Monday 28 September 2015

Up the beautiful Middle Thames towards Oxford

Mon 28 Sept Another idyllic morning from Wallingford to Abingdon

Setting off in the misty early morning, the sun was burning off the dew from the water meadows as we took our time. The river was like a mirror, so the camera was in use: What a really well used present it has been! Thank you, Sarah!
No one else was on the water. Arriving at Day Lock, we operated it together, as the lock keeper was not due until 0900. Soon the river became busier. We shared locks with a pleasant group of South Africans on a hire boat. Emerging from Benson lock, we waved to NB Epiphany, who were just setting off. We read their interesting blog. At Abingdon, the park was full of moored boats, so we moored opposite, helped by the gentleman off NB Black Swan. Popping into town for shopping, I wondered how Wetherspoons do a sirloin steak for £4.99!

Sun 27 Sept Cavendish to Wallingford

Apart from conkers falling on the roof, we slept surprisingly well, next to the Cavendish Bridge, in front of the Crown Plaza hotel. The bow rope was tethered to a cannon!
Another glorious day travelling up river, with lots to photograph.
The pub at Goring was expensive, so we had lunch on board, followed by a delicious spag bog in the evening.
We waved to bloggers NB No Problem and widebeam Still Rockin' , moored at Beale Park.
The day was so lovely that we continued steadily, mooring opposite the Boat House pub at Wallingford.

Sat 26 Sept Startrekking across the Universe!

Setting off from the Cunning Man, we shared the locks to Reading with a lovely couple (their name was Kirk and their dog was Bones!) on NB Enterprise ( logo Boldly going where everyone has been before!) , which gave us laughs and help.
The guidance for boaters going through the narrows at Reading
you don't get many red lights on the canal! this is for the narrows through Reading

Enterprise setting off from the traffic lights below the lock at Reading

the narrows in Reading

Dinosaurs in Reading


We left them mooring at Reading by the Abbey, and continued on to the River Thames and headed upriver, finding a mooring just above Cavendish Bridge.

The Reading riverside is surprisingly scenic: Other towns could take a hint ...

Moorings for smaller boats. We moored at the castle/prison loop

In the afternoon, we trained to Thatcham, John drove to Banbury, then we returned to Annie by train. That Two Travel Together card is very useful.

Friday 25 September 2015

Putting Annie back together and heading Eastwards

Friday 25 Sept Another fine day

We shared some locks today with a nice young couple on NB Acorn.
Annie and Acorn had to squeeze up at some lock landings

It is soooo much easier! Again, great weather meant we just carried on, enjoying the sun, all the way to the Cunning Man at Burghfield, where we spoiled ourselves again. Rugby again and deep sleep!

Thursday 24 Sept Finishing the job and moving off

John fitted the new gear change cable and adjusted it, having found that he could not get full throttle going forward. Leaving Dreweats Lock, we had a beautiful day travelling  to Newbury.
A cormorant with the ducks!

the swing bridge at Newbury

Hundreds of tourists enjoyed watching Annie as we passed through the pretty town of Newbury, and we both found ourselves answering questions about Annie and our life on the canals.
Liana often has fun chatting to interested sightseers (Gongoozlers in canal parlance)

The middle of Newbury

We filled up with diesel at Newbury Marina, then carried on to Thatcham, as it was such lovely weather.
Dinner at the Swan, filled by TV and the Rugby World Cup, finished a great day.

Wed 23 Sept tiller fitted!

John drove us down to Annie, as Liana was exhausted after her day teaching! There was time for him to get into the water, wearing his sailing dry suit and lift up the heavy rudder and put it in the bottom cup, then fit the top bush and welded tiller.
John clambering out of the canal - no idea how the double image happened!

John in his wet suit and wellies after refitting the rudder in its cup

Thank goodness for the dry suit we brought with us!
The hard bit was lifting the rudder up into position again. Here, fitting the bush and its housing was easy.

You can see Sam Howard's excellent strong weld on the stripey tiller.

Tightening up the last bolt

Monday 21 September 2015

Eastward Ho!

Mon 21 Sept Welded

My good school friend Sam Howard has welded the two halves of Annie's tiller together this morning, so we are ready to return and fit both tiller and gear change cable, once our home jobs are done.

Sun 20 Sept Homewards in a fashion!

This morning saw John removing the broken gear change cable, then using the lump hammer to free off the tiller stump, so we can take the two parts of the tiller home to be welded together. Eventually, he won! Leaving Annie moored, rudderless, we lugged the trolley with bags to the local train station at Kintbury. Sunday trains meant we travelled east to Reading, west to Westbury, then north to Trowbridge to collect our car and a new gear change cable from the excellent people at The Boatyard, next to Hilperton Marina. GWR staff were good! We tried M4, A34 and A43, M1 to Leicester and home by 2100. A long day.

Sat 19 Sept Great Bedwyn to Dreweat's Lock, Kintbury (14 locks, 10 miles)

John dressed for the cool, autumnal morning, but soon changed into shorts. He missed a great photo as steam engine Tangmere chuffed through Little Bedwyn, past lock and boat. The sun soon beat down on us as we completed the ten locks down to Hungerford, enjoying the beautiful hot, summery weather.
Little Bedwyn lock and station just AFTER the steam engine Tangmere passed through (sob!). You may see the smoke still hanging in the air .....

Liana at work

A rare sight these days, a derelict lock house.

Annie at Hungerford Marsh Lock, a beautiful setting. We had to leave the swing bridge (over the lock) open, as the two of us couldn't close it again.
Stopping at Hungerford, we chatted to a busy boater blacking the hull side of Dover, from the TV series. He had needed to adapt her over the 18 months since he bought her. After shopping at Tescos, followed by coffee watching the joyous newly weds outside the registry office in the sun, we carried on through  four more locks, through lovely scenery before and after Kintbury, where we met horse and horseboat at the lock, as the weather was so good.
Liana admiring the new blacking on NB Dover, now owned by a liveaboard couple

A scorching day, just right for blacking the side of the hull above the waterline, at Hungerford

Annie and Dover moored at Hungerford
Just as we were considering mooring, our idyll was shattered! Entering Dreweat's Lock, John found himself reversing out again! The gear change cable had snapped, so when he set forward gear and revved, we just carried on backwards. Cutting the engine, John could just watch helplessly as Annie drifted back and hit a tree, breaking her tiller, which snapped like a twig as 20 tons of boat stopped from 2 mph :/ That decided our mooring! We moved her back, just beyond the lock landing, using the last bollard and mooring pins to secure her in the gathering dusk.

Fri 18 Sept Pewsey to Great Bedwyn  (14 locks, 8 miles)

What a great weekend! Another idyllic day beckoned us eastwards to Wootton Rivers. This time we managed to get through Brinslade Lock without getting a rope jammed! We sang/bellowed our way through Bruce Tunnel, then went slowly down the Crofton locks in the hot sunshine, stopping for a late lunch by the pumping station. Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather, we carried on to Great Bedwyn, where we found a rareish proper mooring, with pilings and mooring rings, and fed the swans and ducks.
Bruce Tunnel

Tablet at east end of Bruce Tunnel

Annie at Crofton Pumping Station

The rope we picked up on the propeller

Rooftop gardening

Thursday 17 September 2015

Autumn on the K&A

Thursday 17 Sept Something in the air!

Up to a sunny morning after a night of rain, we slept like logs after the 23 locks yesterday. John opened the bottom gate of the Devizes six and checked that Anthony and Rebecca on Selwood were coming with us. A disgruntled lady on a wide beam appeared, and grumbled that we took our time! Then as we emerged from this lock, we saw that they had closed the bottom gates after the widebeam exited, and were filling it! John honked his horn, and had a word with them after mooring, but the people were unrepentant, saying they didn't see us, despite the widebeam lady telling them! Then we found two boats coming down the locks singly, after one refused to share the lock with the other. Liana decided that there must be something in the air today!
After completing the six locks,  we said goodbye and thank you to Anthony and Rebecca and their folks, after a record of 32 locks shared from Bradford on Avon to Devizes! After a pleasant trip into Devizes to shops and market, we car ride on Eastwards towards Pewsey.
An unusual sight on a quiet morning

The White Horse at Alton Priors near Honeystreet

Autumnal shades

Dutch Barge at Wootton Rivers

Liana relaxing in the sun

Burbage Wharf near Wootton Rivers

The cutting leading to Bruce Tunnel

Wed 16 Sept A sharing experience!

After torrential rain overnight, we set off to the five Seend locks in the sunshine. At Seend we joined Selwood and her friendly crew of Aussies, Anthony, Rebecca, Maureen and Denis, plus their friends Aidan and his lovely wife. What teamwork developed as we continued onto the Devizes Caen Hill flight! Caen Hill really is a wonder of the canal world.

Annie entering the bottom lock of the Caen Hill 'thick' of 16 very close locks

Rebecca on Selwood with Annie on Caen Hill

The US Army helped us out at one point!

Rebecca and Anthony, family and friends
 on Selwood partnered us through all of Caen Hill locks
Rain appeared for the last six locks, so we were pretty lucky, really. After a few drinks on Selwood, we had a quite evening before sleeping well!

Tue 15 Sept Heading East

Today we travelled to the boat. After lunch, we set off from Bradford on Avon, sharing with a boat of beginners, who were grateful for advice. Liana took the car to Hilperton marina and rejoined Annie as we continued past Semington, mooring above the locks.