Wind in the willows, Three Men in a Boat

Joie de Vivre parked outside the gates at Hampton Court Palace
Joie de Vivre moored on the river outside the gates of Hampton Court Palace

So many classic stories that involve the Thames as a backdrop. I hope my merger offerings do not offend!

We stayed on the river below Henley for a few days,. This stay gave me an opportunity to wander through Hampton Court Palace and Windsor castle. Early September in the UK sees alot less tourists so the sites are more accessible. Windsor castle was worth the wait and I was lucky enough to join the last group tour of the day to climb the tower and enjoy the scenic vista.

The change over for the generator was done seemlessly. We dropped the boat off at Harlingford marina on the Tuesday, and took the train to London returning on the Friday. The new generator was in but the Tec deck floor was not installed. Oh no! We had arranged to be at Henley on Friday afternoon, to show off our boat at the Piper Regatta. Would the deck be installed in time for us to make it up the river, a journey of about 5 miles and 3 locks. Our luck had run out (I need to starting visiting the churches and lighting candles again). The floor was not finished at 6pm, when the tradie called it a day arranging to meet us in Henley on Monday to finish the job.

It was still light and although the lock keepers go off duty at 6pm we decided to set off up the river, hoping to be in time for the pre regatta dinner and of course drinks.

We made the mooring just as the twilight disappeared and settled in with the other 13 Piper boat owners for a busy weekend.

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Peter enjoying the sun and scenery at the Piper regatta

The Regatta Wrap Up

It was busy! We showed our boat to over 100 people over the 2 days. The biggest success was the draw frig under the seat in the wheel house. Yes,just confirms that boaties are certainly members of the drinking classes. We were probably the most visited boat, given we were the newest launch with a number of special modifications. I inspected all of the other boats including the 67ft, and decided we had the best of both worlds, compact but with all the facilities that we required.

It was great to catch up with the other barge owners, sort of like joining a club with a large entrance fee, but no annual subscription.

From all acccounts it was a successful regatta, with Pipers signing up 3 new builds. On the Sunday night one of the boats hosted a farewell barbecue, and the event was over. Next stop Henley and the finishing off of our floor.

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Farewell barbecue

Although Kathy and Alan were our first visitors, it was David and Joan Hutchings who really tested out the the systems when they came and stayed for a week. We picked them up at Windsor and cruised up the river to Abingdon. Our fist stop was Marlow, in the pouring rain, so it suited all to stay snuggled up in the boat, instead of venturing into town. Such a pity as Marlow hosts a number of fine restaurants including one and two Michelin stars. We had previously sampled the fare at the Coach which is owned by the celebrity chef, Tom Keeridge, and found it excellent. Instead it was a meal on the boat provided by the deckie/cook.

Back to Henley and the sun came out. We are almost classed as locals in this town, so we were able to guide the Hutchings to all the worthwhile sites including a great italian restaurant for dinner.

Each day after breakfast we cruised in the morning to the next town usually arriving around lunchtime. In the afternoon Joan and I would set out to discover the local area while Peter and David rested. Drinks followed by dinner and more drinks saw the end of each day. Life on the river is very relaxing!

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Now that’s a lot of hungry swans
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Morning Mist and spider webs
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Enjoying the autumn suns
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Out for lunch at Goring

We farewelled the Hutchings on Friday and continued up the river to Oxford to explore the museums and the bookshops again.

The trees are cloaking themselves in their autumn colours and the temperatures are on the decline. Almost time to come home!

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Through the lock on the way to Oxfords
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Monsters in the natural history museum

 

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