River Thames heading to Reading

At Wallingford the council would like to relieve you of £5 for mooring overnight.
(See Parking Wardens are on their way!)Wallingford wholefood

But Wallingford has a beautiful launderette (remember the symbol on the Pearson’s Canal Companion?) where the lady of the soapsuds will either do your washing for you or give you change and correct coinage to use in the machines. We took in our kingsize duvet cover and then visited the Friday market on the the crusade of proper bread and for green things to eat. How delighted were we when we were rewarded with a rustic find as pictured! Wallingford wool

We found a fabulous health food shop which also stocked fair trade delights such as floppy hats and colourful clothes, pots and curious sundries and also incorporated an area at the back selling strange and beautiful yarns for the knitters amongst you.  These twists are organic cotton and they make me want to learn to knit. Wallingford has character and excellent services and a welcoming attitude. People smile at you there.

River Thames houseWe set sail at midday to complete the second half of our Thames-a-thon having to be off the river by (pantomine) midnight, passing many swanky houses but not many other cruising craft in comparison. In equal number we saw rowers, leisure craft, narrowboats and passenger river cruisers. This is our favourite residence for its art deco impact. (Maybe this is your house? We’re up for holiday swaps, we’re sure you’d like a fortnight on a narrowboat in January).

Electric locks continued to appear and at one the lock keeper bore a striking resemblance to none other then Alan Partridge. How amused we secretly were.

Thames lock market garden‘Alan’s’ didn’t, but many other locks did, sell flowers, bedding plants, tomato plants and second hand paperbacks (for only 30p at one lock in aid of the RNLI). This lock  office (pictured at great personal risk from the descending boat in the lock) looks more like a garden centre on a railway station.

On we went past Moulsford, Goring, Whitchurch, Pangbourne and just prior to the mouth of the Kennet and Avon: the mouth of the superstore Tesco. Save us!

It was 7pm as we approached Reading’s Oracle shopping centre and duly waited at the traffic light system there which warns of a possible twelve minute wait before accessing the one-way flow. It lied to us. We waited much longer bobbing about in anticipation with only the assurance that it was the longest day of the year, so at least failing light would not hamper our progress. At last! A green light! And literally through consumer-ville you cruise, banked on the right by the giants of retail and the left by big name, no character grazing shopsReading that you have witnessed in every major conurbation country-wide. No herons, crested grebes, red tailed kites, mayflies and goslings here. Possibly some fish that aren’t on plates but do they count? You cruise singularly through The Oracle with friendly diners waving and raising their glasses and it takes all your decorum not to wave back like the Queen and Prince Phillip. The Oxford Dictionary definition of the word oracle is ‘a place at which divine advice or prophecy was sought’. Shall I or shall I not buy another pair of shoes Oh Great Reading Oracle?

After battling County Lock and it’s side-kick evil weir we continued until Burghfield where light was thin and bats were flying. Andy from Wallingford’s mooring had advised us that the Cunning Man was a worthy drinking hole so here we moored at 10pm. The Cunning Man will have to wait for our custom until tomorrow. Goodnight Thames.

Next – A dream mooring on the Kennet and Avon.

Thanks to Liveaboards Donna, Mark (and Inky) for writing and giving us permission to publish this.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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