Wednesday, 22 October 2014

From Streatley to Kingston

via Maidenhead.

Thames Hotel

When I left MWNN and The Swan yesterday, I drove to The Thames Hotel, Maidenhead.

View from bedroom

The hotel is in a lovely location, overlooking the River Thames.

I took lots of pictures of the river and boats late yesterday afternoon.

Rude narrowboat helmsman

There was one very unpleasant experience as I took a photo of a narrowboat approaching the moorings. The helmsman swore continuously and told me to stop taking photos of his home. In all my 30+ years of boating, I have never been so abused. Most boaters are pleased to have their boats photographed

River is about 3 inches below the level of the walkway

The river is very high at the moment,

Autumn leaves on the Thames

but still beautiful, as always.

The squiggles are where TheD stopped for a few minutes

This morning, as I checked the Garmin tracking after breakfast, I spotted that TheD was approaching my hotel.

Rolling the trousers

I took my camera outside and saw that TheD was removing her long trousers. The temperature was about 9 degrees C, a bit chilly for shorts in my opinion.

TheD took off again without noticing me.

and soon disappeared towards the bridge over the river

I left The Thames Hotel at about 9.30 and had a horrendous journey to my next overnight stop at The Antoinette, Kingston upon Thames. I made the mistake of setting my Garmin Satnav to avoid motorways. Instead of taking the M4, I selected the A4 route and was held up crossing Slough (to be avoided in future). On the other side of Slough, I stopped and re-set the Satnav. A short distance on the M4 was followed by a slightly longer one on the M25, then a long approach on the A308 to the hotel, on the far side of Kingston.

After a very stressful drive, I was looking forward to a cup of tea.

Unfortunately, the hotel staff is international. Tea was served - a pot of hot water + teabags. By the time I realised this, the water had gone well off the boil (if it was ever on the boil). Luckily, I'd made a flask of tea before setting off and drank that with the hotel's milk and biscuits.

I am regularly disappointed with English hotels that do not train their staff how to make tea.

About 4.5 hours later, TheD passed , Hampton Court Palace about a mile from her hotel in Hampton Wick, across the river from Kingston.and just across the river from my hotel.

Tomorrow is the final day. The 184th mile is at The Thames Barrier.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Family Birthday meal

At this time of the year, we try to get together with TheD for a joint birthday celebration. This year, she is half-way through her 184 mile Thames Path adventure.

MWNN and I have happy memories of eating at The Beetle and Wedge during our summer cruises. TheD, therefore booked in for an overnight stay, yesterday, and MWNN, SIL, and I joined her for dinner.

It was a very relaxed affair. The service was attentive and, while the food was not as we remembered it from the days Richard Smith was the Chef, we had a lovely meal.

Earlier in the day, I'd checked in at The Swan at Streatley ( a mere 2 miles from the B&W), where MWNN and Ron was to join me for the night.

We had a huge twin room with internal balcony overlooking a side stream of the Thames.

Breakfast was in the conservatory overlooking the Thames. The view from the table was inspiring.

After a very late breakfast this morning, we walked Ron around the hotel grounds. MWNN was waiting for Kevin from Autoglass to repair his windscreen which had cracked as he drove down the M1 on Monday afternoon.

TheD  passed this spot before we were even out of bed.

The Thames Path cuts across the hotel's car park.

While we waited for the Autoglass man, we had tea and scones in The Boat House Deli and Cafe.

Then it was time for MWNN to take Ron and head for home, and me to head for The Thames Hotel, Maidenhead.

I'm looking forward to an Italian meal in the The Trevi Restaurant later.

Tomorrow is the penultimate day of this ultra of all ultras. I'll be at The Antoinette in Kingston upon Thames by lunchtime. It will take TheD a bit longer to arrive at her destination.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Late Lunch

with TheD after her 37 mile run today.

Garmin tracker at Sandford Lock

The Garmin tracking lost the signal for a huge chunk of the trail, but was OK for the last few miles around Oxford.

I spotted her jogging to Sandford Lock crossing, on the opposite bank of the river from The Four Pillars Hotel.

From there it was a long walk back along the opposite side of the river to the hotel's drive.

She checked in to the hotel just after 15.30 and asked for a pint of ale and a pint of soda water with lime wedges.

We had a leisurely lunch in the bar in front of the fire.

I'd been at the hotel since 14.00 and was ready for some food. While I waited, I'd done a little knitting, checked the Garmin, and wandered the grounds.

They're very beautiful (anywhere near a river is beautiful in my opinion).

There was a wedding ceremony scheduled for 14.00 in the riverside gazebo. The Bride was a little late and it can't have been nice for the guests sitting waiting because there was a very stiff wind blowing up the river.

The Bride finally arrived and the ceremony began.

I'm looking forward to a meal at The Beetle and Wedge tomorrow evening, with TheD, SIL, and MWNN.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day 1

shadowing TheD on her 184 mile run.

The link to Garmin tracker was in my inbox before I started breakfast at 8am.

By the time I'd finished breakfast and was back in my room, TheD had completed over 7 miles and was navigating her way through the lakes 17 miles west of Lechlade.

SIL took part in a parkrun in Oxford, and, by 11am, we were having morinng tea in The Swan Hotel.

View of Lechlade moorings, from The Thames Path

Just before TheD arrived for a late(ish) lunch, I took a walk in the Riverside Park Lechlade.

The footpath here is part of the Thames Path.

There was a gypsy caravan of the old-fashioned variety in the car park. As I crossed the fields to the footpath, I cam across this poor fellow, tethered and alone apart from a half-full water bucket.


I then set off for the next destination point on the journey, stopping briefly for a light lunch.

By the time I reached my hotel in Oxford, TheD had arrived, muddy, but safe, at the Swan.

After the game

From my hotel window, I can look directly into Oxford United's pitch.

Despite the proximity of the stadium, there was no noise in my room before, during, or after the match

I wonder why the floodlights are on?

Pity I can't see either goalpost.

Tomorrow I am on tracking-duty again. I will have to stay in the hotel as my smartphone isn't able to connect to the website without wifi for some unknown reason. (Yes, I have data-enabled)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Journey down the Thames

I booked into The New Inn, Lechlade earlier this afternoon.

The car park is accessed through the old coach entrance. My room is on the first floor above this entrance, overlooking the  car park and river.

The New Inn is an ancient coaching inn backing on to the banks of The River Thames.

Before settling into my room, I had a quick tour of the Market Place, beginning with the river bank at the rear of the hotel.

I picked up a few things from the supermarket opposite the hotel and read the information board alongside.

Then I made my way into the church tucked away behind Market Place. The alleway alongside leads to Shelley's Walk, through the churchyard.

The church of St Lawrence is lovely, both inside and out.

The church is very welcoming. I like the touch of humour in this notice.

There was an organ practice taking place inside. Judging by the comments in the visitors' book, this is a frequent occurrence.


Thursday, 16 October 2014

Another lovely fortnight

in Southwold.

Cottage garden at the front of the house

MWNN and I returned to the holiday cottage we'd sampled in April. It was as lovely as we remembered it, spacious, warn and with a cottage garden that wrapped around three sides.

Checking out the beach Friday evening

We walked the beach on most days. Rain stopped play on only two out of the fourteen. The day we arrived, we picked up the keys and went straight down to our favourite spot on the beach.

Foot spa

On some days, we had a foot spa in the sea. Sea water works wonders on the hard skin on heels.

'nother foot spa

The sea temperature wasn't warm for my first foot spa but it wasn't freezing.

Ron enjoying water play

Ron really enjoys his trips to the beach. Like previous visits, he was sociable with the dogs he met (mostly) and was keen to join in their games.

Ooh look, balls

His interest was captured during one afternoon tea session at the new cafe. It has a putting green and, on Sunday, their were lots of tourist playing, taking things very seriously.

Need a ball boy?

Despite the fact that people were knocking little balls into holes and the balls obviously needed fetching, Ron behaved immaculately and made no sound while watching play.

Fishing boat on River Blyth

We saw lots of wildlife again, including a stoat crossing the road at the RNLI station in the Harbour, and a seal swimming up the River Blyth after the fishing boat.

Feeding time

MWNN was well known to the gulls by the end of the first week. He took our stale bread to feed them on many days.

Mine. No mine!

Jouveniles and adults, little terns, and starlings all jostled for their share and there were many squabbles.

The humans ate out quite often, too. Afternoon tea at the Cafe on the Green.

Two Magpies Bakery provided afternoon tea cakes for eating in the conservatory.

The bakery lost Brownie points, however, as it no longer provides ciabatta bread. MWNN and I find their sour-dough based breads too heavy. However, they still do an award winning wholemeal loaf that is quite wonderful.

View from table in the Sole Bay Inn

We enjoyed lunch at the Sole Bay Inn on three occasions (once with friends of MWNN).

Sole Bay has a lot of regulars there at lunchtime. One very aged man arrives for an after-lunch drink on a mobility scooter and is always escorted in and out by the bar staff or a local.

The food (served all day)  is good, home-cooked pub fare and the best Adnam's on-tap in the town (Adnams Brewery is opposite the pub).

The specials board offered Dover Sole with seasonal vegetables - when in Southwold, opting for the fish special is usually the best choice.


Coasters is another favourite lunch spot. It's dog-friendly and, with parking in the town centre limited to 30 minutes, is an ideal venue for us. The day we ate there, we'd left the car at the car park on Ferry Road. Lunch was a welcome break before the walk (about a mile) back to the car.

Tempura King Prawns

Coasters serves excellent Tempura King Prawns and a good battered cod. The downside is that there is no beer on tap. MWNN tried a Calvors Lodestar Festival Ale. I had a sip and found it reasonably pleasant. Fruity rather than bitter, and very smooth.


So, what did we do for two weeks in Southwold? Not a lot. There was no pressure to do anything. We built up our stamina for walking again and enjoyed some fine beach-combing.

Presents and cards

I had a quiet birthday celebration on 2nd and was surprised and pleased to receive cards and flowers at Goose Corner.

Late afternoon shadows, MWNN and Ron

As with many of our visits to Southwold, the weather was very kind to us.

In the Harbour Car Park

We enjoyed most days at the beach, taking a picnic lunch down at the Harbour Car Park.

Ice-creams on the beach

The first week of our holiday was in The Season and there were lots more people in the town and on the beach, particularly in the sunny weather. The beach cafes were doing a roaring trade. We had to wait for a 'table' to have a bacon roll for lunch on the sunniest of all days, but it was worth the wait.

Most of the beach huts damaged in the winter storms have been replaced or re-furbished.

We noticed that there are more for hire this year. With prices starting at about £220 a week, no matter what the time of year, we decided to stick to our arrangement of holiday cottage + Berlingo.


Some of the houses on the beach at the Harbour end, are also for hire. These were evacuated in the floods, and some are still in need of restoration.

Mandalay seems to have escaped relatively unscathed.

Common Seal Harbour entrance

To say I enjoyed the fortnight would be an understatement.

I love being so close to nature and am looking forward to spending time on our narrowboat when she finally reaches her mooring in Northamptonshire.

Before then, I am preparing to 'ghost' The Daughter on her six-day 184 mile run, starting this weekend.