Thursday, 30 July 2015

Crash Bang Wallop

Monday 27th July


A day to explore Henley.  A town we liked and it was certainly a useful shopping spot with a Sainsburys Express in the town centre, a lot of independent shops as well as some of the smaller chain stores plus a big Tesco - walk back to the weir, turn right down the lane, walk to the left (not the right as Boatwif and I discovered.  A lady was stopped at a minor junction and waved us across in front of her, so we stopped and asked the way.  To our great surprise and delight, she was on her way there and offered us a lift!) and it is the next turning on the left - not that far if you go the right way!

Just a few bits and bobs we spied whilst exploring - Henley does not appear to suffer too often from flooding, but enough to warrant flood level markers by Hobbs of Henley's front door.  

Hobbs do seem to have a monopoly on hire boats in Henley - this one took my fancy, not only because I like the look of the boat, but I just love the name 'Tiddley Pom Pom'.

A warning sign on the town bridge.

St Mary The Virgin Henley

With some rather superb stonework walls

The Town Hall is the home of the Tourist Information Office

We were moored by the park and Monty was delighted with the size of his 'garden'

There were even friends to be made - this is a young lady called Molly.  Monty did come round the town with us where we found more dogs than we have ever seen in a town before.

Unfortunately there is always the odd thoughtless owner - the orange circle marks the spot of a dog 'donation' - you could not be much closer to a dog box!
 I do love looking at inscriptions on benches - such a wonderful way (in my opinion) to leave a lasting tribute to a loved one.  This sentiment is a particular favourite.

There are some wonderful floral displays to be seen as well.

Mooring, of course, comes at a price - here it is £10 for 24 hours.  Mind between 10:00 and 15:00 it is free, so at least if you just want to shop you can do so for free.  Don't come for regatta week - the charges are eye watering!

Our day ended with a meal at Loch Fyne.  I was disappointed that the mussels had just run out (we arrived at 7pm, so hardly late evening).  The food was good, but the service was very slow.  It was not quite as we remembered from other Loch Fyne establishments a few years ago.

Tuesday 28th July
Henley to Clivedon
13.75 miles, 5 locks

We woke to find ourselves at an angle and hard aground at the stern - the river had gone down several inches overnight. We did make it off without having to resort to being pulled by Cleddau.

To me the real beauty of Henley is to be seen from the river:

Then passing under the bridge you are greeted with the signs that Regatta week (1-5 July) was not long ago - structures being dismantled and a few we think probably stay in place.

At the end of the very long straight racing line you come to Temple Island.  The 'Temple' was originally designed by James Wyatt as a fishing lodge in 1771.

Whoever lives here today still needs a 'pump out' as many of our fellow boaters do every now and then.  If you cannot quite see what they were doing you can take it from me that there were emptying the cesspit.  Noses don't lie!

Then on past Greenlands which is now a business school, but was originally the home of a Mr William Henry Smith.  I am reliably informed (with thanks to my Pearson's Canal Companion) that the narrator in 'Three Men in a Boat' described it as the "home of my newsagent".  Mr Smith was the founder of WH Smith.

On through Medmenham past Danesfield House which was requisitioned by the Air Ministry in WWII and became RAF Medmenham - a 'hush hush' centre for the interpretation of aerial photographs of enemy territory.

We are passing through several locks each day, most of them manned, so all we have to do is pass a rope round a bollard at the bow and stern with someone hanging onto the end of each to stop the boat swinging about.  So far all of the locks are well kept with landscaping and floral displays done in conjunction with a local garden centre.

At Hurley Lock there is a tree that was planted by Her Majesty the Queen on 18th October 1974 on the occasion of her river trip from Hurley to Magna Carta Island, Runnymede.  I bet she did not have to wait at any locks!!  Looking again at the plaque it just states her 'journey', which I assumed was via the River, but I guess it may not have been.  Anyway a beautiful tree was the outcome.

On past Marlow

To a very long wait at Marlow lock, so time to admire The Compleat Angler and muse on the fact that it is likely to have 'grown' since Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog - Montmorency) passed this way.

Our resting place was to be on an island near Clivedon.  It was very small and was the cause of the 'Crash, Bang, Wallop'.  We got too close to the tree in front of the boat and our headlight is no more!  Thankfully the 'Chandlery' on nb Cleddau had a spare, so all is well again.

Someone called Nick must come this way often we feel!

It was only a small island, but we rather liked it.  I am not so sure that Monty was that impressed - he had a few too many 'beans' inside him the next morning and raced round and round in ever decreasing circles!

Wednesday 29th July
Clivedon to Runnymede

14.25 miles, 5 locks

Off again on another dry day.  It was still breezy, but no rain.  First stop today was Boulter's Lock made famous by the painting by Edward John Gregory 'Boulter's Lock, Sunday Afternoon'. Thankfully it was not as busy today as it was then (late 19th century - there seem to be conflicting dates courtesy of Mr Google).

The lock was on self service mode - only the second we have encountered and the first we have had to do with just our two boats.  First a strategy had to be decided upon as we would need two people at the bow and two at the stern all holding ropes and one to operate the locks and although Monty makes five and he is pretty clever he is not that clever - yet!!  The solution (other than a very long mid line on each boat) was to tie the boats together leaving one person free to push buttons.  It worked!

Chris and I are great 'users' of 'deals' - years ago Barclaycard used to give good breaks away as rewards and one of ours was an overnight stay at an hotel on the River Thames near Windsor.  We are pretty certain it was this one - The Oakley Court Hotel.  It would have had to be a very special offer - booking direct for one night B & B starts at £182!!  We sailed on by!

 I don't recall meeting our children at Boveney Lock (there were a number that we were not allowed to access whilst acting as support team) during Devizes to Westminster, so I don't know if they portaged the canoes

Or used the rollers

I was very taken with the oars on the lock house at Boveney.

 On past Windsor Racecourse.  We did wonder if the Queen ever arrives by water to attend the races - the entrance is certainly fit for a Queen.

Windsor Castle

There is a fun fair on the far side (from the Castle) at Windsor with a couple of artists - I am sure the Castle attracts a lot of them.

Just a few of the Queen's swans at Windsor.

There is over a mile of what would be fantastic moorings, but it is 'Home Park' and is Crown Estate', so land if you dare!

When we first arrived at Runnymede we had to breast up as there was a cruiser where Cleddau is now.  No real problem for us, but we were pleased when he left, especially as he just turned up his nose and ignored Boatwif when she wished him 'Good day'!

 Inevitably travelling along the Thames you come across a lot of very imposing properties - here is just a very small selection:

A couple were even thatched, but hardly cottages

This is surely serious one upmanship - three properties side by side all with a selection of thatched garden furniture

Some are for sale - this is Medmanham Abbey - yours for a cool £10,000,000!  Look here if you want to know more!

 If that is too rich for your pocket, this one in Bray is just £4,000,000!  See here for full details

There are also more modest homes, but I bet the people who live in the middle house above do not consider they live in a 'mid terrace' house!

I have to admit that I do envy the child or children lucky enough to have this tree house!!

And then of course there are the boats of all shapes and sizes.

Tomorrow we are off to the River Wey - we are looking forward to seeing lots of visitors.