Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Oh nooo, it's only three days!

Our plans had to change, instead of revisiting Dorchester and climbing the Wittenham Clumps today (Thursday June 28th) we need to set off once again ... we've been invited out to lunch on Saturday and if we hope to get a mooring for the weekend we must go ...

9am and I've untied the bow from the tree and we've pulled away from the bank at our fantastic mooring near Dorchester
There are a couple of more moorings just here by the bridge over the River Thame but they're not very long either
Just round the bend are the services accessed by a pontoon in sight of Days Lock where we pull in to get rid of the accumulated rubbish.

The refuse is collected in 8 metal dustbins, there is no facility for recycling here. Today the refuse collector was there with his truck and he was going through every bin sorted it out into general, paper and glass ... certainly above and beyond his duty, but well done him!
Cruiser 'Just Julie' came alongside us to use the services too and we got chatting as you do.  George (yes, another one) said he loved our boat and that he would live aboard like a flash but his wife Julie was not keen.  They came onboard and had a look around; I hoped that  it might help Julie to perhaps change her mind.  We shared the lock with them when we'd both finished at the services.

It's quite cloudy today but pleasantly warm as I look back at those clumps
Approaching Clifton Hampden Bridge where beyond
I can see steam alongside the park homes
Isn't she pretty?

Clifton Lock is just around the corner and 'Just Julie' has gone up so we wait.
A lady lock keeper is on duty and she took the bow rope right to the front of the lock
... because this 'le boat' was coming in.  I'd forgotten to take the camera so George is in charge and took a few pictures of what he thought were novice hirers.  The hire boat was only a few inches away from us and in fact when they first came into the lock they actually bumped us!
That's me peeping out right down there ... it looks a mile away!

Out of the lock he puts on the speed and overtakes us on a blind right-hand bend on the wrong side of the river
The cloud has now burned away and it's hot again
Appleford Railway Bridge ... complete with train!

The river is overgrown here and narrows considerable the narrowboat slowed down to let us pass the trees
We pass Sutton Road Bridge and continue
along the channel and can see part of Culham Lock landing ...

it's on a sharp bend ...

through a narrow bridge and there's already two cruisers waiting.  'Just Julie' is the one in front with the le boat behind and I can see that we won't be going in with them as there isn't enough room
We go through the bridge and pull over behind the cruisers.  The lock is on self-service (over lunchtime) and I can see Julie helping the boaters through the lock.

The gates have opened and a le boat came out ... with another novice driver ... he hadn't got a clue and would have clipped us if it hadn't been for one of the other guys pushing off from us!

I really didn't expect them to get through the bridge in one piece, but apparently another guy had taken over the steering ... good job too!
I'd already been up to the lock to see what the situation was and knew that there had been three cruisers in the lock the first of which was a hire boat with a problem and will wait on the top landing for an engineer to come.  There were also three more boats waiting to come down and by now two more on the other side of the bridge below and behind us.
In the meantime the lock keeper on his lunch had realised that things were getting a bit fraught on his lock and came out to take over.  I had suggested to the cruiser through the bridge behind us to go in with the two cruisers in front of us and that's what he did while we pulled forward on the landing and the Thames Conservative workboat came through the bridge to wait our turn.
Culham Lock is 8' deep so I needed help to secure the bow rope above and once again I'm up against the gates ... I can't describe how fast and furious the water came out of the sluices when they were opened!
The workboat followed us to our destination

The River Thames rounds a very sharp bend beyond the lock but fortunately we didn't meet any boats coming towards us.

The church spire is our destination
The green bouys keep us away from the shallows on the inside of the bend
and into the lovely, welcoming town of Abingdon
Unfortunately there were no moorings available on the town wall so we continued through the bridge
and found a space opposite the park.
As I waited for George to put the pins in for me I read the nearby mooring notice. Abingdon had always been a five-day free mooring but now the authorities have reduced it to three which gave us a problem as we need to be here for five days at least.  After mooring up George went to have a word with Richie, the Abingdon Lock keeper who suggested moving up to the EA moorings above the lock where we could stay for 24-hours free of charge and two more at £5 per night ...
so that's what we did

Good views down to the lock and upstream ... we'll be ok here
The local heron is keeping his beady eye on us too!

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