The Abingdon Rally was blessed with decent boating weather with no rain and normal summer temperatures, not the blistering heat of the earlier weeks. This year the club rally was put back a week to avoid the bank holiday rush and travelled further than the normal meeting points of Henley or Hurley. The deferred start proved to be very beneficial as we experienced no queues at any of the locks making the trip more enjoyable (we waited 2 hours at Temple lock last year) but on the other hand the longer run to Abingdon prevented some crews going due to the time commitment involved. This is a consideration when we plan next years itinerary.
As Pastiche had not yet been past Goring we had planned to stop at Wallingford on route to explore the town but we didn’t realise it was their Bunkfest festivities week so the moorings were rammed full, 3 abreast in places. So we continued up to Abingdon where we joined 4 other club boats for afternoon tea on the moorings just downstream of the bridge. We moved to the lock moorings on the Saturday where there was sufficient space for the 6 boats that made the trip with Roger and Denise joining us by car. As is usual we have to offer Phil a big “Thank You” for producing the tent and the barbeque from the tardis that is Kerry Anne which encouraged most people to stay up chatting and drinking until after their bedtime.
A high point of the weekend was the walking tour of Oxford arranged by Julia which saw most of the crews jump on the number X13 bus from Abingdon town centre and disembark in Oxford for a look around the fantastic Westgate shopping mall before meeting for the tour at 2 o’clock. The tour itself was led by a mature student who related a few interesting stories about the places we visited over the 2 hour duration of the walk and whilst it was advertised as a free tour, the guide suggested that we may want to tip him at the end if we had enjoyed it. I think he was happy as most of the 22 people in our group pushed a note into his hand as they left.
The walk concluded, we all retired to the garden of The Bear, reported to be the 2nd oldest pub in England, where a cold drink set us up for the return bus journey.
As fate would have it the Abingdon lock keeper got married on the Saturday and it was a small treat for us all to witness the lockie and his new wife arriving on an EA boat with flashing blue lights, into the lock where all the wedding guests were waiting suitably dressed ready to throw handfuls of confetti over the couple as they got out of the boat.
For those of us that went on the day trip to the Chichester Canal I can only say it was one of those events where everything seemed to drop into place perfectly resulting in a fantastic day out. Everybody met up at the Canal Basin to grab a coffee at the delightful café before we embarked the 42ft barge to receive a safety briefing from skipper Alan. The 80 minute boat trip was leisurely and interesting taking in most of the navigable length of the canal and small groups of us were allowed to stand in the cockpit, except when passing under the very low bridges.
Back at the Basin we all piled into our cars and headed off to Alan and Sues house for “lunch”. Lunch turned out to be a feast that was as good to look at as it was to eat. With tables and chairs laid out in the afternoon sunshine it was a garden party par excellence with dishes for all tastes prepared by the host and hostess with every type of drink available. Following the food the energetic amongst us took the opportunity to go for a walk along the local beach, and all the time the sun was shining, it really couldn’t get any better. On behalf of all of us that went and enjoyed the day, I must say a huge THANK YOU to Alan and Sue for their hard work and hospitality for organising and making this a Club event that will be remembered for a long time.
Wow, what a great week away upriver we have just had. As usual Phil produced a varied itinerary that originally included a two day stop at Pangbourne before starting the return leg. However, the mosquitoes at Pangbourne meadow forced a change of plan and Goring town moorings ended up as the furthest point we reached where we all stuffed ourselves with one of the biggest Chinese takeaways I have ever seen. This was Pastiche's first time through Whitchurch lock and she ran sweetly the whole trip with her new engine running in nicely.
5 boats did the whole 10 days with Miss Pud'n and Alfresco Lady joining us when we returned to Henley on the downhill run, nice to see Sylvie out on the water again with her crew of Neville and Scilla and assorted pooches. We were joined for afternoon tea by Roger and Denise, and Detlef and Debbie and over the week we saw 10 boat crews. Overall we had 2 meals out, 2 meals on board and 5 club BBQ’s and we only had to erect the marquee on 2 occasions showing just how kind the weather was to us all.
Yet again we owe a big thank you to cruise leader Phil for ensuring that we had the means and the facilities to have our BBQ’s despite having the problem of Kay's infected thumb to contend with. We trust that Kay's “op” has allowed her swollen digit to resume normal proportions.
The Upriver Cruise to Pangbourne was a great success. Alfresco Lady joined the cruise on the return leg, at Henley on Thames, after a three year absence from this cruise. It was good to see her on the river again, joining in on the cruise celebrations. Kerry Anne V arrived later in the day, Kay having had to have an operation on her thumb in Reading before cruising back to Henley. Well done Kay for being such a stalwart! The phrase ‘Keep Calm - Carry on Cruising’ comes to mind!
No it is not out of focus, blame the smoke. This was taken before Barry arrived with his 65,000 fish fingers!
We cruised in company to Cookham where a BBQ was held on the Town Lawn. Scilla brought a Swedish Log to burn on the barbecue, and Barry who also joined us at Cookham, brought what seemed like a thousand Norwegian fish fingers to add to the confusion. Not to be outdone, the remainder of the club stuck firmly to English fare. The weather was kind enough for the marquee not to be needed.
A sunny cruise the following morning took us to Boveney Lock and the reserved moorings. The wind had picked up so the marquee was used as a wind break, but had to be securely anchored down to ensure it did not join the fun downstream at Windsor. Another BBQ, more fish fingers for Barry and the end of the evening was celebrated on Alfresco Lady. Pieces of Eight and Malbec left us on the Saturday night to travel back to Bray – Father’s Day on the Sunday meant that most captains of boats were required to attend other ceremonies urgently on the Sunday.
An early start on the Sunday morning took the remainder of the boats back to Penton.
Thanks to Phil the cruise leader and to Tony who stepped in to when Kerry Anne V was detained at Goring. Another successful cruise, and our best wishes to Kay for a speedy recovery.
The weather we had for the Strawberry Cream Tea Cruise to Runnymede could not have been more different to last year's solid rainstorm which forced us to seek shelter on two of the boats. This year we were all wishing the clouds would come back but this time it was to protect us from the 30+ degrees and the burning sun. Despite the best efforts of Mr Grumpy who lived in one of the flats at the back of the building we managed to enjoy ourselves.
Two of the best behaved people over the whole weekend, young Ben and baby Zoe set perfect examples.
With the strawberries and cream being kept in the fridge until the last moment, Jean was able to lay out trays of fresh scones with cool cream and chilled strawbs which were appreciated by everyone. Hot tea and/or cold Prosecco complemented the scones. Seven boats made the trip with three other crews coming by car. Thanks to Jean for organising the refreshments, and to Dudley for providing the transport to collect the order for Fish‘n’Chips.
The late shift arrive to compare hats!
David didn’t realise the sale ticket literally meant 40% off his new trousers.
The May Day bank holiday, on the first Monday in May was created in 1978 and become, The Spring Bank Holiday, commonly known for its bad weather and low temperatures. 2018 broke with that history and as at writing has gone down in the history books for the HOTTEST on record.
WBCC converged onto the town moorings at Cookham some getting there earlier than others due to one thing or another, by the time we arrived 5 boats were already moored up and we rafted alongside Prime Time just in time for 11am refreshments served by Linda. Chatter and biscuit eating completed, we wandered up to Cookham and noted the closure of the cycling and fishing shop, rebadging of the supermarket. All this and shopping in hand we also tried out the Swan Uppers garden on the way back as it's thirsty work walking in that heat.
Having spent the cruise up to Cookham getting the boat sorted out, we had lunch and relaxed in the sunshine – marquee was erected and ‘tea’ was called at 4pm. By this time Pieces of Eight had also joined rafting alongside Another Knot, bankside moorings being full by then. Another pleasant hour chatting and catching up and it was back to the boat to get ready for the evening BBQ, at this point realizing we did not have a table on board, but we made do with one of our small folding tables for dinner. Mike and Linda were loaned chairs, so we did not feel too bad.
It was so warm and light – many years we have huddled under the marquee sheltering from the rain and many more times the river has been in flood so we have not been able to go by boat at all – is this summer already… chatting well into the evening it was quite dark by the time we all peeled back to our respective boats for bed.
Sunday dawned as lovely if not warmer than the day before and after a walk into town for supplies we left the club and we moved up to Marlow and got moored at the pound – now you have to register your arrival for free 24 hr moorings and then walked into town via the detour route whilst they renovate the park and had a lovely lunch in the Brewery Tap. We decided not to stay there, we were looking for a quieter spot to spend the night. Not too much of a queue for Marlow, Temple and Hurley locks and then cruised along – initially planning to stop at Medmenham but it was very busy and a rally was on the fields too lots of caravans so onwards through Hambledon lock and we moored near Phyllis Court, mooring fees along there now are £10, this was busy too but we spotted Got It and they helped us in. Having had such a lovely lunch we had nibbles and drinks and watch another lovely sunset on another beautiful day.
Monday – ah what a joy no alarm clocks but still up and around by 7:30, we walked into town quite early, too early for some shops but it was nice to stretch our legs. There was a May Fayre being set up at the top of the town and we saw a few vintage cars around too. A quick stop in Waitrose and back to the boats, we had lunch and lounged around – its exhausting all this relaxing lark. The rowing lanes are in place ready for the regatta and boat sheds are being built in a few weeks its going to be chaos going through there, mind you it was a bit like the M25 with boats heading down and up , and we had already decided to leave later to avoid the queues and we headed off around 3.30 going up through the bridge to turn around – the town moorings were very busy 2 and 3 boats deep at times, hire craft and day boats everyone looked like they were really enjoying themselves.
On the way back we managed lock keeper for up to Marlow when the keeper was there as we were queuing but said to us as we got into the lock that they had such a busy day could we manage to get ourselves out … it wasn’t quite 6pm by then, but he and the assistant packed up. We past the remnants of the club at Cookham enjoying the sunshine too and cruised back. By the time we got to Boulters there were just the two boats and we tagged our way back through the locks reaching Bray around 8pm, just perfect timing to see Crestal and their visitors before they headed off home. We said goodbye to Got It and settled on board for dinner and the final sunset on what had been a truly amazing weekend of sunshine and good company all round.