Thursday, 17 April 2014
Four days rowing down the Thames
12th April 2014:
It would take nine days to row down the Thames and I was doing the first four days, starting at Lechlade.
My uncle, a retired Royal Navy lieutenant commander and World War 2 veteran, was there to send me off.
I have to admit it was my first time using a lock since the 1970s and the first for PicoMicoYacht. I had to learn the etiquette again. It said 'self service,' so I got out and opened the gates. Before I could get back in a motor boat swept past me into the lock and blocked the steps, so when I entered the lock I would be trapped in the boat. Then I thought .... relax and remember what Old Father Thames had said - 'in this world of rush and hurry it matters neither here nor there.' I stayed put whilst he did the lock.
I was then getting into the groove, pulling hard one side and then the other as I negotiated the kinks in the river.
The scenery passed by as a kaleidoscope of water colour paintings, with beautiful trees and picturesque boats.
Eventually I got to Newbridge and found a Jetty opposite the Rose Revived, the stone bridge build by monks in the 14th Century.
13th April 2014:
It was a short trip to Pinkhill Lock, about eight miles from Oxford, an idyllic spot.
But in my last but five strokes my rowing seat disintegrated. One of the spindles had broken.
Early the next day I went to ES Rowing Services. They were really helpful, attaching new wheels to my wooden seat in a jiffy. 'That one you had there had single flanges - that's dangerous.' Well it would have been last year half way round Land's End.
E Sim's seem to know what they are doing and mend boats, this one having an argument with a barge.
14th April 2014:
The sun kept shining and the animal life continued, a mother duck leading her brood to safety, geese cackling by the lock and horses grazing in Port Meadow near Oxford.
The dreaming spires of Oxford drew closer and soon I was opposite the Christ Church meadows, glimpsing through the trees the college building where I had lived for a year.
Another way to see Oxford is to arrive in large white fibreglass boxes with powerful motors and all modern luxuries.
It's a myth that all Oxford undergraduates waste their time partying - some just hang out down at their boat club houses, chatting away on their concept rowing machines.
Nearing Abingdon with the light was fading and PicoMicroYacht passed the Radley School boathouse.
15th April 2014:
An early start and the sheep were curious about PicoMicroYacht.
At the Days Lock the divers were checking the gates. One diver was taking it easy whilst his mate was down in the lock, soon to emerge.
The gaffer, an older man in red with an Australian accent, was friendly and halted the diving operation to let me past, also offering to sponsor me.
Further down the river the effects of the flooding were evident.
Eventually I reached the sailing club at Goring and they let me leave my boat there for the evening.
60 miles - another 103 to go.