Writing the blog on Saturday, I was feeling a little negative as it takes hours for us to complete each post with all the photos and research (though admittedly some days I do more investigating than others!) and I was wondering if it was worth the hassle. However, we received two comments with such positive feedback it inspired me to continue - so thank you to Kim (though she may be biased as she's my daughter!), and to Doug, and everyone else who's written to us, for taking the time and trouble to put fingers to keyboard.
At times it feels as though we could be singing into the wind fruitlessly - though I do also remind myself that one of the main raisons d'être of the blog is to produce a record of the journeys and experiences we've had for the years to come when we don't have our beloved Northern Pride and won't know if we'll get a chance to be on Britain's waterways again. We've already self-published a few months of our journey last year (just for ourselves) and hope to complete the remainder in the future, and Barry's working on a coffee table book (or a series!) for possible future publication - I just have to do the writing!
Anyway, back to our journey!
I still didn't venture off the boat Saturday morning, though Barry had a check of the area to see if there was anything worth risking life and limb for by negotiating the curve of the tree trunk (see below)! I was relieved to hear there was little to be found, so we left fairly early. The Landowner knocked on the boat just after 0700hrs, when luckily Barry was up working on his photos so we graciously handed over the £5 mooring fee - ah well, we've only had to pay £9 all together in our 15 days on Thames, so not too bad considering (and we don't mind paying when we've had a notice informing us it'll happen!).
The name of the boat moored in front of us looked foreign but it had a 'London' sign on it - there were only two people on board this massive vessel but unfortunately they left before we had a chance to talk with them. It must be tough to get a mooring for such a boat!
The views front front and rear - oops!, bow & stern - first thing this morning
Two majestic old ladies from another era - though far more pleasing on the eye than the modern cruisers
Seen on a boat behind 'The African Queen'
It was the last day of our Thames license so we planned to get to the 24 hour Tesco's store in Reading and then a sharp right turn onto the Kennet and Avon Canal - there's one more 'manned' Environment Agency lock and then it's back to the more sublime, but un-manned canal.
A more tropical boat house looking a little out of place on The Thames
This monstrosity seemed to have every rich toy conceivable including jet ski, pool, cruiser and of course a helicopter! The people who 'have it all' - wonder if they're happy?
Still plenty of greenery to be seen
There was a 'fire and rescue' boat just exiting Blake's Lock, the final lock on the Thames (which was unmanned - must've been on their tea-break!), and one of the crew said to us and another narrowboat behind "you'll be needing keys on the next locks, do you have any?" Bless him!
Chock a block in the lock!
There's a long pontoon to moor up a short walk from Tesco's, though nothing to advertise the fact as far as we could see. It took longer than expected to shop as it always does when I have to find what I need in the huge stores - otherwise I end up buying things I never knew I needed and have nowhere to store it all! It's good to have such a variety though once in a while. Returning to the boat we were having a deluge ...
Turning off The Thames to the river Kennet, towards Reading centre
Zorb balls in the pool - looks like great water fun without getting wet
Complete with a beach and related themes - The Oracle Beach 2010
But Sandra keeps her cool, calm demeanour
We shared Blake's Lock with another narrowboat that's from Hopwas, not far from where Northern Pride was moored while we were back in NZ. It's a lovely boat called 'Guelrose' and had recently had another 10 feet added to it to make it a seventy footer - our poor boat looked miniscule in comparison - but the colours were similar.
At the next lock, Jon from Guelrose didn't get picked up as he thought he could walk along the towpath now we were back on the canals - but that turned out not to be the case so I picked him up and he had a ride with us to Fobney Lock - he and Barry chatted like long-lost friends at the bow!
Barry and Jon at the bow
Jon and his family are on the boat for a week, though it's owned by his parents who also keep a blog click here to read it. Having been around boats all his life, Jon was a mine of useful information as he and Barry chatted, and he loves the Kennet and Avon which is reassuring to hear after all the negativity we've been given about it previously!
As we tied up waiting for Fobney lock, I noticed their boat number (I know ours off by heart as I have to give it every time I pay for diesel) - there's was 46576, one number after ours which is 46575! How likely is that to happen?! They may have been built side-by-side in 1989.
Jon's crew (left to right) Ruby, Charlie and Chloe (and their friend!)
In case anyone was doubting - here's the proof!
It's certainly good to be back on the canals again - there's a different, more 'comfortable' somehow ambience than the rivers, especially the Thames, lovely as it is.
We eventually moored up right outside a pub called 'The Cunning Man' what a strange name! Seeing as we were so close it'd be rude not to pop in for a drink, so we ventured out late (it's cheaper that way!) but found it still full of diners with no real 'pub' atmosphere, and of course by then it was too cool to sit outside, so we only stayed for one drink - not a problem considering our precarious financial state!
Moored up by the pub