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missmolly
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11/08/2016 09:54PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
New Trip Report posted by missmolly

Trip Name: Source to sea in England.

Entry Point: Other

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DeuceCoop
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11/09/2016 09:23AM  
Wow! Introduction, as in there will be more? Sure hope so!
Northwoodsman
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11/09/2016 11:17AM  
Great stuff. Beautiful scenery and photo's.
missmolly
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11/09/2016 12:00PM  
Here are some more. The first is a convent where naughty nuns once lived. They were randy with the neightboring monks and nobody cared until one of the nuns slept with the king and the queen torched the convent. The second is one of the hundreds of bridges that span the Thames. I loved them all. The third is one of the many beautifully restored boats that ply the Thames. The last is an ancient mantle in the pub favored by George Clooney. The gouges were believed to keep witches from coming down the chimney in mid-quaffing ale.:
11/09/2016 02:12PM  
Cool! - not a wilderness trip, but very cool in its own way, I'm sure.
missmolly
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11/09/2016 04:13PM  
There was no wilderness whatsoever, but we had the river to ourselves for the first three days, other than the sheep.
520eek
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11/09/2016 09:55PM  
I sure did enjoy the read on this! Thanks! :)
11/09/2016 10:57PM  
...wonderful story...thanks for sharing!!!
bigeyedfish
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11/10/2016 03:27PM  
Very Nice! I am so jealous, what a way to take in a country. To me, the history and culture is just as nice as any wilderness trip. Thanks for sharing!
woody066
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11/11/2016 11:52AM  
A very nice trip report missmolly.
Glad you enjoyed the scenery.

You be careful out among them, English!
missmolly
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11/11/2016 04:23PM  
quote woody066: "A very nice trip report missmolly.
Glad you enjoyed the scenery.


You be careful out among them, English!"


Ha! Well, I am Scotch-Irish, so the English and I have history, however they were lovely.
lars54
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11/20/2016 07:50PM  
Thanks for sharing, and the great pictures
12/09/2016 02:25PM  
Certainly not an average trip report! I loved reading this. For a few years my morning run included crossing the Thames, following its shore down to the next bridge, and then crossing back and passing by some of those amazing house boats. I've got to believe paddling all of it would be amazing.
Mocha
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12/09/2016 10:53PM  
thanks for this entertaining read! i'd be interested in the 5 articles +/- you wrote for various publications... is there more to this particular story? the photos are great, love all the brick cottages with the flowers.
missmolly
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12/14/2016 03:52PM  
Mocha, I went looking for the articles, but could only find one. I can't recall where I stored the others. Luckily, the one I found has a little gardening element. Here it is:


Two night before, farmers quaffed local ale and sang bawdy songs into the witching hour. The following morning, we descended to the pub, hoping for the promised breakfast, but found broken glass on the floor, vomit in the bathroom, and dirty socks inexplicably on a chair. Eventually, the barefooted, smiling innkeeper arrived, her hair wet, and wearing only a towel.
The next morning, at another inn, our host fluttered about us, channeling June Cleaver in high heels and a shirt-waisted dress. There weren't just jams and jellies. There were curds, Nutella, marmalades, and a yeasty spread called Marmite that seemed the essence of anchovies. Everything was seated on white linen and served with heavy silver plate.
I told her about our prior morning at the other inn, expecting a tsk or two or perhaps an arched eyebrow, but she said, "Well, it's all good fun, isn't it?"
She was right, of course. It is all good fun. However, it isn't just the range of inns and pubs along the Thames that make for ranging fun, but the river itself, for it begins twisty and tight, as many rivers do, and ends up as London's aorta. If the Thames were a character, its character arc would be a shepherd who slew Goliath and became a king.
The panoply of possibilities continue elsewhere. We paddled past the husk of a church, reduced to four walls. A lock keeper told us that naughty nuns had lived there, one the paramour of a king. Her fellow sisters indulged in some hanky-panky with neighboring monks. Sadly, that convent was closed.
We also pass manors with long, sloping, striped lawns and eventually reached the manor of manors, Windsor Castle, which towers. Towering is important to kings, it seems, as one of its residents added another thirty feet to the keep, its central tower, so it would be even more castle-y.
Conversely, we also passed a pirate camp of sorts, a stew-y fusion of rotting boats barely afloat, beached boats that would never float again, and steam-punky thingamabobs. It was criss-crossed with cables and I expect, had we been foolish enough to land, that its residents would have zip-lined to its defense. It had a sign that instructed us to "Speed up," which was a anarchic yawp in direct contrast to the scores of other Thames signs instructing boaters to "kill your speed," but we did as we were told and paddled briskly lest we be boarded.
We also passed an ancient barge that was clearly a beloved home. It was gently, sweetly decaying, a clever cobbling of Thames flotsam and jetsam. If Tolkein's Shire floated away and were forgotten for four score of years, it would be that boat cum home.
If there is any common thread along the Thames, it is gardens.
One evening, one of my companions suggested we walk to a city's garden.
"Isn't all of England a garden?" I replied.
She has seen what I've seen and couldn't argue. This is, after all, a country where they prune country hedges and trim the drooping stems of willow trees so that they look quite a bit like the Fab Four's mop tops. Because the English have gardened for centuries, we've seen wisteria trunks as thick as hippos' legs.
If you too want to paddle the Thames from source to sea, you'll have to begin sans boat, for the Thames began for us as a dry ditch and took a score of miles to gather enough water to float a boat. Our captain, John Stookey, a former captain of industry as he served as the CEO of a Fortune 200 chemical company, rented our two canoes from Canoe Thames, which delivered them to Cricklade and will fetch them on the outskirts of London, where we'll switch to Holstein-colored kayaks from Moo Canoe and fall under the watch of a hired, required guide, familiar with the tides and the harbor's bustle and chop.
Stookey booked the B&B, inn, and motel rooms while still stateside so that we'd paddle ten miles or so each day and be guaranteed a room. However, camping is a possibility at many of the locks. If you pitch a tent along some pastoral bank, beware the occasional quicksand and if you happen to sink, double beware that your most likely handhold is the ubiquitous stinging nettles.
However, it's all good fun!



missmolly
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12/14/2016 04:27PM  
I found another one:

There are times on the Thames when the foliage and latte-colored water are familiar enough for me to pretend I'm on some sleepy American southern river. Then we round a corner and I see two things to disabuse me of my imagining: narrowboats and locks.
Much like the arctic fox, with its winter white fur coat, the English narrowboat has been shaped by its environment, being slightly narrower than the locks on the over 2000 miles of canals and rivers that connect England, Scotland, and Wales. There are 45 locks on just the Thames. The narrowboats are all 6'10" across, but range from 30 feet to 72 feet in length. They were built in the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries to transport passengers and mail. Once pulled by horses, they are now powered by engines with the pilot standing a few feet from the stern, typically gripping a gleaming brass tiller arm extender.
Today, over 30,000 narrowboats colorfully freckle the British canals and riverways, many sharing the by the color palette of the equally vagabond, but largely gone Roma wagons of Europe. For many, their brass shines as brightly as ever, lace curtains sway in the waters' chop, and pops of rococo paint embellish from the bow to even pots and pans because their owners, who use them to holiday or retire, Two of those owners are Nick and Linda Allen, 70 and 60, who own and love the Melodeon, an especially comely narrowboat that we happened upon in Abingdon, just ten miles downriver of Oxford.
Nick said, "We've been all over the world on holidays, but when the Sun is shining, the only place we want to be is on this river on this boat."
The Melodeon was built in 1983, commissioned by a friend, and when they had a chance to buy it, they jumped. The Allens had that opportunity because they owned a boatyard and marina and thus had polished the Melodeon for years. Now they polish it for joy rather than pay.
Nick said, "I've been on over a hundred narrow boats and I've never seen one quite as lovely."
The interior is finished in solid mahogany and the only plywood is the shelves and bunk bed platforms you can't see.
48 years of working on the Thames was never enough for Nick.
Linda said, "He never wanted to be anywhere else than on the Thames."
However, life on the Thames is also about pub life just off the Thames.
Nick said, "The best time is the evening when we've finished five or six hours of cruising and are walking to a pub."
Linda added, "You have to go to pubs that sell real ale, not the rubbish stuff from the big breweries, but the real stuff from the local brewers."
They skipped on television.
Linda said, "It's like going back in time, so we didn't bother with television."
They do, however, carry older entertainment as melodeon is a synonym for accordion, so the Allens carry a melodeon on their Melodeon. Adapting to the narrowness of their narrowboat took a little time.
Linda said, "You can't be claustrophobic."
Nick added, "You get used to it."
The Allens cruise from May through September and when asked to share a funny moment, they told how a friend fell into the water at a lock.
Nick said, "It was only amusing afterwards. It wasn't funny at the time, but we had a good laugh later."
Our canoeing quartet could relate, for one of us, Laura Stookey-Stuart, 57, fell into the first lock. The locks of the upper Thames are manually operated, spinning wheels to open the sluice that let water through and out of the lock gates and then opening the gates themselves much like a draft horse, straining on a lever to pivot them open and shut. Laura had done all that, opening and closing sluices and gates in an English spring rain and was returning to the canoe down a set of steps, inset in the lock wall, slick with algae, goose poop, and rain. With one foot in the canoe and one on the stairs' bottom step, her stairway footing gave way and she was suddenly swimming. The recently arrived lockkeeper, an angelic Sebastian, ran for a ladder and Laura climbed her way out. Sebastian pressed Laura to accept tea and some time in his warm, dry lockhouse, but Laura knew we had miles to go and promises to keep.
We're still waiting to laugh about her tumble, but day by day we're paddling a little closer to just that.





TuscaroraBorealis
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12/16/2016 08:43PM  
Awesome!

Great story & photos. Thanks for taking the time to share.
mc2mens
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09/27/2018 10:29PM  
Nice, MM.
HammerII
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09/30/2018 11:09PM  
Great report
I have always wanted to canoe some of the rivers overseas
 
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