Sunday, 11 June 2017

Large Marge and Black Bart

Swan Jam in Reading
What a flipping week it's been! Gale force winds, heavy rain, warm and sunny one minute, dark and damp the next - don't you just love flaming June! I'll skate over the bad bits and share the rainbows with you.

We've met some really lovely folk on the Kennet and Avon, although some of them have been going the other way and we hope to meet up with them again. Like the two ladies and a parrot we met at Thatcham on a boat called Large Marge – what great name. We met Colin, Jude and their lovely Staffie, Roxie on 'Black Bart' and shared locks for a whole day. Colin writes a pirate blog, which is very funny, if you can understand the old sea dog. We also shared locks with the bell ringers boat 'Intrepid' and were entertained by their crew ringing hand bells as we ascended the Caen flight. I fell in love with a couple of Border Terriers who were being towed along behind the bicycle of owner in a kind of covered trailer. Those dogs loved it, they had the front rolled up and their ears were flapping in the breeze and their tongues hanging out and where was the camera? Not where I could reach it in time! Not everyone is so nice, in fact we were so fed up with one lot that we moored up and left them to it. We had a cup of coffee and set off again and shared Garston lock with 3 twenty somethings and there cute little schnauzer, Maddy. We chugged out of the lock first and went off to set the next lock - we'd been there waiting for about twenty minutes but there was no sign of them. We were reluctant to just go on, the young man on the tiller was very experienced but we didn't like to leave them without knowing they were OK. I'd been chatting to a lady cyclist as we waited at the lock (a very interesting person, she'd had a quad heart bypass at thirty, a large scar on her arm where she drilled into it while refitting a boat and cycled from Reading to Newbury most weekends to keep fit) - she offered to cycle back and see where they'd got to. It was bad news - they'd run aground on a large piece of concrete and couldn't get off. We couldn't turn, we couldn't reverse back and so we had to carry on and moor as soon as we could by the Cunning Man pub. Carl being Carl, didn't want to leave them in the lurch so he jogged all the way back to see if he could help - he had the bright idea of emptying the water tank which might raise the bows enough for them to get free. It was several hours later before they finally caught up with us - the water trick combined with some rocking and heaving on a rope had finally shifted them.
A froglet

We went for our usual stroll yesterday evening, it was cool enough for Tricky to enjoy a sniff along the towpath and from there, we found a footpath leading away from the river around a large lake. A movement caught my eye and I stopped to investigate, it was so small I couldn't at first make it out. It was a teeny, tiny froglet, and as I looked closer, I spotted more and more of them in fact the whole path was alive with little hoppers and we had to tiptoe along to avoid squishing them. I tried to get a close up photo but I'm not sure you'll be able to make it out – I'll post it on the blog. As we arrived back at the boat, a fully clothed man, complete with baseball cap on his head, came by. Nothing unusual there except he was in the water, kicking his legs and hanging onto a floating bag - he didn't stop for a chat so I'll never know where he was going or why!
A shady mooring in Theale

We've been very lucky with our moorings this week - on Monday, we left Hungerford in a fine drizzle which wasn't due to turn to rain until late afternoon. Well, that forecast was completely wrong! The drizzle turned to persistent rain and we slid the hatch closed to stop water dripping on the engine deck - this reduces standing room at the stern to an area the size of a postage stamp and there's not much room on the step for two pairs of booted feet and a dog. The wind is getting up too and after a few hours, I begin to think longingly of mooring up with a hot cuppa and maybe even a fire. As the rain begins to lash down heavily, we see a stretch of mown grass with 2 posts - can it be a free mooring? It really was our lucky day, a proper mooring where we could safely ride out the storm. We didn't move the boat in the howling wind on Tuesday, we walked to Newbury and back and twiddled our thumbs because the perfect mooring spot had no wifi signal and a very intermittent tv signal. I cleaned out a few cupboards and moved the furniture around - it's pretty difficult to do that on a boat. All I actually did was move my chair to Carl's place and his to mine - just for a change of scenery. I really missed my wifi, I rely on it for so many things these days - the weather forecast, the news, chatting to my friends and family, looking up information, paying bills and keeping track of birthdays - we live a simple life but without wifi I think I'd be very lonely.
Our mooring luck held all week and we bagged a field mooring just through Ufton swing bridge where the water was deep enough for the whole boat to get right up to the bank and Tricky could jump ashore without the dreaded plank. There was a herd of young heifers in the field but not close enough to bother us until I stopped to chat to the young woman on the boat next door - she'd been chased by them more than once. Needless to say, I didn't walk Tricky far that night and I was watching for stampeding cattle the whole time!

We did the last four locks this morning and left the Kennet and Avon in glorious sunshine. Every lock was set for us and we sped along the sparkling river, rushing towards Reading and the Thames. It's been a memorable trip and I hope you've enjoyed it too.

That's all from me for now – I'll be back next week with more about the River Thames and the journey to Oxford

Lots of love and hugs
The Floating Chandlers

ps Today we saw a Kingfisher, an Egret, a whole hillside of Alpacas and a very cute Grebe chick hitching a ride on Mum's back.

pps Anyone know how the election went?
The beautiful Thames

Another Thatch - can you see the nest?

Nesting Duck

I wonder who lives here



Thames Mooring
Little Egret