I forgot to mention in previous posts that Helen and I did a bit of a book swap on Sunday - she's taken my 'Kiwi Afloat' to read and left us with 'Water Road'. Kiwi Afloat is written by Dorris Coppell, a New Zealander now in her 80's who spent many years in the 1970's living in England, and along with her British husband, travelled some of our waterways in three different boats they owned. It's an interesting tale, but I found it quite hard going at times as the language can be quite 'flowery' and overly descriptive for my liking. Water Road has had mixed reviews from what I've seen, so it'll be interesting to read it and form our own opinions. One thing's for sure, it's got to be easier to read than that 'Narrowdog' publication - there's not many books that I don't stick with until the end, but that one beat me hands down (I do grudgingly admire him for finding a niche in the market and making a lot of money out of his story though!).
We finally left Abingdon on Wednesday, we've only got four more days on our Thames License so we'd best get a move on! It was a productive stay though, and Barry completed fitting the cratch glass wooden surround - a 100% improvement on the previous poor tired, old model where the wood had become irreplaceably rotten on the inside and we'd accidentally cracked the glass last year.
In with the new and out with the old - our poor broken cratch window comes to an inglorious demise
We had our first downpour in a while on Wednesday, which is great news as we'll be heading onto the Kennet and Avon at the weekend and it's running rather low! After lunch it abated somewhat so we returned up to Abingdon Lock for a pump out, pump in and a rubbish dump. There's a dearth of facilities on this part of the Thames so we have to grasp opportunities while we can.
Down river in Abingdon passing St Helen's church (broader than it is long as it has five aisles!), Long Alley Almshouses and The Old Anchor
Our aim was to go to Dorchester, a small Roman town on the banks of the Thame and Thames, just 8 miles and a couple of locks away. We almost didn't make it even such a short journey though, as at Clifton Lock the Lock-keeper walked to the boat as we tied up waiting, to inform us that the hydraulics were leaking and he was expecting an engineer to arrive some time later, but he thought he may get one more lock-full completed - luckily that included us!
Sharing Clifton lock with a narrowboat, a rather large cruiser called 'Hurley Dawn' and a charity rowing boat hidden behind
We're beginning to see some huge cruisers now and humongous houses, you can certainly notice the immense wealth of many people living in the south of England, particularly around these parts as they're a short commute to London.
The very impressive 'Clifton Hampden Bridge'
Leading the way under the bridge ...
but not for long ...
Reaching the outskirts of Dorchester, we saw many boats moored up sporadically along the bank, and spotted a prime niche just made for Northern Pride which we snuck into - an idyllic rural mooring. After tying up we had an evening walk across 'Pooh Sticks Bridge', aka Little Wittenham Bridge, where they hold the annual world Poohsticks Championships that were cancelled in March this year due to high river flows, but are rescheduled for the autumn. I've visited the real Poohsticks Bridge, not far from Haywards Heath, north of Brighton, but hadn't heard of this one where they actually have championships! It's such a narrow bridge, it's unimaginable that it could draw such attention - or maybe it's not really a big event?!
Continuing to Little Wittenham, Barry took a stroll up the Wittenham Clumps - I declined the offer as I had my UG boots on which aren't terribly suitable for trekking up inclines in! The weather certainly seems to be turning autumnal already, with much cooler evenings, yikes! The nights are now drawing in, whilst conversely in NZ they are becoming longer ready for spring-time next month.
Our idyllic rural mooring
Looking up to Round Hill
A few anaemic looking cows in the field on the edge of Dorchester-Upon-Thames
Showing off the new cratch glass and chilling at our private riverside picnic spot
A dramatic sky as we walked along - rain in the distance led to a resplendent rainbow
'Pooh Sticks Bridge', aka Little Wittenham Bridge
Dorchester Abbey dominates the town
Didcot Power Station can be seen for miles around to the west
St Peter's Church, Long Wittenham
A variety of boats moored for the night
The remains of the the evening sunlight sneak through the clouds to dance on the river
We returned to the boat and had a very late meal, but it's not an issue when you don't have to get up early the next morning! We'll be taking the path across the fields into Dorchester on Thursday to explore the town and visit another Abbey ...
I really should know this one - is it a type of Dahlia?