A much better day than forecast so we decided to head for the Thames and went up to Nb October House to say our farewells to Mike, Sally and Socks, their lovely whippet, with a promise to meet up again in the not too distant future.
Graham and John will notice that we caught Mike polishing his boat so something must have rubbed off on him from being with you for so long.
We set off down stream at a steady pace and were soon at Southcot Lock with its lovely old house adjacent to the lock. For those of you who are heading upstream to the lock make sure that you don’t try using the bridge on the left as the lock is through the bridge on the right.
We were soon at Fobney Lock where we had to be helped through by C&RT on the way up as the gates had been damaged and were in a dangerous state. They have now been fixed and having descended I waited in the lock entrance for June to close the gates to avoid getting caught into the flow of the river from the right or the outflow from the left under the lock landing. The left hand photo shows an almost empty lake with swans swimming on it. On the journey up this lake was enormous with water up to the bank and no grass could be seen below the trees. Thank goodness for the dry spell we have had.
Negotiating the river section was very easy as the river levels had dropped by at least 18 inches compared with our journey up river and the overhanging trees had been cut back making the chicane section a doddle. I even had time to take these photos which I would not have dared to do on our previous journey along this section.
We were soon at County Lock and now we could actually see the weir instead of just a torrent of water at lock level. I exited the lock and pressed the traffic light control and waited for it change to Green before accelerating into the main stream.
Before June could close the gates on the lock she had to shepherd this Canadian goose family out of the lock. The goslings are in between mom and dad for safety.
Moving swiftly through the Oracle Centre with its sharp bends and high sides the river was like a mill pond. Coming up we had had waves breaking over the bow.
Then we were approaching the original river High Bridge which is not named because of its height as it is very low and at a difficult angle. A bit of tiller waggling ensured that we were safely through and heading for Blake's lock.
We were met at the lock by the EA lock keeper who is on duty from April to September and operates the lock for you. Unusually the gate paddles are operated by a wheel system. Once the lock keeper knew we had Phoenix on board he was on the boat having a great time playing with her through the engine room hatch whilst the boat descended the 3ft 6inch drop. It is strange that this lock on the K & A Canal system is operated by the EA but it is historical and used to be operated by the Thames Conservancy.
On the final stretch of the K & A were were escorted onto the Thames by a flotilla of Swans..
At last we are on the Thames looking back at an express train crossing the canal.
After visiting the large Tesco Extra Store to stock up on our provisions I took Phoenix a walk through Kings Park to Caversham and spotted this Mile Post which is one of 1000 installed for the Millennium and shows Oxford to be 38 miles and London 58 miles.
At Caversham Lock this canoeist decided to take on the weir, the very best of luck to him I thought.
Just beyond Caversham Bridge are moorings backing onto parkland which looked very nice and with only one boat moored there.
Walking beside the river there were several families of geese and coots sitting on their nests or tending to their families.
When I returned to the boat I found Jane and Colin, friends from my VHF course, on Nb Slow Gin had moored a couple of boats behind so ambled down for a quick chat before dinner. They are on their way down to London having done the K& A a few years ago.
Later in the evening Phoenix decided that she wanted some love and jumped up on my lap. She is rather big for this now that she is nearly 13 months old but she does not seem to realise the fact.