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  • clivenmel

May 16th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} The weather was a trifle inclement this morning (I�m being posh because we are in a rather nice neighbourhood!) and as we were in no rush to go anywhere we decided to stay put for a while.  I had a nice lie-in (having been deprived of one yesterday) and read my book for a while then we had a leisurely breakfast, chatted to the kids on the phone and then decided to set off!  However by now it was lunchtime, so I made some sandwiches and a cuppa and then we finally set off about 2.15pm!  Almost immediately after we left the mooring there was a lock to negotiate.  There was another narrowboat coming down the river behind us and it arrived just in time to join us in the lock.    Once out of the lock we mosied on down the Cliveden Reach.  This stretch of the river is completely covered in trees (the Cliveden Woods) and it is all National Trust property.  At the top of the hill, almost hidden by the trees is a large country pile called Cliveden and it has quite a chequered past.  The mansion can trace its origins back to the 17th Century.  In 1668 the Duke of Buckingham killed the Earl of Shrewsbury in a duel on the terrace.  Rule Brittania was first performed here at a masque in 1740 under the baton of Thomas Arne, its composer.  It has had three disastrous fires and the present building was designed by Charles Barry for the Duke of Sutherland and dates back to 1851.  It now belongs to the National Trust but is sub-let as an hotel (a very posh one!).  In its past it also belonged to the wealthy Astor family and gained a dubious reputation in the mid 30s when the �Cliveden Set� of movers and shakers propagated appeasement with Nazi Germany.    Just below the house on the banks of the river are three lovely little cottages, the third one of these is called Spring Cottage and was built for the Duchess of Sutherland in 1857 by George Devey as a summer house.  This is where Christine Keeler was staying as Stephen Ward�s guest before the Profumo scandal broke back in the �60s.  In earlier days the Duchess would entertain Queen Victoria in the secluded garden.  Nowadays it�s available as an exclusive holiday let however I think you would require a small mortgage for a weeks rental!   Once past Cliveden we soon arrived at the next lock on the outskirts of Maidenhead.  The other narrowboat was in front of us waiting to go into the lock and so was a large cabin cruiser, however the lock was so cavernous it easily swallowed the three craft with room to spare!  Once out the other side we started looking out for a suitable mooring.  We did find some moorings but they were right on the edge of town and rather noisy with a very busy road running alongside, so we carried on a bit further.   We passed some lovely houses on the way down this stretch and also Monkey Island, which I recognised straight away as an old colleague of mine had got married there.  Sure enough as we were cruising past there was a wedding party in the process of having their photographs taken.  A little while later we past a beautiful Gothic mansion on the right bank which turned out to be the Oakley Court Hotel and there was another wedding going on there too! We also passed this building on our right.  According to Wikipedia; �Bray Studios is best known for its association with Hammer Film Productions and contains four stages, plus offices and workshops.  Evidently Hammer originally leased country houses in which to shoot films, until the company eventually purchased Down Place on the banks of the Thames near Bray. After using every room and angle in its films, it later enlarged the house into the Bray Studios of today. The last Hammer production made at Bray The Mummy's Shroud, which was completed on 21 October 1966. Hammer sold the studio in November, 1970. Bray Studios continues to host television, film work and band rehearsals today�.   Very soon after that we spotted some great moorings on the left bank and the narrowboat that we had been sharing the locks with was already moored up there.  We cruised past and then Clive very expertly turned Lady Arwen around to face upstream and we moored up in front of our lock mates.  (It is actually safer to moor facing upstream on a river, especially with a strong wind blowing, which there is today!).  So here we are moored up right next to Eton School�s boathouse and just behind the trees is the Dorney Lake rowing course, which is going to be used in the 2012 Olympics.   These moorings are actually really quiet and peaceful, no railway line, no busy road, however there are quite a lot of these passing over every few minutes!  Obviously we are now very close to Heathrow and we all know how busy that is!  Never mind, fortunately both Clive and I like planes � not a lot of people know this but we were actually avid plane spotters in our youth and spent many a happy day during our �courting� on the terraces at Manchester Airport checking the registration numbers of the planes in our plane spotter books, wearing our anoraks of course!!!   Hopefully it is going to be a nice day tomorrow and the plan is to just move downriver a short distance to Windsor.  I have never seen Windsor Castle so hopefully that will be remedied tomorrow.  I wonder if the Queen is in residence and whether she will invite us for tea!    Clive said we can�t moor up on the right bank near the castle as we might get shot!  He heard a story the other day from another boater about two elderly ladies who live on a narrowboat and were on their way back up the Thames from London when they had engine trouble and had to pull in to the bank quickly and tie up before the got carried away by the river.  However within seconds of them tying up they were challenged by several armed security men from the castle!   We will let you know how we get on.

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