Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Uninvited Guest ...

Yesterday soon after we'd moored up at Sonning we walked into the village
and spied this mummy Mallard with her eight babies.
When were approaching Sonning Lock this morning George had to slow right down as the lock keeper was opening the lock gates to allow this family to exit the lock!  Good to see that they're safe.
Our destination?  The Bull where we had a lovely lunch
Love the wisteria and moss on the old roof



and then we called into St Andrew's Church
For a bit of its history click here
and then walked over the bridge to the Mill Theatre where we'll watch a show tomorrow.

The gates on the left would lead us to Aberlash House, home of George Clooney and family ... if we were invited that is, and the gates were open!

We went inside the Mill to have a look around, ... it really is amazing inside The Mill at Sonning, this is the bar on the ground floor ...
and the pretty outdoor seating area overlooking the mill stream.

Thursday (21st) was spent quietly
The blue narrowboat is Inca which until recently belonged to Gary and Carolyn passed us this morning with its new owners.

The Mill offers a great dining and theatre experience and this is what we did on Thursday evening.
First we partook of a lovely buffet style meal in the Restaurant at the Mill which is on two floors within the mill, the River Room and the Sonning Room upstairs
After dinner we made our way into the theatre and what a place it is!

Small and intimate, people in the front row of seats acually have their feet on the 'stage'! The production we saw was Agatha Christie's An Unexpected Guest directed by Brian Blessed.  I can't tell you how the play ended of course, you'll have to visit yourself for that, but I can tell you it was a brilliant performance.


Drinks in the bar after the show

There has been a Mill at Sonning Eye for centuries and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086.  The double-wheeled mill would have ground both corn and malt and was a prosperous business being in production with various owners until 1969 when it closed.    The mill remained empty until 1977 when the current owners converted into the building we visited today ... The Mill at Sonning opened its theatre doors for the first time in July 1982.

One of the double mill wheels is now a static display in the bar ...
and the other wheel (video above) still turns in the millrace which a little further upstream was, in the 17/18th century, narrowed to force more water through the wheels.  This would have been the reason why George had a little bit of bother passing the end of the mill stream yesterday.  

Since July 2005 when the Mill launched the first hydro scheme on the River Thames with an 18.5 kw turbine, this wheel has generated enough power for the whole building's lighting including the theatre area and backstage, restaurants, kitchens including the ovens, workshops and offices.

We have really enjoyed our stay in Sonning but must move on in the morning ...

Saturday, 23 June 2018

A great day for cruising ...

... on Wednesday (20th) and before 9 o'clock



George is pushing off the bank at Wargrave





and reversing out into the  river's stream






round Poplar Eyot (island) to where

all the posh houses are.
Although far too big for me, I really like this house
especially the garden with its delicate planting of white and pinks
I just love the
juxtaposition of
traditional and
modern
architecture
along the River Thames' banks
especially here as we cruise
Wargrave
to the first lock of the day at Shiplake
where it was a tight fit
and deep enough to need a hand from the lock keeper to take my rope



and where the Oxfordshire flag was flying ... designed by the College of Arms and was only registered with the Flag Institute in October 2017.

I like the way this lovely old flint building sits in its space as we rounded the bend and stopped off at the services above the lock to get rid of the rubbish
Approaching the left and then hand bends I can see the White House which was the home of Uri Geller until fairly recently
As we rounded the bend where the river narrows we couldn't believe the stupidity of the person at the helm of the bigger cruiser above (here looking back after  the bend), who was overtaking the smaller cruiser on 'our' side of the river and was rather surprised to say the least to see us, even bigger than him, coming towards him.  We slowed and moved slightly over but mindful of the trees and the little cruiser did the same on his side and the guy passed with 'ner a glance!  He wouldn't (I hope) have made that sort of maneuverer in a car on a blind bend.

Plenty of moorings available outside the house but the mixture of mooring information ( signs as above and a TVM style) are confusing.



The mill stream flow is quite strong






and caused George a little anxiety as we approached Sonning Bridge





as it's on a skew




with a blind bend beyond







Safely through 






and we're soon at Sonning Lock



This is the pole/hook that I use to either hook it round the bollard if I can reach it, or offer the bow rope up to the lockie for him to do it for me.





There's already a boat in the mooring we usually so we're going to try the one on the left here






It was a bit awkward so George pulled away again






winded (turned) and came at it from downstream




All tied up ... just a bit of garden to tidy up
and we can sit
and enjoy the views.