Thursday, 20 August 2015

2015 Totally Thames Source to Sea River Relay

On Tuesday we trundled up to Sandford-on-Thames ready for our part in the Totally Thames Source to Sea River Relay the following day. The stretch between Abingdon and Sandford was peaceful. Lolly clearly enjoyed the boat ride and was pleased to be on another adventure.

And where do you think you're taking me?
I think we should go back that way.
Sandford was pretty busy. We were hoping to moor below the lock but our favourite spot was taken, so through the lock we went with Rob expertly maneuvering past a couple in a tiny canoe who went in before us (that would be my fault with the 'No, after you...' to their looks of horror).

This is actually Abingdon Lock but I'm going to pass it off as Sandford whilst no one is looking.

We saw Pat as we emerged from the lock. He waved at us from the beer garden of the King's Arms. I waved enthusiastically in response and hollered a greeting, and we continued on our way. I discovered later that he was trying to wave us down because he'd saved us a mooring. Oops! We did managed to snag the last available meadow-side space (opposite some very lovely houses) so all was not lost.

Our mere presence clearly adding value to the property opposite. 
Once here we settled in for the night under a very lovely, if stormy, looking sunset. It held promise of the weather to come.

Do you think it's going to rain?
Nah, we'll be all right.
As the evening wore on Lolly and I played a little game called Spot the Cat in the Dark.

Aha, I have a torch!
The following morning dawned bright and sunny and full of hope for a day of good weather. I decked the boat out in a mixture of bought and homemade bunting.
Remember my lovely new paintwork? The bunting has marked it. :(

Pffft, the bunting you made is rubbish! I'm a cat, I know these things.
And we waited for our turn in the relay. Just after lunch this came and the bottle of Thames water arrived on Admiral VII and we had a little hand over.

There were drinks aboard too. Beautiful boat, and lovely crew. :)

And then a second, more official, handover at Sandford Lock.
After saying our farewells it was back to our boat to get started on our journey to Abingdon.

Not before another photograph was taken. That's my dad in the background.
We were accompanied downstream by Mark who had taken part in the relay the day before us in his beautiful boat.

Steering by foot and making it look easy. I'd fall overboard. *jealous* :)

And whilst we were busy crewing Lolly looked after our precious cargo of Thames source water.

Can I eat it? Are you sure? You're no fun...
It was about this time that the rain started. And it rained, and rained, and rained. Some of us may have retreated inside (there's a downside to being at the tiller) and by the time we reached Abingdon Rob was completely soaked.
At Abingdon Lock we were met by other Morris men from Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers and they put on a good show for passing boats despite the weather. There was even an Abingdon flag bearer.

That's my mum, that is.

After all the dancing the bottle of source water was officially handed over to ex-Morris dancer Frank who was manning Abingdon Lock. The next part of its journey will be in the hands of a different river user.

This marked the end of our leg of the relay and so we made our way back home to Abingdon Marina. We were soggy, we were tired, but we were happy after such a fun day.

Abingdon looking pretty even in the rain.
Still pretty.

Yep, still pretty.


  1. Sounds like a grand day out. Traveling cats, stealth locks, artistic bunting "enhancing" the paintwork, dancing fools and mothers with banners.

    1. It's the stealth locks you've got to look out for. Never trust a stealth lock. Or bunting, for that matter.

  2. Lovely report, Valonia - it encapsulates perfectly the joys of "narrer" boats. My son and his wife are looking forward to early retirement when they are going to sell their little house and live on one, having enjoyed many holidays aboard one.
    Did not know that Morris regalia was "de rigeur" for piloting them though! Was delighted to click on the film clip of "Princess Royal" - my favourite Morris tune/dance - and well danced too, I thought.

    1. Thanks, Gandalf!
      Perhaps one day we'll see you on the water on your son's boat. :)
      I'm thinking we probably should've named the vessel The Morris Boat - did you see the photos and video of dancing on the roof from last year's event?
      That's my favourite tune too, although you'd probably be scarred for life if you ever heard me play it on the concertina.


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