After yesterday’s fun and games getting moored, Juniper was now facing the wrong way, i.e. back up river towards Oxford. I say wrong way, though personally I was considering returning the way we’d come in the knowledge that we could get back with a day or so to spare. Wimp! Unbelievably, though it felt as though we’d been afloat forever, this was only the first day of our second week aboard and we had Juniper booked for 2½ weeks. After a swift breakfast [Quelle surprise!] we cast off Juniper and Capt. Virginia performed another sluggish pirouette to get us underway heading back downstream and towards the first lock. After today, we’d be committed to finishing our circular route as originally intended.
We were underway at 8:00 AM, before the lockkeepers come on duty at 9:00 AM, so the first lock was set to “Self-Service”. Franco got to play with the sluice paddles and gate power buttons. Pressing a few buttons could make me soft – it’s certainly easier than the windlass winding and shoving of heavy gates approach necessary on the canals.
At our second lock we at last found a water supply and stopped to replenish Juniper’s tanks so that we could all take a shower today. We didn’t need Juniper’s hose ‘cos was a much heavier duty affair was supplied at the water point. Franco just about managed to cram the fat hose into Juniper and turned on the flow. Imagine our joy and surprise when Juniper’s tank was full in less than 10 minutes. Much better!
I was surprised to find that we were spotting the tell-tale vivid orange and iridescent blue flash of Kingfishers quite frequently as we cruised along the Thames. Trying to snag them at Capt. Virginia’s storming 6 mph was a challenge but we finally managed it, albeit from a distance. Cormorants drying their wings, on the other hand, were an altogether easier target.
Yesterday evening we had eventually managed to stop a little behind Francine’s calculated schedule based upon a published itinerary in the opposite direction. As we were travelling with the flow of the River Thames, our goal today was to get onto that schedule, which would have put us at Poplar Eyot, a spit west of Henley on Thames. However, we’d made good time and would be needing more supplies to get us through the sprawling mess that we call London. If we stopped at Henley, which boasts a Waitrose, Francine and I could do a food run in the early evening, saving a further time-wasting stop en route. We continued.
Given the popularity of Henley, I was a little concerned that the moorings might be full but, as we approached, we found that not to be so. We did, however, find it necessary to avoid some of the more difficult obstacles on the Thames – rowers and/or scullers. The elegant, very streamlined boats may be skinny things that cut through the water like a knife through butter but the blasted oars can span almost the entire river. It’s a curious mode of transport that doesn’t allow participants to look where they’re going, leaving the onus on everyone else. Capt. Virginia skilfully managed to avoid sinking any.
After 8½ hours and 10 locks we found a spot complete with mooring rings and snagged it. Actually, we found two moorings and moved from the first onto the second – a case of moor haste, less speed, perhaps? 😀
We’d completed what for us was a staggering 32 miles in 9 hours, such is the power of the River Thames compared to the canals. We were now on, or slightly ahead of, Francine’s calculated schedule; maybe I’d relax a little more. Phew!
We still had two days of supplies aboard but needed two more, we thought (!), to get through beyond London. Francine and I hit Waitrose, about a mile walk each way, to get two more meal options with suitably long shelf lives and, most importantly, two more days-worth of wine. It should be noted that the life expectancy of wine aboard Juniper was very short. 😀
Shopping completed and £9.00 mooring fees eventually paid, after a fight with the ticket machine (it seemed to accept only £9-worth of coins), we settled in for a more relaxed evening.
Oh, Francine and Franco are developing what appears to be a cold – sore throat and croaking. We think this was imported from the QM2.