We are back! We had a great time in Germany, Belgium and France and enjoyed being at home in our new house – but the canals were calling and it is lovely to be back.
We got back to Mary H yesterday morning and then Richard took the car to Thames Ditton where Fay, one of his step-daughters lives. As we are heading down the Thames, eventually, we thought that was a better place than down on the south coast.
We now have a nice straight tiller which is great though we are now £400 worse off!
Today was a long and an “out of the box” one!
We didn’t get away until gone 11am this morning and as we turned out of the marina I could see a boat waiting at Ham Lock, however I made a misjudgement – there was two As we were preparing the lock for ourselves another boat came round the corner – result! We travelled with Rosie for three locks until we came to Monkey Lock where there appeared to be a bit of a commotion going on. I went to investigate and it appeared that, as the lock is so long, three boats had gone down together and that there was a boat in there ready to come up and was waiting for two boats to get to the lock. The new boats decided that they didn’t want to risk getting three in so the gates were shut and the one boat had the huge lock to himself. When it was our turn we tried to get three boats in but it didn’t work – the earlier boats must have been a lot smaller than a 57 footer, a 60 footer and a 65 footer! At this stage we lost Rosie and teamed up with Midnight for a couple of locks when the hire boat they had been with had stopped waiting for them - needless to say we waited for Rosie! We had both hoped to stop at Woolhampton but of course there wasn’t even room for The Jam Butty – just love that boat – so we headed down the lock. Gill and I were given lots of instructions of how to negotiate the next bit, which we totally ignored and got on with the job of coping with the brisk current of the river as we re-joined it just below the lock and then the swing bridge (which is on an angle). All was fine though I did make use of the “pillows” just before the bridge. For those readers who don’t know the lock and bridge – it is great fun as if you don’t steer the correct course you can hit any number of obstacles, one of which is an old boat covered in tyres! I read in a blog that a hire boat company had put the boat there to protect their own boats – good idea!
Somewhere between Woolhampton and Aldermaston we lost Rosie, hopefully they had moored up, but we had chosen not to as it was very wooded and I do like open space. We got to Aldermaston Lock at about 4.30pm – you can’t operated the swing bridge between 4.30 and 5.30pm. We took as leisurely drop down the lock and tied up waiting for 5.30pm. Richard was on the towpath with Muffin when a cyclist hurtled down and yelled “mind out of the way – please”. Richard moved but I was worried about Muffin as he doesn’t understand that instruction too well!
It was getting late by now though the sun was still hot. We went through Padworth lock and the swing bridge and with Towney lock in sight Richard pulled over. It was 6.30pm – a crazy time to stop but there was really nowhere else suitable where we could get near the bank.
6 swing bridges