This Month's Totals and Average
91.79 miles 50 locks 43.52 hrs 3.26 lmph

  May 2017

Wednesday 31st May ~ Thatcham to Newbury

Slow start to the morning. Cloudy but fine. Arranged with Eric & Sue to move off mid-morning. Headed off together, saying our thanks to Chris, the volunteer lockie, for all his help over the week. Ascended Monkey Marsh Lock and through the very heavy bridge above it, then settled into the run up through Widmead, Bulls, Ham, and Greenham Locks. No real problems although the river was not running high - I could foresee difficulties if there were to be any 'fresh'.

Arrived at Newbury just at lunchtime and elected to moor at the 14-day moorings east of the boatyard until final decisions are made by our 'harbour-master' for the second half of the "Mission" - we'll take water and get the loo done just before moving into place. Went for a walk around the town in the afternoon. Slight shower of rain but nothing too much.

3.14 miles 5 locks 2.44 hrs 3.33 lmph

29th-30th May ~ Thatcham

Scattered showers during Monday. A group of us went down to Aldermaston by car to provide a labour-force to bring two of our members up to Thatcham - they have their own boat but couldn't bring it here so hired from a local firm. A couple of boats moved above the lock to join them. Very quiet afternoon. Peter made supper for us all from the leftovers from the barbeque. It had been intended that we should have the meal all together al fresco but the showers continued and we ate aboard in small groups - gave a chance to get to know each other better.

More showers into Tuesday, but they cleared during the day to a fine evening. Most boats moved off towards Newbury, leaving just "Remus" and us at Thatcham. Barbara's old ankle injury was playing up badly, so I assisted John to take "Ichthus" up to Newbury, accompanied by "Gospel Belle". Roll and tea for lunch with Peter & Lin then back on the train. Very quiet evening in front of the tele, and an early night!

26th-28th May ~ Thatcham - "Boats of Hope" Mission (cont.)

Friday brought another round of schools' visits. The children appeared to thoroughly enjoy their tours round the four boats.

After a week of 'scheduled' visits by and to organisations, we opened our boats to the public for the weekend - free boat trips, free barbeque, free cream-teas on Sunday. Great weekend, leaving us all very tired but feeling it had all been worth it. Even the forecast rain for Sunday stayed clear until overnight.

Thursday 25th May ~ Thatcham to Aldermaston and return - "Lavender Boat run"

Needed our water filled, and our loo emptied. Took aboard containers for water and full loo cassettes for other boaters and headed on a round-trip to Aldermaston. Five locks and three bridges each way (clocking up the 2000th lock for "Paws"). Very hot, with little wind.

10.12 miles 10 locks 6.23 hrs 3.23 lmph

20th-24th May ~ Thatcham - "Boats of Hope" Mission

Spent Saturday morning in boat-movements to get correct positions. A very sunny start quickly deteriorated into cloud with short heavy showers. Very quiet afternoon.

Beautiful day throughout on Sunday to mark the start of the mission . Morning service at Thatcham Baptist Church, then "open-house" for church members to visit the boats. Evening communion on the towpath alongside the boats, open to anyone who wished to join us.

Throughout the week, the boats were open for visits from schools, churches, and other organisations (Rainbows, Guides, Royal British Legion, Ladies Circle to name some who attended). An outreach "Bus of Hope" was also open at Newbury Racecourse.

Friday 19th May ~ Woolhampton to Thatcham

Another prompt start. Cloud and drizzle around, but not overly unpleasant. Just ready to enter our first lock for the day, when we saw "Gabriel" coming up astern. Catching up with James & Hazel on the move, we ascended the next four locks (Woolhampton, Heales, Midgham and Colthrop) with them, sharing the duties on the swing-bridges. Arrived at Thatcham late morning and moored outside "Spring Water" in the BCF allocated moorings. Made ourselves known to John & Barbara aboard "Ichthus" (another one) who are organising the "Boats of Hope" Mission  here. Pat went into town.

Sun came out at lunchtime, but occasional very heavy thundery showers interspersed around mid-afternoon. Remainder of day spent meeting new friends and catching up with others.

3.01 miles 4 locks 2.25 hrs 3.12 lmph

Thursday 18th May ~ Theale to Woolhampton (en route to Thatcham)

Lovely start to the day - sunny and fresh after yesterday's rain. Up and on the move promptly. Ascended Sulhamstead Lock and continued on to Tyle Mill. Stopped at the services point, to find "Ichthus" moored on the offside. Had a long chat with John & Jane. Nice and quiet so took the opportunity to wash "Paws" overall. Water topped up and loo emptied ready for Thatcham. Also had a bite of lunch before moving on.

Another boat, "Bodger", also going up as we made ready, so accompanied them up Tyle Mill and Towney Locks. Very strong flow from the gate paddles, so raised carefully. Quite a few swing-bridges on this section, but all electrically operated. Left "Bodger" below Padsham Lock and ascended it and Aldermaston Lock, taking us into a heavily wooded section with tight twists and turns. Rain had returned by mid-afternoon and by 17:00 we were all soaked so moored just below the swing-bridge and lock at Woolhampton.

5.77 miles 5 locks 4.00 hrs 2.70 lmph

Wednesday 17th May ~ Theale (en route to Thatcham)

Rain continued throughout the night and into the morning, although little more than drizzle - very muggy. Had a long lie-in (an extra half-hour). Locking crew went on strike due weather, and decided we were not getting soaked. General chores during the morning.

Rain came on heavier around lunchtime, and the temperature dropped. Still raining at dinnertime. Not a pleasant end to the day - hope for better tomorrow. Heard our first cuckoo of the year.

Tuesday 16th May ~ Reading to Theale (en route to Thatcham)

No new information this morning on the swingbridge, so decided to continue and hope it was restored by the time we got there. Mostly sunny with occasional cloud - better than the forecast from yesterday. After a quick walk back into town for items "Housekeeping" forgot to get yesterday, set off from the Jail Loop and turned right, through the controlled section at The Oracle shopping centre, and ascended County Lock (couldn't find the advertised water-point, but were not actually needing it - info stored for return journey). Departing Reading through an apparently less salubrious area, we continued out into the countryside, with wooded areas, reed beds, and open meadowland. Continued up Fobney, and Southcote Locks, taking lunch on the move. Burghfield and Garston Locks next, as we passed the lakes (presumably left from quarrying, and now used for fishing). The outfalls from the weirs in this area are quite strong, making the lock-access moorings difficult at times. Noted the first dragon and damselflies of this year. By the time we had ascended Sheffield Lock, the bridge had been reopened and we got passage straight through. Decided to moor for the day. The sunny day finally faded to rain late afternoon (with a forecast of heavy rain all day tomorrow).

6.03 miles 6 locks 4.10 hrs 2.93 lmph

Monday 15th May ~ Sonning to Reading (en route to Thatcham)

Lovely quiet mooring at Sonning. Rain overnight, with light showers persisting into the morning. On the go fairly quickly and headed back upstream to the junction, but passed it by a few hundred yards, mooring outside Tesco. The mooring pontoon we remembered from our holiday a few years ago as being for shopping is now almost completely filled with long-term moorers. It is still possible (at the moment) to get alongside the trees and use stakes. Unless Environment Agency or the landowner do something, I can foresee no mooring being left for shoppers.

Once stored-up, on the move again, turning into the River Kennet at the junction, and ascending Blake's Lock - back to the older paddle-gear here, with the large wheel to raise the paddles. Above the lock, we turned onto the Reading Jail Loop and moored at the upstream end. Went for a walk through the town centre, dropping into "Build-a-Bear Workshop" (as one does!), before visiting Sainsbury's on the way back. While "Catering" was stowing the purchases, "Navigation" took a walk up the towpath to investigate the traffic lights - they are situated at the downstream side of Duke's Bridge and at the tail of County Lock, controlling the very twisted, narrow, section through the works at The Oracle Centre.

Checking emails late afternoon, we note that Sheffield/Theale Swingbridge has just been closed today due to an electrical fault. This may delay us tomorrow.

2.83 miles 1 locks 1.38 hrs 2.78 lmph

Sunday 14th May ~ Pangbourne to Sonning via Shiplake (en route to Thatcham)

Very heavy rain overnight. Tactics duly discussed over breakfast, and decision taken to over-run to Shiplake, then come back to moor at Sonning. Let go about 09:30 and turned downstream again in increasing sunshine. Passed the alpaca farm, then on past Hardwick House . Descended Mapledurham Lock and continued for Reading. Noted an odd GPO postbox  set in the wall on the railway at Purley-on-Thames.

Passed the lovely Thames Promenade (no mooring, unfortunately, on this lovely stretch - ideal for them) and descended Caversham Lock (very helpful lockies confirming that water was actually available at Shiplake), then passed the turning (for tomorrow) onto the Kennet & Avon Canal. Continued again along a tree-lined avenue to Sonning Lock. Descended and headed for Shiplake, with lunch on the move. There were a number of small islets in the river today, often with no indication of which side to pass - it seems to be that unless you are specifically told you must go one side (blue navigation board with arrows) you can use either side.

Finally arrived at Shiplake Lock, and took water above it. Returned up through Sonning Lock, and moored at the EA mooring on the east side for one free night (note that there are good moorings below the lock on the east side, but a charge is made of £10.00 per night for all nights). One short heavy shower mid-afternoon was all there was to mar the day weatherwise, and even that did not really affect us as we were already moored by then.

14.38 miles 4 locks 5.28 hrs 3.48 lmph

Saturday 13th May ~ Goring to Pangbourne via Mapledurham (en route to Thatcham)

Cloudy start, with slight drizzle as we were moving off mid-morning. Continued southwards, the river widening all the time. Lovely looking out over the fields to the hillsides further off. Passed Beale Park, then the outskirts of Pangbourne and descended Whitchurch Lock. Continued past Pangbourne Meadow to Mapledurham on the northern outskirts of Reading. Did the loo, but found that the tap for water advertised on our map had been sawn off and was unusable with hoses. Nearest available water appears to be back to Cleeve Lock north of Goring, 'possibly' Caversham, past our junction to Shiplake, or the southern outskirts of Reading - have to discuss tactics for tomorrow! Cloud dissipated quickly after lunch; lovely sunny afternoon and evening. Went for walk into village - found great cheese shop (oh dear, more cholesterol). Noted the "yarn-bombing"  art display on Whitchurch Bridge.

7.90 miles 1 locks 2.65 hrs 3.36 lmph

Friday 12th May ~ Goring (en route to Thatcham)

Heavy rain showers overnight, but the warmest night yet this year. Rain showers, albeit lighter, still in evidence during the morning, but sunny spells increasing over the day. "Catering" decided to get some bread made, then "Housekeeping" took over. Got some more mapping done on the interactive information map.

Thursday 11th May ~ Wallingford to Goring (en route to Thatcham)

Once again, the lady with the money-bag knocked. Not a great forecast for the end of the day, but moving on anyway - let's try and be moored up before the rain sets in (lovely morning to start). Let go and returned southwards again. Far more sets of sculls out today from Brookes College boathouse. Left them behind just before Moulford Railway Bridge, and dallied onwards to Cleeve Lock. Took water before descending. Continued to and down Goring Lock, noting the great crested grebe just above the lock. Moored for the day at the EA mooring below the lock just before lunch. Walk into town in the afternoon. Rain arrived just before dinner.

6.02 miles 2 locks 2.20 hrs 3.65 lmph

Wednesday 10th May ~ Wallingford to Moulsford, then Benson, and return (en route to Thatcham)

Tapped again for our fees just before 09:00, on a beautiful sunny morning, although it had been quite cool overnight. Let go shortly after to head for Moulsford where we had been told we could get fuel, then on to Cleeve and Goring. Great run south for nearly an hour, with numerous kingfishers and red kites for company. Arrived at Sheridan Marine to be told we could get gas but they didn't do fuel - nearest was at Reading (too far south at present) or back to Benson! No option.

Headed back through Wallingford and up Benson Lock to the "Le Boat" yard. They appeared never to have heard of self-declaration fuel and only had one set price (obviously not tax-exempt). Managed to persuade them that was unacceptible and they brought their price down a bit "as a gesture of good will".

Returned down Benson Lock, and to Wallingford for a late lunch. Had to go up town again to replace a broken item, then routine chores. Remained very hot for the rest of the day (forecast is for rain in the next few days).

10.12 miles 2 locks 3.62 hrs 3.35 lmph

Tuesday 9th May ~ Wallingford (en route to Thatcham)

Mooring fee lady arrived at 08:50 for 1st night's payment. Decided to stay put again. Went for walk through the town in morning. Pat went up to museum in the afternoon, while I got on with the jobs. Cloudy and cool until late afternoon, when the sun finally got through - turned into a lovely evening. Had a great Indian meal at Wallingford Tandoori . They can take orders/payment on-line, and will deliver to boats at the bridge.

Monday 8th May ~ Abingdon to Wallingford (en route to Thatcham)

A cold and breezy morning. Headed off southwards again. Traffic quieter today. Passed the marina, and the junction with the (now derelict) Wiltshire & Berkshire Canal which connected to the Kennet & Avon Canal at Semington, and provided access via the Thames & Severn Canal to Gloucester and Sharpness. The river south of Abingdon is initially a lot wider, with meadow and pastureland, but grows narrower in places later with more wooded areas. Descended Culham, Clifton and Days Locks, stopping below Days for loo. Saw a couple of great crested grebes below Days Lock. Lunch on the move as we continued on to Benson Lock which was set to "self-service". Unfortunately, as with Godstow Lock previously, the electrics failed and we had to manually wind the pump. Decided we had done enough for the day and moored mid-afternoon at the Council mooring above Wallingford Bridge (£5.00 per night, max 5 nights).

13.26 miles 4 locks 4.74 hrs 3.64 lmph

Sunday 7th May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Woken just after dawn by the woodpeckers and the Canada geese. Scattered clouds early on cleared to a hot sunny afternoon. Were given a very warm welcome at Trinity UR Church, where the newly appointed Moderator was taking the service. Stood chatting over tea/coffee afterwards before heading back to "Paws" for lunch.

After lunch, let go and ascended the lock for water and loo (it had been fixed during the week). It was very busy at the lock and we had to wait two cycles before getting up. Looked for a mooring above the lock, but none available, so returned down to our previous mooring. Lovely day all round.

0.40 miles 2 locks 1.31 hrs 1.83 lmph

Saturday 6th May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Cloudy all day, although there was brightness in the sky on several occasions. Wind had dropped dramatically from yesterday. Walked up to town in the morning for missing medications, then again in the afternoon for the package. Hunted for the woodpecker that we have been hearing all week in the woods around the meadow, but it was keeping well hidden. Very busy both with boats, and on the towpath.

Friday 5th May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Lovely sunny day, although wind quite strong. Walk to town for medications (courtesy mail yesterday), although will have to go back tomorrow as not all available. Another day of trying to get jobs done, and again foiled by things not going right - more 'bits' required (a certain 'river' sales and distribution service to the rescue on a next-day delivery).

Thursday 4th May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Cloudy again this morning. Tried to get some jobs cleared. Unfortunately, main job didn't work the way I'd intended so will have to start again another day. Went up to collect mail and parcels. House-keeping went on a cleaning spree. In contact with organisers for the Mission at Thatcham/Newbury (starting earlier than we thought, but can easily get there in time). Noted a kingfisher working below the lock under the trees at the meadow.

Wednesday 3rd May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

A lot colder this morning, with increased wind. As planned, moved back to the services for water, then descended the lock to the Council moorings - we'll stay here till the end of the week.

0.21 miles 1 locks 0.43 hrs 2.80 lmph

Tuesday 2nd May ~ Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Beautiful sunny morning - think spring might actually have arrived. Need to get a batch of mail sent down, and a couple of other things sent to a "fixed" address so decided to stay in the area until the weekend. Lovely moorings here - will move below the lock to the Council (free) moorings when our time here runs out. Had a very lazy day, including a walk into town - walked over the weir and round the footpath on the north edge of Abbey Meadow to the outdoor swimming pool, and ending at the market square. Coffee in town. Sun finally went behind the clouds late afternoon, and a few showers passed over.

Monday 1st May ~ Oxford to Abingdon (en route to Thatcham)

Woken very early by the bells welcoming in May Day (went back to sleep). Nice sunny start to the day, and set off promptly headed for Abingdon. Descended Osney Lock, leaving the centre of Oxford behind, and passing Folly Island with its hotel, pub and trip-boats (a tight squeeze no matter which side you pass it). The stretch alongside Christ Church Meadows came next - a few sets of sculls (boats, not heads) were out but a little early in the season for the large numbers we saw last time we were this direction. Descended Iffley Lock and continued through the variety of rural landscape surrounding the river. Next came Sandford Lock where we were told that the next elsan point (which we had hoped to use) was out of order - potential big problems. Finally arrived at Abingdon Lock where we took water, and the lockie very kindly opened the elsan for us to dump, using river water to flush (problem solved). Moved back 50 yards to the EA moorings, registering for two nights.

Decided to have tomorrow "off" so registered for two nights (1st night free, 2nd £5.00). Rain showers during the afternoon.

8.60 miles 3 locks 2.89 hrs 4.01 lmph

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