Thames adventure, 2003

Escape to somewhere (anywhere) on the River Thames for all of August 2003

For the first time ever, we abandon the children for a whole month to travel-and-work in the slow lane...

The plan was to spend all of August travelling, but after taking a couple of days to prepare the boat we finally got under way on Sunday 3rd August.

(For all images, click to see a larger version of the picture. Most of the larger images are scaled to fit within a 1024x768 display.)


Beale Wildlife Park, near Pangbourne:

August 3: We arrived quite late, so only sunset pictures. A treat for me was a sight of model aircraft floatplanes being flown off the water.


Reading

August 4/5: We stopped near the town centre for a couple of days, in the shadow of the jail where Oscar Wilde was incarcerated, to top up on provisions and to try and establish some form of Internet access (surprisingly, without success). There is an Internet hotspot in the Hogshead pub, but the access point software appears to be buggy.


Shiplake, by the lock:

August 5: A private island for the night, with the soothibng sound of a weir stream in the background.


Hurley

August 6: We stopped here to escape the midday heat, and becasue Hurley is the (unlikely) site of a publicly accessible wireless Internet "hot spot".


Cliveden, near Maidenhead:

My "office" for a day

August 6/7: the weather was forecast to be extraordinarily hot (by English standards), so we took refuge for the day in the shade of trees in this steep-sided wooded valley near Maidenhead. This was another small island, isolated in the middle of the river, but this one we had to share with, oh, 3 or 4 other people.


Windsor

(Also known as "South Slough")

Top left: Sunrise over Window railway bridge

Above: Windsor bridge in the calm of early morning

Top right: Windsor castle silhouetted in early morning haze

Left: The castle seen from the river across "The Home Park" (?)

Right: A Heron stands watch...

August 8: Windsor at the height of the summer is a disappointing place to rest by the river. The famous castle is suitably impressive and Eton, on the opposite side of the river, retains a certain charm. But Windsor itself seems like nothing more than a production line for extracting money from tourists. Maybe Windsor would be OK if it weren't for the people: too many tourists, local children with nothing better to do than hassle boaters (including removal of mooring pins), rude shop assistants in what one expects to be quality stores... And the noise! between the people, cars, trains, aeroplanes and Canada Geese, it's difficult to imagine why anyone would actually choose to live here. Well, each to his own, I suppose.


Staines

A particularly convenient mooring in Staines, opposite Church Island.

August 9: After Windsor, Staines was a haven of tranquility. We stayed a day and took the opportunity to restock supplies (a large, air conditioned, supermarket being very nearby). At this point, I also gave up on trying to find Internet wireless hotspots and bought a new GPRS phone service to we could collect email, and more.


Hampton Court

The merest hint of possible rain clouds in the evening. But it was an empty promise, and the night was merely humid. Morning views over the river to Hampton Court Bridge.

Augist 10: This was rumoured to the the hottest day of the year. It certainly felt that way. After travelling for a couple hours to Weybridge in the full strength of the sun, jumping into the river was such bliss. In the marginally cooler evening, we continued to Hampton Court, and moored just below Molesey Lock, just outside Hampton Court Palace.


Kingston on Thames

On and about the river at Kingston.

August 11/??: After several days on the move, we stopped for a while at Kingston. Inititially we cooked in the full strength of the sun just beside Kingston bridge, but toward the end of the first day some space opened up on the more shaded west bank, which we promptly occupied.


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