Saturday, 31 August 2013

Photos at Cliveden

At Cliveden I took a number of photographs but because of the weakness of the internet signal I was only able to show a few of them in the last posting. Here I hope to be able to show a few more.


Cliveden up on the hill



The long walk up from the river. We are well strung out.


IMG_0671  Front of Cliveden

The front aspect of Cliveden


The clock Tower, which disguises a water tank


IMG_0680  Pink Water Lily

A pink Water Lily in the Water Garden



Egyptian Geese perhaps?


The rear aspect of Cliveden from The Duke’s Statue

Thursday, 29 August 2013


We are moored in a most idyllic location about a mile above Boulters Lock in Maidenhead.



View from ‘Futurest’s side hatch


The River Thames here is wonderfully wide, festooned with a string of narrow islands thick with trees and shrubbery. These are strewn in a long straight line down the centre of the river and with the grand house that is Cliveden at the top of the high and steep Beech covered hillside on our right and the flat patchwork plain of Berkshire stretching away to our left, this must be one of the most beautiful parts of the Thames. It certainly is for me.

The weather remains fine for us which helps make any scene more beautiful of course, but so far we’ve spent two nights tied up here in this lovely quiet spot.

‘Roots and Wings’ being of a shallower draft, is nearest to the land with her stern touching the bank, tied to a convenient tree and  close enough for our safe access or egress. However the bank here is decidedly not a straight one and consequently her bow though hidden by overhanging foliage, tumbling down from the hillside above, points out into the river so that two mooring ropes bent together are needed to reach a convenient tree and return back aboard for making fast. ‘Futurest’ is then sedately breasted up to ‘Roots and Wings’ on her offside and the two of them look like a pair of rather genteel ladies quietly dozing in the Sun on a summer’s afternoon. It is simply quite wonderful.

We arrived here at this National Trust property from Windsor on Tuesday afternoon and the weather being so pleasant, we climbed the hill and began exploring the gardens and woods immediately. But the estate is so extensive that we needed to spend the whole of yesterday there as well in order to see everything.



The long walk up. We are well strung out


The rear aspect of Cliveden from the south


After the days the evenings have been quiet, just sitting in our deck chairs watching the Sun go down and the swift approach of twilight. In silence, with a cool gin and tonic in hand we’ve listened to the calls of the birds settling for the night across on the islands and marvelled at the ‘vee’ formations of the many parties of Geese flying swiftly south east and the flocks of Starlings passing overhead, off to some roosting ground to the north east high above us. As the darkness of night descends we’ve found ourselves irrationally unnerved by unknown rustlings in the bushes behind us and instinctively ducking as tiny bats seem to fling themselves at us and then dodge swiftly past. But oh they are so close. However we have slept well and long at night.

Today the girls have gone off again, this time to find a shop to buy bread and milk, though I’m not too sure where they will find it; the country is so rural around here.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sunny days at Windsor

When we arrived at Hampton Court last Tuesday there was no difficulty in finding a spot at the free moorings right against the Palace grounds where we remained happily for two nights. But instead of visiting the palace on this occasion, on the day in between, we walked across Bushey park, back into Kingston-upon-Thames. I needed my phone to be repaired and the nearest shop was at that place. It was a lovely sunny day and the walk wonderful, in that we enjoyed close company for a lot of the time with the royal deer.



Tame deer in Bushey Park


On Thursday morning in a light rain, we let go and after a couple of hours quietly cruising, we tied up next at Sunbury at the quiet village moorings, below the weir, right behind the lock island.

This village though pretty, is small and after a short walk across a park and a thoughtfully and well designed garden we returned to the ships the same evening ready to leave the following day.


IMG_0615  Moored at Sunbury 

Good moorings at Sunbury


We went to bed early and in the morning blessed with fair weather once more we quietly slipped our bow and stern lines and set off en route for Staines. We went round to the lock, careful to dodge all the plastic  cruisers moored midstream beneath the weir and once clear of the lock set off northwards.

The moorings at Staines, conveniently right at the end of the High Street, were again free of charge and we took advantage of this by remaining for two nights. On the day in between, Saturday, we caught a bus back to Hampton Court to spend glorious time at the Palace.



An heraldic beast on guard at Hampton Court Palace



William III’s palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren



Guilded gate at the bottom of the Palace Gardens


When we had been there the first time we had seen an advertisement for a Royal Joust during the bank holiday weekend and had decided to return there from Windsor when we arrived, to take advantage of this extra entertainment. However on Saturday it rained all day and the jousting had to be cancelled. So we stayed in the palace instead and were still there five hours later. The time had flown past but we slept well that night after returning to the ships on our bus.

So we arrived here at Windsor yesterday afternoon again in perfect sunshine and in the middle of the bank holiday weekend. It’s a good thing that most of the town is pedestrianised now as many people were there and they were everywhere. But we have still managed to find a good mooring, so far free of charge, in the lock cutting just above it.

It is good to be here. Windsor is a lovely town.


IMG_0623  Windsor Castle from the East

Windsor Castle as we approached from the south


100_4265  Windsor Castle West Gate

One of the entrances to Windsor Castle


100_4261  Windsor's Crooked House

The crooked house of Windsor



HM making a telephone call (only a painted GPO phone box)

At the beginning of the season I had been looking forward to visiting the River Wey again while we were in southern regions. But now due to dry docking commitments in Banbury in just over a month we have had to curtail this plan and make straight for Oxford instead.

So yesterday I was sad as we passed the entrance to the river in that I shan’t be seeing either it or my friends Ann, Charlotte and James, which I had been greatly looking forward to. However there is always next time I suppose and time passes very quickly.

Janis and Sharon are very fit and while I sit and write this blog today they have chosen to undertake another long walk. But the weather being fine means we should all make the best of it. So maybe, now I have finished, I’ll set out to find them.

On the other hand maybe I’ll just sit down and relax with a cup of tea; a much better idea.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

On the Thames at Hampton Court

So much has happened since my last post in Ware and all of it is exciting, which needs must to be recounted ere long.

I’ve not allowed myself to get as much behind with the blog for any lazy reason on my own part as much as my computer has. But in the four years since I’ve possessed it I’ve never once had it serviced. Consequently over that period it has become slower to boot up and then work efficiently until finally about a fortnight ago it became frustratingly so. So while we were in Ware I took it to a computer doctor who diagnosed that it needed to be returned to factory settings and agreed to do the job for me.

As a result the computer is wonderfully slick at loading up now. But in the meantime I've had to reinstall all my precious programs that previously helped me to write the blog and it is only now that I have managed to return to normal. I intend to retell those missing stories over the next week or so as we progress in our journey and by the time we reach our destination all will be accomplished hopefully in a satisfactory way.

But yesterday our two little ships made the exciting passage up the tidal Thames from Limehouse to Teddington and this needs to be told first.


IMG_0557  Exit from Limehousr Lock

Entering the Thames from Limehouse Lock


Working narrow boats of fifty seven feet long, with a slender beam of only seven feet, shallow drafted and with a relatively high windage, were never designed originally to venture into tidal waters and yet yesterday our two close replicas of these boats braved the tide and other elements with great fortitude and dignity and I felt quite sure that ‘Futurest’ was even enjoying the different pressures of the water thrown against her.



The Tower of London



‘Roots and Wings’ in a quiet moment


She rode so beautifully the hefty swell that was hitting her from all directions as various heavy commercial and passenger boats continually rushed by at enormous speed. With great confidence she pitched into the hefty swell and with her snub nose tossed up spray which then spattered harmlessly against her cratch cover. I knew she could do it as Ian her builder had previously told me that he had done the same passage some years before. So I was very proud to be able to do the same journey safely again for the sake of ‘Futurest’.



Approaching a large vessel at Tower Bridge…..



…….and facing up to his wash afterwards

She began to pitch as soon as we left the smooth water and embracing arms of Limehouse Lock into the lower reaches of the Thames and she continued to battle steadfastly right up and through Tower Bridge into the Pool of London, the conflict beginning to ease only when we were beyond the Houses of Parliament. She sped along nonetheless, the engine never missing a beat and landmarks rushed by thick and fast, hardly giving me enough time to take photographs. Soon we were in calmer waters beyond Battersea Bridge which was a good job since work was going on beneath the railway bridge, which caused some constriction.


IMG_0575  A glimpse of 'The Monument'

A quick glimpse of Wren’s Monument as we rush past

Soon we were on the Boat Race course and then passing the entrance to the Grand Union Canal at Brentford. By this time the warm Sun was shining brilliantly and very soon we were at Teddington. Mesmerised by the throb of engine, the heat of the Sun and dreams of Jerome K Jerome’s ‘Three Men in a Boat' I almost missed the lock, only just managing to pull up without finishing behind the weir in amongst the moored plastic cruisers.


IMG_0602  Unusual architecture at Putney

Quaint riverside buildings at Putney


IMG_0601  The finishing pole at the end of the Boat Race course

The finishing post of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race


We passed easily through the lock in the company of two other narrow boats who had joined us towards the end of the passage and tied up gratefully at the lock landing for the night. We had covered twenty miles, by far our greatest day’s run ever, in three and a half hours almost exactly.



Safely in the lock at Teddington


We filled in the paperwork and paid our Thames license fee and I was amused at the ancient wording and thereby the refusal of the local people to let go of the past. As would have happened no doubt at this lock two hundred years ago, I was required on the license form to give: ‘Name of Launch’

This morning we moved leisurely upstream to the good moorings outside Hampton Court Palace and though we continue to be shaken about against the side of the jetty by large passing trip boats, we are pleased that we are now on the majestic River Thames.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Entertainment at Ware

On the first of August; last Thursday in fact, we eventually left Hertford. We’d enjoyed a most pleasant stay there but really, it was time to move on. However we weren’t anxious about the length of the visit as the plan had always been that we should take our time navigating up the River Lee, seeing all there was to be seen and then on the return south to London, skip quickly through, arriving in good time at the River Thames.


The departing from Hertford

However with this in mind and having started optimistically on the return journey, after only two miles along the river, as we passed through Ware lock, we realised that this little town hadn’t been one of our stops on the way north. So really we needed to give it the same chance as all the other places had had to entertain us for a couple of days. Also there was a jazz concert in the Priory gardens on Sunday, so maybe we should stretch our stay till then as it could be good.


IMG_0452  Unique gazebos at Ware

The Gazebos of Ware

So we tied up that same afternoon at the moorings just to the south of Town Bridge and we’ve been pleasantly resting here ever since. The town, like all the others that we have seen in Hertfordshire is very ancient, which is reflected in many of the old buildings, dating from Tudor times. They have the ‘blue plaque’ system here for informing visitors of historical events and I’m amazed that there could have been so many pubs, mainly of the coaching variety, in one small town. But as its main industry here through the ages has been the production of malt, I am not too surprised I suppose. There is also a delightful amount of little tea shops as well as a Tesco for our provisions so we could find ourselves alright here for a while.... Oh dear here we go again.



John Scott’s Grotto outside




In the seventeen hundreds there lived locally an influential man called John Scott, who was not only a maltster, but a well known poet. In the grounds of his mansion on the side of the valley he built a folly in the form of a grotto for himself and his literary friends; where they could meet and achieve poetic inspiration. Built in the side of the hill, it is artistically decorated both inside and out with flint stone and sea shells. The mansion was eventually demolished and a modern housing estate now occupies its grounds and the grotto itself was about to be bulldozed when volunteers stepped in to preserve and keep it. We went to see it on Saturday last.

On Sunday afternoon we took our deck chairs and our box of red wine to the Priory Gardens and in the same place we had been the week before to experience the best of Ware rock music, we were well entertained for a couple of hours by a traditional jazz band. Though the members of Bill Freeman’s Happy Jazz Band were all into their mature years they still played vigorously and with youthful and very enjoyable expertise.



Jazz at the Priory

Then yesterday after a large chocolate milkshake with ice cream (I haven’t had one for years and it was wonderful) Janis and I went to a lunchtime cello recital at the parish church of St Mary where a young virtuosa played two cello suites by J S Bach and Benjamin Britten with such deep feeling and expertise. Afterwards we met Sharon and we three went for a walk in the countryside, heavy and thick with swaying wheat and barley fields, ready for harvest to the north east of the town.


100_4163  Wheat ready for harvest

Wheatfield ready for harvest

Two hours later, as we arrived back at the ships it came on to rain, which continued heavily for the rest of the night.

We had been very lucky enough to miss it.