The Upper Thames

We’ve had a busy couple of days as we cruised into what, for us, is uncharted waters – the upper Thames above Henley. To be fair, we were launched in Reading and then were piloted back to Henley by Vinnie and Josh from Piper’s (our boat builders). But that was 11 months ago, and we can’t seem to remember anything other than amazement that we actually had our boat under our feet!

Our generator has been playing up a bit but contacted Pipers on (bank holiday) Monday – great service from Josh, they have arranged for a Kohler (that’s the genny manufacturer) engineer to take a look. He’s based in Reading, which is quite handy as we will be passing  back through there at the end of next week. Hope it’s nothing too serious.

We’ve now done 93 locks since we had Anticus, one of which was Whitchurch. There was no lock-keeper on duty so I took a few photos of the procedure of operating the lock.

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Anticus waiting in the “cut” on the lay-by approaching the lock gates.

Especially when there is no lock-keeper on duty we have to moor on the approach to the lock and, usually, Nicola wanders up to operate the lock sluices and gates.

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The lock sluices are the red ‘h-shaped’ things on metal rods

The sluices need to be opened and closed at either end of the lock to allow water in or out to raise or lower the water level in the lock pound allowing boats to move up or down stream.

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The lock operating panel

At each lock gate is an operating panel similar to the pic above. It is by pressing the buttons (in the right order!) that we operate the sluices and the gates. It’s pretty easy really, and after nearly 100 locks we are getting the hang of it!

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And off we sail

The wild life, especially of the feathered variety is fabulous along the Thames, and travelling at just about walking pace allows us to take in the wonderful sights and sounds. If we are lucky, we get glimpses of things like this little fella.

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A kingfisher perched alongside the boat.

We are aiming for Goring and then onto Wallingford in the next couple of days, so more to follow then, with pictures of Alfie our Border Terrorist Terrier because Nicola say’s Im ignoring him on here !!! 🙂

 

A look through the porthole

We thought it might be a good idea to show you around the inside of our barge. Not least because lots of you can’t seem to visualise how big Anticus is. Resulting in lots of questions such as, “how do you cook”, “is there a toilet”, “do you have a fridge”.

The interior living space is around 850 sq ft, (80 sq m), with an extra 40 sq ft of rear deck that the wheelhouse / dining / seating area opens out onto via bi-fold doors. This equates to a one bedroom flat in London.

I thought today I’d show you a couple of pictures we have hanging in the saloon (lounge), and the layout of this part of the boat.

Top left we have a view of the lounge from the stairway leading upstairs to the dining area. You can see a blue bed-settee, reclining chair, our dumb-waiter, Jeeves, the door to the en-suite master bedroom and Alfies dog bed (which he has never used!!) Just out of sight on the right is the TV and music system.

Moving on clockwise through the pics – a nice Tiffany style deco lamp we picked up on our travels, whiskey and port decanters (of course), portholes on the starboard (right) side with a painting by Jack Russell (which is shown in more detail on the left of the photos). More on that another time. The last two photos show a photo of me caddying for Seve Ballesteros at the Open Championship in 1998, a close up of Jeeves, and a long frame with pictures of random things which spell out “Anticus”.

And there you have the first of our views through the porthole.

Hopefully this will help to put your minds at rest that we are managing ok, not living the life of Rosie and Jim, and are quite comfortable 🙂

The boat, Alfie and us are looking forward to welcoming you on board.

And away we sail, into the wide blue yonder

Nicola retired on Monday after more than 30 years in the NHS. It was really the point that we were aiming towards when we hatched the idea to get a boat.

We had a few things to sort out, including me doing a days work for Middlesex Cricket – which I can tell you, without fear of contradiction, came as a shock. But eventually, not a moment too soon, we woke this morning, loaded our cars up and headed to the Marina to stock Anticus ready for 4 weeks on the Thames.

We have no real plan, in terms of where we will stop, but are aiming to get somewhere near Oxford, where hopefully my son, girlfriend and dog (Corbyn) will come and visit before we head back downstream.

And so it was, we turned out of the Marina, turned right and headed in a generally westward direction with 80 odd miles of the Thames stretching before us. Negotiating Shepperton lock got us back into the stride of throwing ropes and manoeuvring 30 tons of barge into a narrow lock. No problem, like riding a bike!

The next lock, Chertsey, woke us up though as there was no lock keeper on duty.

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The approach to Chertsey Lock, upstream, showing blue board.

On our way towards the locks we look out for the Environment Agency notice board, see here to the right of the lock gates on the wall. If the middle of the board is blue it means the lock is on self service. Which basically means we have to press the lock operating buttons rather than the lock-keeper. There is also a safety system which means that the lock doesn’t fill or empty as quickly when on self service.

True to our plan, or rather – lack of plan, we had probably done enough cruising when we spotted a favourite mooring of ours at Runnymede. Perfect timing and a lovely spot.

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Lovely spot at Runnymede. 

Who knows where we will be tomorrow?

Happy (belated) New Year!

Well, here we are, spring is very nearly sprung, we are dusting off Anticus, and starting to prepare for a new year of cruising which will culminate with us crossing the Channel on board our Piper Barge.

By way of breaking you gently into our blog this year, here are a couple of videos – one for the tech geeks, and one for the less esoteric amongst us.

After the show

Phew! What a busy weekend for us in Henley. Actually to be fair, it was a busy week, what with all the cleaning prior to showing off our boat to potential Piper customers.

Tuesday – arrive in Henley, pressure wash the boat

Wednesday – inflate dinghy, charge electric outboard, go for a spin – fall in !!

Thursday – searching Henley for a new phone! Clean inside of boat

Friday – see Thursday!

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Kingston Bridge. A bit easier to negotiate than Henley

The weekend was splendid though. Met some lovely folk who reminded us of ourselves over the last few years on our journey towards owning a Piper Barge.

We also have a lovely mooring

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After the weekend was over we had a delicious BBQ with a few of the boats remaining for Sunday night. On Monday we moved on, just not very far. In fact just the other side of Henley Bridge, where we moored up (about half a mile!) and were joined soon after by Joie de Vivre, Elysium and Eadlin, all Pipers that had been at the show and obviously had the same idea as us! Great minds huh?

We finished our stay with a meal at The Square, an unmissable Portuguese restaurant in Henley, listening to the many tales of Len, the skipper of Elysium. A former Thames waterman, black cab driver, pub owner and so Cockney he probably cooked jellied eels, but now a proper bon viveur.

Anyway, onwards and forwards. Heading to Marlow today.