Yesterday the wide and majestic River Thames continued to bewitch us as, bathed in glorious calm sunshine yet again, we travelled the six and a half miles from Henley on Thames to Beale Park, just north of Pangbourne and the urban mass of Reading.
Early morning fog at Henley
At the latter near the entrance to the Kennet and Avon Waterway we stopped for an hour at the Tesco mooring for a quick shop before pressing on with the rest of the passage.
Here at Beale Park the mooring is very rural with both ends of ‘Futurest’ tied to a convenient tree and, most wonderful of all, it is so very still and quiet. At times the river is very busy with all manner of craft passing by from the unusual ‘Floating Beach Hut’ to the very large, white ocean going cruisers, which create such a large wash as they rush by. It is good to see the occasional narrowboat too and the others just do not know what they are missing.
Garden and Norman Ruins at Greys Court
From the top of the Tower at Greys Court
Henley towards the church and river
The memorial in the churchyard to an icon of my time
Sharon at the helm
‘Futurest’ into the lock
The post box on Whitchurch Bridge. For boaters?
At twilight there is a mass honking of Canada Geese as hundreds of them appear overhead from all directions and dropping swiftly down, fly off up river just skimming the surface to some favoured anchorage further north. Momentarily it is noisy but evocatively not out of place as the calm stillness soon returns.
Navigating the river can be expensive with mooring fees up to ten pounds for twenty four hours sometimes. We stopped in Henley for two nights for a total of sixteen pounds, but what a lovely stay we had while we were there. The weather on both evenings was balmy enough for us to sit outside on our deckchairs, with gin and tonic in hand and watch the bright star constellations appear while discussing the happy goings on of the day.
On the day after the first night there, the two girls and myself walked the three miles across country to nearby Greys Court, a large house dating back to the Tudor period and lived in until quite recently by the Brunner Family. It is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public. In the extensive gardens there are even romantic ruins that date back to Norman times and the house has the only donkey wheel for pumping water from the well in the country. It was in use till quite recent times.
We walked a different way back to the ships at the end of the day but again, as on the way out, it was most pleasantly accomplished along footpaths and bridle ways, festooned with pink and white Field Bindweed and large Blackberry Briars. The latter tended to delay our journey somewhat but we were refreshed by the sweet succulent fruit.
Today we intended to visit another National Trust property, Basildon House, which is across Beale Park, the road and railway line, which run parallel to each other at this point and high up on the deeply wooded hill at the side of the valley. But the weather has changed. We awoke this morning to a heavily overcast sky and the unusual patter of raindrops on the roof. I’ve been spoilt this year and since the undergrowth to the road would be wet and soggy underfoot I have elected to stay aboard to write this posting. The two girls eager to arrange a bus journey for Sharon from Wallingford to Luton Airport; she leaves us temporarily again when we arrive there, have gone for a walk, computer in bag, into Pangbourne for a free Wi-Fi signal somewhere.
I expect them back at any time now.