Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hampton Court Palace - 23rd July

Last night as I was on the phone a cheeky Mink walked along the concrete bank alongside the boat and disappeared into a drain from the palace, would not have expected to see one here.

This morning we took it in turns to visit the Palace as it was too hot to take Jimmy with us. So June and Carolann went first and I went after lunch. I decided to explore the gardens first as the heat was building up and it would be cooler in the house later on. They have a wonderful Kitchen Garden with all sorts of vegetables, herbs etc. which would have been grown in Henry XIII time. This dipping pool was the only source of water for the garden in the 18th Century and is fed by gravity from the river Longford.

1  Kit chen garden

The Maze is over 300 years old and is the oldest puzzle maze in the UK. The girls made it to the centre as this photo proves. Not sure how long it took them to get out though.

2 Maze

I called in to have a look at the Real Tennis Court, where two men were playing. It is a very different game from the Tennis we know today. As a youth Henry was a very keen player and Anne Boleyn was betting on a game when she was arrested and then complained about not being able to collect her winnings.

3 Real tennis

The flowers and trees in the Great Fountain Garden were magnificent and whilst I walked around I bumped into William II and two ladies. Chatting to them was great as they played in character even to speaking German.

4 Garden

The Great Fountain is in a driveway heading to Home Park and has an impressive long lake. It provides a majestic view from the Palace windows.

5 Great Fountain

Here are a few views of the Palace from different aspects.

6 The Palace

The staff have recreated the gardens as they used to be and they are a mass of colour and amazingly you can find Oranges, Lemons and even Pomegranates  growing outside.

7 Gardens

Just a few shots of inside the house, here are the Kitchens with a real fire blazing away, and enormous Wine and Beer Cellar and the oldest Vine in the world with masses of bunches of grapes on it. they are harvested in September and sold in the shop.

8 Kitchen

The magnificent Great Hall which was used by everybody for eating, like school dinners, and then used on Special occasions for the large banquets. One of the special aspects of the table was the Linen Napkins made into animals and fruit etc. to show off on the table. The dresses have been reproduced in white paper and look amazing.

9 Henry Rooms

I won’t spoil anybody’s visit by going into more detail about the house and gardens save to say I spent 2.5 hours in there and only scratched the surface.

I could not resist this picture of the Kings Loo as it is always a boaters topic. I could do with this radio controlled lawn mower to play with; and in the right hand picture you can just see the tip of our boat moored behind the cruiser right outside the Palace River Gates making it a memorable way to visit for us.

9a misc

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Hot Hot Hot at Hampton Court - 22nd July

We were woken by Jim wanting to go out at 4 am this morning and looking out, the river was flat calm with the houses reflecting in the water like a mirror.

1  Mirror calm

Leaving the mooring we descended Shepperton lock and took the 3/4 of a mile long Desborough Cut so avoiding two very large loops of the river on the other side of Desborough Island. The modern Walton Bridge then came into view closely followed by the tent and shed campsite like those we had seen earlier on our way down river. Sunbury Lock is actually two locks, a canoe portage, and boat roller. The mechanised lock on the south side is normally used for boats but the hand operated one on the north side can be used at peak times.

2 Cut bridge

Next came Hampton still linked to the south shore by ferry and with its prominent Church visible from some distance before arriving at the town. Hampton owes its existence not to Hampton Court but to Hampton House bought by David Garrick in 1754.  By the river is Garrick’s temple built to house Roubiliac’s bust of Shakespeare.

3 Hampton

Approaching Molesey Lock you enter Houseboat world with some fantastic two story boats. Here we had a pump out (£9) and filled with water. On the right hand side is Molesey Rowing Club with this vertical Totem Pole of a rowing eight.

4 House boats

Arriving at Hampton Court there was, surprisingly to us, plenty of mooring right outside the Palace with its gilded gates. It was too hot to take Jimmy out reaching 34 degrees in the boat so I did a quick reconnoitre of the area finding several small food shops across the bridge in East Molesey and even Henry X111 strolling in the palace grounds. The picture of our mooring was taken from Cigarette Island. The ancient name of Cigarette Island was 'The Sterte', mentioned as early as 1306, and which almost certainly comes from the Old English word 'Steart', a tail of land, an apt description of its situation between the two rivers. In 1843 it was called 'Davis's Ait' after the family of Davis who at one time kept the nearby Castle Inn. The present name derives from a houseboat called Cigarette which used to be moored here.

5 Hampton Court

Across the road from the palace is Bushy Park a magnificent area of lakes woods and a pond with the Diana Fountain in the middle.The fountain lies in the centre of a roadway from Hampton Court Gate to Teddington Gate.

6 Bushy Park

Since Cookham we have been buzzed by aircraft taking off from Heathrow with Runnymede being the loudest and lowest flight path so far, but even here at Hampton they are still very noisy.

IMG_4918 - Copy

Monday, 21 July 2014

Down to the Wey 21st July

As we left Bell Weir Lock there were people having breakfast on the patio of The Runnymede Hotel and Spa and on the opposite bank some bright spark had set this boat in his garden as a form of decking overhanging the river. We expected the mooring in Staines to be busy but surprisingly there was no one about. We filled with water at the point below Chertsey Lock and then carried on down steam.

1 Lock etc

We passed some interesting little establishments near to the ferry crossing at Laleham and the Laleham Boat Yard who seemed to specialise in repair and renovation of wooden cruisers.

2 Laleham

Again on this stretch of river there were many and varied Houseboats some with 2 stories and some quite luxurious.

3 Houseboats

Just before Chertsey Lock we passed under the busy M3 Motorway bridge and were glad we were not in that rat race environment. Just below the lock is Chertsey Bridge and this was rush hour on the river with 3 boats in the process of navigating through it.

4 Motorway M3

We found a nice mooring with a grassy bank just before Shepperton Lock and so decided to stop for the day. After lunch we walked down to the lock and the junction of the Rivers Thames and Wey.

With the Lock  and  Weir channels, the channels either side of D’Oyly Carte and Desborough Islands and several channels into the Wey, it makes a large junction. We caught the Feryboat across to the other side of the river, you summon it by ringing a bell on the 1/4 hours and the  ferryman comes out of the boatyard and takes you across. Coming back was a little more difficult as somebody on the other side of the river was power washing his boat and so we had to time the bell ringing to fit in with the lulls of his machine. The ferry is run by Nauticalia for the National Trust so walkers can enjoy this ancient crossing nd it costs £3 return for and adult..

5 Thames Wey Jnc

It was a  20 minute walk from the ferry into Weybridge where there is a small Waitrose and several other high street chains. We carried on walking and came to the Town Lock. It is worth noting the Piles at the entrance to protect the lock opening and the platforms to stand on to operate the gate paddles.

6 Town Lock

We had to cross the Old Wey Bridge; a 3 span cast iron bridge built in 1865 replacing the 13 span wooden bridge built in 1808. It is believed that there was a bridge on this site as early as 675AD and it was from this that the name Weybridge was derived. It is interesting to note the roller on the post on the right hand side of the bottom picture as this was presumably used to help haul the boats around the corner to a wharf.

7 Old Wey  Bridge

We walked a little way back down the river and came across this lovely house in a rural setting even though it was only at the back of the Weybridge High Street.

8 River Wey

Carolann saw this the other day but we spotted another today; a young Grebe on its mother back.


Returning to the boat it was too hot for me to be outside so I came inside and did the blog.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Runnymede and the Magna Carta–20th July

Although the sky was overcast this morning it was warm and we had some great views of the Castle and the Crown Estate of Home Park between the Victoria and Albert Bridges. Just before Victoria Bridge the Jubilee River completes its 7 mile journey and re joins the Thames.

1 Castle views

This stretch of the river provided many and varied boats including these House Boats, Steamer, Barge and a cruiser called Royal William.

2 Boats

We moored up in Runnymede on a nice mooring adjacent to the park where all the locals had come to enjoy the hot weather, river and have picnics.20140720_144053

After an early lunch we walked back along the river to the Fairhaven Memorial Lodges which were designed by Sir Edwin Luytens and built as a memorial to Sir Urban Broughton MP who bought Runnymede in 1928 to safeguard its future.20140720_130447

We then crossed the road and made our way to the Kennedy Memorial sited in an acre of land given by the Queen to the citizens of the USA in 1965. It was designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and is maintained by the Kennedy Trust. It is made up of a Woodland, The 50 Steps of Individuality to represent the states of the US at that time and the Seat of Contemplation.

3 kennedy

A little further on is the  Magna Carta Memorial designed by Sir Edward Maufe and erected by the American Bar Association in 1957. Runnymede is the site on which the Magna Carta was agreed in 1215, it is a charter which marked the foundations of civil liberty and has formed the constitutions of many countries including the USA.

4Magna Carta

A walk up Coopers Hill brings you to the RAF Memorial to the Commonwealth Airmen who lost their lives in the 2nd World War. It is a very moving visit with the tributes from relatives and the list of over 20,000 thousand who lost their lives to keep our freedom.



The Memorial has a balcony with spectacular views across the Thames Valley including Heathrow Airport and you feel that you could almost touch the aircraft as they take off overhead.


The control tower and terminals at Heathrow.


Whilst having our nightcap at 9.45pm we heard music coming from the river and looked out to see this narrowboat lit up with chain lights along the roof and with a gazebo on top. Musicians were playing guitars and drums.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Cookham to Windsor–18th and 19th July

After a last nights thunder storm we headed down river with a dubious sky and lightening in the far distance. We were soon passing Cliveden House high up above the beech tree clad hillside. Those of you old enough may remember it for its involvement in the Profumo affair.

1Cliveden House

Just before Maidenhead the Jubilee River goes off via weir. This is a man made 7 mile river built as a flood relief system re-entering the Thames just below Windsor. In the lock cut is this house with a model of an old man sitting in a chair. It represents Richard Dimbleby who used to live here on Boulters Island 1913-1965.. The picture at bottom left is Boulters Lock with 3 narrowboats and a cruiser who we had travelled with from Cookham Lock.  The working narrowboat is the Ovaltine boat.

2 Jub Maid Dimbe Oval

As we left maidenhead we saw these lovely houses just before the Railway bridge which is said to have been the widest brick built span when it was first built and as you pass under you can create a nice echo.

3 Maid Railway bridge

Bray is full on fabulous houses including these two the bottom one being of note because of its owners recent boat trip to court.

4 Bray houses

At Bray Lock we had two swans come up with the boats and once the two with signets saw that they were on their territory all hell was let loose at the closed gates. Here June and the Lock keeper are trying to separate them which they eventually did and the two invaders came down the lock with us to safety. Apparently George, the swan, is very fierce and protective. The second picture is of Bray film Studios and the third is Oakley Court, now an up market hotel but once the home of Hammer Films and featured in many of their horror films.

The final picture is one for Bill as it is the landing stage for Windsor Race Course where I am sure he has officiated on many an occasion.

5 Swan bray Oak e

We moored up on Baths Island which is a very popular venue for locals at evenings and weekends as they come over for picnics and BBQ’s although they are officially band. We squeezed into the only available spot just in front Al and Del on Derwent 6 and they joined us all for afternoon tea on the grass bank.  As we walked into Windsor to do a quick shop, it was too hot at 32 degrees to do anything else, we passed this replica Hurricane erected in honour of local man  Sir Sydney Camm the designer of the aircraft and also of the Harrier VTOL . In the remodelled station is this replica engine aptly named “The Queen” built at Swindon works. On the river on many tens of swans and these modern replicas of the yellow DWUKs.

9a Duck hurr Girl

Later as it cooled and on Saturday  we explored Eton and Windsor. Here we have Eton Porny School; Porny is an  
odd name for a school but the school was founded with a bequest from Richard Porny who was a Master at Eton 
college. New & Lingwood  a local School Tailor, the stocks with the fire insurance emblem on the house above.

Eton housemaster HE Luxmoore, created a lovely garden on Tangier island in the Thames just beside the Chapel. It is hidden behind the college near to the river lock.

6 Eton Road

Eton College is very impressive and reminds one of the Oxford Colleges. It was originally built in 1441 for 70 poor scholars but now around 1280 boys attend. the cannon in the lower picture was captured from the Russians at Sevastopol in 1855.

7 Eton School

On Saturday we explored the Castle and the Mile Walk. There were large queues of foreign tourist waiting to go into the castle so we did not bother to try. It is a very impressive sight from anywhere in the town and for a long way off.

9 Castle mile

10.45 on Saturday was the Changing of the Guard ceremony. The 1st battalion the Welsh Guards, with their band, marched from the barracks through the town and into the castle grounds for the change over and we stood outside to watch amongst large crowds. A very moving sight. Several flower sellers dressed in sumptuous dresses were to be seen parading about the cobbled side streets opposite the castle.

9b guard change

Next to the castle is the Guild Hall and Registry Office where Charles and Camilla were married and next to that is the old Crooked House which leans in several directions.

9 c

We spotted this Fire Alarm Telegraph point in the wall of Eton College presumably to call the fire brigade in days gone by. On the bridge over to Baths Island is this sign and saying that a Police Operation is in Progress. The only policeman I could find is and X.

9 d

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Marlow and Cookham - 17th July

Decided to make an early start as the forecast was for it to be very hot today and  a good job we did as when we moored up for the day in the shade of some large beech trees the temperature was 29 degrees in the shade.

We first went by the village of Medmenham. The village lane ends at the Old Ferry crossing which ceased to be used after the Second World War. It was where the Thames towpath crossed from the Buckinghamshire to Berkshire bank of the river. On the towpath beside the former ferry crossing stands the large Medmenham Ferry Memorial that commemorates Lord Devonport's successful 1899 defence of the public right-of-way over the ferry.

There are too many lovely houses to include here but here are a couple of them.

1 Mendenham

Spotted this icecream boat which was used at Henley Regatta and later at Harleyford the steamboat Alaska which we had seen yesterday as part of the Swan Upping fleet. Alaska is the oldest working passenger steamer on the Thames and was used by the Queen in 2009 when she witnessed the Swan Upping and was in the 1000 strong fleet for the Diamond Jubilee. Originally it was coal fired but now runs on compressed wood waste briquettes.

3 Boats

Temple Lock is the half way point of the journey from Oxford to London.


Nearing Marlow we pass Bisham Abbey built in the 14th and 16th centuries and now the home of the Central Council of Physical Recreation which brings together players and coaches of various sports from weight lifting to rowing.

4Bisham Abbey

As we entered Marlow two boats left their mooring and so we decided to stop and have a look around. The town is of Georgian origins and has a white suspension bridge built in 1831-6 and reconstructed in 1966. The hotel next to the weir is aptly named “The Complete Angler”

5 Marlow

On our way down we passed this Robomower mowing the lawn right down to the river and this modern style house boat with its own gymnasium on the right hand side.. The Micron Theatre boat was moored outside the Bounty pub at Bourne End and is to stage “Till the Cows come Home” tomorrow night.

6 Misc

We found a nice mooring at Bellrope Meadow in Cookham, in the shade under the trees for us and in the sun for Autumn Years. Opposite used to be a magnificent old house which looks sadly neglected now, a real shame. We went on a short circular walk around the village and sat in the cafe garden to eat our icecreams. But it was really to hot to do any serious exploring. Cookham bridge is an iron structure made in Darlington and erected in 1867.

7 Cookham