Monthly Archives: June 2015

Weybridge Reflections

If you pass through Weybridge via the Wey Navigation en-route to the Thames, you don’t really see much of the town, even though it’s very close. And if you pass through Weybridge by road, you would probably cross the main tree-lined Wey Road Bridge without ever noticing the canal.

Under Weybridge Road BridgeEntrance to Weybridge Town Lock

Yet, at the entrance to the Weybridge Town Lock, there’s sizeable basin by the old bridge, just a short way from the church at the end of the high street as the crow flies.


We stayed a couple of nights between the main bridge and Thames Lock: there’s a quiet towpath wandering past some impressive waterside properties, even if they’re not much to look at from the road side. Tucked away, unless you walked along the cut, you’d probably never know they were there. They made fine, if temporary neighbours. Must check out the local estate agent…


Coming Adrift

[Aside: Not quite sure why that post about the Dunkirk Little Ship has suddenly appeared… it was posted weeks ago, but has only just shown up. Ho Hum.]

The bank near The Anchor is rather soft and dry, and you need to ensure that any mooring pins are really secure and won’t pull out if another boat passes by. Kelly Ann clearly hadn’t!

Coming Adrift

Completely blocking the canal, and with no-one at the pub claiming ownership, we managed to board it, and with another passer-by (a boat yard chap from Byfleet way) poled it back alongside, then as a hint, really secured their pins. The Byfleet chap mentioned that their barge pole was rotten in the middle, and that he had several shiny new ones at his yard, should we see the culprits return.

The Kelly Ann  guys returned eventually, but rather than head downstream towards the Byfleet chap’s boatyard, they headed upstream. While trying to manoeuvre backwards into the marina entrance to turn round, their bargepole snapped…

Later, a wide-beam boat suffered the same pin-pulling indignity at the same spot. A posh chap in a tupperware cruiser arrived and fulminated “they’re blocking the navigation, you know” as though it was a deliberate, thoughtless act leaving a boat in his way, and proceeded to mutter mutter mutter while we pinned that one back too. Strange.

Setting off late on Sunday afternoon, just to move away from the pub, the wide-beam had almost come adrift again, but we squeezed past while another boater went to sort it out. We moored up not far away, then on Monday pottered gently down to the delights of Weybridge, through New Haw and Coxes Lock.

Dunkirk Ho

Belatedly reading the newspapers, the Captain was delighted to see the aforementioned lovingly restored Lazy Days in a photograph of the small ships flotilla setting out to sea on their visit to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation, and the weather was set fair for the crossing. Good luck to them all.

Ooohh What a Whopper…

… or the one that got away!

Back at the boat on the Friday, washing all up-to-date, cook suitably gardened-out and broke, Biggles sunburnt from sitting in the middle of the lawn in bright sunshine for several days showing the next-door incomer who’s boss… and Fran spotted a huge fish circling the boat, fin out of the water, just like Jaws.

Apparently he/she’s a well known local resident, having set up home in the marina at least 15 years ago, A Ghost Carp, probably weighing in at over 25 pounds, and as yet no-one has managed to get it to take a lure, despite years of trying. Seems it’s often accompanied by some other large-ish Koi Carp, but we didn’t spot those.

Reluctant to spend another night in the marina, we set sail for the long haul across to The Anchor, (5 minutes to get out of the marina onto the navigation, 1 minute to moor up). Then stayed there through to Sunday, as Pauline, our temporary crew member from the trip south to Godalming, offered to pick one of us at home after returning the car and bring us back via Waitrose in time for Sunday lunch. Nice weather, nicely positioned pub, Father’s Day… it was a leisurely lunch!

Nice to be back on the boat again, as well.

Misses and Hits

Sunday morning, and a horrible wet start to the day.

Biggles’ BFF Emma had offered to run one of us home from The Anchor or Pyrford Marina on the Sunday afternoon to collect a car, so we could save the Captain the ignominy of travelling by bus or train in a basket. She couldn’t make it in the morning, because she was going walking with some friends and dogs, probably around the Ripley area. “Look out for us – we’re at Walsham Weir… drop in for a coffee”.

Walsham Wier/Lock House

Well, they walked over Walsham Weir and managed to miss Song & Dance completely, even though they must have passed with 15 metres of the boat. Biggles was most upset, and intimated that Emma’s status as BFF might now be in doubt. He was so disgusted that he took to drinking the hard stuff: the water level on the navigation dropped noticeably.

Biggles gets a thirst on

Annie (a Ram Club devotee,  one-time morris widow, one-time resident of Pyrford, who now lives in nearby Ripley)  did find us without difficulty, and brought a boat-owning friend over for coffee, biscuits and boat admiration. The sun came out and she stayed on as crew for the short cruise to The Anchor at Pyrford). When first married she and her husband lived on a narrowboat on the Wey Navigation, but this was the first time she’d been boating on a narrowboat for over 40 years.

Sitting in the sunshine at The Anchor drinking Guinness, the offer of free beer meant Emma could join us immediately… turned out that she went to school with Annie’s son. Small world. Making up for her previous lack of navigational skills (or myopia), Emma not only ran one of us home for the car, but as we were now mobile, invited us over for dinner too. Biggles has promised to reconsider her status.

Monday morning saw the boat moved across the canal into the Marina, tied up and plugged in, and the car filled with dirty washing: guess what the crew members who aren’t going round gardens in the Cotswolds will be doing.

Dunsborough Park Gardens

With the previous evening’s change of “plan” and Saturday morning chores completed, a short cruise brought us back to the lovely mooring spot just above Walsham Weir we’d stayed at on the way up. (Notice how – despite the recent  bombardment of punny boat names – I resisted the temptation to write “on the Wey up”).

One passes the back entrance of the Dunsborough Park estate on the familiar walk to Ripley along the edge of the common. Apparently Liz Taylor spent one of her (many) wedding nights there.

Having missed out on her garden spotting group’s tulip-time visit in the spring, Fran had noticed that they were having a garden open day that afternoon. Feeling an urgent need to get into training for her earlier than expected trip round the Cotswolds, the die was cast…

Dunsborough Park GardensDunsborough Park Gardens

Dunsborough Park GardensDunsborough Park Gardens

Dunsborough Park Gardens

A labyrinth of garden areas, the water gardens were rather fine.

Dunsborough Park GardensDunsborough Park Gardens

Dunsborough Park Gardens

After many visits to The Savile Garden, the garden here reaffirmed Fran’s decision that all she wants for Christmas is a south-facing brick wall.

Dunsborough Park GardensDunsborough Park Gardens

There was plenty of impressive outdoor statuary, but we were rather puzzled by this chap: a fine figure of a Grecian lad in a dodgy looking flat cap.

Where did you get that hat?

Diary Daze

For some time the chief cook had been planning a three day excursion at the end of the month, going round some posh gardens in the Cotswolds with her sister and their Dandelions group of friends. We were trying to work out where we might be just before then, with a view to making suitable mooring and transport arrangements, as Biggles needed to go home to make sure that the new cat next door was behaving itself.

However, a phone call with Fran’s sister, and a question along the lines of “where am I picking you up on Tuesday?” suggested that someone had got the dates wrong, and that the trip started early next week, not the week after.

Fortunately , a phone call established that Pyrford Marina could put us up again for the appropriate period (and fee!), so instead of heading for the Thames, we had a leisurely few days to get to Pyrford – not far at all. Good job we don’t actually plan our trips down to the last detail!

Biggles Cocks a Snoot

Arriving at Dapdune Wharf at lunchtime on the Thursday, and with the weather still a glorious summer’s day, we were soon joined by Tom & Glenys, who wanted a look round the boat and a National Trust Cafe lunch.

We had just finished the guided tour and tea aboard when Cheryl & Jim (the aforementioned friends of the Lock Keeper’s wife at Trigg’s Lock) turned up bearing wine, chocolate brownies and nibbles, and demanding a guided tour with extreme prejudice…

Cheryl, Jim, Fran & Beer

With all the food, teas, beer and wine, not to mention adoration of the Captain, we didn’t feel much like dinner, but a stroll into town found an amenable tapas bar for a final snack.

During a final late evening stroll around the by now deserted wharf, Biggles decided to thumb his nose at the National Trust rules, and climb aboard the dockside crane; Fran joined him. His excuse was that (a) he hadn’t brought his reading glasses and (b) he was looking for the pesky magpies

 Biggles walking the craneBiggles and a heavy weight

Friday morning saw a Farcebook post from Frank Ingnobody’s friend and Guildford resident Lawrence Heath, who’d been walking along the navigation yesterday and spotted us. More fancy electronic communication ensued and we discovered that he was having coffee in an establishment right next to M&S, where the Song & Dance crew were planning on visiting, so a quick nip to the shops proved rather more protracted… Lawrence & Lynn’s son Liam is an Olympic medal winner, and they were trying to work out how they could afford to go the the Rio Olympics, the costs being even more extortionate than in the UK (and that’s before you take into account the air fares).

Although we could have stayed another night at Dapdune – it’s tucked out of the way behind the Cricket Club grounds and normally quiet – that evening and on the Saturday, there was going to be a large Beer Festival, and given the noise from a private / setting up party the Thursday night, we decided to set sail late Friday afternoon for a quieter spot, ending up at the perfect mooring found on the way down, near Send Church Bridge and the Sutton Place estate. Sometimes it’s nice  being in the middle of town, but it’s usually nicer out in the countryside somewhere…

Hairpin Bends and Guildford Gongoozlers

Continuing the passage to Guildford in hot sun but with quite a strong breeze, there’s a sharp hairpin bend just before Guildford where one struggles to get round tidily at the best of times in a long narrow boat.

There’s also a break in the tree shelter belt just there,  and the wind that day was broadside on to the boat at the critical point: despite all best efforts Song & Dance decided to go her own way, and ended up aground on the bank halfway round the bend under a weeping willow, gently touching the trunk. There was no one watching and no  damage apart from to her pride, so no harm done. The numerous fresh scars and assorted paintwork marks on the tree trunk suggested that we had made a rather better fist of it than some who had passed that way earlier…

The lovely weather had also brought the gongoozlers out in force at the lock in Guildford.

Guildford Gongoozlers

The transit through Guildford town centre is interesting, and quite quick: it’s a compact city.

 Handy for the shopsGuildford

Guildford Town WharfHandy for the Electric Theatre cafe

There’s some interesting ironmongery at the town wharf, and it’s handy for The Electric Theatre  cafe.

Handy for The Electric TheatreSometimes...

It’s a bit close to where the yoof gather of an evening though, so I’m not sure we’d want to moor there overnight. Not sure  how the statement “Electricity Works” is supposed to be taken, although it certainly was at 19:13 that evening, as the chief cook listened to the Archers until the end without any electrical interruptions. It’s handy for the picture house, too.

Handy for The Pictures

But no worries, we’d taken the precaution of reserving a spot at Dapdune Wharf a few hundred metres down the water.

Biggles The Lock Keeper

Wednesday morning, and after the first mate had another session at Waitrose and the charity shops, we left the delights of Godalming behind, passed back through Farncombe Boatyard without any more damage to the credit cards, and ended up mooring near the Wey and Arun junction at Shalford, exactly where we moored the previous weekend. But pointing the other way, of course – makes all the difference!

The Captain normally spends his time asleep while we’re cruising, but we think watching Prunella Scales on TV had shamed him into helping out at St. Catherine’s Lock, on the way into Guildford. The lovely hot sunny day may also have had something to do with it.

Helping with the lockI'll go and open the other gate

And now I'll just tend that rope