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.

No comments: