|Early morning on the wide, still Thames|
Canals are narrow, shallow, have low and thin bridges in silly places, there are locks everywhere that you must operate yourself, sometimes there is a miserable lock keeper to look on unhelpfully, dossers moor at water points, there are few places to turn and they normally have a sour-faced angler at them. The Thames has none of this, it's deep and wide, wide enough to turn easily, with not much flow, lock keepers are pleasant and you sail through without lifting a finger, water points have good pressure and dossers don't live on them, anglers wear tweed; in short, it's easy on the Thames. The scenery is stunning and very rural, every so often a pretty town pops up with clean and safe moorings that seem to be well controlled, we like the Thames, and it's good value at £70 for 7 days for a 60' boat.
|A Thames Lock|
|A Thames Lock at capacity|
Monday night we stopped in Abingdon, great spot with plentiful moorings, I cannot moan about the price of beer because I didn't have one for some inexplicable reason. Tuesday we planned to stop in Wallingford, but there were no moorings so we ended up on the bank in the middle of nowhere. Wednesday we had a rendezvous in Pangbourne with old work related friends Tony and Brenda, Tony has been retired for 15 years but had the audacity to suggest that I should get a job or find other gainful occupation, luckily he did not show me his stamp collection which I was subjected to for several hours on a previous visit, he was my boss at the time, I had large debts and I was powerless to resist. It was great to see them again. Pangbourne also has good moorings.
Last night we arrived at Henley, it's posh here, so much so that I considered it appropriate to cut my lunchtime sandwich on the diagonal, anyway the basic white loaf cost £3.50 from a "Patisserie" (I think that's what they call Gregg's here) so it was deserving of such treatment, a pint of weak bitter was £4 last night. The very good news is that we've got a nice mooring in the town for £10 per night which you pay for in the car park payment machine. It could get noisy tonight because there is a "pop-up" cinema showing Mamma Mia starting at dusk.
All day large, expensive cruisers pass with middle aged men at the helm accompanied by very thin women sipping champagne, litter pickers roam the park pointlessly because nobody drops litter, but the roads are littered with Bentlies, Astons and Maseraties, I feel self-conscious taking my Aldi bag to the Patisserie. We lived in the south east for more than a decade and there's one thing we'd forgotten about; aircraft noise, there's plenty of it here, but not enough to spoil things.