Monday, 18 August 2008

Day Seventeen - Hooray Henley

Reading - Henley

River Thames

8 miles, 4 locks

In which the Duck and its crew pick up a third crew member for the day, go shopping by boat, geek out in Chipperfield's River and Rowing museum at Henley, and have ongoing intake issues (again) which forces the Duck to pay for a night's mooring for the first time!

Our first task of the morning was to go and wrangle with NatWest again, but before that we went to Reading station to pick up Michael, an old school friend of James' to whom we had promised a cruise when we were in the area. After having sucessfully withdrawn some money, we made our way through Reading, back past our mooring to Homebase, where we picked up some bendy curtain wire for any sink unblockings we needed to carry out in future, as well as some hooks to screw in for James' rowing pots and a padlock for the forepeak where we now store shoes following the Great Unpacking.

Just as we set off, with Michael on board, it began raining. Nice. But we carried on, out of Blake's Lock for the last time and onto the Thames. We went a short distance upstream, to moor (breasted up to nb Moulin Rouge) while we stocked up in Tesco. After that we progressed on through Sonning Lock, to moor up before Shiplake Lock, where we emptied the portapotti and filled up the water tank. (We wanted to show Michael the glamourous side of narrowboating!)

Just a little further up the river is the town of Henley, known for the Royal Regatta (held in July, it is one of the most important events in the British rowing calendar, but has an equal position in the social calendar of the upper classes!) and for the relatively new Rowing and River museum, designed by David Chipperfield. I was eager to visit for the contents of the museum but also for the building itself, which has been well recognised in the architectural world for its simple, elegant design and its sympathy both to the site and to local vernacular architecture. It is an exposed concrete frame building clad in green oak and turned steel, that is raised up from the water meadows on low stilts. The interior finishes are well considered, and the diffuse quality of the light in the almost windowless museum halls, from roof lights running the whole length of the apex of the pitched roofs is quite lovely. The two halls are divided into a 'River' section and a 'Rowing' section. I found both really interesting but the Rowing section was of course what excited James most! He found a Concept 2 ergo (rowing machine) and proceeded to show off his rowing skills. I was very impressed with the displays, which combined a variety of media into a well presented, cohesive whole.

We left the museum and returned to our mooring just outside for an afternoon tea, before saying bye to Michael at Henley station. We had planned to continue on to Marlow, but the engine was still running a bit hot and we were worried that we still had something in the intake. So we moored up as soon as we could, just outside Henley, aiming to clear then intake and keep going. As soon as we had pins in however, we were approached by an official man in plastic launch who demanded £6 mooring fee for 'any part of 24 hours' even when we explained it was a forced stop. Grudgingly we paid and resolved to spend the night here, having paid £6 for it. Still we mustn't really complain, its the first time we've paid for a mooring the whole trip!

I had planned to bake bread but the absence of any clingfilm with which to wrap it while proving has thwarted my efforts. Ah well, next time. We have a fire going in the stove and all is very cosy this evening especially since it is very rainy and windy outside.


  1. No need for clingfilm - just cover the bowl with a dampened tea towel, or enclose the bowl in an oiled pedal bin liner (just pour a few drops of oil into the bag and rub the sides together to spread it around).

    I am loving your exploits getting your boat home. I wish I had had the opportunity to do something similar when I was footloose and fancy free! Can't remember how I found your blog - probably through Granny Buttons.


  2. Any cut open plastic bag, oiled, would do - that's what I use even when cling film is available. I concur though about wrapping the dough (at least the top of it) rather than just covering the bowl,which definitely rules out a tea towel! (having tried it once)
    We will be coming through Henley today in pursuit of Magnet Man and will look out for you. Love the idea of a convoy to liven up some of those locks.

  3. Oh yes, plastic is best, I just suggested what I thought they might have aboard Lucky Duck.


  4. YOu should have told the 'Jobsworth' that you would have to go to the bank when you had finished sorting the boat then buggered off when you had finished.

  5. i agree, no clingfilm is not an excuse. i keep a tea towel specifically for that use and it works more than adequately (you have tasted the result). i either use engine room or roof (if its sunny) to let it rise.
    although i've got to give bread a miss for a week, i have careful cake planning to do....