|Welcome to the Thames and our first big plastic cruiser|
£61the poorer for a week's Thames licence, we are heading for Oxford and from there it's back onto the narrow canal system.
|Last night's quiet mooring seems a long way away|
The Kennet, largely gently winding river and occasionally shallow, straight canal, manages to hide itself completely from the urban sprawl of Reading; water meadows forming an effective buffer to the southward spread of housing from the A4.
|The eccentric and awkward old turf lock|
|Our performance at the Oracle Centre begins|
|And the back up act is a dinosaur themed crazy golf course|
I should have mentioned that there's a brief preamble to all this. We have to go through the shallow County Lock, stop at a traffic light, press a button and wait for the Green since the Oracle length is fast flowing, narrow and quite shallow.
Reading doesn't seem to have changed a lot in the last couple of years; it's still a charmless sort of place and grows increasingly shabby as we near Blakes Lock, the exit from the canal and the first official Environment Agency controlled lock.
|Working the old Thames lock but where is my uniform?|
Out, then, onto the Thames and the section by the riverside Tesco looks even shabbier than ever – more hippy wrecks on the island across the river and few visiting cruisers or narrowboats braving the somewhat ramshackle Tesco moorings.
|A new pedestrian bridge takes shape across the river|