Waterlog

Autumn Cruise to Lechlade (Circa 2004)

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For some boats, the Thames upstream of Oxford is out of bounds. Anyone who owns a boat with an airdraft of more than 7’ 6” has to turn around before Osney Bridge in Oxford and retrace their route downstream.  This obviously contributes to keeping the upper Thames as quiet as it is.  One of the criteria we used when we bought our boat 18 months previously, was that it had a 7’6” airdraft because we wanted to visit Lechlade by river.

So we took some time off in September determined to get to Lechlade and back within the week and were rewarded with a few showery days but five days of sunshine.

We left our mooring in Reading on the Saturday morning and set off upstream aiming for our first night stop at the Shillingford Bridge Hotel. It’s an attractive setting but if you moor too close to the bridge as we did, you can find yourselves disturbed by the Hotel patrons.

In the morning we pushed on upstream to Abingdon where we stopped to take on water and grab some lunch and to browse around the excellent ABC chandlery. Just to the south of the town you pass the site of the proposed junction with the Thames and Severn canal.  Later in the day we were caught in some heavy rain while negotiating Sandford lock but this had cleared away by the time we reached the college boathouses on the outskirts of Oxford.  This was new territory as neither of us had cruised this far upstream before.  We had seen sections of the Thames up here from the road, but it’s nothing like actually cruising the whole way on the river.

We stopped here briefly to lower the windscreen as by now, we were within a mile of Osney Bridge, and not knowing this part of the river we didn’t know if we’d have another opportunity to stop before the bridge. We rose up out of Osney lock and there it was.  Quite an ordinary bridge really, but it’s famous in its way because it appears on boat sales ads all over the Thames valley i.e. “Good runner, one careful owner, will pass under Osney Bridge”.  Sue doubted whether we could get under it and I had to duck in the cockpit as it passed overhead.

Coming out the other side was like passing through a time warp. The whole character of the river changes and becomes more tranquil and rural, as it must have been 100 years ago.  You feel that you now have the river to yourself and it almost comes as a surprise when you see another boat on the water.

We ended the day at Godstow at about 5pm after quite a long run. By the time we’d closed the boat up and had a shower it was past six, so we adjourned to the popular Trout Inn for a well-earned early dinner – chips and something, with a couple of glasses of wine.  Later in the evening, we strolled down past the remains of Godstow Nunnery to the lock, which has one of the best views on the river as it winds across Port Meadow with the spires of Oxford in the background.

The following day saw us stopping to explore Eynsham. This turned out to be a little disappointing as there were only a couple of shops and we found it a bit of a trudge from the river, although it would be welcome enough if you were short of supplies.  By now the weather was fine and clear and continued that way for the rest of the week.

From here, the river twists and turns through the countryside and has an almost abandoned feel about it, enhanced in some way by the appearance of Second World War pillboxes which are spaced every mile or so along the bank between here and Lechlade, and a couple of disused canal entrances. Parts of the river up here turn so abruptly that you can’t see which direction it’s going until you’re right on top of the bend.  Some sections have high banks and overhanging trees, and it almost feels like you’re coming into a dead end.  It can catch you out sometimes, as you can’t always see traffic coming towards you.

We moored for the night at Newbridge where you have a choice of two pubs, one at each end of the bridge. We elected for a stroll over to the “Rose” before eating on board.

On this next stretch, you pass the oldest bridge on the river at Radcot dating from the early 13th Century.  It has been relegated to a backwater nowadays and the current course of the river flows under a “New” bridge (1790) 100 yards away.

We arrived in Lechlade on a warm, sunny afternoon and after a stroll around the town, we decided on a meal at the Swan Inn, quiet now because it was midweek. Lechlade is an interesting town with some fine old buildings and is notable for its Christmas Shop.  This sells an extraordinary selection of Christmas decorations all year round.

The next day dawned misty but with the promise of more sunshine and eager to make the most of the morning we were away by 8:30 and waiting at St Johns lock just before it opened. We spent the first couple of hours in the company of a canoeist who was on his way from Cricklade to London, sharing the first few locks with him.  As he had a long way to go we offered him a tow, but he politely declined.  Anyway, it was going to be all downhill for him!

After a brief skirmish with a drunken crew coming towards us out of one of the locks en route, we ended another long day moored at a quiet spot just within sight of Swinford Toll Bridge (Yes it still charges motorists a fee!).

And so, back to Osney Bridge, somehow it looked even lower from the upstream side.

We came into Abingdon in mid-afternoon where we’d arranged to meet Sue’s sister and her family for tea. This passed a pleasant hour or two and later they gave us directions to a superb Italian restaurant in the town.

Coming out of Culham lock the following day, the engine refused to start, but after a couple of tries it fired again and we continued on our way. Later, we noticed the ammeter fluctuating more than usual, so we pulled in at Benson to check the engine. Once the cover was off, the problem was quickly traced to a loose electrical connection and we were back in business.

Wallingford is an attractive market town with an interesting variety of shops and we moored for the next night here just upstream of the bridge. After doing some shopping we ate on board and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of the river as it got dusk.  My good deed for the day, removing a length of timber from the river, which had become lodged in our neighbours’ outdrives while they were at the pub.

The last day saw us on familiar waters. Following a brief stop to purchase a lifebuoy mounting bracket from Sheridan marine at Moulsford (a proper Aladdin’s cave), we pushed on down through Goring and Pangbourne, Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows countryside and the point where Jerome K Jerome and friends called a halt to their boating holiday over a century earlier.

In order to do the round trip within the time we had set, it was necessary to include a few long days cruising. This meant there were places where we would have liked to have stayed longer, and some places where we didn’t have time to stop at all, but at least next time we’ll know where we’re going.

Stuart Francis

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The boat: Viking 28

Pictures: Abingdon, Newbridge, Lechlade. ( Note to self: Remember to take the washing off the roof next time.)


 Autumn Cruise 2017.

Part 1

By Stuart Francis and Sue Macdonald.

Due to a misunderstanding over days and dates, this cruise left Benson a day earlier than originally planned and headed down river in lovely warm sunny weather. Ken and Jan had planned to accompany us in ‘Boudicca’ but family commitments meant they would have to leave later and catch us up downstream somewhere. The same story applied to Philip and Barbara Sachse in ‘Lady Lara’ who were off to Ireland later in the week to attend a wedding so they also intended to meet us downstream.

As we passed by Pangbourne on the second morning we spotted David and Barbara Miller in ‘Mustang Sally’ who were to catch us up later on.

Sonning lock saw us come up behind Margaret Rennie in ‘Wight Panther’ with an all-female crew including Barbara Sachse, Sheila Bell and friends from the Upper Thames on a girls day out.

All three boats arrived in Henley at about the same time and we later bumped into Ted and Sue Cotton in ‘Thief of Time’ who were heading back upstream.  Dinner that evening was taken in the Café Rouge with a friend who had driven over from Reading. We left fairly smartly in the morning, cruising down through Hurley lock where ‘Mustang Sally’ peeled off to their home mooring in Harleyford.

Cookham was wet and miserable (Sue says I’m often like that myself) so we nipped into the Tea Pot Tea Shop in the High Street for tea and cake; they do quite an unusual selection, all home-made and all very popular.

On our second day in Windsor, we got into conversation with a couple from the Norfolk Broads who had brought their boat down onto the Thames for a few days. This was interesting because we are arranging for our boat to be shipped up to Norfolk for some work over the winter and we plan to spend a couple of weeks there in the Spring. They left us with a couple of navigational tips for the Broads and headed off to the slipway to meet their trailer for the trip home.

Slipping past Laleham we gave a beep to a couple of boats from the Upper Thames who had attended the ATYC rally with us last year.

At Sunbury lock we were delayed by about an hour while a procession of Dunkirk little ships took priority travelling upstream with much 1940’s music and ceremony. Eventually they worked us through using the old lock to try and reduce the resulting queue.

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By the time we arrived at Hampton Court the weather had turned wet and windy so it was the following day when we dusted off our bus passes for the ten minute ride into Kingston. After some light shopping and a heavy lunch, we returned to the boat in time to see some other friends from the Upper Thames pull in behind us. We were invited on board ‘Limbo Dancer’ later for drinks and it was good to catch up with recent gossip.

Next morning we said our goodbyes and started back upstream towards Weybridge, where we were due to meet ‘Lady Lara’ currently en route from Windsor.  They eventually arrived at about 7pm after being delayed by a couple of shopping trips. By this time of the day we were all feeling a trifle jaded, so after a brief natter to agree the morrow’s programme, we adjourned for an early night.

At this point, I will hand over to Phillip who has kindly agreed to contribute Part 2 of this cruise.

Part 2

By Philip and Barbara Sachse.

On 4th Sept 2017 the intrepid crew the good ship Lady Lara set off from the exotic port of Sonning on Thames at the early hour of 12noon. The weather was warm but the sky overcast as we joined the main waterway towards Sonning Lock. There were no queues at the Lock so straight in and this set the pattern for the rest of the day. At Maidenhead we passed two Upper Thames (UTMYC) boats “Rimbar” and “Drifters Two” and continued on to Windsor arriving at about 6pm. We moored on the Leisure Centre moorings which were empty except for one other boat.

5th September – Needed supplies but decided not to walk into Windsor but to make for Staines where the moorings are close to the shops. Locks again were good with no queues; however, the Staines moorings were full when we arrived. We rafted out off a UTMYC boat “Vistura” who was travelling with “Limbo Dancer”. Ian and Deanne (Vistura) were heading up river so after about half an hour we were able to take their bank side mooring. With supplies replenished we carried on downstream to meet up with “Sheer Beauty” (Stuart and Sue) at Weybridge. Again no queuing and plenty of space on the moorings near Shepperton Lock opposite Weybridge Mariners. It is a lovely place to stop with lots of boating activity going on all around and lovely bank side walks which Freddie (the dog) enjoyed.

6th Sept – Left Weybridge at 11am, Sheer Beauty and Lady Lara heading upstream. Locks were in our favour and there was not much river traffic. We stopped for water at Chertsey and continued on to the moorings on the Egham towpath near Runnymede. Plenty of space on the mooring and with pleasant weather Sue, Barbara, Stuart, Freddie and I went for a walk. First we visited the Queen Elizabeth statue in the park then onto the Magna Carta Memorial, John F Kennedy Memorial and finally the 12 bronze chairs by the artist Hew Locke named “The Jurors” unveiled in June 2015 by The Queen and Prince William in Magna Carta Meadow. In the evening we had an excellent meal at the Italian Concept Restaurant having had a good day in excellent company.

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7th Sept – Showers on and off, we made good progress upriver with no queuing and plenty of room at the Cookham moorings. It being afternoon Stuart and Sue took us to The Teapot Teashop where we had a lovely cup of tea and excellent homemade cakes. Stuart’s other hobby being bicycles we had a look in Flat Harry’s Bike Shop window where the prices range upwards of £1000. Things have certainly moved on from a Raleigh bike with Sturmey-Archer 3 speed!

8th Sept – 10am start, heading for Henley, again no queuing and very little river traffic. Arrived at Henley Town Moorings about midday and met with Ken & Jan on “Boudicca”. In the evening we went for a nice meal and bottle of wine at Loch Fyne’s Restaurant.

9th Sept – 9.30am start, the three boats Sheer Beauty, Boudicca and Lady Lara set off for the Upper Thames Motor Yacht Club at Sonning. The journey went smoothly and quickly and the UTMYC had moorings all prepared for us with a bank side for Boudicca. We had a very pleasant evening with 14 members of the Ditch at UTMYC’s Hogroast.

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The company and cruising on our downstream cruise were very relaxed, which is why we all enjoy boating and long may it continue.

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Donation Letter to Eileen in Memory of Byron.

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Dear Eileen

At our Committee Meeting last week it was unanimously agreed to send you a donation in memory of Byron, our long standing Honorary Member who, with you, always welcomed us warmly to Ashmount for our Rallies. He will be sorely missed by all his boating friends.

On a personal note, he was very kind to my two year old granddaughter, Lucy, when she visited us at our May Rally. She loved her ride on the Gator and sat chatting to Byron as if she’d known him all her life!

Please accept our sincere condolences together with the Club’s donation in memory of Byron.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Sachse

Honorary Secretary


ODCC Summer Cruise 2017.

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This year, ‘Boudicca’ and ‘Sheer Beauty’ swanned off downriver to rendezvous at Beale Park for a summer afternoon picnic. We left Benson on the Saturday in reasonably good weather, but encountered a shower or two en route. Safely moored up, we spent the afternoon zipping and unzipping the hood as the weather blew hot and cold and we kept our fingers crossed for fine weather on the morrow.

‘Lady Lara’ joined us early in the evening after a delayed trip up from Sonning when a lock gate at Caversham became dislodged.  By the time this was repaired, the upstream queue took over an hour to disperse, hence their late arrival.

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear with no signs of the previous day’s blustery conditions and a leisurely breakfast and lazy morning got the day off to a good start.

The picnic itself gradually started to come together in the early afternoon as tables and chairs began to appear on the bank in the sunshine.  We were soon joined by Ann Seeney and Lyn and Malcolm Page, plus Philip and Barbara’s son and grandsons, all travelling by road.  The next couple of hours saw us all enjoying a variety of nibbles, snacks, salads and probably a little too much wine.

By early evening, following the departure of the “land based contingent”, ‘Lady Lara’ had departed back downstream and we were accompanying ‘Boudicca’ back up to Benson for a quick overnight stop before pressing on to reach Abingdon by lunchtime on the Monday.  On arrival, we were fortunate in securing a section of bank long enough to accommodate both boats.

We had arranged to meet Sue’s sister for lunch on Tuesday, and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours in the Ask Italian restaurant, one of our favourites.

While crossing Abingdon bridge on the way into town, we noticed a narrowboat wedged across the river, from the bank to the Nags Head island. It was unmanned and it took a Dutch barge and a hireboat crew to nudge it out of harm’s way and moor it safely back against the bank.

That evening, my good deed for the day was accomplished when I sorted out a constantly running bilge pump on a hire cruiser moored behind us. The pump had come loose and wedged itself under the float switch.

Rising early(ish) the next morning we made good time back towards Benson, trying to see who arrived first, us or the rain. Sadly, the rain won by about half a mile!!

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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ODCC Spring Downriver Cruise 2017.

Following this year’s Spring Rally at Ashmount, ourselves and the Rear Commodore and his Lady (Ken & Jan) departed on the Monday afternoon for a downstream cruise with Hampton Court as the target.

The first two nights were spent at Beale Park and Henley and we cruised on downstream in glorious warm, sunny weather.

At Cookham, we met up with Sue’s niece over a lunchtime drink at The Ferry, and later on walked around to The Crown for dinner with a friend from Reading.

We arrived in Windsor, in time for lunch and were fortunate in securing a nice EA mooring on the Eton side downstream from the bridge (just large enough for two 31ft Sheerlines). Ken and Jan sauntered off into town in search of fish and chips while Sue did some shopping and I caught up with a few jobs on the boat (there’s always something that needs your attention). Dinner that evening, was taken on the terrace at the brasserie adjacent to the bridge and overlooking the river.

By the time we reached Staines, Ken and I were spending more time talking over the radio, as he had not ventured this far downstream before and I was able to point out various places and items of interest.

As we had already been away for a week, an overnight stop in Shepperton Marina allowed us to catch up with some laundry and give the boat a clean.

Hampton Court seemed to be unusually busy and we only just secured a mooring. Just opposite Molesey lock is the Thames Motor Yacht Club and they were hosting a charity event in support of a children’s charity. All Saturday afternoon their boats were cruising down towards Kingston and back crewed by young pirates.

Ken and Jan got away early on the Sunday and cruised off downriver through Kingston and on to Teddington before returning to catch us up just above Molesey lock. Sue and I had a much later start, so we only had a three mile run up to Sunbury. Just opposite the mooring is Sunbury Park, and after lunch, we took a stroll around the walled garden there, indulging ourselves with tea and cake in the sunshine.

By Monday morning, blustery weather had arrived and had us searching out fleeces and jumpers. This forced our hand and the decision was made to make a dash for Windsor where we battened down the hatches, put the kettle on, cracked on with the jigsaw puzzle and sat out the next 24 hours.

Back at Cookham, we just managed to wriggle into the last two mooring slots. Safely tied up, Sue and I walked into the High street to size up the menu at the renowned Chinese restaurant in readiness for dinner.

Henley was our next stop and our friend from Reading visited us once again. After a quiet afternoon, we headed for the excellent Loch Fyne restaurant to close the day.

We tied up at Pangbourne in bright sunshine and the four of us strolled into town for some light shopping. As it was my birthday, Ken and Jan spoiled us with afternoon tea and cakes in a local café. Next stop, home to Benson.

I apologise if this cruise has the appearance of a gastronomic sojourn, but enjoying a nice meal in pleasant surroundings with good friends is one of life’s pleasures and I’m looking forward to repeating the trip at the end of August. The plan is to be back in time for the Upper Thames hogroast …….. Sorry, I’m talking about food again !!

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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ODCC Weekend Away to Eastbourne 2017.

This year’s Weekend Away was held at Eastbourne over the weekend of 5th to the 8th of May and was once again ably organised by Marion Farrow. Our Hotel was right on the promenade opposite the pier and fifteen Oxford Ditchers checked in for the duration.

The weather started off bright but a trifle breezy and gradually settled down over the weekend. This was only our second weekend away with the club, and seemed to reflect our previous trip. People trickled in during the Friday afternoon and then assembled for dinner and discussions on what they had planned for the following days.

One venue on our agenda was Bodiam Castle, which was a few miles away. We can recommend this as being a classic example of a medieval moated castle. We stayed long enough to enjoy tea and cake in the coffee shop and then made a beeline for Batemans, the home of Rudyard Kipling. The house, set in very attractive gardens, looks pretty much as it would have done when he was alive and one can easily lose a couple of hours there.

Eastbourne would not normally feature on our perambulations around the country, so it was a pleasant change to have the opportunity to explore the area and exchange ideas about local attractions with other members. It also enabled us to have a meal with Sue’s niece, who lives locally, and catch up with family gossip.

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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ODCC Christmas lunch at the George 2016.

Once again we all went to The George, at Wallingford to our celebratory Christmas Dinner. The George, as always, was most accommodating, and special thanks to their Managers, Sarah & Richard and their wonderful team who looked after us.

Some thirty-one of our members attended, some sporting our club ties, and some with some fantastic Christmas Jumpers!

Stuart and Sue won the wonderful hamper put together kindly by Lyn. We always have a free Raffle at Christmas to say thank you to our Members for their support throughout the year.

We were graced by a beautiful newly decorated room and great service and food enjoyed by all.

Our Commodore Derek, wished all of us well for the New Year, and gave thanks to those who had travelled from afar to get to us, especially David from Birmingham and Stuart & Sue from Wick, Bath.

We were also delighted to be joined by our benefactors Mick & Carol.

So on that note I would like to share a small poem with you…

Nothing surpasses our team The Oxford Ditch Cruising Club

Nothing is doubted for the friendship and trust

For without such kindness, knowledge and sharing

There would not be a club like ours that is so daring….

We have such wonderful events all year

And sometimes, like this event, we shed a few tears

But all the time memories are among us all

So no matter what, this should keep our minds tall

Think always at Christmas in the positive minds

Our families will surround us, and you will find

Love and kindness just like our Club

So nothing is doubted for the friendship and trust

Pauline Vallance

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Picnic Rally at Beale Park – 6th August 2016

On a beautiful hot and sunny afternoon, three boats attended the picnic rally at Beale Park in early August. These were the rear Commodore and his lady, Ken and Jan on Boudicca, new members Bernie and Jill in Chocolate Chillie and ourselves in Sheer Beauty.

Ken and Jan arrived with us on the Friday to ensure we found a nice even stretch of riverbank to spread ourselves out on, for the following day. On the Saturday afternoon, Ann Seeney and her daughter arrived by car to join us for the rest of the day.  The afternoon passed in a lazy mix of warm sunshine, cool drinks and entertaining conversation, running through the main event of the day (the picnic) and stretching into the early evening. Ann and her daughter departed soon after, leaving the rest of us to watch the sun go down, with a few more drinks, ending a very pleasant day with a select group of Oxford Ditch members.

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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Joint Rally at Ashmount with UTMYC 16th to 17th July.

The report below was written by Neil Blake of UTMYC

ODCC Weekend Report

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Spring Rally 27th & 30th May 2016

The Spring Rally this year was held between 27th &30th  May. Our Quartermaster, Derek, delivered the Marquee on the Friday morning and by lunchtime it was up and ready for habitation.

Seven boats, Boudicca, Lady Lara, Sheer Beauty, Thief of Time, White Velvet, Wight Panther and Julie K (who moors there) made the trip to Ashmount with two members, Mike & Maggie Peacey, attending by car.

The Rally proper didn’t officially begin until the Saturday afternoon with tea and biscuits. This was followed with a bring and buy book sale with proceeds being donated to the club funds. At the same time, Ann Seeney laid out a good selection of club regalia and did a brisk trade, netting us over £50.

Dinner on the Saturday evening consisted of Coq au Vin with accompanying veg, followed by a seasonal Eton mess which went down extremely well.

Most people seemed to win something in either the raffle or the bingo session which closed the evening.

Sunday morning started with the traditional bacon rolls for breakfast, courtesy of Sue Macdonald, who also warmed the croissants for us on Monday morning.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming rally with UTMYC, various entertainment ideas were discussed at the Committee meeting on Sunday afternoon. As a result I was asked to a demonstration of balloon modelling after the meeting. This produced some hilarious results, and we can’t wait to see how the Upper Thames cope when it comes to their turn.

Fortunately, the weather managed to behave itself for the whole weekend, and only deteriorated when ourselves and the Rear Commodore and his Lady (Ken & Jan) departed on the Monday afternoon for an impromptu downstream cruise towards Windsor.

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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12/02/16 Reply from the EA.

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ODCC have written the following letter to the EA on members behalf:

OXFORD DITCH CRUISING CLUB

Dear Mr Graham

RESCUE LADDERS AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS IN LOCKS

As Honorary Secretary of the Oxford Ditch Cruising Club, representing members of the boating fraternity on the non-tidal Thames, I have been asked by the Membership to write to you expressing our grave concerns about your proposed withdrawal of fire extinguishers and rescue ladders from locks on the non-tidal River Thames. These items have always been provided at locks and are there for emergency use. Rapid response is essential if there is a danger from fire or drowning. This rapid response is from anyone who is capable of helping, but they need suitable equipment available in order to provide appropriate assistance.

The withdrawal of fire extinguishers and rescue ladders would increase the risk to boaters using locks. We would not wish to put your staff at increased risk but surely these items should be left in situ for use by boaters.

Yours sincerely

Barbara Sachse (Mrs)

Honorary Secretary

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AGM 2015

We are now well into the new era in which solemn meetings i.e. the AGM has been turned into a really enjoyable social occasion. Despite the unavoidable absence of the Commodore the meeting was conducted very professionally in the hands of Philip our second in command.

Twenty members were brought up to date with the club’s finances, new ideas and suggestions for 2016 before we got to the really serious issue of lunch. This time the golf club’s chef excelled himself throughout the meal. We began with a help yourself starters buffet which was excellent. Next the carvery main course which for those hooked on veggies was wonderful. Again to follow, sweets were self selection from an irresistible selection.

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There was the usual raffle and the announcement of the winner of the Photographic Competition, which this year was entitled “Seen on the river – this made me smile”, judged by Val & Mike Lodge (last year’s winners), won by Stuart Francis and Sue Macdonald with their photo of a rather large houseboat being towed along the river. We all left with minds and stomachs full. A successful meeting from every aspect!

Joy Tanner.

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 Autumn Rally and Sailpast 2015

Six boats, Boudicca, Lady Lara, Pheran, Sheer Beauty, White Velvet & Wight Panther (not forgetting Julie K who moors there) made the journey to Ashmount with two members, Mike & Maggie Peacey, attending by car. Derek and Marion had delivered the trailer the previous week and ODCC members soon had the tent erected and the new Hot Water Boiler switched on. The ladies went to Wallingford for supplies, whilst Ken and Stuart gave the trailer a bath. With tea and biscuits in the afternoon the weekend was off to a flying start.

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Soon it was time for the Fish and Chip Supper to be collected from Smarts in Wallingford. This was followed by tasty desserts and cheese and biscuits.  The evening’s entertainment was a Bingo Session with novelty prizes. The Club’s new Bingo Equipment worked well and experienced players and novices alike, commented that they enjoyed playing and would like to play again at future events. 

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The weather was fine and bright for the Sunday Sailpast with seven boats in the parade. Winning Spirit arrived right on time to take her place and we formed an orderly line.  The Commodore commented that it was a splendid Sailpast and it was good to see John and Helen Dawes viewing the parade from the Beetle and Wedge.

This year’s Concours D’Elegance was awarded to Stuart and Sue and the very smartly turned-out Sheer Beauty.

On our return to Ashmount we enjoyed the Commodore’s Reception and Safari Lunch.  It was good to see new members Wayne and Pauline Vallance in the afternoon. All too soon it was time to put the tent and equipment away for 2015. Three boats went upriver for a few days cruising, stopping at Clifton Hampden, Sandford and Abingdon, whilst the others went to their home moorings.   

Philip Sachse

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Oxford Ditch Summer Rally at Ashmount – 1st and 2nd August

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We, the Upper Thames Motor Yacht Club, were invited to join Oxford Ditch Cruising Club at Byron’s moorings. It must be the first time the downstream cruise of the UTMYC started its first two days going upstream, taking ten boats with it. Our Commodore and his lady, Lawrie and Sandra, and Lynne and Roger Barklett came by car. Although the Commodore of the ODCC is also a member of Upper Thames, I have to confess to not knowing Chris Seeney and his lady, Ann, but it was a real pleasure to become acquainted – what a lovely sense of humour he has!

Anyway, tea was served at 4.00 on Saturday and we gathered in the marquee – Byron attended walking with the aid of a stick – and when our glasses were charged, Chris gave a lovely welcome speech, well laced with humour. Our Commodore, Lawrie, responded on our behalf.

The ladies were already preparing the delicious and varied salads and we had a chance to chat to the friendly and welcoming members of the ODCC who immediately made us feel at home.

In the evening we assembled in the marquee (this time Byron drove his buggy into the marquee ready to eat), for a delightful meal of ham and egg pie, cold meats, salads and hot baby new potatoes. Pud was seasonal – strawberries and cream – what could be nicer?!? Sue and the eagle eyed Stuart (“Sheer Beauty”) were opposite us and when we sat down – because he noticed that Ian and I are like dwarfs – Stuart had supplied us each with a couple of cushions. Wasn’t that kind!

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After food we were divided into teams for a Chris Seeney Quiz. Not easy, but brain testing and very enjoyable. The winners were the “top” table with Ann Seeney (suspicious!?!), Rodney and Jeanne Davies, Malcolm and Lyn Page.

The evening finished on a high – most of us just snuggled into our cosy bunks but a few had car journeys.

The following day dawned bringing lovely warm sunshine. Breakfast of hot bacon rolls and coffee/tea was served in the marquee by a team of willing ladies – including our Barbara Sachse and Margaret Rennie. But the lure of the sun took a lot of us out onto the bank to eat. Then games of boule ensued – Eileen proved herself very able, but did not manage to win a heat – whereas Margaret Rennie did.

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Time came to dismantle the marquee and with all hands to the pump, it was seemingly down in a flash.

Sadly all things come to an end and we all wended our ways upstream, downstream or home.

A big thank you to ODCC for making the week end so enjoyable and for making us feel so very welcome!

Patricia Blundell – Yacoba

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The Commodore Comments

I’d just like thank Patricia for providing the above report and to endorse her assessment of the weekend. We all had a most enjoyable time and even the weather was kind to us. Numbers attending were roughly the same from both Clubs and it was great to see the marquee full and the Ashmount waterfront lined with boats again. It really was a very friendly affair, lot of mixing and getting to know each other and with everyone pitching in and lending a hand where necessary. This was very evident on dismantling the marquee – never has it come down and been packed away so quickly!!

So thank you to everyone, from both Clubs, for making the weekend such a success – I’m sure its one we’ll want to repeat.

Commodore Chris

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Spring Rally at Ashmount 2015.

Its official!

Forget Easter, the first day of Spring or when the clocks go forward, for me, now in my dotage, the boating season really starts with the Oxford Ditch’s first bankside get together. So I approached our rally at Ashmount over the Bank Holiday weekend with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm.

Pheran’ and ‘White Velvet’ arrived halfway through the preceding week, determined to make the most of what promised to be half-decent weather with ‘Sheer Beauty’ and ‘Leoni Belle’ joining us later. Although we could only muster four boats on this occasion (five if I cheat and include ‘Julie K’ which already lives there), members coming for the day swelled the numbers and 21 sat down for the evening meal on Saturday. The feature dish, Cassoulet d’Ashmount, prepared and cooked on-site by our very own Queens of Cuisine was very well received and attracted many well-deserved compliments. There followed the customary quiz and raffle, the first as part of the Ditch’s continuing attempts to keep brains active (just a service to Members, folks), with the raffle designed to deter people from sloping off to bed too early!

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Sunday started well with a gut-buster breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and rolls expertly cooked by Val & Mike. Whilst there were fewer folk around, those that were left ate, drank and chatted together and enjoyed the company throughout the day..

The good weather held until Monday so we were able to disassemble the marquee and pack it away in the dry. And then depart in our different directions for the ‘voyage’ home.

I’m glad to report that both Ken Hayes and Philip Sachse were at the rally on Saturday and that their recovery certainly seems to be being maintained. It was nice too, to have Gill Edwards amongst us and enjoying the day after her recent bouts of ill-health. Sadly, the Honorary Member’s knees don’t seem to be much better and I can’t help wondering whether he is having to spend too much time down on them in front of The Eileen, begging forgiveness for his latest sin!!

Special thanks to Derek & Marion, although unable to attend the rally itself, nevertheless turned out to deliver the trailer, help erect the marquee and to collect it afterwards. To the Ladies, not only for their culinary skills but also for the hours of shopping beforehand. My thanks finally, to everyone who made this weekend a success. And that includes just about everyone. Here’s to the next time………………..

Commodore Chris

ps Since I have written the last three articles for Waterlog, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am trying to turn it into some sort of personal blog. If someone else would like to provide the write-up for the next rally, please speak up – you can be assured your offer will not be refused.

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ODCC AWAY WEEKEND 8 – 11 MAY 2015

It started off with 18 intended participants but close encounters of the surgical kind, as described in my previous Waterlog report below reduced the count by four. Then we learned that David Miller had suffered a fall which deprived us of his and Barbara’s company. Get well soon David.

So it was that that just 12 ‘survivors’ made their way to the Golden Lion at Hunstanton, arriving under an overcast sky and to a strong, cold wind that was whipping up significant white horses on the shallow waters of the Wash. Not the most inviting of prospects but personally I was used to leaden seascapes, having spent my boarding school days just a bit further down this East Coast. So many memories of biting easterly winds, freezing temperatures, short trousers and chapped knees! Even so, I too was glad when the following day the wind began to ease , the sun came out and temperatures began to rise a little.

This weekend break followed the pattern set for earlier ones in that we all did own thing during the day and then got together for a pre-dinner drink, followed by the meal itself. This part of East Anglia has a lot to offer the visitor with Sandringham just down the road, various historical sites, a choice of preserved steam railways as well as the town of Hunstanton itself. Ann and I managed to find both an Arts and Crafts exhibition and an Antiques Fair (at which I actually bought something. Bargain….!!) The hotel itself was clean, tidy and comfortable although a little ‘faded’ in parts. Everyone appeared to enjoy the weekend away although the consensus seemed to be that the evening meal probably wasn’t the best we had experienced, certainly when compared to others in the past. This was a pity since on a previous visit the food had been rated as very good. Ah well, one for the Management………………

Lastly, but certainly not least, many thanks to Marion Farrow for all her hard work in organising this event.

Commodore Chris

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COMMODORES COMMENTS  06/05/15 

Greetings. Herewith a couple of items for your information

Firstly, as some of you are probably aware, Philip Sachse and Ken Hayes have recently been the subject of the surgeon’s attention and have ‘gone under the knife’. I am happy to report that both seem to be making an excellent recovery and I’m sure that Members would wish to join with me in sending each of them our very best wishes and hopes for a speedy return to full health.

(Just a thought: Why is it that Mother Nature seems to be picking on Flag Officers?)

Secondly, (and with apologies for the delay in providing a report), some 20 or so Members met at the Four Pillars in Abingdon on Sunday 12 April for an informal lunch, something that has become an annual event in the Ditch‘s programme. Once again we enjoyed an excellent carvery meal at a very reasonable cost and in very pleasant surroundings. Since we were seated in the Conservatory, along with other diners, there was no real opportunity for the Commodore to get up on his hind legs and start pontificating, something of a relief to both Ditch Members and everyone else in the room I’m sure!

Anyway, they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I’ll leave the rest to a few of the photographs taken on the day.

My very best wishes to you all

Commodore Chris

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Fitting Out Lunch 2015 by Stuart Francis and Sue Macdonald.

On Sunday 22nd March, we attended the O.D.C.C. Fitting Out lunch at the Goring & Streatley Golf Club, an extremely pleasant venue, on a beautiful, mild spring day. Lets hope this is a foretaste of the months to come.

Twenty-seven members enjoyed a superb three course carvery lunch with a surprising choice of desserts, in convivial company. There followed a short address by the Commodore, during which, as new members, we were presented with our regalia.

The occasion continued with an illustrated talk on ‘Wildlife on the Serengeti’ by Nigel Glover-Wright who has been travelling to the Serengeti for 43 years. This featured some classic, textbook quality close ups of an astonishing variety of wildlife. Nigel was also able to bring the slide show alive with some interesting and sometimes scary tales of his experiences in Africa over the years.

A raffle rounded off the proceedings and this seems to be a bit of an O.D.C.C. tradition.

Our previous two events with the O.D.C.C. had been as guests, so this time as official members, it was a pleasant opportunity to reinforce some recently made friendships, and we are looking forward to the next O.D.C.C. event.

Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald

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ATYC Dinner Dance March 2015 by Ian Fitzpatrick.

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First Saturday in March, now what does that mean, ah yes the annual ATYC Dinner Dance. For the last few years the dance has been held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Marlow but before that it was variously held at Phyllis Court and the Runnymede Hotel. Whispers have it that it will move on again next year!

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Shirley and I arrived in Marlow after the “long” drive up from Dorset to meet with Chris & Kay Dietrich and some other friends at the Two Brewers in Marlow where we had a very nice lunch. After checking in to our rooms we met some other friends in the bar conservatory and had a good catch-up on events since last year. And indeed Emma Abbott found her way there too.

Then in true ODCC style a room aperitif was offered by Mike and Barbara Rowlett but held in Chris and Kay’s room where we were also joined by Barry and Jane Jackson. This all made me rather late in getting ready but I eventually met everyone in the bar before being presented to the Chairman and officers and going in to dinner.

Dinner consisted of Thai Fish cakes followed by standard banqueting fare of roast chicken and a chocolate tort sweet, coffee and chocolates to finish with. Before the music started there was the unusual ritual of clubs “taking wine” with each other, Chris Dietrich toasted the Richmond club but I forget which club toasted ODCC! On a table nearby were Philip and Barbara Sachse.

Music was provided by a disco with the name of Little and Large, their music proved popular and the dance floor was in use most of the time. About 120 attendees appeared to enjoy the evening and by midnight we were probably down to about 50 or so for the final Auld Lang Syne.

A hearty breakfast was enjoyed by most before we checked out and wended our way homewards. It was a good opportunity to catch up with old friends from the Thames, but disappointing to see so few Ditchers. Never mind, those who did attend enjoyed themselves.

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Commodore’s Mumblings – 1st March 2015

Motorboat Owner

It is possible, perhaps probable, that some of you are already aware of this on-line digital magazine which is aimed, as its name suggests, at motor boat owners and all those who have an interest in boating matters. To those who haven’t discovered it yet, its well worth a look and what’s more, its free!!

The magazine, which is published monthly, provides an attractive mix of news items, practical articles, tests of both new and second-hand boats and advice on a range of related subjects covering both coastal and inland waters. And it doesn’t just confine itself to the type of boat most of us can only dream of – a mistake that too many publications seem to have made in the past. Indeed, the March issue contains a very comprehensive article on the Broom 30. And the feature on fire safety aboard should be compulsory reading!

Motorboat Owner is the brainchild of Neale Byart and Claire Frew, both of whom have amassed a wealth of boating experience and an enviable reputation as journalists in this field. Some members may remember them from their days at the now-defunct Motor Boats Monthly magazine and their Cruises in Company. It was they who first got Ann & I hooked on Holland!

Motorboat Owner can be found at http://www.motorboatowner.co.uk

And if you scroll down to Page 10, the Inbox Section, you will find that the editors have been good enough to publish a letter from me extolling the benefits of joining a Club – and the Oxford Ditch in particular!!

Commodore Chris

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Christmas Lunch at the George Wallingford 2014.

On Sunday 14th December, we attended our first Christmas lunch with the Oxford Ditchers and what a great afternoon it turned out to be.  Lovely venue, good food, great service and brilliant company on our table.  Judging by the sights and sounds around us, every other member of the club was having a good time also.  In his Address, the Commodore, on behalf of the Members, congratulated David & Dorothy Charlton on recently celebrating their Diamond Wedding Anniversary. Dorothy was presented with a bouquet and David with chocolates although the Commodore commented that David had undoubtedly already won First Prize in marrying Dorothy!! Flowers and chocolates were also handed out to Sarah and Richard, the Managers at The George and to other deserving recipients in recognition of the work they had undertaken in running the Club during the past year. With crackers, party poppers and funny hats the atmosphere was very jolly.  These events don’t just happen by themselves so our thanks to the Commodore and the organisers.  On our way home, we realised we hadn’t paid for my second glass of wine, so I hope we haven’t brought the club into disrepute and get black balled out before we’ve only just got started!  Merry Christmas to everyone and here’s hoping for great sunny boating in the New Year.

Maggie Peacey

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The 2014 Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held on 26 October at the Goring & Streatley Golf Club, attended by 23 members. Formal minutes will, of course be published in due course but in the meantime, this short account gives my personal ‘take’ on the meeting and should give those who were unable to attend a flavour of the proceedings.

Treasurer, Derek, reported that the Club’s financial position was broadly in line with predictions and with the targets the Committee had set. This had been due in large part to the economy measures it had been necessary to introduce and these would need to be continued. Fortunately, these had had minimal effect on Members enjoyment of Club activities.

In my own remarks, I drew attention to the fact that the Club had ‘survived’ another year. This was not just a throwaway comment but marked an achievement in a year in which many were experiencing difficulties and yet another long-established Club had folded. I expressed my confidence in the ODCC’s ability to continue to succeed and thanked the Flag Officers and Committee members for all their hard work in this respect.

There were the following nominations for Officers and Committee

Commodore – Chris Seeney

Acting Vice-Commodore – Philip Sachse

Rear-Commodore – Ken Hayes

Honorary Secretary – Barbara Sachse

Honorary Treasurer – Derek Farrow

Committee –– Marion Farrow, Mike Lodge, Val Lodge, Malcolm Page and Ann Seeney

Proposer – Philip Sachse, Seconder – Margaret Rennie

It will come as no surprise that all were elected unopposed!!

Chris and Kay Dietrich, who were not standing for re-election, were thanked for all their hard work in the past.

Other business included the re-election of Byron Alexander as Honorary Member (it is a quirk of Club Rules that this has to be done annually), Resolutions concerning the reduction of the joining fee for new members were passed, Philip reported back from his attendance as ODCC representative at RUG meetings and Mike Rowlett was thanked for continuing to act as the Club’s Independent Financial Examiner.

There then followed a quite excellent carvery lunch. I must say the catering at the Golf Club never fails to impress!!

Hopefully, I shall see many of you at the Christmas Lunch at the George on 14 December. To those who won’t be there and indeed, to all our Members, may I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Flag Officers and Committee, to wish you and yours the Compliments of the Season and all the very best for 2015.

Commodore Chris

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ODCC Autumn Rally & Sail Past 2014 by Gill & Alan Edwards.

When the marquees were erected on the afternoon of Thursday 4th September, it was agreed by all that the weather was set fair for a weekend messing about on boats, and so it was to be.

Saturday saw more boats arriving after long voyages from their home moorings, all agreeing there is nothing so nice as messing about on the river. Alcohol started to flow after tea and biscuits, and more later to accompany the excellent pork BBQ provided by Derek & Marion, which followed the Commodore’s Reception. Chris provided an excellent quiz and Philip surprised us with his Bingo calling (not to mention the near failure of his equipment). We rounded off the evening with the customary raffle provided again by Derek & Marion.

After a good night’s sleep we all tucked into bacon butties on Sunday morning.  In all eight boats attended the Rally: – Ashmount, Boudicca, Julie K, Lady Lara, Pheran, Sheer Beauty (guests of Ken & Jan), White Velvet and Wight Panther and all took part in the Sail Past on Sunday morning. All dipped their ensigns to salute Chris & Ann, a true appreciation of their work for the Club. There followed a Safari Lunch (with no camels), a wonderful weekend with boats and friends!

The Concours D’Elegance Trophy was presented to Ken & Jan on Boudicca.

Good boating!

G & A aboard “Julie K”

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