Sunday, 7 May 2017

Love in a Cynical World

Hello again

We're finally enjoying a warm day and I can't think of a better place to enjoy some nice weather than on the Kennet and Avon Canal. We're pottering along again in order to recover from a couple of longish days on the Thames. We'd dawdled along until last Sunday, not really thinking about how far we still had to go and it wasn't until May Day dawned that we realised we had to put our foot down if we were to get off the Thames before our license expired.

St Mary Magdalene of Boveney
The weather was chilly and cold as we set off on Monday and the early sun soon disappeared as we passed through Windsor. The river was busy with all sorts of craft from tiny day boats to large trip boats, dutch barges to splendid gin palaces. I took a quick photo of Windsor Castle as we passed by but the background of grey clouds in a grey sky couldn't really capture the splendour of this imposing monument. We carried on through Boveney Lock and moored by the Olympic Rowing Lake at Dorney, thinking ourselves very lucky to have bagged the last space on the visitor moorings (little did we know!!). The quaint church of St Mary of Magdalene is just by the footpath and this being Bank Holiday Monday, the doors were unlocked for visitors. The church is owned by the Friends of the Friendless Churches - thank heavens that people still care enough to save
Inside the church
these lovely old buildings. After a wander round the little church, we walked down the lane towards Dorney Common and were overtaken by a horse and cart. I peered at the driver, hoping to see the craggy features of Prince Phillip, and took a quick snap, just in case. It wasn't him of course, I bet he was on the other side of the river at Windsor Races.
People often ask us if the boat rocks much, visitors do sometimes comment on the gentle rocking motion as they move about. We don't notice it much at all unless we're in deep water, then I sometimes have to yell at Carl to stop fiddling with the solar panels while I'm in the shower. As he jumps up on the roof, I'm hanging onto the towel rail to stop myself pitching over the side of the bath and cracking my head on the sink. On Monday evening, we heard a boat roaring up the river, throttle wide open, and I sprung up from my chair to see what the hell was causing the racket. It was a powerful launch, something like the one that David Beckham used for the Olympic ceremony. It was flying along and leaving a wake behind it that looked like it might sink us. When the wake hit us, our boat heeled over, smashing us against the concrete quayside and rocking us from side to side as each wave smashed into us. There was chaos inside, the contents of the bookcase fell onto the dog, who was minding her own business, asleep in her bed. She ran and cowered in the corridor by the bathroom. Cupboards flew open and all the drawers too, and there was a mighty crash every time we hit the quayside until finally the wash faded away. The driver of this turbo charged ski boat had already been reported to the lock-keeper up stream and he had no option but to pull over and have his wrist slapped by the lock-keeper. Apparently he'll get a warning letter too so that's alright then, he certainly won't do that again. Except he did! He waited till the lock-keeper had gone home and then came zooming back later that evening, still going far too fast but this time the contents of the bookcase stayed put.

Tuesday and Wednesday sped by as we cruised extra hours to make sure we could get off the Thames before our license expired. We had a 'wild mooring' at Westfield Farm on Tuesday - a wild mooring is when you can find a bit of bank where the water is deep enough for you to get close enough to jump ashore with a rope and hammer in your mooring pegs. Luckily for me, Carl is quite agile and can leap ashore without endangering life and limb. The farmer came by in the evening and charged us £7 for the privilege of mooring on his sheep field, I didn't begrudge him the money, the sheep were very entertaining.

It was late afternoon on Wednesday by the time we turned off the Thames and came to the first of the broad locks on the Kennet and Avon, I was pleased to see another boat coming along to share the first lock, I found it hard going after 7 days of being pampered by the Thames Lock-keepers. It's all very picturesque along the Thames - the locks are neat and tidy, some with a pretty lock cottage and a little hut for the lock-keeper. Lots of very English towns and villages to visit, a deep, wide river with spectacular houses to ogle at as you drift by, little islands that you can moor on and explore (although the most interesting ones are private). And yet, even though it is all so perfectly lovely, we're looking forward to doing a few locks again. Be careful what you wish for!

The first lock on the K&A is grubby and unkempt, the little hut is shabby and empty and the lock is stubborn and surly, taking an age to empty and then even longer to fill up again for us to rise up into Reading and set off through the litter into the infamous Jail Loop in search of overnight moorings. It wasn't very inviting so we kept going and found that we needed to press a button and wait for the traffic lights to turn green - now that's a first for us, traffic lights on the waterways. The next section took us right through the heart of the city towards a fearsome looking weir with a lock just by it. Carl managed to keep well clear of the weir and I quickly opened the gates and got us through without any trouble and we chugged off in search of somewhere, anywhere to moor. We reached Fobney Lock, and as I started the process of emptying and setting it for Carl, in the distance I could see a stretch of Armco with our name on it. For those of you who don't boat, Armco is that stuff you see miles of on the motorway and it's used on canals to provide a place for boats to tie up to with a steel pin called a piling hook. We do love a bit of Armco! Now I've wittered on so much about the Thames that I've not left time to tell you about the rest of this week. Don't worry I'll bring you up to date next week as we're moving at the rate of 2 locks a day now that we're on new territory. So far the K&A is living up to everything we've heard. We're expecting to need a full repaint by the time we've been to Bath and back.

I hope you've all had a lovely weekend and enjoyed the sunshine
Lots of Love and Hugs
The Floating Chandlers

Ps - I've had a terrible cough this week and went off on the bus to visit a local doctor for a check up, All's well, nothing to worry about but I missed the bus back and had an hour to wait with only a bakery and a pet shop for entertainment. Needless to say, I went into the bakers for a bun and, when they heard I'd missed the bus, one of the ladies got here car out and ran me home. There's still a lot of love left in this cynical world – once again my faith in human nature is restored.

The Temple Folly at Henley

Another Folly at Fobney

A beautiful hotel on the Thames

I wonder who lives here?

That's a weir
A ' Wild Mooring'