Sunday, 23 August 2015

Farewell to the Thames..

Wednesday 19th August 2015

The day did not go as planned as unfortunately one of our expected visitors had fallen ill.  We were sorry to miss you Ron and Cathy - another time in the not too distant future we hope.  Get well soon Ron.  The weather was not brilliant, so you did not miss that much.  We had planned on moving across the river to the meadow, however it was chock a block. When nb Cleddau arrived they managed to squeeze down the inlet and moor behind us and were able to join us for dinner.  It was good to see them again after our time apart.  Monty was delighted to have his flock back.

Also along the fairly narrow cut was this life boat

and the Kailani hotel boat - I think I was glad not to be around when they had a long reverse out on Thursday morning!  We were to become familiar with this boat over the next few days, so I checked out their website - their prices are much better than Magna Carta - the most expensive trip is a 6 day on the Thames at £845 a head.  This includes all food and wine with dinner.

Thursday 20th August 2015
Windsor to Chertsey
14 miles, 5 locks

Before we set off today Monty and I went for a walk around Bath Island, so called as this was outdoor swimming baths as early as the 1860's.  First we walked under this archway to get to the footbridge to the Island.

On the island you get a good view of  Brunel's 'Bowstring Bridge' - it is a single span structure comprising three bowstring trusses which created two bays for the original GWR tracks.  It is the World's oldest wrought iron railway bridge still in regular service.

I found this rather elegant bench at the end of the island, which I am assuming is quite new as it was erected as part of the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta.  There are eight parts - seven of which have plaques

That relate to '8 notable clauses', so I can only assume that one has 'gone missing' already

If it is a bit drier you can sit and admire the view

Shortly after we set off for the day there seemed to be boats everywhere!

We had a very long wait at Old Windsor Lock

Just past there we came across this party boat, which I assume was about to set sail

It came complete with a brass band

On past Runnymede park where you cannot moor, but they don't seem to mind people camping and spreading their stuff all over the place.  I hope they take it all home.

The 'hot tub boat' was moored up outside the Runnymede Hotel - no patrons today.

Maybe the delay at Old Windsor Lock was a good thing as it meant we arrived to go down Penton Hook Lock as the fuel barge was coming up, so a quick about turn and after another boat was served we both had a small top up hoping it will avoid paying extortionate London prices.

Whilst we were waiting for fuel I noticed this house on the opposite bank with an island in the kitchen with the sink looking at the river - it must make the chore of washing up a lot more palatable.

Our last lock of the day was Chertsey and we found moorings shortly after the lock.

Friday 21st August 2015
Chertsey to Kingston
8.5 miles, 3 locks

Just before we set off this morning this large butty under tow came past - something you would not want to meet on a blind bend!

Boatwif, Monty and I set off along the tow path to walk to the first lock of the day - Shepperton.  We passed this rather sad looking boat. It is 'Carasena' - one of the Dunkirk Little Ships.  They had been fund raising to restore her to join the 'Return to Dunkirk' in 2015.  Sadly it does not look as though they succeeded.

The forecast for today was for dry, hot and sunny and the lock keeper at Shepperton had his sunshades all ready.  His optimism was not misplaced.

We had seen the hotel ship Magna Carta take the long route round after Shepperton Lock, so we went straight along Desbourough Cut to get ahead - it worked!  The start of new territory for us.

The next lock at Sunbury was ready for us - they had the sunshades up as well

I just love this image - a lady enjoying the sun on her glass fronted terrace and busy writing, but what is she writing - a letter, a diary or maybe she is an author?  We will never know.

I was amazed at how many houseboats of all shapes and sizes we passed today

but give this one a wide berth!  The inhabitants are hungry critters!

nb Cleddau had decided to stop at Hampton Court, so we waved them farewell and headed on to Kingston

Just along from Cleddau we spotted Free Spirit

We passed this very humble dwelling - a two reception, two bedroomed bungalow for sale - well a sale has been agreed.  The details state it is in need of modernisation and that it has two bathrooms, but that is hard to see on the floor plans.  The kitchen is not a lot bigger than our galley.  The price? A mere £599,000!  I am glad I am not trying to buy a house round here!!

This rather alarmed us - is it safe?

We moored up at Kingston opposite the town. You can moor on the other side, however it costs £10 from 09:00 to 21:00 and another £10 from 21:00 to 09:00!  When we arrived we were warned that the cruisers in front of us had made a real nuisance of themselves the night before - sitting out by the boats making a lot of noise with unruly dogs to boot.  It was the only space, so we hoped for the best.

We headed across the bridge which is sporting some wonderful floral displays

Heading for John Lewis and Waitrose.

There is a bit of free 24 hour mooring outside those stores

With sensible signage of how they should be used, however, the boat above was there when we arrived and when we left, admittedly slightly under 24 hours, but it did not look ready to go!  It is a mooring we would use if we were just stopping to shop, but not for overnight as it is very close to

 a nightclub.  The noise on our side of the river was of people having fun, without being obtrusive, however I think anywhere on the town side is likely to be very noisy.

There is a wonderful mural outside John Lewis

 By river we were quite a long way from where we left Cleddau (red dot), but as the crow flies it was not that far from us (blue dot) to them!
 The Southern Belle became a very familiar sight over the next couple of days as she ploughed up and down, including trips late into the night.

Those magnificent funnels can be wound down to get under bridges

And the cruisers - did they cause us any trouble?  Thankfully by the time we came back from shopping there was an 'overstay' notice on them and shortly after that they left, leaving, I am sorry to say, a lot of rubbish behind them.

Saturday 22nd August 2015
Kingston to Teddington 
2.5 miles, 0 locks

A very short trip done on a scorcher of a day.  Cleddau and Free Spirit arrived bright and early to pop to the shops and we headed off to Teddington in the hope of finding some moorings.

Under the bridge we came across this rather interesting 'high rise'

and some rather upmarket house boats

I said it was a scorcher and this lady was certainly keeping cool

In around 30 minutes we had arrived at Teddington to find there were plenty of moorings, but it paid to be early as it was full by late afternoon.  There are two locks at Teddington - this one is very long!

The floral displays reminded me of my Mother in Law who loved her dahlias

We have seen a lot of paddle boards - they seem to be very popular

 nb Cleddau was moored

almost underneath this bridge

The hot weather brought out the swimmers - some jumped from the bridge

Whilst others leapt off the side

All went well until the police arrived and moved them on with words of advice about seeing a doctor if they became unwell over the next few days.  We retreated inside Cleddau to toast the end of phase four of our trip.  Most 'bridge jumpers' arrived scaring Monty with the noise - he retreated under a very small coffee table!

And so phase four is over - and what a delight it has been.  We have both really enjoyed both the Thames and the Wey and will be back.  I have to say I was very surprised to find so many sunken boats littered along the Thames.  Such a sad sight.

Total stats to date:
301 miles, 191 locks

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