Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The one that – nearly – got away

Reeling in a monster from the deep
We had been mooring in Goring and things were somewhat boring – until a sudden gust of wind blew Seadog Brian's bean-bag bed off the deck and into the river. Fortunately he wasn't on it at the time.
All seemed lost as the capricious wind teased it further away from my boathook. Then the fisherman on the boat moored behind us decided to test out his casting skills and after a couple of false starts, had it hooked and reeled to the edge. Brian was very grateful – or would have been but he was already curled up asleep on our bed instead.
That's about as exciting as things get in Goring. It's an odd little spot, undeniably picturesque yet hard to love as it positively reeks of the sort of affluence which ordinary folk can't imagine.
Glass and steel homes are almost commonplace in Goring
You only have to look at the huge Thames-side houses: there are no less than three massive ultra-modern glass and steel creations, several others where ostentation was clearly more important than looks and yet more that are clearly still 'old money'. Oddly, among all this, the huge mansion south of the village that was semi-derelict when we came through two years ago still lies abandoned.
The very sorry for itself mansion outside Goring
If you can't afford a Huf House, get a glass summerhouse
There's even an Italian restaurant on the riverside outside the Goring called 'Rossini at the Leatherne Bottel' which seems to encapsulate pretension in a title. It might be good but you know it's going to be a) pricey and b) full of people you wouldn't want to share a dining room with.
A pretty little classic wooden boat at Goring
There are some nice boats, though, one or two classic wooden ones and, on the visitor moorings, a Piper Dutch barge we were very envious of which the owner took delivery of only last week.
Not our cup of tea, then, though it is a geographically interesting spot. The Thames here passes through the Goring Gap, a glacial valley carved out in the Ice Age that now seperates the Chilterns and the Berkshire Downs. It was the meeting place between the ancient Ridgeway and Icknield tracks and an early crossing point on the river.
A fleet of Freemans at Sheridan's brought back memories
Lured by the Test Match we lingered too long over lunch and moved off a little late in the afternoon. It's six miles of isolated countryside beyond Goring, broken only by the base of Sheridan Marine, the Freeman cruiser specialists. The flotilla of the little cruisers there brought back fond memories of Five Plus Five, the Freeman 23 that was our first boat.
Not such fond thoughts, though, at the Wallingford town moorings we'd hoped to stop which were full and we found ourselves hunting for a space to stop as the evening drew in.
On the Thames you can generally find a mooring – if you're willing to pay for it. The Benson lock-keeper said we could stop there – for eight quid and leave when the lock opened for business at 8a.m. No thanks. We pushed our bows into various edges, all of which were too shallow and moved on to Shillingford where the hotel offered plenty of moorings for a 'modest fee', according to the Nicholsons Guide – which turned out to be £15! Finally at 7.30 we found ourselves a nice little quiet spot on a steep bank just upstream.

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