Tuesday 16th June 2015
Finally we have made it to the River Kennett. I hammered the mooring pins into the bank in amongst the enveloping tall Stinging Nettles and Hogweed yesterday afternoon and made fast ‘Futurest’s ropes with ‘Roots and Wings’ safely breasted up on the outside. The Floral spectators didn’t approve of my clumsy intrusion onto their world too wholeheartedly however and chastised me in the normal well accustomed manner so that I am still tingling this morning from the encounter. I expect I shall survive though. It’s supposed to be therapeutic for rheumatism isn’t it?
The Sheepwash Channel. Entrance to the Thames from Oxford
‘Roots and Wings’ entering the Thames
But it is a beautiful spot here, just to the west of Theale Swing Bridge with extensive ancient gravel pits on our left. They are filled with water now and were barely ruffled by the warm gentle easterly breeze of yesterday evening. They’ve become a haven for wildlife and Janis and I were privileged to witness and to hear some of the birds coming into roost late last night, while it was still light on this perfect Summer’s evening so close now to the Solstice.
Sunset at Dorchester
Since there are few trees near us here, by day it is a perfect place to stay with the Sun able to caress our solar panels unmolested and as this weather is scheduled to remain fine and sunny for the rest of the week we’ve decided to remain here for two nights.
Bee on a Hogweed Umbrel at Theale
The break does enable me to catch up with other things in life, like writing this blog and answering emails, as well as rather more tedious chores such as cleaning ship. None of these can be performed when one is single handed and all day is spent at the tiller.
Back at the swing bridge there is a forty eight hour visitor mooring but as is usual along this waterway all the places were occupied as we passed. However there would have been a noisy road into Theale had we been able to tie up there and trees all around so we are certainly much better off where we are now. In manmade canals it is often difficult for ‘Futurest’ to get alongside even some visitor moorings with her thirty three inch draft so I am always delighted too be able to hammer in the pins into the bank at a river mooring, whose sides go down directly to some depth, even if it does mean wrestling with the foliage a little. I know I shall be very happy here on the Kennett and Avon.
The ‘Plank’ and the Sun Arbour at Theale
Mooring at Theale
The passage from Oxford to Reading down the Thames was as delightful as ever and no matter the weather nor the season, She is always quite majestic. Like a queen among her subordinates, She is regal and yet compassionate to all her users whether they be animal, vegetable or mineral; she has had lots of practice at this as she’s been doing it for so long.
During the whole week we spent on the Thames the weather wasn't always that favourable however. But we’d planned our journey meticulously, allowing ourselves two nights at Abingdon, one at Day’s Lock, Dorchester and then a further two at Beale Park, which would allow us to spend a whole day at the National Trust property up on the hill at Basildon Park. But it meant that we had to travel sometimes in the rain, to which we fair weather sailors are far from accustomed these days, but the raising of our umbrellas at these times in no way seemed out of place on this noble waterway.
Whist we were at Abingdon, purely by chance for us, Banbury Cross Players were performing a one act play called ‘The Canary Gage’ at the local Unicorn Theatre, so we spent a third night here in order to see the play. Furthermore it was very pleasant to meet our Thespian friends Ann, Jenny and Marilyn so soon and unexpectedly again after leaving Banbury.
Friend Ray met us while we were at Oxford with his daughter Helen, who was spending a few days holiday with him and then friend Pip cruised on ‘Roots and Wings’ from Oxford down to Abingdon so time has passed very eventfully for Janis and I.
A genuine milestone was reached when we arrived at Blake’s Wharf, Reading on Sunday, in that we had travelled a hundred miles since leaving Warwick in early March.
I know we’re slow. We’re dawdlers but we love it.