Sunday 25th May
Mostly lovely that is, and all on the Thames. It was great to be woken by the sun, even at stupid o’clock, and it was still lovely when we did get up. There was no rush, as I needed to go to Tesco and as it’s Sunday they won't sell you anything till 10. So Dave washed the port side of the boat and tried out our new bottle of Craftmaster carnauba wax polish and was very impressed. Meanwhile I got to walk the dog on King’s Meadow in the sunshine and buy nice things in Tesco. It’s a hard life! We left eventually around 11 after a chat with the couple on Hawkeye, who we saw yesterday as well. They are on their way to Oxford and thence to Ely. Like Chuffed, their boat spent the winter at Caen Hill, but we didn’t see them.
We were happy to say farewell to Kennet Mouth (Hawkwind were also not very impressed with the K&A). See that lovely blue sky! (I'm writing this on Monday …)
We cruised sedately down to Sonning lock, and gave a muted cheer as we passed Sonning Court where we understand Uri Geller lives; he is an Exeter City supporter, as are we. Not his narrowboat though we think!
We were disappointed till now not to have seen any red kites, but suddenly they were all over the place! My photo only showed bird-shaped dots so isn’t included. I think this glamping site was at Shiplake lock. Lovely beds and settees inside, and barbies and seating outside, but still as close to each other as any campsite! The tent behind the roses was occupied so no direct shot of the inside.
We pulled in for a lunch stop at the pretty moorings opposite Shiplake, then cracked on towards Henley where we were due to pick up daughter Jen and her partner Will. On our way we were intrigued by the various riverside properties. With their manicured lawns and unimaginative garden design they look so sterile and immaculate they could be dolls’ houses. The Stepford Wives came to mind. Dave did have a moment of lawn envy, but we imagine they all have ‘staff’ so that doesn’t count.
We picked up Jen and Will at the moorings below the weir. We learnt from our lunchtime neighbour that if you try to pick up passengers at the Leander club pontoon in Henley they will try to charge you £8 for the privilege! Henley was crowded with people enjoying the sunshine and beer, especially at The Angel at the bridge.
The regatta course has been laid out and the marquees are going up. There were a lot of boats about and we missed the arrow telling us which side of the barrier to go – oops, never mind ….
We passed Temple Island bright in the sunshine -
and Will enjoyed a turn at the helm
while Jen kept Meg out of trouble!
We were a little concerned to see that the yellow boards are out (from Shiplake to Boveney we found out later) and the weirs are a bit lively – this is Hambleden I think. But the river still seems reasonably gently flowing for the time being.
Some boathouses seem rather fanciful – crenellations in front of a rather ordinary (if large) Tudorbethan house.
As Jen and Will were on foot we hoped to drop them off below Hambleden lock, but the moorings appeared to all be taken so we dropped them off on the (presumably) private moorings at Culham Court, where the public footpath goes between the house and the river. Quite a grand landing!
We continued towards Hurley but wanted to moor at the attractive meadows near Medmenham. Unfortunately some of the spots were too shallow and most had projecting branches and roots. We decided to turn again and go further down when a strong gust pushed us onto a sandbank – just as a phalanx of Tupperware came charging round the corner at some speed from the lock. By the time they had all passed we were well and truly stuck! luckily a passing cruiser was able to tow us off and we managed to moor up. Here is the stalwart crew who gave us assistance – many thanks!
There were some amazing craft out today, and this was the best! L100 WET.
The evening was glorious. Dave celebrated by polishing the other side of the boat and I was forced to take Meg for another walk, though she did offer to help with the polishing.
Apart from the grounding, we had a brilliant day today, especially because Jen hasn’t seen Chuffed ‘in the flesh’ before and it was lovely to have family on the boat – the first ones this year.
About 12 miles and 5 locks.