Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Busy days

Saturday 19th November dawned cold and frosty, a temperature of just below minus 6!  A contemplative day with lots of cuddles and biscuits for our Molly.
Tuesday 22nd November, the light outside at 07:30 was strange as was our mood day one after Molly.
Friday 25th November was another cold start but life goes on
We've shared a load of logs with another winter moorer here at the marina, this is our half.
For a treat after loading the logs onboard we walked up the hill into Hambleden village for lunch at the Stag and Huntsman, it was good.
Mallards and a crested Grebe enjoying the last of the winter sun.

In the evening we had drinks and lots of laughter with Peter and Karin whom we met on the Thames in August/September who live here at the marina.

Sunday 27th, and yet another cold day we'd been invited by Peter and Karin to visit the Phoenix Studio in Towersey, near Thame which they co-own offering a wide variety of art classes and/or spaces for those who wish to explore their artistic dreams.  It was most interesting and good to get to know them both more.  More about the studio later.

We left the studio and walked into Thame along the Phoenix Way for lunch and a look-see

We expected to catch a bus from Thame to High Wycombe but soon discovered that this was not possible on a Sunday.  Not to be defeated and with time on our side, we caught a bus instead to Aylesbury then another to Wycombe and yet another back to Hambleden and Still Rockin'.  That too was a good day.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Walking to Henley on Thames

Although I've not been in the right frame of mind to post a blog we have been getting out and about and keeping ourselves busy.

In a previous post we found ourselves with insufficient water under Still Rockin' to keep her properly afloat but in the last few days that changed drastically with lots of very heavy persistent rain.  To get ourselves out we decided on Wednesday that we'd walk the two miles along the river to Henley. It was the morning after it had rained all night long.
To walk into Henley you first have to cross the river via the weir footpath and what a difference it made with the sluices open and the water thundering down.
The mill stream looks tranquil but although the weir gates were open to allow the bulk of water down river there was also a strong current taking water under the mill bridge and lifting SR off the bottom.
All this water is heading for the lock cut (approach to/exit from a lock) but there are no boats, the river is closed to navigation because of the strong currents.

Normally most of the water comes over this section of the weir but on that day there was hardly anything at all.  If you look carefully at this picture the lock entrance can be seen and a 'red board' is is displayed warning of strong currents and craft should not navigate the river.
Open weir sluices

We've not seen the temple from this side of future river and without leaves on the trees and in the sunlight it looked good.  Once we'd done our shopping we took the bus back to the marina.

Today we needed to visit Henley again but this time went in by bus as we'd got some stuff for the charity shops and once that was done and we'd treated ourselves to some lunch we started to walk home.

Although we've moored at Henley a few times it was only to shop for provisions so today we took the opportunity to visit St Mary's church for a look around.
 It was very peaceful inside.  Click here for more info.
Round the back of the church is the Chantry House the only grade I listed building in Henley on Thames.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Thank you

Thank you for all your very kind comments to George and me, they have been a great comfort to us.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Agonising decisions

Regular readers to the blog will know that our Molly has had severe problems with her eyes and been going blind for nearly two years now. We knew right from the time she was diagnosed with glaucoma that it would happen eventually and would also result in having to have her eyes removed.  

Glaucoma is painful and for the past two years we've managed to keep the pain under control with drops and the occasional Metacam (analgesic) but for the last month or so the medication was not working so well.  We had a decision to make.

If she was blind with her eyes she would still have pain, without the eyes she would be pain-free.  We contacted the vet last week and discussed it with her, she would get back to us with a cost and an appointment for enucleation (removal of the eyes).

We were obviously very upset and we seriously started to think and talk about what effect this was going to have on the three of us.

During the time we've been at our winter mooring Molly has coped very well inside Still Rockin'  but she's always been a very anxious dog and this showed even more.  She was even getting used to the green area just outside the mooring, soon finding for herself where to step over the gap between the ground and the pontoon and walking over the gangplank into the boat. But, when we attempted to take her further she planted her four paws firmly on the ground and refused to move.  No amount of persuasion either from our voices or from her lead would get her to move forward.  This of course was upsetting for all of us.  While staying here on the same mooring for five months she would have become quite happy with her surroundings and grown used to them (like if we'd been living on the land) but what would happen when we start cruising again, a different place every time?

We talked long and hard and rang the vet the following day to  discuss having Molly put to sleep as we really could not put her through having a big operation if it was not going to improve her quality of life.  The vet agreed and an appointment was made for Monday.

This was the hardest decision we have ever made.

We've nearly always had dogs but Molly was different, as Jaq once said when she dog-sat for us one evening 'There's a real character in there' and there was.  Molly talked to us, she had so many 'voices', she was a happy dog as long as she was with her 'pack' (me and George), she loved to play with her toys and play-fight with George, and to cuddle up by the side of me.

Five weeks old
 and about five months
In her cruising position on our previous boat Rock 'n' Roll
 play with me!
Look at me here!

We miss her so much.  
I especially miss her morning welcome, I would be making a cup of tea when she'd come bounding down the steps from her early morning quick walk and bounce up and down letting me know she was there and I bend to her for an early kiss.  Then she'd dash off to the sofa looking back to make sure I was following and she jump up on the back and dive at me for another one and from there onto the bed and pinning me by the shoulders against the bed head for a severe licking and then cuddle up in the blanket kept there for that purpose.  I miss that warm little body.

Run free our Molly, sleep tight.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The mill stream

Hambleden Mill is an historic water mill mentioned in the Doomsday Book when in 1086 it was rented for £1 per year and far more recently is described by Alison Huttley as being 'the most beautiful place in the whole length of the long Thames Valley' and I certainly wouldn't disagree with that.

Anyway, to get back to the mill stream.  
Hambleden Marina from the air (winter mode) - the marina access is via the road seen above which goes over the mill stream bridge.  In the picture a boat is moored directly in front of the bridge and to the right is moored Hambleden house boat Gypsy Willow and Still Rockin' is now moored in place of the one behind.

The channel that we're moored on is just that, the old mill stream

The mill was disbanded I think in the 1940's but when it was a working mill it would have taken water from above the current weir to turn the millwheel and I'm assuming there must still be that 'permission' for this stream to be flooded (as can be seen in my picture above).

However!  On Wednesday something was not quite right and the mill stream water dropped about 4" sitting Still Rockin' at quite an alarming tilt on the bottom! 

We checked with the Marc a director of Hambleden Marina  who manages on a day to day basis, to see if it was usual for this to happen and he said no, not at all.  Because there has been very little rain during September and October the river was already low and he couldn't understand why it's suddenly dropped now.

He thinks that because this coming weekend there's a canoe event below Hurley (the next lock downstream) the Hurley lock keeper is taking water from the reach above which happens to be the stretch that we're moored on, to create lots of 'white water' for the  enjoyment of the canoeists and spectators.

We rang the EA to inform them of the lack of water here, they took our number and said they would investigate and call back but didn't.  Fortunately by the end of the day the water had risen to it's previous level, phew!  Thursday the same thing happened, we again rang the EA who took the information to investigate and gave us a reference number to use should we wish to take it further or need more information.  By this morning the water was back and has stayed that way.  

We certainly don't want the River Thames to go into flood this winter but we'd certainly like a bit more water under our home.

Whilst researching Hambleden Mill I came across memories from residents of the area in the past: 

"The barge 'Maid of the Mill' used to leave Hambleden Mill once a week to take the flour to Huntley and Palmers at Reading, and she used to return on Friday loaded with broken biscuits that were sold to the local inhabitants for about one shilling for three pounds.
Laurie Woodford (96 in 1973), Hambleden

"The first historical mention of a mill at Hambleden was in the Domesday Book of 1086, when the mill and the surrounding land including Marlow was given to Queen Matilda by the Norman King William. The mill itself was then worth twenty shillings and the King exacted an annual tax of one thousand eels from its adjoining fisheries. The flour mill itself stopped working some years ago but much old machinery is still to be found inside.
These are my memories of over fifty years ago.
Louisa M. Bramhead, Hambleden

(Extracted from 'A Pattern Hundreds' (1975) and reproduced with the kind permission of the Buckinghamshire Federation of Women's Institutes)

Views of the sky
... last night at 5pm

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Temple moon

Out walking yesterday I noticed for the first time in the distance  the Temple at Henley on Thames.  First built (as a folly) in 1771as a fishing lodge for Fawley Court it has had a few owners since then.  In 1986 a 999 year lease was purchased by a steward of Henley Regatta and restoration works took place.  The wall paintings were brought back to their original colours, the balcony was replaced and the island thickly planted with trees and a statue  in keeping with the style of the temple was placed within the cupola.  It is now available for event hire.
Nothing to do with the temple!
This is the moon this morning at 7:52 .... Wow!

Monday, 14 November 2016

New kids on the block

 ... but I hope they don't decide to stay
 ... that's more like it, I prefer to see the back of canada geese!
 Fabulous day yesterday when we went for a walk

 The flow through the weir is just a bit fresh!
 Basking in the sunshine

and perfect sundowns too.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Ducking and diving

The sun was shining a couple of mornings ago when I got round to opening the blinds in the bow
 ... and I could see clearly under the bridge that leads to the marina office, I must ask what that structure is, it's obviously holding up some weight.  I also spotted the great crested grebe ...
 ... diving and reappearing elsewhere
 ... he's just disappeared and I'm waiting for him to reappear ...
 ... oops, that made me jump, he came from under Still Rockin'!
 Life goes on at the marina, the guys have brought a pontoon round to this channel and tied it to houseboat Gypsy Willow in front of us
... and also brought in another narrowboat, they are certainly filling the spaces with winter moorers now.