Three Men in a Boat Lechlade to London 17-24 July 2004 This is the page for our diary entries during the 2004 trip. We'll update (in theory) live from the river every day.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Thames Ditton

Great morning although Gary's turn to feel unwell in the night. All packed up and ready to go for the last 6 miles.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Albany, Thames Ditton.

Continued on our way dogged by an unpleasant eggy/dead thing smell emanating from under the boards. Suspect it may be some egg Chris dropped a couple of days ago. Pulled in at the Albany, formerly the Fox on the River, for meal, beer and other beer-like drinks. Gary repaired back to the boat to attempt to eradicate the smell.

The Angler's, Walton.

Left Laleham (you got me on my knees). Chris momentarily stunned by cry of 'grab that buoy', but recovered remarkably. Twee stretch of river apparently characterised by nationalised houses - one Welsh, one English, one American, one Kazakhstani. Mused on the possibility of a German one with swastika, denizens with shiny boots and pickle helmets rubbing in ze suncream by numbers. Recovered slightly then once more put off course by mention of Lytton Strachey,whom Jon had always imagined to be an English seaside resort.
Gary once again jumped in on the grounds the boat was too stinky, and briefly acted as a Gollum-like figurehead (although more entertaining.)
Jon did a bit of tentative rowing - feeling fairly human - and pulled in to Walton for beer, cider and Coke.


Tootled downstream after a fairly odd breakfast incorporating tuna, bacon and cereal. Pulled in at a boatyard near Egham where Gary bought a rather camp ensign and staff for the back of the boat: cool. Stopped again at Laleham where, since we are travelling topless, Gary stayed with the boat while Chris and Jon went for a beer and coke and got sandwiches. G and C now visiting Laleham Abbey and no doubt having another pint.

Old Windsor

Another horrid morning. Sadly the greatest dutch barge in the world has been replaced by a lesser model this year. Lying about making vague yawning noises and considering breakfast.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Bells of Ouzeley, Old Windsor.

Left Marlow, Jon not feeling very well after being sick last night; food poisoning?
Chris and Gary rowed to Cookham where we stopped for, variously, pints and mineral water. Saw the Chartered Institute of Marketing (charlatans). Gary visited the church, nice spacious parish church witha replica of Staney Spencer's last supper and some touching memorials. Menawhile Chris sank four pints trying to get an angle with the barman when there wasn't one, and spotted the ugliest woman he had ever seen.

A lot of miles to do so Chris and Gary valiantly pushed on, Jon managed four miles and retired. Windsor Castle amazingly huge; some time spent slagging off the royal family and Lord of the Rings (though not by Jon).
Saw the green parrots again in Old Windsor, clouds of them this year. Chris and Gary made the final heroic push to get through Old Windsor lock before it closed; retired to the pub for food.

Marlow bridge, Marlow

A nice parkside mooring with bronze of Steve Redgrave nearby, which doesn't look very much like him but still.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Ship, Marlow

Three hours later we were still stuck at Henley. Chris had received copious advice on the chilling of champagne from four elderly dames. While Jon retained his customary silence, Chris and Gary quizzed a salty old seadog by the rather unsalty name of Sean about swan upping and the life on the ocean wave. Looking something like Grandad from Only Fools and Horses, and sounding a little like Mariella Frostrup, he turned out to be very personable indeed.
The Swan Uppers finally departed looking pissed and liable to ring anything that moved, so, dodging a sudden torrential downpour, we unmoored. Gary and Jon made a manful push down the regatta course; 14 minutes 40 - approximately a brisk walking speed. Although rather faster than walking carrying 20 tons of shite.
Chris had profound difficulty remembering the name of Hurley lock, in which Jon had a brief contretemps with a narrowboat. Passed Medmenham Abbey, former home of the Hellfire Club; no debauchery to be seen.
Moored up in Marlow near the weir. Strange appearance of matronly ladies popping up, staring at us and going away again. We polished off Chris' bottle of pink champagne and, beginning to feel hunted, cast off.
Moored up by the park and took advantage of the free shower (but not sadly the attendants) at the leisure centre. Gary did 10000 lengths of the very tiny pool. Consumed the Michelin starred Major sausage pasta, washed up while Gary heroically fended off a narrowboat bore, and retired for beer.

The Angel, Henley.

Had breakfast and headed off, stopped in Wargrave for provisions. Vastly overcharged for three pints of mild in the Bull, but reasonable ablutions. Steered by our Nelmesman for a couple of miles, then Chris stepped in.
Just arrived in Henley to find we are in the middle of swan-upping; loads of skiffs and launches, excellent atmosphere. Sitting with a great gentleman who used to be involved with the upping as a waterman, and his wife. The Wherry blocked in by various boats; may have to have a few more beers.

Sonning lock, Sonning.

Another reasonable night. Empty bottle of port stands dissolutely in the foreground.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Bull, Sonning

Wandered down the road in Goring to the pie shop which sadly seemed to have turned into an Indian (restaurant that is). Oddly it still appeared to serve the same stuff as before; had sandwiches and cake.
Chris sleep-steered through the next five miles, miraculously while drinking port and smoking a pipe. Saw a waterborne snake snaking across the river, its head aloft.
Some flannel-short clad youths spotted sporting in the water near Mapledurham.
Gary finally went for gold and gave the answer to 'where's the dog?' we had all been waiting for - the one involving buggery and drowning. Questioning sculler looked a little shocked.
Scoring a brace, he also finished someone's rendition of row your boat with the saucier version of the Eton boating song in question.
Laboriously wound two locks by hand; Chris' lock exit through the half-open gates was quite gallant.
All crew washed their hair in the river above Reading, fearing the consequences of doing so below. Chris and Jon pushed with moderate valour to get to Sonning before 9 in order to secure dinner at the Bull; very well received, especially Chris' Wild Boar.

The Miller of Mansfield, Goring

Trundled a mile to Wallingford and got out all happy and expectant of a bathe in the lido there. The paddling pool was open, full of gay, chortling children. After a significant wait behind some hippy bicycling nerd, we learned that the overstaffed lido didn't open til 12 - bastards.
Muttering, we boated and sculled off down the glistening Thames, flashing Vs at the public sector scum.
Startled to see an attractive young lady astride a huge, strangely brown, sweating beast with a long nose, but on closer inspection it turned out she was riding a horse.
Paused to mock the name of 'Ye Olde Leatherne Bottel' and lurched into Goring near Cleeve Lock, where we nearly came asunder.
Passing gorgeous George (Michael)'s house, we minced extravagantly in front of the CCTV cameras and made off to the pub for a pint. No Orange reception in Goring whatsoever so may have to post this later on.

Benson Lock, Benson

Much better sleep had by all, another glorious morning on the river. Having breakfast involving beans, bacon and melon before setting off and hopefully picking up our new oars.

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Three Horseshoes, Benson

Stocked up with groceries. Headed off disappointed with our feckless progress during the morning. Pushed on with renewed vigour for several feet.
Mused about the possibility of going to The Plough at Long Wittenham in memoriam of TMIAB 2000 but stopped instead at the Barley Mow; misled by the guide book we believed it to be riverside but in fact it is some way up a side road. A much-extended fourteenth century cruck truss building, it sported several good beers, most of them off. Soundly fleeced for a small pot of olives, we debated how far we could get without a sleep.
Eschewing rest, we pushed on, saw a kingfisher and a white bird that looked like an albino heron.
Turned up in Benson just too late to collect our oars from the lock keeper. Cooked pasta and retired to the Three Horseshoes for beer.

The Something's Head, Abingdon

Just limbering up for breakfast when Garyand Chris simultaneously concluded that the rank smell emanating from the front of the boat was not their feet but in fact the milk which got spilled in the stern yesterday. Took up the boards to find a veritable wash of milky water and budding cheeses floating around. Chris and Jon heroically mopped it all out while Gary made a culinary masterpiece involving omelette.
Tom Balm rang and promised to leave us sme more oars at Wallngford.
Set off and rowed up to Abingdon fairly slowly stopping periodically to bask in the sun. Met an old gent in a rowing boat who had skiffed with his Dad in the 40's.
Pulled in at the Something's Head for a pint; fabulous location with the Thames split into a couple of small streams right under the pub. Slightly rubbish pub though. Web updating while Chris and Gary go for supplies.



Awoke from the aches of the night to a glorious morning. Ceremonial wiping of the parts with Jon's deodorising wipes becoming a morning fixture. Considering breakfast.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

The Kings Arms, Sandford Lock

Finally got lunch at the Perch, wonderful thatched building in a great location but sadly falling to pieces. Continued past Port Meadow, a huge medieval water meadow unchanged for millennia, or at least a long time. Went past Bossom's boatyard, which used to be a big skiff hiring venue but is now skiffless.
Entered Oxford on one of its myriad waterways through Osney Lock with its cheery lock keeper. Ran the gauntlet of some youths under the railway bridge. Tried to moor up in the centre for some provisions after rounding the bend by the punt stations and encoutered a *unt situation where some offensive scrote refused to let us stop. We pointed out that he may have engaged in solo games and grudgingly left.
Chris gathered some provisions and we admired the technique of one of the fours going down the river. Pulled up neatly in front of the Isis tavern where Emily flew in by parachute and scared us half witless.
Operated our own lock at Iffley and pulled up at the King's Arms for dinner, Chris admiring the cut of local jibs.

The Perch, Binsey

Discovered one of our blades had broken slightly across the spoon, rang Tom Balm who helpfully suggested we should tape it up. So far we have helpfully ignored him and left it as it is. Caught up with some very very mad people on a home made raft with built-in barbeque; exchanged pleasantries. They are hoping for ten miles a day and are unusually making us look entirely normal.
Mustering another vast wake, overtook several narrowboats, fending off two dog comments and several `it's alright for the cox` type remarks. Pulled in to the Perch near Oxford for lunch. It is quite busy so they have closed the kitchen to catch up; eating various peanuts and crispy pig items while we wait.

Sunday morning

Awoke early very stiff but unharmed. Chris impersonated buzz saw for some of the night. Saw strangely brown duck with prominent beak: oddly familiar.

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