Friday, 1 August 2014

To Shepperton

Left Windsor at 08:00 before anyone came looking for a mooring fee. Past the Fun Fair being erected on The Brocas on the Eton bank and Her Madges rotund residence opposite. Sue pressed the buttons to get FL through Romney Lock, skirting around Home Park where swimming across the river I saw my first water vole anywhere on the waterways. Under the Victoria and Albert bridges built to reroute roads to Datchet after the expansion of Windsor Castle grounds in 1848.

Liz is out for the day.

Sue works Romney Lock

This is very familiar water for us, we were trying to work out how many times we have cruised from Shepperton to Windsor and back over the years that we had cruisers on the Thames, a conservative figure would be around 120....we never got fed up with it. In those days I could see a distant outline of a boat coming towards us and could tell you the make, name of boat and now and again the name of the skipper not any more though, there is still a lot of familiar boats around most have changed hands and a few renamed. Except for Shepperton and Runnymede all the lock keepers have changed.

In Old Windsor lock Sue chatted with an excited chap who was in the process of having a dutch barge built, it will be ready in September and kept at Penton Hook marina, I bet he can't wait. Out of the lock through Old Windsor and you are soon at historic Runnymede, JFK memorial and the Magna Carta Monument are here along with a popular large park although at this time of day it was quiet. Then through Runnymede lock operated by the beard that never smiles and we are in Staines, my home town, beside Staines bridge the drab riverside picture house is long gone replaced by swish flats and a couple of waterside restaurants, opposite the timeless Swan Hotel's refurbished pontoon is empty.

Not much of note on the reach down to Penton Hook Lock apart from a couple of boat yards and Truss's Island named after Charles Truss who in the late 1700's did a lot of improvements to the banks and locks from London to Staines while working for the City of London, who managed the navigation to Staines. Out of the lock and a sharp right takes you to the vast Penton Hook Marina where we moored 'Restdays'  we carry straight on through Laleham park on the old Middlesex bank and Laleham  Golf Club on the Surrey bank, back in the day there used to be a ferry here to carry golfers and their clubs across the river.
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Just past Chertsey lock is the bridge of the same name it dates from 1785, to starboard which used to be Bates boatyard are apartments whose architecture  would grace London Docklands, here by this pretty Portland stone bridge and meadow opposite they do look out of place. On the south bank Chertsey Meads to Shepperton Lock every inch of riverbank is used for some very tasteful accommodation.

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It's midday as we leave Steve at the controls of Shepperton Lock hoping there is a spot for us on Shepperton Manor park. There was although I made a bit of a mess of mooring between a widebeam and a little cruiser (who's crews were at picnic tables having lunch), I got Sue to shore off the bow, threw her the centre line which ended up in the water while I went to retrieve it FL drifted out in the current, I reversed back and the bow went out into the middle of the channel as a pleasure steamer came around the bend stuffed full of tourists and waited to see where I was going, I finally got FL out of there way and on seeing Sue on the bank a tourist shouted 'Are you trying to collect your wife or leave her behind'.... funny chappie.  Finally got FL secured to the bank.. isn't it always the way when you cock a manoeuvre up the whole world comes to watch.

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