Informal Lunch Kings Arms, Sandford April 2019 (A second perspective)
It was a grey and misty morning when we left our home near Bath to meet our Oxford Ditch friends at the Kings Arms Sandford on Thames. Stuart and I were first to arrive quickly followed by our fellow diners.
We bought our drinks and settled at our table, which was in a quiet alcove, some of us looking out onto the Thames. Joy mentioned that she often used to frequent the area with her Father and used to cycle along the tow path when she was about 10. Others mentioned that they had had a mooring just down from the Sandford Arms. We ordered our lunch and settled in to catch up with all the news. Apparently there had been three eye operations all within the last few months. Then it was on to our favourite subject, boats, cleaning and getting ready for the summer.
Before lunch arrived, a long service presentation was made to Ken & Yvonne Chappell for 40 years with the club.
Lunch was served and general chit-chat ensued with talks of holidays, boats etc, and of course the loss of Freddie, Phil and Barbara’s dog of many years, who I think we all remember for the barking through the locks on our cruises. I know we will miss him as will all those who remember him.
After lunch, a tombola was held with everyone getting something, being wine, chocs or Easter eggs, biscuits and home-made chicks stuffed with crème eggs. Anne won a red rose, which was going to go on our former Commodore’s grave (Chris). We have very fond memories of him as he instigated, along with Ann his wife, our committee membership.
The lunch came to an end and we all departed for our homes it was a long and enjoyable lunch and it was great that thirteen of us attended. It was a good location and we look forward to meeting everyone at the next Oxford Ditch event.
Catch up with you all soon and our next outing is the weekend away. See you all soon,
Informal Lunch at the Kings Arms, Sandford on Sunday 7th April.
Many thanks must go to the Commodore and Committee for arranging this event. We had a different venue for our informal lunch which was held on Sunday 7 April in the Kings Arms, Sandford on Thames. It was very busy in the restaurant but we were seated in an area where the 13 members were able to sit together without interfering with the other diners having their lunch. The menu was self selection which turned out very good. The Committee managed to have a raffle which was very well organised and carried out very quietly and expertly by Ann Seeney which again did not interfere with the other diners. We had a very pleasant surprise when Barbara said they had a presentation to carry out which involved Ken and myself. We were presented with a long service certificate.
We understand that Stuart our Commodore and his good lady Sue were the instigators in this happening. Derek Farrow, who had obviously done his homework, made the point that we had been in the club for 40 years. We never realised that it was that long. How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. From our point of view it was a very enjoyable lunch.
It was good to meet up with our old friends, the Commodore and Committee members. Yvonne Chapell.
Fitting Out Lunch at Goring and Streatley Golf Club 2019 by Maggie Peacey.
Twelve of us arrived at the Golf Club in pouring rain and howling winds. We all sat round one table and enjoyed a friendly, chatty, easy going lunch. Ann Seeney worked her magic once more with a new style Tombola and we all went home with a gift for each pair. Barbara Sachse distributed the ODCC events programme for 2019 as there will be no Handbook this year.
The boats will soon be back in the water and a new boating season will begin for those members who still have boats. I thought I would share with you part of what the poet, Ted Hughes thinks of The River in March.
Now the river is rich, but her voice is low.
It is her Mighty Majesty the sea travelling among the villages incognito.
Now the river is poor. No song, just a mad whisper.
The winter floods have ruined her.
She squats between draggled banks, fingering her rags and rubbish.
Now the river is rich. A deep choir.
It is the lofty clouds, that work in heaven,
Going on their holiday to the sea.
Christmas Lunch at The George Wallingford 2018.
Small but beautifully packaged might be a description of our Christmas lunch. Twenty four members of the club were welcomed by our new Commodore, Stuart Francis.
Three tables were festively decorated with hats, crackers, party poppers and whizzy balloons which were soon flying round the room. A very sparkly Christmas tree enhanced the room and a variety of Christmassy jumpers and ties were in evidence on club members. The food was plentiful and very good and everyone seemed to enjoy it. As always, the service at The George was excellent. It was lovely to see Margaret Rennie back among us, looking very well and she appeared to enjoy the company at her table.
Sue Palmer won the free raffle, a box full of Christmas goodies. Flowers and chocolates were distributed to various committee members in appreciation of the hard work they undertake, arranging various events on behalf of club members during the year.
Appreciation was also shown to the staff members of The George who had looked after us so well once again. A most enjoyable event to celebrate Christmas with club members.
ODCC Spring Rally Henley.
The ODCC Boats at the Spring Rally in Henley were Sheer Beauty & Lady Lara. The weather was good and arriving on the Town Moorings both found a bank side place. Chris and Emma saw us arrive and popped over to see us from their moorings on the opposite bank. Sue & Stuart’s friend Jan joined us for a very pleasant afternoon tea in the River & Rowing Museum Cafe. The following day Sue & Stuart, Barbara & I walked into Henley heading for the ODCC lunch at Cafe Rouge. There we met Derek & Marion, Bob & Joy and Margaret who had come by car. We had a good lunch and an opportunity to catch up on the news. After the meal we returned to the boats for afternoon tea.
Whilst preparing to leave the following day a young lad took a great interest in our boat. We invited him, his Mother and Father and Sister for a ride on the boat to Henley Bridge and back to Marsh Lock. They accepted and said they really enjoyed it, they had not anticipated a river cruise on their visit to Henley. We left the cruise at Sonning Lock and returned to our mooring, leaving Sue and Stuart to make their way upriver to Benson.
Philip & Barbara Sachse
ODCC Downstream Cruise.
Following this year’s, rather damp, Safari lunch at Beale Park on 29th July, we motored away downstream, destination Henley. We had planned to take a leisurely three weeks for the run down to Hampton Court and back, calling in at Cookham, Windsor, Egham and Shepperton on the way.
Ken and Jan in Boudicca caught us up shortly after we arrived in Henley and accompanied us for the rest of the trip, during one of our hottest summers for years. On our first day in Windsor, Philip and Barbara in Lady Lara arrived on their way to Rochester with the Upper Thames club. The next day they were off downstream again, stealing a march on the rest of the UTMYC fleet who turned up later in the afternoon. This provided a good opportunity for socialising, as over the years, we have got to know several of the Upper Thames members.
A night in Shepperton Marina enabled Sue to catch up with some laundry and me to do a little light ironing.
We’d pencilled in two nights at Hampton Court, which allowed us a full day on the Tuesday to take the trip boat down into Kingston for some light shopping and a heavy lunch.
Back up through Egham to Windsor again where Ken won himself some free beer (don’t ask) and we settled in to await the arrival of Lady Lara on her way back from the tideway.
Here I will hand over to Barbara for her account of their trip to Rochester and our run back up to Sonning.
Stuart Francis & Sue Macdonald
Part 2 by Barbara & Philip Sachse
We left Windsor early afternoon on the 3rd August heading for Egham as we wanted to get fuel at Shepperton on the following day and knew that there might be a queue for fuel later. This proved to be a wise move as Shepperton Marina started rationing fuel the next day. After refuelling we carried on to Hampton and moored up outside Hampton Court Palace.
The following day it was on to Teddington to catch the early tide to Rochester. We ate at Carluccio’s and had an early night to be ready for the journey next day. We left Teddington at 8:30am on Monday and arrived at Rochester Cruising Club at 3pm. The weather was good and sea state “slight” and Lady Lara behaved perfectly.
Rochester Cruising Club made us very welcome with diesel, electricity and water available on the pontoon. Tuesday the UTMYC Fleet arrived in Rochester (having stopped overnight in West India Dock, we acted as Mooring Marshalls and directed the Fleet to its berths. Later we went sightseeing and shopping in Rochester Town. Wednesday we visited Upnor Castle on the banks of the Medway. It was built by Henry VIII to defend Chatham Dockyard. That evening Rochester CC arranged a very nice meal for us in their clubhouse.
We left Rochester for the Thames at 7am on Thursday morning, raining all the way! We reached Teddington at around 3pm, stopping overnight at Hampton Court again, then on to Weybridge Mariners. We caught up with Sheer Beauty and Boudicca at Windsor on Saturday. Next morning Sue & I headed off to the shops for some retail therapy. Then on to Marlow, where work on the Marlow Flood Alleviation Scheme caused us to have a very long walk to the shops.
We all enjoyed a meal at the Catherine Wheel in Henley, before a trawl of the Charity shops! Next day we set out on the last leg of our trip to our mooring at UTMYC in Sonning, where Sheer Beauty and Boudicca stayed overnight before they made their way back to their home moorings at Benson.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise in good company, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Barbara & Philip Sachse
Beale Park Picnic Rally Sunday 29th July
By Pauline Vallance
Well who would have ever thought the torrential rain we experienced! Only for the brave! Sue & Stuart (Shear Beauty) arrived first on Saturday, and then Pauline & Wayne (All’s Fair) arrived late pm on Saturday. We all chatted away admiring Sue’s amazing puzzle and refit of the boat, until 7.30pm and realized we were all hungry – so each of us cooked on our boats. On Sunday morning we discovered Barbara & Philip’s boat (Lady Lara), needed a new cable and were rapidly sorting it out to attend the picnic.
In the meantime, torrential rain took over the afternoon, and Stuart & Sue visited All’s Fair for another chat and we decided to have the picnic on board All’s Fair, given the weather. Sue & Stuart braved the weather to go back to their boat and brought along food, and eventually at 2pm all hungry again, we were ready for our Picnic with some welcomed wine from Barbara & Philip. Lots of historical stories, not least one about Barbara falling overboard, led to lots of laughter.
Whilst just 6 of us, we all had an amazing time with great company, and great food. This goes to show that no matter what the weather a good time can always ensue!!!
ODCC Summer Rally at Benson.
Lady Lara set off on Sunday 9th July with our good friends Jo & Kevin (boaters from Bath) aboard. We spent the night at Pangbourne Meadows and left for Benson on Monday morning. The weather was extremely hot, but we mustn’t complain! We moored up at Rodney & Jeanne’s mooring just above Benson Lock and took the short walk to visit Sue & Stuart on Sheer Beauty in the Marina.
Lunch was scheduled for 12.30pm on Tuesday at the Benson Waterfront Cafe, we were expecting 14 diners which included Clive & Jill Folley, whom we hadn’t seen for some time, it was so nice to catch up with their news. Then a fifteenth member arrived. Eileen Alexander had left us a message, after we had left home, to say she was coming. What a lovely surprise!
After an enjoyable lunch, Sheer Beauty and Lady Lara set off for Day’s Lock with those who wanted a trip on the river and we all had a very pleasant cruise. The Commodore took a turn at the helm of Sheer Beauty to renew his boating skills.
We’re looking forward to the next Rally at Beale Park on Sunday 29th July. I hope as many of you as possible can join us.
ODCC Weekend Away 2018
Exmouth ! What can I say? Nice Hotel, beautiful weather, engaging company and lots to see and do; the perfect recipe for this year’s weekend away.
Thirteen members and guests assembled at the imperial Hotel on the front at Exmouth this year and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
New National trust members Philip and Barbara, keen to make the most of their membership decided to visit “A la Ronde” on Saturday morning and Ann, Sue and myself joined them. After a light lunch and some investigation by Philip, the afternoon was occupied with a boat trip up the estuary towards Topsham.
It was Philip’s birthday on the Sunday, (he was 21 again!) so we suggested that he chose the itinerary for the day. As a result, seven of us went to visit Killerton House. This took up most of the day, as there was also a classic car show in the grounds. From there it was a short hop to Clyston Mill, which was still in use grinding flour. This left us just enough time for a cream tea in Topsham before returning to the hotel in time for dinnerWhile all this was happening, our Commodore and his lady, Derek and Marion had been busy exploring the local area and managing to include a train trip to ensure Derek didn’t suffer any withdrawal symptoms.
By special request, Sue had made Philip a rather impressive two-tier birthday cake, complete with boat and anchors, which rounded off the day quite nicely.
Everyone was quite sad to be leaving for home on Monday morning, especially as the weather was still so good, but there’s always next year.
Fat Cat to Weybridge
Coco is a well-padded, middle-aged cat who is terrified of almost everything apart from field mice and elastic bands. For some time now we had discussed the possibility of taking her away with us for a weekend on the river and the first Friday in July finally decided it.
We normally make sure she’s in the house if we have planned a weekend on the boat and I’d arrived home at about 3:30 pm as usual on the Friday, and couldn’t find the cat. This was fairly normal as she has a habit of hiding in the most inaccessible places. I was fairly certain she was in, but I didn’t know where, so I just started loading the car for the trip to the boat.
Sue arrived at 5:45 pm and immediately asked if the cat was in; I said I thought so, but that I hadn’t seen her. Sue immediately pointed out that as I’d been loading the car with the front door left open, it was probable that Coco had nipped out. This wasn’t looking very good from my viewpoint! Sue was obviously convinced that I’d inadvertently let the cat out and because we couldn’t leave until Coco decided to return, she was off to Chippenham to collect some papers she needed and disappeared in a huff, leaving me feeling very guilty.
I closed the front door and turned around to see Coco sat in the middle of the hall, yawning and stretching. After some choice words and close questioning, she still refused to say where she’d been. I rang Sue, who’d only just reached the end of the road, and she was back in two minutes (so far, so good). I was in, Coco was in, the car was loaded and Sue was on her way back. What could possibly go wrong now?
The moment Sue opened the door the cat was out. I chased her down the garden, but she escaped into the field behind the pub and disappeared into the undergrowth. Now I was really in trouble.
It was this incident that made up our minds. This was the last time Coco would spend the weekend snoozing peacefully in the airing cupboard. From now on, she was going to get more fresh air and exercise, like it or not. If we could get her acclimatised to the boat, it would also mean that we would no longer need to worry about booking her into a cattery whenever we went boating for longer than a weekend.
A couple of Fridays later and we were Eastbound on the M4, with a very worried looking cat in her box on the rear seat. You could tell what she was thinking; car rides usually meant a visit to the Vet!
The weekend went quite well. I’d taken along some plastic netting, which I attached across the entrance to the small rear cabin, and Coco took up residence …..……..
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, I never managed to complete this particular report. Suffice to say that we did eventually reach Weybridge, and Coco went on to become a key member of the crew over the next few years. She finally came into her own when we bought our current boat in 2013, which she appeared to prefer over our previous craft.
Sadly, we lost Coco in 2016 at the ripe old age of 24 and we still miss her.
Its all down hill to Kingston (Circa 2005).
For a long time I had harboured an ambition to follow the route of Jerome K. Jerome’s adventures in the classic tale Three Men in a Boat, and this was my opportunity. Last year we had cruised up to Lechlade in Gloucestershire from our base in Reading, at Sue’s insistence, because it was a stretch of the river she had always wanted to see. Now it was my turn.
I wanted to reach Kingston Bridge, which was the starting point for Jerome’s skiff trip 116 years ago, and that was the target for the week. So, armed with a couple of books of old photographs of the Thames to help give a better feel for how the river would have looked a century earlier, we set off downstream.
Day one was a bit overcast and breezy, so we pushed steadily downriver and finally called it a day at Cookham.
The following morning while waiting for the lock, we were entertained by a Dutch barge trying (and failing) to get under the footbridge over the lock cut. The lock keeper eventually came to the rescue by lowering the water level by five or six inches to provide sufficient clearance. Apparently it was on its way up to Reading for a refit and, ironically, to have the roof lowered.
A couple of miles further on in the cut leading to Boulters lock, we noticed a blue English Heritage plaque on one of the houses on the island informing us that the presenter Richard Dimbleby had lived there for a while. The Thames is alive with interesting and historical connections if you do a bit of homework, from spotting houses of the rich and famous, to sites of greater historical importance. You can find yourself saying, I didn’t know so-and-so lived there or, so that’s where it happened.
The best place to moor in Windsor is the Brocas, on the Eton side of the river. The Windsor bank is a low concrete path and there is a constant stream of people walking past your windows. It’s a bit like mooring in a shopping mall.
We stayed a few hours for Sunday lunch and then carried on towards Runnymede. Jerome stopped off here to look at the stone in the house on Magna Carta Island on which King John is said to have signed the famous document, but this is private property now.
At the end of another long day, we found a National Trust mooring, just downstream of the Island. We thought we were a bit late in mooring up for the night, but as it turned out, we weren’t late enough. While we were tying up, a very friendly NT warden appeared to collect a mooring fee and despite our protestations that we were both NT members, he quietly relieved us of a fiver, at the same time pointing out that if we’d been ten minutes later we’d have missed him!
Sadly the original London Stone has been moved from its site on the outskirts of Staines, to protect it from vandals. This used to indicate the boundary of the jurisdiction of the City of London and was erected in 1285.
By now the weather was starting to clear and we stopped for the next night at a mooring on the original course of the river at Shepperton, as recommended to Sue by someone in Old Windsor lock. It was a pleasant ten minute walk across a park into the town, where there is a good range of shops and we returned later in the evening for an excellent meal in an Italian restaurant.
Tuesday dawned bright and sunny and it was a pleasure to be on the water as we cruised along past Walton towards Sunbury. It took us a few minutes to exit Sunbury lock. It had emptied, but only one of the gates had opened, then it closed and then it opened again and we were asked if we could squeeze out through. At 7ft beam it wasn’t a problem. On our return the following day, we discovered that a diver had been called in and had found something wedged underneath one of the gates.
On down to Kingston, in bright sunshine now, and we turned under the bridge and started back towards Hampton Court, our destination for the evening. Kingston Bridge was the departure point for Jerome & Co., and his description of the scene, with the sunlight sparkling on the water, could almost have been written yesterday (modern buildings notwithstanding).
The popularity of the river in Victorian times is evidenced by photographs from the turn of the century, which show an abundance of rowing boats available for hire from a variety of boathouses all along the river. Sadly, most of these hire businesses are long gone, but in many cases the buildings can still be seen in amongst more recent developments.
Pictures taken at locks show Victorians dressed in their Sunday best and giving the river a much more formal air, more of a sense of occasion. As Jerome says, “… the first thing we saw when we came in view of the lock was George’s blazer on one of the lock gates. Closer inspection showing that George was inside it!”
All the way down we had been surprised at how quiet the river was, given that this was early June and the weather (for the UK anyway) was quite good.
According to the Environment Agency there has been a steady decline in the number of hire boats on the river in recent years. I know of at least three bases which have closed between Oxford and Reading and maybe this accounts for it, as the majority of traffic nowadays seems to be either private boats or the big, passenger trip boats. All this made for a peaceful cruise and the only fly in our ointment was a wayward canoe at Harleyford, which wandered across our path every time we tried to overtake it.
We reached Hampton Court in bright sunshine, in the early afternoon and there is a very nice mooring right outside the gates of the privy garden. A quick tidy up and we were off to explore one of the country’s most famous palaces, but taking a leaf out of Jerome’s book, we refused to be tempted by the maze.
For dinner that evening we strolled up to one of the restaurants by the bridge. All in all, a very nice day spent in pleasant surroundings.
In the morning, we made a quick stop at Walton Marina for canopy repairs and ice cream and then it was on to Shepperton, this time for lunch at the Thames Court Hotel.
A couple years previously we had chanced upon an Italian restaurant on the main road near Runnymede and we wanted to visit it again as we were so close. Studying the map, we knew it should be close to the river so that evening we headed for a mooring site about a mile south of Runnymede. As we pulled in, Sue spotted an advert for the place pointing up a tiny lane between the houses and we booked a table for seven-thirty.
It is not always easy pinpointing the sites Jerome talks about, but we found the general area where J took his involuntary morning dip just below Magna Carta Island. Looking at old photos of the river, a lot of places have become overgrown in the intervening years or have been subject to major development and yet some places look almost the same. Many of the locks have been rebuilt of course, and although the ferries have disappeared, in some places you can still see where they used to run.
Another gorgeous day dawned and at Kris Cruisers in Datchet, we topped up with water and ice cream and then cruised on up past the Home Park and into Windsor.
It was my first visit to Windsor Castle and there is a lot to see. The restoration work following the fire in 1992 was particularly interesting and the new panelling gives the visitor a feel for how the whole castle must have looked when it was new. This contrasted well with some areas where you can still see evidence of smoke damage.
In the evening, we dined at a rather expensive riverside restaurant in Eton, and strolled back to the Brocas in the dusk.
The next day, approaching Monkey Island and thinking about Jerome again, I suddenly realised that somewhere around here there should be a battered tin of pineapple rusting away on the riverbed (you need to have read the book!).
We shared Marlow lock with a couple on a 26ft cruiser who were obviously having some difficulty in handling it. Sue discovered that they had only just collected this boat and we travelled upstream and within sight of them for several miles. We negotiated several locks with them and while it was probably amusing for any onlookers, it was painful to see people struggle for the want of some basic skills. Most of us go through this phase and we all know how much easier life is when you have some control over your boat. Unfortunately, circumstances dictated that we never had the opportunity to offer them any basic boat handling tips.
They wouldn’t let us stop at Marlow. We could see the No Mooring signs where we normally tie up, adjacent to the park, but as we only needed to stop long enough to switch over the fuel tanks, we thought we’d risk it. There was a man running up and down the bank, panicking as soon as we jumped off the boat. He appeared to be defending the Marlow waterfront single-handedly against all-comers, as some pontoons were due at any moment, ready for the forthcoming regatta. Things have changed a bit in the town since Jerome’s day, but you can still visualise the shopping trip up the High St, and the stately procession of loaded shopkeepers boys heading back towards the river.
It was quite late when we got through Hambleden Lock and we moored for the night between the lock and Temple Island.
Henley was busy preparing for the regatta and we woke in the morning to bright sunlight and the gentle rocking of the boat caused by various eights and fours sculling past at the end of the regatta course. In fact we encountered regattas at Marlow and Reading as well and were not shouted at once this year. Are rowers becoming more tolerant or is my driving improving?
We could have gone home today, but after much discussion and soul searching, the prospect of returning to work on Monday morning resolved the issue. We decided to hang on for the extra day and headed for Wargrave for our final night.
Jerome gives the George and Dragon at Wargrave a mention. Specifically the Inn sign (long gone now), as two members of the Royal Academy were responsible for painting a different representation of the George and Dragon scene on each side of it.
Also the Bull at Sonning, which he describes as “a veritable picture of an old country inn”, retains much of its character and as a consequence is very popular, aided no doubt by the quality of the food.
And so back to Reading, which has improved somewhat since Jerome’s time, as he chose not to stop here, but carried on to moor for the night at Goring. Back in the 1880’s he would have seen the old iron Caversham Bridge just above Piper’s Island, which was the only bridge across the river here at the time.
A number of the Thames bridges are scheduled ancient monuments (Radcot, Wallingford, Abingdon and Chertsy) and yet most of the time, we pass under them and just accept them as part of the scenery without realising how old some of them are. Many of the bridges on the lower half of the river date from the first half of the 20th century, as they replace iron, stone and timber structures which lacked the capacity to cope with the growing volume of traffic.
We had already travelled Jerome’s route from Reading to Oxford on a previous cruise, so now, having covered the waterway down to Kingston, I felt I had satisfied a long held ambition. To visit the scenes of those adventures from over a century ago, almost brings them alive. Plaster trout, dead bodies, sarcastic lock keepers and steam launches; some things you can still find and some things (thankfully) you can’t, but there is still the potential for conflict between rowers and powered craft and the Thames can still provide as much pleasure and entertainment now as it always has.
The boat: Viking 28
Pictures: Windsor, Hampton Court moorings.
Christmas Lunch at The George Wallingford 2017.
Another year has passed, and 29 of our ODCC members went to The George, at Wallingford to our celebratory Christmas lunch. The George, as always, were most accommodating, and special thanks to their Managers Sarah & Richard and their wonderful team who looked after us.
Derek our Commodore attended with his wife Marion and their daughter. Derek made a warm hearted speech recognising the years of Commodore service our beloved Chris and his wife Ann had given to the club over the years. A branded shield is on its way in the near future for Ann.
The room looked lovely with a sparkly Christmas Tree and lots of whizzy balloons squealing around the room to much amusement.
Our Commodore Derek, wished all of us well for the New Year, and reminded us to remember those less fortunate than ourselves. He also gave thanks to all who had helped over the year.
Our special guests this time were Mick and Carol Bicknell, past members who still house our trailer for us.
I proudly won the raffle hamper and special thanks to Lyn who put this together.
So on that note, once again I would like to share a small poem with you…
The kinship that is shared by all
Means that we are all supported and will never fall
Without the kindness shown
We therefore are not alone
With all the knowledge we share together
Means that special memories are there to treasure
We should never underestimate the thought that is there
And the ongoing efforts that go into care
So I wish you all a very healthy and kind Christmas and look forward to another super ODCC year!
Autumn Cruise to Lechlade (Circa 2004)
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.
The boat: Viking 28
Pictures: Abingdon, Newbridge, Lechlade. ( Note to self: Remember to take the washing off the roof next time.)
Autumn Cruise 2017.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The company and cruising on our downstream cruise were very relaxed, which is why we all enjoy boating and long may it continue.
Donation Letter to Eileen in Memory of Byron.
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.
ODCC Summer Cruise 2017.
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
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
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
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
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
Joint Rally at Ashmount with UTMYC 16th to 17th July.
The report below was written by Neil Blake of UTMYC
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
12/02/16 Reply from the EA.
———————————————————————————————————-27th January 2016
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.
Barbara Sachse (Mrs)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Oxford Ditch Summer Rally at Ashmount – 1st and 2nd August
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!
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.
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
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.
Spring Rally at Ashmount 2015.
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!
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………………..
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.
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.
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
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
ATYC Dinner Dance March 2015 by Ian Fitzpatrick.
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!
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.
Commodore’s Mumblings – 1st March 2015
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!!
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.
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.
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.
G & A aboard “Julie K”