Day 24 (30th Sep 2013) – Shillingford Bridge to Reading:

Today saw the replacement of Ian and Bryan on ‘Hannah’ with a new crew of Martin and Olwyn. The paddlers were down to the foursome of Justin, Stevo, Paul and Curtis. Today was another long run of 19 miles and six locks down the Thames to Reading.

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At the first lock the lads met Martin’s Wife Sandy who is a volunteer on the waterways and had called ahead to ease the way for the convoy. At this southern extent of the trip the narrowboats had been replaced by big plastic Gin Palaces with pretentious names like ‘Obsession’ and ‘Island Dreams’ etc. There were some bloody impressive country piles by the river that still appeared to be privately owned. The boys decided that they needed to find a better class of friend.

After about 13 miles and at the third last lock Curtis and Paul decided to pull their boats out of the river and rejoin ‘Hannah’. This blogger certainly won’t use any derivation of the verb ‘to quit’ in relation to this. Enough said.

Justin and Stevo slogged on and spent the time identifying various bird types; Kingfisher, Falcon, Shag (Justin says Cormorant), Moorhen, Coot, little yellow finchy thing…

Eventually they made Reading where a lad from a rowing club recognised them and told them that they had their support. The crew moored at the Tesco mooring and used the opportunity to do a bit of shopping; bread, milk, wine, beer etc.

Later on they had the pleasure of a visit by Marion who had paddled with the boys earlier in the trip around Ferry Compton. Stevo regaled the group with stories of his Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather who had enlisted in the newly formed New South Wales Corp in Reading in 1789 and headed out on the Second Fleet to replace the Marines who’d gone out on the First Fleet. To Australia that is.

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