|Yet another coconut!. Me with Paul, Pete and Roy,|
It’s been positively tropical this week. Our cruise down the Thames from Reading to Brentford saw us basking in the warm September sunshine while flocks of parakeets darted around our heads. And then there were the coconuts. As soon as we entered the Grand Union, they started to appear in locks and on the cut. We counted 25 just today. We can’t work it out where they have come from. I was in two minds whether to break out my Hawaiian shirt and give the crew a chorus of “Agadoo”. Any boating chums out there know there are so many coconuts in the Grand Union.
I’ll get back to the Thames in a bit, but we pitched up in Reading this time last week and moored in the middle of the town in a little basin, close to the Oracle centre. Good mooring but no water and no method of emptying loos. There followed an almost fanatical regime from yours truly about using water, but our tank lasted, with care, over five days, and when I finally filled up on Monday afternoon, it was still ¼ full.
Last Friday night we returned to Hertfordshire for my pal Sue’s retirement party, which had a nautical theme, so we just chucked our life jackets on and wore some of headwear brought for us as a joke when we first started on this boating lark.
The kids flew back to New Zealand very early of Sunday morning. Sad to see them go but we will be with them over Christmas the New Year. My crew for our Thames adventure turned up later that afternoon. Several weeks previously we’d had a difficult journey from Oxford to Reading, and Pat was not looking forward to another 60 miles of the Thames, running wild. So she tootled off to spend some time with a couple of her pals, and to sort out the sale of our trusty old Picasso, as we settled in at Wetherspoons, across the basin, for a drink or two.
|Windsor Castle from the Thames|
|The Cat's Whiskers approaches Cookham Lock|
Our journey down the Thames, was nothing but very pleasant. Not much of a current and tot, sunny days and empty locks, but finding a mooring, especially a free one, is a bloody nightmare. They took another £110 from us to travel down the 60-or so miles, and then they want you pay between £6 and £50 a night to moor.
Hat’s off here to Staines and Kingston, who have some very good 24 hour free moorings. Henley, Marlow and Cookham: hang your heads in shame.
Two of my crew, Paul and Peter, were keen to helm, so it was like a bit of a holiday for me, and I took the opportunity to relax as we glided past Windsor Castle and Hampton Court, as well as the multi-million pound pads of “Rolf”, “Cilla” and “Parky”.
The last bit was a bit a dash. From Teddington to Brentford is tidal and high tide was around 5pm. Four boats set off and we really motored on down, through Richmond and Kew to the sharp left turn back on to the Grand Union at Brentford. We had booked the lock for 6.30pm, and got there at 6.28pm. The lock keeper was well impressed at our timing.
|TCW finishes its 60-mile Thames trip at Brentford as the sun goes down|
After mooring in the basin at Brentford overnight, we whizzed up the Hatton Flight, through Hanwell and Southall. Here I got the chance to get off the boat and do a bit of locking, which I rarely get a chance to do, while Peter piloting TCW safely up the flight.
The boys needed a tube station to get home, so we turned on to the Paddington arm and finished the cruise at The Black Horse in Greenford, where I said goodbye to them all at 5,30pm and hello again to Pat an hour later.
This weekend we got back on to the main line and start to inch northwards through Uxbridge and Harefield. We will be in Rickmansworth by next Wednesday, ready for my visit to the St Albans Beer Festival and my GP.