Thoughts, quirky insights and experiences in my meandering life.

Calling all CBC listeners, what is the story with distances to Reading?

Mary and I have arrived in Reading, after an interesting few days on the Thames. I never did catch the history of the references to the distance from Reading that used to be proclaimed on As It Happens when they did a story based in the UK. Can someone please enlighten me?

Yesterday we had some very special visitors, my nephew Edmund, his wife Laura and their gem of a great nephew, Ruben. He can come aboard anytime, even if he does shake free a bag of thumb tacks.

Dad supervising

It has been an interesting few days as mentioned above. I was in a pub trying to back up my phone, it was pleading with me to do so, when I saw that the caution boards had changed and we were good to go. It was 4.30. Dashed back to the boat and woke Mary from a nap. She was none too happy, but we got underway, lickety split (wonder where that expression comes from). Went two locks down which got us past the area that had been “red boarded” i.e. no movement at all. Phew.

The next morning Mary and I got up early and traveled down to Benson where we had showers on land, started 4 loads of laundry and cooked a meal for our company. There was no hope of a little boat ride as the wind was 40 mph for several hours in the afternoon. Resorted to a walk along the Thames Path, in the wind. You can tell from the above picture that lunch was a success. I don’t know about Ed and Laura, but Mary and I were exhausted at the end of the day!

Today we ploughed on. Less wind, more sun, but still a bite in the air. Three interesting boat maneuvers today, all including turning up stream to land at a mooring, but we made it down the Thames as far as I am going on this trip, and turned onto the Kennet and Avon Canal, went through a lock, moored and had a nap.

One of the locks we passed through was called Mapledurham. How cool is that, linking Canada and Durham

Clearly no one had been by, it was a white board by the time we arrived, not caution yellow.

Most of the Thames locks are transitioning from self-service to full service for the summer season, and this one was completely self service, but often we would start self-service and then the lock keeper would show up. In one instance he had a pair of loppers in his hand, he must have been trimming bushes, and in the other he drove up in a car! Great service though, you just leave the lock and keep on going.

Mapledurham, a private residence, was built in a very early century, 11th? 14th? Old, and has been inhabited by the same family since then, the Blunts.

No public footpath on their land. Apparently it has been used in the film “The Eagle Has Landed” and Morse. Rich people live on the banks of the Thames, as you can expect. I didn’t picture the top rank of houses, but here are some moderately wealthy people’s homes:

Not so rich, but cute.

We spent a couple of days in Abingdon, and visited the museum in the Town Hall. They had an exhibit of posters guilting young men to join the armed forces during the war.

Yikes. What a contradiction these young men faced. Brought up to share, control their temper, be reasonable people, and presented with exhortations to go and fight and kill people. My Dad was one of those people, and it was so against his nature, but he had to do it. I know the reasons why, and I am glad that we live in the world that they fought for in Europe, but what a dilemma, what a choice for those young men, their families and everyone! A friend of the family used to say that the war stole her youth, and her opportunity to go to university.

Abingdon was also the town that manufactured MG’s, but I am not so interested in cars.

It is the slower lane now I hope, although I may be going to London to take part in the march asking for a second Brexit march. What a mess, and what a tenacious woman Theresa May is. A bit like a Jack Russel terrier. She has her teeth well into her deal. Will she get her way? The next few days will tell.

Swans in a feeding frenzy. As usual, the smaller birds loose out and have to wait for the scraps. Who says big doesn’t give an advantage
What the heck are these? They were next to two narrowboats that were painted in camouflage. Reminds me of a good novel I just read, The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah.


The forgotten picture


Oh no, not another one!


  1. brian

    thank you for that piece Maggie; such a great speed to move
    . the war posters never fail to bring a tear to my eye. Such a waste

  2. Pat

    Love the stories

    • Maggie

      Thanks Pat, it is good to know they are being enjoyed. I enjoy writing them.

  3. Stephen carr

    Looks like you made good progress Maggie

    • Maggie

      Yes, onto the Kennet and Avon now. Pushing against the current instead of being pushed. A new experience.

  4. Linn

    I am so enjoying your dispatches from the canals!

    Your question about As It Happens prompted me to look into it and leave my first comment. This is from the Wikipedia article: “This long-standing tradition on the show dates from the mid-1970s, when English-born segment producer George Somerwill once concluded a program script with a note that a small village mentioned in the preceding segment was located ‘nine miles from Reading’. This note, intended as a serious clarification, was totally baffling to most Canadian listeners—and even to the rest of the show’s staff. It quickly became a running joke on the show to identify all places in the UK (even major centres like London) in relation to their proximity to the comparatively obscure borough of Reading.”

    • Maggie

      I love it! This question has sparked more responses than any other I have made!

      • Linn

        I would briefly wonder about it and then forget before I got somewhere I could Google it, so I’m glad you asked!

  5. Sandra

    Sounds and looks wonderful. So enjoy your stories.

    • Maggie

      Thanks Sandra, and you will be part of the story soon. I think you will be with me when I am back on the Oxford Canal. Winds around a lot, and not too many locks.

  6. Kay

    If you pass through Knowle on the Grand Union Canal, let me know and I will meet you!
    But avoid Hatton locks there are 21 of the beggars.

    • Maggie

      I will Kay, it would be lovely to see you after all these years.

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