Saturday, April 30, 2011

Yet another mini-GiG

Tree of the day :- The Horse Chestnut, they are in full flower and are glorious this year.

We left Beale Park and headed towards Goring in a pleasantly sunny morning. Brenda appeared on the rear deck in time to pass her favourite house, just south of Goring. heron

Do the maths – we got talking to a 3 person crew who’d hired from Guildford a week ago. They said their intent was to get to Oxford and then return to Guildford in two weeks. As they were still short of their target they realised that early starts were now a necessity and had started out before the locks went from manual to electric – hard work before 7am. Then they were faffing about, trying to moor up, near the river Thame at 1pm in order to take luncheon. I suspect that they wont make it.

Once through Cleve lock Brenda took over to enjoy the lovely scenery, albeit familiar as we are now so close to home, and the super blue skies. Graham undertook to clean all of the windows, both layers inside and out, during this long pound – my hero!

boathouse We met up with Andy and Jan Greener aboard nb Whisper and spent a couple of hours in the garden of the Plough at Long Wittenham. Beware the landing stage at the back of that pub, the wood is getting quite rotten and dangerous in places. That said we got out the chairs, Andy found some splendid cheese, Brenda organised tea and some cake that needed eating up and we sat until the sun was called in for it’s supper.

Before we had finished we were joined by a superb little electric slipper launch who moored behind Jannock whilst they visited the pub. We bade our farewells and moved off, Clifton Hampden for us ready for Clifton lock in the morning.


Friday, April 29, 2011

We never saw the fly-past

I was up and out by 6am to move the car from Datchet to Wallingford. Back by 8:20 and ready for breakfast. We bade farewell to Terry who set off downriver en-route to London and then cast ourselves off from the pontoon for our trip upstream. Henley straight was just that, very straight (and cold).  Parakeets above Henley, whatever next!

queerolddeanWe crept up on the lockie at Shiplake and found him listening to ‘the wedding’ on a radio in his hut with the door  shut. Sonning lock was the first to show any form of decoration for the day and that consisted of an edifice resembling the Queen sat in the lock cottage garden as well as loads of bunting and flags.

We thought we heard some of the flypast aircraft  overhead but the clouds were so low we could not see anything.

At Caversham lock we could see and hear the Reading beer festival going on in the field next door, we considered mooring up and going there until we saw how far the queue for entry stretched. We would have had to queue for hours.

A few boats had bunting and balloons out, some even displaying the union flag! but for the most part it passed us by.

vikings We did meet a boatload of Vikings who were using the occasion as a diversion to invade the country – longboat, NO it’s a narrowboat you fools.

We hope the royal wedding went off well; no family punch ups,  no corgis being sick after wedding cake and prawn vol- au-vents. We celebrated with escalope of pork in honey and mustard with a reduction of roast duck jus, followed by a lemon and white chocolate curl pavlova all washed down with strawberry cider after we had moored up at Beale Park.


Finding a missing boat

Thursday 28th April

Brrr – needed coats today. The tourist weather must be gearing up for the Royal Wedding no doubt – well, one should always wear gloves to a formal do.

First lock of the day was Bray where a visitor by car was asking the lockie if he’d seen a missing, presumed stolen, day boat. As we left the lock we spotted the missing boat , secured to the channel marker in the middle of the river at the end of the lock reach. We phoned Bray lock and told him where it was so he could let the hire-base know.

On through Maidenhead admiring more houses that we could not afford to own and then up through Bolters lock onto a very cold and wind-blown Cliveden deep. At Cookham lock we filled with water and then moored up after the bridge in order to meet up with Julian and Caro for an excellent lunch at the Crown. We said farewell and “get well soon” to J & C  and then paid a visit to the Stanley Spencer Gallery. All this year they are showing his Shipbuilding on the Clyde series, painted by commission during his time as a War Artist. They are wonderful pieces, on loan from the Imperial War Museum, reproductions don’t do them justice.


rowers2 We continued, in better weather, on through Marlow and Hurley (where we spotted these two boats going downriver)  to Aston where we found Terry on Arun moored stern in against the upstream side of the Flowerpot pontoon. We slipped in on the downstream side and moored alongside him so that both boats had their bows pointing out into midstream.

We thought we’d seen and heard the last of the Parakeets as we moored up, being so far away from Shepperton. Oh No! Just as Brenda uttered her opinion on the subject five of the little blighters wheeled overhead screeching away as they went to roost. I wont mention what she said then!

Terry and I fitted navigation warning lights to the boat bows and then went up the Flowerpot for an evening leaving Brenda back on the boat. Whilst there I purchased a take-out of strawberry cider for her.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Staines to Windsor

Today we have mostly been looking at houses that we cannot afford, even though some of them are for sale.

Quote of the day “ I do not shout at my customers, I shout TO them !” – Old Windsor Lock keeper.

A leisurely start found me witnessing a southbound hire cruiser having a head on collision with an un-attended moored boat on the offside, opposite Jannock’s overnight mooring. As the hirecraft just left the scene I recorded all of the details and then asked the keeper at  Penton Hook what I should do. He took the information and phone Kris Cruisers as he recognised the name and could confirm it had passed through the lock just before the incident happened.

We continued on and then moored in Staines so that I could do a car shuffle from Hanwell whilst Brenda re-provisioned after our busy weekend.


At Bell Weir lock a very large and expensive gin palace pulled in along side us. The skipper pointed down at Jannock and said jokingly to his crew “ we’re OK because there is a really large fender here”.  Brenda replied from the front well deck with “ are you calling me fat?” which really made him think that he had un-intentionally offended her ;^)

The pound above Old Windsor lock contained a floating hazard :- a small hire dayboat with 3 males aboard that was completely un-predictable. They went fast and then they went slow and then they went around and around a lot. All with no regard for any other craft in the area. We were glad when they pulled into the afore-mentioned Kris Cruisers to return the craft.

Windsor We passed through Windsor and then Boveney lock and moored up for the night immediately above it in ‘plane spotters heaven’ below the approach path to Heathrow – now where’s my notepad and pencil?


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

and back to the Thames

Aaaaaargh! Shiver me timbers, and other nautical pish pash. What happened to the weather? Back to British summer-winter time today.

A cooked breakfast was in order as the wind was so cold when we surfaced, so :-

Recipe of the day – Eggy bread made with left over hot-cross bun bread, delicious.

We left Send church bridge, which was a wonderfully quiet mooring away from the A3,  and made our way back through Send and Pyrford back towards Weybridge. Note to self :- the towpath bank between Dodds footbridge and Pyrford marina looks like a good ‘first day’ mooring unlike the shallow section we chose above Cox’s Mill last Friday.

Quote of the day – “ If I see another pun on the word ‘Wey’ I’m gonna throw up “  Thanks Brenda ;^)

As we approached Cox’s Mill there was a small girl cycling along the towpath, with her Grandma following, who hit a pothole and took a dive into the river. We stopped and Graham helped recover lass and bike, supplied a towel to dry her off a bit and gave a very upset Grandma advice about getting her home to a hot bath and to watch out for tummy upsets.  So if your small child is cycling near water then a lifejacket is as much use as a cycle helmet! Neither is just daft.

Hold up of the day – Thames lock was out of action for an hour whilst they tried to repair a paddle that had dropped off the bottom gate. Having reported the cycling incident to lalehamthe lockie, it seemed that a crew was en-route to fill the potholes in the towpath before we had even left Thames lock.

We finally said goodbye to the River Wey and arrived at Shepperton  lock to find Steve Haywood (renowned author of this parish) just leaving the lock on board nb Justice, on his way to the Cavalcade event at Little Venice. We passed through and treated ourselves to an ice cream from the kiosk whilst doing so as the sun had come out now.

We moored for the night in a too short spot at Laleham, near the Abbey, by tying  the stern to a convenient tree. After a dinner of ‘slow cooked duck’ we went for an evening constitutional around Abbey Park and Laleham


Monday, April 25, 2011

Godalming or De Ja Veue?

Question of the day – Brenda to steerer of a hireboat sharing the lock  with us :- “Where are you intending to pick up your crew? “ Answer – Oh no, we’re going home today so I won’t need a crew!

With Jo, Adam and Alex as crew we repeated yesterdays Family Familiarisation cruise. The weather was equally wonderful but the day was much improved by there being fewer rowists with a death wish out and about. The chap who was projectile peeing off the back of a rowboat, in full view of the world and his wife, got frit to death by a blast of Jannock’s klaxon and hastily scuttled ashore to complete the task behind a tree. Alex and Adam got very handy as lock crew and Alex enjoyed learning to steer. Some passengers on the widebeam Guildford tripboat were impressed to see him at our tiller. weylockJo remembers these waters from boat trips with her family as a child and was able to tell us a lot about the area which was very interesting.

We dropped the crew off at Dapdune wharf and thanked the National  Trust staff for their hospitality and then headed down river to a quiet mooring near Send church bridge.

We were very pleased to see narrowboat hirers being given very clear and comprehensive training in two locks we shared today. Well done Farncombe and Guildford Boat Houses.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Maritime mayhem

Sound of the day – church and cathedral bells.

Our guest crew, Wally, Peg, Uncle Jim, Heather, Frank and me, mum, Wally and Jim Phoebe the dog arrived before the National Trust had unlocked the wharf and so I ended up doing gate duty for our guests as well as the crew and passengers of the Surrey County Council community boat. Jannock set off southbound, through Millmead lock and into maritime mayhem. Skiffs, rowing boats and punts akimbo filled the river out past Guildford rowing club. It was here that a rowing coach, concerned about his charge who was out in a single skiff, told Brenda to slow down. She replied “ but I am in neutral” . “I know” he replied adding “ but slow down anyway”.  We continued down the Godalming navigation, through St. Catherine's lock and into Unstead lock where a tiny boat, powered by an electric outboard, and containing four adults and a small child insisted on sharing the lock with us. This combination of 62’ narrowboat and 6’ rowboat made operating the paddles very difficult so as to keep them safe. Brenda expressed her concern that the toddler did not have a life jacket on, to which Grandma stated that she was holding on tight to the child. Brenda couldn’t help herself at this point and commented that if Grandma fell in then the child was sure to go in with her in that case. As we exited this lock, Terry on Arun arrived to go down on his return journey to the Thames.

trip boat oss We winded at Godalming wharf, having failed at Farncombe boathouse due to getting stuck on a large underwater obstruction, and then tied up for lunch at the wharf. The steak and kidney that Brenda had prepared in the slow cooker during yesterdays journey was excellent and enjoyed by all.  We watched the horse drawn trip boat depart and then met it at Cattershall lock on our return journey.

Our return trip included a very near miss with an out-of-control daytrip boat on which the steerer kept pushing the tiller the wrong way and Graham putting Jannock’s bows into the foliage, much to the disgust of the front well passengers, on a very sharp bend. We returned our guests to Dapdune wharf and then tidied up the boat ready for tomorrow’s repeat trip with another guest crew.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

And on to Guildford.

Silly answer of the day :- Did you have far to walk for your meal? No, we had a reservation!

After a very peaceful night we were up, breakfasted and ready  to go at 10am. Luckily so was Terry on Arun and so we set off up through New Haw lock and past the junction with the Basingstoke canal. Now Jannock was once again travelling on new waters. We shared locks with Arun until Triggs lock where there was a single boat entering as we arrived and so Terry went in with him and we followed on sharing the next one with nb Thumper.. At Bowers lock we rejoined Arun again because we let Thumper go in first and share with Terry’s previous partner. We finally moored at Dapdune wharf for the night and Terry joined Brenda’s brother Gary and his partner Carol for an evening meal aboard Jannock. As I was opening the gate for Carol and Gary to leave, the crew of another boat that is overnighting here were returning from an evening out and the question answer session quoted above occurred during the walk back down the drive.


We called in at the Palace

Quote of the day :- Sod Kate Humble, I’m doing Parakeet watch.

Terry on Arun joined us last night at Kingston and so this floatinghome morning Jannock set off for Hampton Court Palace while he did some shopping in Kingston. We then travelled up through Molesey and Sunbury locks and met up with him again at Thames lock on the Wey at 2pm. Brenda had been watching Parakeets coming and going from their nest hole in a tree, from her bed, this morning and so was pleased to see a couple overhead still. Once through Thames lock and £63 less well off we continued on through Town and Cox’s locks above which we planned to stop. It was a very hot day so we were pleased to moor in the shade, albeit a little shallow, for the late afternoon and evening.

Our evening took on the format of a B-B-Q, fuelled by beer and red wine whilst the passing towpath users looked on in envy (or amazement, who can tell ;^)  Brenda concluded the evening with a one person illuminated frog hunt.

Julian rang to tell us that Parglena’s planned visit to the Wey has been called off :^(   After doing battle with a broken swingbridge at Winkwell, three locks later Caro slipped down some steps and has broken her foot. Get well soon Caro – another one spending the bank holiday weekend plastered!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Long Eastmas break – Day 1

Quote of the day – I’d prefer to see an in-date license?

We started at 2pm today and had Soddit Brian as an extra crew member because he wanted to come down through Brentford with us. As we were sorting out Jannock, ready to set off, a southbound Wyvern hire boat came past so I asked the steerer whether we could share the locks down to Brentford as we were just setting off. We took a while, stirring up a lot of unpleasant smells, extracting ourselves from the methane mine and then arrived at Osterley lock to find them just leaving and to experience the weirdest rain ever.

We filled with water above the gauging locks and then moved down to Thames lock with 10 minutes to go before our allotted 4pm time. At 3:55 the lockie arrived and the first two boats descended onto the Thames. We followed on the second locking and the lockie asked to see Jannock’s license. I pointed to the front window only to notice that it had shattered and was just a mass of crazed toughened safety glass which would explain why he couldn’t see the license. I jumped down in through the front door and extracted a license disk to show him. His response was “I’d prefer to see an in-date license” – I had only presented him with last years one instead of the current one which was languishing in the recently vacated mooring disk holder below – Ooooops"!

We left the Grand Union and turned right to head upstream, immediately running into quite deep waves caused by a mix of tide race and downstream traffic which was a bit bouncy for the first 10 minutes. On up through Richmond weir and onto Teddington lock  where we waited for while due to the lockie having to issue a temporary licence to the Wyvern hire-boat.

Brian was un-ceremoniously deposited on the bankside just before Kingston railway bridge so that he could find his way back to Thame whilst we continued up through both bridges and moored up on free 24 hour moorings on the starboard bank just above the road bridge. The next hour was spent washing the roof and starboard side of Jannock to remove the grubby deposits that had accumulated over the last couple of weeks. Terry Streeter (nb Arun) rang to enquire where we were moored as he was about to leave Brentford and so we greeted his arrival at 20:30 in the dark.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dinosaur near Kings Langley

Bird of the day :- Majestic Herons

Not quite Jannock's first trip of the year, as she was turned round a couple of times for maintenance purposes, but a great way for me to spend my birthday doing what I love best.

We bade a cheery farewell to our boaty neighbours and immediately went into a lock share all the way down to Boxmoor where the other boat was stopping. Then on in absolutely splendid weather, a high summer day in April (when I remember this day 25 years ago - snowdrifts and a week of fog or even 3 years ago with cold and snow it's hard to believe how different one month can be)

At Apsley locks three boats were moored, two abreast, on the lock moorings - section 8 notices a-flutter - that made visibility and manoeuvrability a bit difficult entering the lock . If BW put them there then shame on you!

As we left Red Lion lock we found two canoeists tucked under the bridge by the bottom gate. they did not want to ascend the lock but we having a break whilst hanging onto the dinosaurconcrete bridge side. Jannock had to swing over to take the immediate bend and they were looking peeved as our stern got closer and closer to their canoe. They didn't think to remove their paddles from the water until Brenda shouted at them to do so before they got snapped. They did not seem to understand that they were in a very dangerous place. Lifejackets, helmets - of course not!

Brenda spotted the dinosaur looking over the bank near Kings Langley, I believe, although I never spotted it myself ;^(

At our chosen destination I found it difficult to get the mooring stakes in due to very stony ground and then managed to trip and fall between the bows and the bank , whilst tying up, giving myself a very nasty graze all down my shin. Not the best way to  end a birthday cruise because antiseptic gel really stings.

A ten year old bodge

On Friday we refilled the water tank, making good some water system faults that had occured during the winter months, and made Jannock habitable again ready for the start of the 2011 trip.

The remote pressure switch didn't switch the pump off at the correct pressure and a seal beneath the tap on the top of the hot water tank popped and started weeping water down onto the bathroom floor. The switch was easy to dismantle and repair and was sorted in about 10 minutes.

During the fault rectification stage I discovered a 'bodge' that must be over 10 years old as it must have been in place when we purchased the boat from Black Prince. The junction between a stop tap and an overflow hose near the hot water tank had been fitted with a new penny wrapped in PTFE tape to stop water leaving the tap into the overflow hose and then the cabin bilge. This was nothing to do with the pressure regulator mounted nearby and I am unable to work out why this particular modification needed to be done.