What a hectic couple of weeks we have had!
From Radcot (where Bob went for a bit of a walk and surprisingly found a pub while Bron wrote the last post!!) we went the remaining distance to Lechlade and moored by the field where the cattle were grazing. They were very enthusiastic about investigating all the boats tied up next to their domain and took a particular liking to any plant life on them. Our herb pots were moved far out of the way!!!
We took a walk up to the Round House where apparently you can turn around as this is as far up the Thames as you can navigate. The presence of a menacing sandbar encouraged us to abort this idea and we resolved to turn tomorrow where our boat was moored and the river reasonably wide.
We continued the walk into town to explore what it had to offer and picked up a couple of pairs of shorts from the charity shop, an obligatory icecream and some fresh perishable supplies before returning to Celtic Maid and the cows.
We thought to try out our new Jamie Oliver BBQ cooking a beer can chicken that night but alas we didn’t watch it carefully enough and the coals went cold too soon. It finished off in the oven a treat!!!!
That night heralded a spectacular storm with thunder, lightning and rain continuing for some time after the beautiful sunny day we had experienced. We decided to head off in good time in the morning to make as much distance back toward Abingdon as we could given that we only had until Monday to find secure moorings before our next trip to London to at last see the eye specialist clinic!!!!
However we were held up by being run aground by another boat, losing another fender in some trees trying to negotiate a corner and feeling a bit tired as a result of the weather interrupted sleep of the previous night!! You just need to regroup, take a deep breathe and go confidently on….
We were pleased to get back as far as Bablock Hythe again and found a good mooring very near the one we had earlier in the week. Almost immediately we got a call from Julia and Malcolm who were only 3 miles further downstream at Eynsham Lock where they had been helping out. We were too tired to move again but happily accepted their invitation to breakfast the following day (Sunday). Although there was a big party going on just up river and lots of neighbours that night we slept well and awoke very refreshed.
It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with our friends again and Malcolm cooked us a sumptuous breakfast. But alas the time came to move on and as we neared the Duke’s Cut where they left us to head up the Oxford Canal we waved a reluctant goodbye. I am sure that we will meet up again somewhere, sometime.
We continued down the Thames through Oxford to the moorings we had shared with Julia and Malcolm just a few days before, giving us plenty of time on Monday to get back to Abingdon, avail ourselves of the water and waste disposal services at the lock there and find a mooring. We were fortunate to moor near some lovely people in cruisers in Abingdon, who were happy to relocate their boat slightly to accommodate ours and keep an eye on her while we were away.
Our trip to London via Oxford and using their excellent bus services, was successful. Bob was put through the paces with tests and examinations resulting in a very aggressive treatment regime being prescribed to manage the very high pressure present in his eye. We also took a few hours to look around parts of London including Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.
Chris and Sue hosted us again even though Sue had broken her arm whilst at the Le Mans 24 hour car race the week before. We are very fortunate to have their continued support in this adventure.
Back home in our boat Thursday night, we made plans to clean her up over the weekend in preparation for having Max and Jenny (our hosts in Dubai and Youlgreave and Bob’s friend of many years) share a trip down to Wallingford with us from Monday to Wednesday. And then the sun shone so warm that the boat dried before we could rinse of the shampoo but she looked much better anyway.
By the time they arrived on Monday everything was pristine including being totally up to date with the washing!!!! And we had a wonderful mooring next to the pool and park on Abbey Meadow. The day had been spectacular and we chose to enjoy the beautiful evening setting up our table and chairs on the bank and enjoying a few wines and beers with dinner. When the sun set at about 10.00 pm we finally decided to call it a day and get some sleep. We had decided to try out the bed on the converted lounge and leave our bed for Max and Jenny. Fortunately we had wrestled with the set up the night before and knew how to make it comfortable quickly.
Tuesday morning saw us on the move heading downstream to find a suitable overnight mooring and to give our guests a great Celtic Maid experience. We have recovered significant confidence in her since having the gearbox replaced and she ran beautifully. I think Max actually enjoyed taking the tiller for significant stretches, Bob enjoyed the break and Jenny enjoyed the sun and restored her confidence after a less than brilliant boating holiday in France a few years ago!!!!
We changed our minds about suitable moorings several times before finally getting to Wallingford and finding a nice spot close to where we had previously moored and within walking distance of the town. It was well worth the short walk to a lovely old town where we enjoyed refreshments at the George Hotel before returning to cook a roast chicken dinner. Max set up our table and chairs on the back deck and we ate dinner in very serene surroundings indeed.
Alas all good things must come to an end and we awoke Wednesday morning to a beautiful morning – mist rising off the river – but with the need to get our guests back to their car by lunch time for their long drive home. We were alarmed part way along the journey to find that we had lost another fender – this time attached to the beautiful wooden fender hook that Malcolm had made and given us. Max back tracked while we went through Day’s Lock(home of the World “Poohsticks” Championships) but was unable to locate it.
While waiting for him to return we said some final goodbyes to the widebeam, Moongazing – we had first met them at Devizes Marina and run into each other several times on the journey. They also put us onto some great people on the widebeam, Ocho, who generously gave us some blue fenders they no longer needed when we returned to Abingdon. This is one of the best things about life on the waterways – the interesting and lovely people you get to meet along the way – often several times!!!
We found a mooring back at Abbey Meadow and said a fond farewell to our guests. We do hope they will be back for another part of the trip sometime.
Thursday was an early start to catch the bus from Abingdon to Oxford then to London, catching the tube from Hillingdale to the hospital at Northwick Park where the Moorfield’s Eye Hospital clinic is held. We have come to a high level of comfort in negotiating the public transport system in this country and it makes not having a car a non-problem.
Even better news re the eye this time. The pressure had gone down considerably to a very acceptable level as a result of the intensive medication regime followed carefully and assisted by the comprehensive spreadsheet of times, medications and dosages prepared by Bron! We were even able to reduce doses and frequency over the coming weeks but must return in 4 weeks. This gives us time to enjoy cruising and finding a suitable location from which to trek back to the hospital then.
On Friday we had a visit from Keith – husband of Bron’s long time friend Juliet from Australia – who was visiting England in search of antiques – his hobby. We had a lovely chat, lunch and walk around Abingdon before he left to tackle the traffic back to Luton. And we planned the next steps…
Today (Saturday) we set off to refuel, refill the water, dispose of waste and head toward Oxford. It decided to rain for about an hour early in the journey but finally cleared to a sunny afternoon. We will spend tomorrow in Oxford getting supplies and having a look around before we leave the Thames on Monday (when our Thames licence runs out) and head up the Oxford Canal. We have thoroughly enjoyed the Thames but look forward to quieter times on the Oxford with less boats, towns and people but back to self operated locks for Bron!!!!
Photos in the gallery for you to enjoy. Please let us know what you think!!!