so an island mooring may be worth a try (if you have dogs able to jump or walk a plank that is!).

We shared locks with the friendly crew of nb Bacas Mist today โ€“ their boat is an anagram of the initials of nine names that must be precious to them as they’re listed on the boat. Unfortunately I never did find out whether the people listed were children, grandchildren, friends or a mixture…

We made good time upstream โ€“ it was nice to be moving and to feel that we were finally on holiday. Unusually for us, we decided to stop for lunch and moored in Runnymeade. We took hounds for a bobble around the adjacent park where we met another greyhound โ€“ a grumpy old hound and his besotted owner. She volunteers for Hersham Hounds –ย  they have very strict rules on rehoming so they refused to let us have a second hound (6 months after we got Blue from Battersea). Ah well, it’s lucky that we didn’t listen to their concerns that our garden wasn’t sufficiently ‘greyhound proof’. Rescue centres have a hard balance to achieve when deciding whether a home is suitable for the hounds in their kennels – but if we’d believed Hersham’s rules we wouldn’t have gone on to give Lou, Lynx, Ty, Poppy and Ollie a happy home. Luckily Greyhoundhomer Essex were happy to accept our Battersea Dog’s Home “approval” (Battersea did a home check and asked how many we’d be could take!)ย  – they gave us Lou, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Ollie and Lou seeing eye to eye – Lou spent a lot of time on deck – it was good to have her there….

We moored in the exact same spot in Runnymeade as we had in April, so the sign for the Italian cafe/restaurant nearby was prominent. Weโ€™d been disappointed in April because they didnโ€™t open in time and seemed in no rush to do so when Sarah went there to get our morning coffees. Richard was keen to give them a second chance,ย  I was less so, but then they had deprived three near terminal caffeine addicts of their morning fix so maybe I was judging them too harshly.

We popped in for lunch and were impressed by the charming Italian family that seemed to run the place โ€“ the service was efficient and cheerful. There is outside seating, so the dogs were able to stretch out on their sheepskins and the chef was happy to cook us 3 sausages for them – so far so good. I had a fine lasagne, with a very fresh-tasting tomato sauce; Richard had a pasta carbonara, which he thought was acceptable but not remarkable.

Oh my, after making pace this morning, our extended lunch stop took us up to 3pm! We set off in haste, noting, in passing, that the best Runnymeade moorings are by the houses just downstream of the park. There are good moorings further along but not for hounds as there is a busy road adjacent.

Sadly for me, as we cruised along it became obvious that something in my lunchtime lasagne was disagreeing with me quite emphatically. Nothing as severe as food poisoning but enough to put me into cramping pain. I lost interest in the rest of the dayโ€™s cruising, being happy to sit in a deckchair clutching my stomach and groaning!

At the Italian cafe in Runnymeade – it’s a pleasant spot and the hounds got a LOT of fuss…and sausages!

We had hoped to get as far as the Cliveden Islands and see if we could snaffle our own island for the night. This would give Henry hound freedom to rummage. However we started looking for moorings much earlier on. We considered the stretch around Eton Dorney, but we were shocked to find that the Olympic mooring restrictions were still in place โ€“ as far as Bray! We soldiered on, getting to Bray lock after 6pm. The lock-keeper had finished for the day, so we worked our way through the lock and eyed up the lock-moorings above. The first section is clearly marked โ€œno overnight mooringโ€ but the upstream section looks like visitor moorings. We studied the signage carefully, not wanting to break the rules, but in the end we decided that they were visitor moorings and tied up. It was another good spot for the hounds โ€“ the โ€˜visitorโ€™ section was fenced off from the towpath, which gave usย  some security if the hounds should escape unexpectedly; the towpath was well-fenced and gave good opportunities for a bit of linear rummaging.

We took the dogs for a bobble but we were soon back on board – the hounds were hungry! I was feeling really unwell by now, so I was in bed by 7.30pm โ€“ not until after Iโ€™d given Lou her tablets though…..

Richard retired to bed early as well, but we had a disturbed night. At 10pm Lou came to wake me up โ€“ she was hungry โ€“ she usually has a light supper at 10pm (though she had had a big dinner at 7pm).ย  I got up to feed her…..

Later on, Richard got up to let Henry and Ollie out for a wee โ€“ Ollie is used to going out before bedtime at 11pm…

But then at 1am, Lou started whining and panting, usually a sign that sheโ€™s in pain โ€“ I got up to give her some extra painkillers when I suddenly realised that Iโ€™d missed her tramadol (strong painkillers) when I did the rest of her medicines at 7pm โ€“ no wonder she was in pain! I gave her the tablets and sat massaging her sore muscles until she finally relaxed and fell asleep half an hour later. Luckily that was the last of the hound commotions though I was woken several times by my sore tummy and by the noise of the overnight rain!

Photoblog:

“Le Bateau Maman” – a very grand houseboat… with a blog here: http://lebateaumaman.blogspot.co.uk/

The bruise on Lou’s belly from her fall down the boat steps – I measured it because if an abdominal bruise gets bigger with time it can be a sign of internal bleeding – how do I know this? The vet told me when our old lurcher Indie once fell and bruised her belly – dog ownership has been an adventure over the years! Luckily Lou’s bruise had started to fade by the end of the day…

Something about the Thames releases our inner estate agent! We did fancy this place – the Tower House – on sale for a reasonable ยฃ1.5 million – that’s cheap compared to the properties upriver – though this one comes with the title of “Lord of the manor of Shepperton”!

New roof or new build? We weren’t too sure, but getting a good work platform for maintaining your houseboat looks quite involved…

Sensible stilts…

Ollie on the lookout for creepy-crawlies – he’s quite handy when it comes to eating spiders – if you can stand the crunching noise…

Ollie moved in just 7 months ago – I’m so glad that we rescued him – he is adorable!

The upstream moorings at Runnymeade – see how close that road is?

There were a lot of trip boats moored up – I hope that they had a good summer with the jubilee and Olympic visitors – I thought many of them looked ‘new’ but that could just be my unreliable memory at work…

The collapse of Indigo Dream’s olympic lookin’ team (1)…

The collapse of Indigo Dream’s olympic looking team (2)….

The collapse of Indigo Dream’s olympic looking team (3)….

Windsor Castle – it’s such a slab of a place – hard to imagine now the wealth and ambition it took to build it…

Richard thought that the disembodied heads in this EA workboat were funny – I thought they were a bit creepy!

The temporary bridge that was installed to give access to the olympic rowing at Eton Dorney is now being dismantled – I’m a bit sad to see it go but it wasn’t a thing of beauty….

They are really serious about enforcing the mooring restrictions between Boveney and Bray locks – this boom seemed to go on and on along the ‘offside’…

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