Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Day 29: How bright, how solemn, how serene; a day on the Thames

One of the things I like about this hotel is the chance to sit and reflect on the river at mealtimes. At breakfast this morning there was never more than one other table occupied while I was there. I was able to choose my table to face East and see, without hearing, the traffic log-jammed at times on the bridge and to turn my attention to the flow of the water and the reflection of the light on the water and under the bridge.

It is very soothing and contemplative.

To continue the river theme, I decided to take the Turk Company ferry to Richmond and back - a trip that takes most of the day. Last time I was here,  I went as far as Kingston  and back.  This time, armed with my embroidery and a book, I decided to venture further.

I caught the first service - 11.15am from Hampton Court.
The boat was the large New Southern Belle,  built on the Thames with a paddle wheel on the back. Downstairs it has plush seating in booths with tables and upstairs an open floor with seats around the side. Obviously the company makes its profit from event hire with dinner and dancing rather than its regular Hampton Court to Kingston runs - at least at this time of the year.

There were about 15 passengers on board this trip including the dog.

The first thing we pass, of course, is Hampton Court.

 Several of the Queen's swans were in evidence, along with walkers and rowers singly

 and in groups. I noticed a lot of the rowers are senior citizens - or at least seniors.
As we approached Kingston, our Captain lowered the funnels (cannon?) to fit under the bridge. You can see his hand out of his cabin window, winding them down on a pulley. Nifty.

As we entered Kingston there were people out feeding the swans.

It looked a peaceful and companionable thing to do.

At Kingston, those of us going on to Richmond changed boats to the smaller, if grandly named Richmond Royale. This has one floor of open table seating and space on the roof to sit. We picked up a few more passengers - maybe 20 of us went to Richmond.

Both boats have bars -
no doubt important in event hire. I don't think I've been on a river boat before that did not sell tea, coffee and snacks but was would sell you a cocktail, whisky or champagne from 11 in the morning to the end of the run at 4.45!

The run from Kingston to Richmond was picturesque and peaceful. I was interested in the variety of houses along the river - from mansions, to apartment blocks to modest cottages and what South Australians call 'shacks'.

There is also a big variety of vessels moored,

On this stretch of the river we pass through the Richmond lock. Opened in 1894 and refurbished in 1994, there is a sluice gate that opens either side of the high tide to let vessels through. At other times shipping must pass through the locks to the side of the sluice gate.

We passed through the lock both coming and going.

This is the water level as we entered

and as we left.

Along the lock is a theThames Venturer, a restored Dutch vessel that serves an educational purpose - and was swarming with school children.

There were some lovely trees, shrubs and flowers along this stretch. The willows were magnificent.

There were also some lovely structures.

a huge school

 and a variety of yacht clubs - mostly far from magnificent and very well used -

as well as the Twickenham Sea Scouts.

The river is tidal at Richmond. I was returning on the 2.15 boat, which was fine, but the 4.15 boat would not be able to dock at the regular pier because the tide would be high.

The hotel near the landing pier marked this by an alternative entrance for high tide.

 We arrived in Richmond at 1.00 pm. There are some grand hotels along the river front near the landing. Most of the passengers headed for one of these for a buffet lunch.

I did not attempt the walk to Richmond Green, nor to the Art Galleries, as suggested by my good Watford tour adviser .

As I planned to only stay one hour, and make the two-hour return journey on the 2.15 boat, I settled for the humbler Slug and Lettuce pub. My tour adviser, I think, would approve - based on our Scottish experience!

There were only two passengers on the return journey - so I presume the buffet was successful!
 Back at Kingston, we changed vessels again. The funnels were once again raised after we passed under the bridge (you can just see the Captain's  hand on the right hand side and the funnel raising on the left).

On the return journey I snapped a few houseboats and other craft

including teams practising

and derelict barges.

There was an industrial structure or two

and lovely trees on the skyline.

The river is well used by walkers, joggers, mothers' groups with babies, wheelchairs, cyclists and rowers. I could have taken a whole series of photos to demonstrate.

I ventured a selfie with Hampton Court background (not my best hair day, and a bit evil-witch!)

as we returned to base.

So the sun sets again on the river. I have loved my day allowing the river to carry me along. Tomorrow I may focus again on that which is walkable. I have a yen to finish my last Robin panel and enjoy the precinct.

Perhaps after all, I do need something more from the quilting shop!

1 comment:

  1. LOL, a little extra fabric for your robins, perhaps?