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  • clivenmel

May 22nd

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;} I bet you thought we had sunk didn't you!  We've just been too busy to blog. Well we finally left our mooring outside the Eton College Boat Club after Roy had fixed the cooker and mosied on down to Windsor.  It was a very pleasant cruise, it is so nice on the Thames.  I have mentioned in an earlier blog that we were moored opposite Windsor Race Course.  We only knew that because there was a sign telling us that it was there, we couldn�t see anything of it at all because of all the tall trees, however as we cruised further down it all opened up and we could see the white railings around the track and then a short while later we could see the grandstands.    Of course it is only a stone�s throw for Her Majesty when she is in residence at Windsor, just across the park really. A few minutes later we came around a bend in the river and there was Windsor Castle, in all its glory right in front of us, it is absolutely spectacular!  I have only ever seen in on TV before so I was very excited about seeing in the flesh, so to speak!  Its not surprising that our colonial cousins from across the pond love to come and see our wonderful castles here in Britain, they haven�t got anything over there that date back anywhere near that far.  Windsor Castle, is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. The Castle's dramatic site encapsulates 900 years of British history. It covers an area of 26 acres and contains, as well as a royal palace, a magnificent chapel and the homes and workplaces of a large number of people.   We had decided to stay in Windsor, at least for one night, so we were on the look out for a decent mooring, well Clive was, I couldn�t take my eyes or camera lens off the castle!  However we finally saw a great spot and there was room for us.  There was a small island near the right side of the river with a small channel between it and the right bank and it was marked on our map as a visitor mooring.  We went beyond the island, turned around and headed back into the small channel and moored up.  It was just perfect.  Once we were all secure we set off to explore Windsor.    The first thing we came across was the big wheel � its sort of a smaller version of The Eye.  I bet you get wonderful views of the castle from up there!   Windsor itself is full of high street shops and lots and lots of eateries, including a MacDonalds and a fish and chip shop right across from the castle, well really, I do think that is lowering the tone somewhat!  I can�t imagine Her Majesty saying �Philip dear, pop out and get one a fish supper with mushy peas would you� or �ooh Philip, one could just eat a Big Mac, pop over the road and fetch one one dear� � can you?  We wandered down a little side street and came across The Crooked House of Windsor and boy is it crooked!  It is absolutely amazing that it is still standing upright!  The original house was built in 1592 whilst Queen Elizabeth I was on the throne and William Shakespeare was writing his plays and was originally known as Market Cross House.                                 However, it was demolished in 1687 because of an acrimonious land dispute but was then rebuilt very soon afterwards.  It evidently developed its tilt in 1718 after being restructured with unseasoned green oak!  Anyway, if you look very carefully you will see that there is a pub at the end of the little lane on its left, just behind Clive, so we went for a drink!   Whilst I was taking the photographs of the Crooked House I became aware of the building on its right � it looked ever so familiar � then I realised it was The Guild Hall, the place where Prince Charles and Camilla got married!   We didn�t have a Big Mac or Fish and Chips but we did find a very authentic Italian restaurant so we treated ourselves to a pizza and a glass of wine each � it was lovely.   We sauntered back to the boat and got settled in for the night.  It was very pleasant under the lovely weeping willows and very peaceful, apart from the planes flying over in a constant stream and one orange street light, right above the boat, which kept flashing on and off!   Tuesday May 19th - we had a very pleasant nights sleep and decided in the morning not to linger in Windsor.  Unfortunately the weather was rather overcast and rain threatened.  So, we set off after breakfast and cruised down past the castle and the Home Park and on through Datchet.  We soon came to the Old Windsor Lock and as we were leaving the lock kept our eyes peeled on the left bank and soon saw what we were looking for, a tiny cottage with a three domed thatched roof, called Honeypot Cottage, which was once the home of the actress Beryl Reid and her family of pussycats!  It is very cute you have to admit.   We also cruised past a very famous place, Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.  I have to say it was very unmemorable from the river, in fact if it wasn�t mentioned in our map book we would have cruised past totally unaware of it.  We did see something else though that was strangely familiar, another boat coming towards us! We both looked at it and realised it was an East West Marine boat like ours, but a bit shorter.  We very, very rarely see them as they are few and far between.  The other boater recognised our boat too and gave us a wave.   A short while later and we were in Staines.  We had a very good reason for mooring up in Staines � there is a launderette!  We saw the moorings, which were marked on our map and once again went past, turned the boat around and headed back to moor facing upstream, right outside The Slug and Lettuce! For those of you who don�t know, the Slug and Lettuce is a chain of bars which serve cocktails and appeal to the younger element of society!  I was a bit concerned at first till I remembered it was a Tuesday and also it was a bit cool, so with a bit of luck the youth of Staines wouldn�t be camping on our doorstep for half the night!   Once moored we headed off into Staines to locate the launderette.  It was a bit of a trek but we found it.  It was extremely busy with service washes and the proprietor suggested we came back in an hour or so when there would be more machines free.  So that is exactly what we did.  We took our books with us when we returned and sat and relaxed whilst the laundry process went on then back to the boat to unpack and remake the bed etc.  Oh it is so nice knowing the drawers are full of clean clothes and we have clean bedding and towels � lovely!  It is quite amazing what you take for granted when you live in a house with everything at your finger tips and can do your washing and drying without giving it a moments thought � I don�t think I will ever feel that way again � this adventure is definitely life-changing in more ways than you think!   Wednesday May 20th - we had a very peaceful night�s sleep with no disturbance from either slugs or lettuces and the following morning we turned the boat around and headed off again.   We had a lovely cruise, this stretch of the Thames is really beautiful and there are the most wonderful little houses and chalets all along both banks of the river. Some of them are no bigger than those log cabins you can buy these days to put at the bottom of the garden but others were much grander.  All of them have their own moorings and the majority of them had some kind of craft moored outside from small speedboats to large cabin cruisers.    It wasn�t long before we arrived at the Molesey Lock, just before Hampton Court.  We needed to fill up with water, empty the bin and have a pump out before we went through the lock and it took ages!  Mainly because the water pressure was pathetic and it took at least half an hour to fill the tank.  Secondly we were facing downstream with the sanitary station on the right and our pump-out point is on the left!  However we managed it all eventually and went through the lock, under a couple of bridges and there on our right was the magnificent Hampton Court Palace and our moorings, which were right next to the palace grounds!  When we were coming down the lock there was another boat in the lock with us.  It was a really fantastic cabin cruiser, very large and it looked very expensive!  The couple on board were frightfully well heeled and were terribly, terribly posh � the lady sounded just like Joanna Lumley!  Well they moored up right in front of us, you can see it in the photo � so you see we really do hobnob with the rich and famous!  Clive decided to look their boat up on the internet just out of interest and discovered that brand new, which this one obviously was, they are about �400K � I think we�ll have two!   Thursday May 21st � we got up bright and early, had a quick cuppa and a slice of toast then headed off to the train station to catch a bus to Kew.  We were armed with pencils, pads and the laptop ready to do battle with censuses, births, marriages and deaths at The National Archives.  We arrived at 10.00am and the first thing we did was go for a coffee and a muffin before battle commenced � thank heavens we did � the next time we looked at the time it was 6.00pm!  We hadn�t had a drink or a bite to eat all day!  That is the trouble when you get totally engrossed in something, you just don�t come up for air!  Anyway, I had a very productive day researching my family tree on my mother�s side but couldn�t get anywhere with my father�s side as the Weirs originated in Scotland and their records are not held in the English archives.  Clive unfortunately couldn�t get any more information for his family trees even though he was on the computer all day!  We both need to go to our respective local County Records offices.  Mine are in Chester and Clive�s are in Woking (you see he thought he was a Yorkshireman born and bred but in actual fact he is descended from Southerners!).  We got back to the boat eventually, tired and hungry, but we had both enjoyed the experience at Kew.   You may remember that some weeks ago, as we were travelling down the Thames, we were Red Kite Spotting and I mentioned at that time that we had been told to expect bright green parakeets further down the river � well we have found them!  We heard the first ones as we were cruising down yesterday and we actually saw one occasionally flying across the river.  However at our moorings outside Hampton Court Palace there were lots of them in the trees across the river, we could hear them all the time but the trouble is the river is quite wide at that point and although I could get them in the cameral lens they were just that bit too far away to focus and get a really good shot!  I got some, they are a bit blurry, but you can tell even from these that this is not your common or garden starling!   Friday May 22nd � we finally said goodbye to Hampton Court Palace, a bit disappointed that we didn�t have time to actually go and have a look round, however we have both decided that we will come back and do the Thames again as we have enjoyed it so much.  There are several places that we would like to have a closer look at and Hampton Court Palace is one of them!   It was very pleasant when we set off this morning but it started to cloud over and wasn�t quite as warm as we expected, however it wasn�t raining!  Once again we had a lovely cruise down the river, through Kingston and on down to Teddington.  We had arranged with the lock-keeper by phone for our passage through the Teddington Lock.  This is not like the other locks we have been negotiating on the Thames, this lock separates the upper reaches of the Thames from the tidal Thames and helps to maintain a steady depth of 5� 9�.  You have to actually book your passage through the locks to coincide with the tides � our �appointment� was for 2pm.  We arrived early and moored up before the lock and had time for a cuppa and a bite of lunch before it was time to go into the lock.  Once through we cruised on down past Twickenham and through Richmond and then we reached Brentford and the left turn to the Brentford Lock and the Grand Union Canal.  Again we had phoned ahead to the lock-keeper to warn him of our arrival.  Then all of a sudden the Thames was behind us and we were back on the Grand Union Canal!    Just as we were approaching the lock I hear one of the parakeets screeching and when I looked around I spotted him on a bird feeder hanging in someone's garden and this time I managed to get a reasonable photograph - now do you believe me! Vicki, Gareth and Indy are joining us tomorrow and we are now moored up on some great visitor moorings where we can actually stay for 14 days should we so wish.  There is a BW office with a car park just at rear and they have given us a parking permit so that Vicki can leave her car there safely whilst they are with us.  The weather forecast for the weekend is good for a change so that�s good.   We have more or less decided to go to Woking on Tuesday � I mentioned earlier that Clive needed to go to the local county records office to further research his family tree and all the relevant stuff for one branch of his family is held at the Woking office.  The Brentford railway station is just a few minutes walk from the boat and there are regular trains to Woking so it is too good an opportunity to miss.    

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