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The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 47

Posted by indigodream on 9 October, 2008

Shepperton Lock to Teddington Lock

Rainy day.....

Rainy day.....

It was a wild and stormy night but we slept safely on our mooring. The forecast for today had predicted torrential rain in the morning then torrential rain and 20 mile per hour winds in the afternoon! I was concerned about the wind and wondered whether we should aim for an early start. But the morning was already wet and windy so we didn’t bother. Just as well, the forecast was topsy turvy – conditions got better and better as the day progressed.

Our first stop was Shepperton Lock where we had a chat with the helpful lock-keeper. The Thames lock-keepers are really tremendous – they’re great sources of information and most are cheerful souls. At the very worst, we found that some the younger lock-keepers lacked the affable banter of their more experienced colleague but they’re helpful when asked. If you get good service from the Thames lock-keepers then write to Head Office to let them know -Navigation Office, Lock Island, Shepperton, Middlesex TW17 9LW

Our concern today was whether the overnight rain would make for tricky cruising conditions. Having walked through ankle-deep water on the morning dog walk, I was surprised to hear that there hadn’t really been enough rain to bother the river and that any effect wouldn’t be felt until Monday anyway. Reassured, we pressed on downstream.

Crowded islands...

Crowded islands...

There’s a change in the nature of the river now. Up by Marlow it’s all well-spaced estates but down here every bit of land is occupied. The islands are crowded and instead of the traditional and spacious mansions there is a completely eclectic mix of old bungalows, designer chalets and nutty houseboats. It may be the most typically english stretch of the river – wildly individual and rioutously eccentric.

I did notice that there were a LOT of ‘for sale’ signs around – I looked up a few details and I think that prices have really dropped here. Once place that caught my eye a 6-bedroomed house with a long mooring which was Β£850k – I’d expected it to be nearer a million. Is this the recession or the flood risk – who knows? All academic as it’s still well out of our price range πŸ™‚

It rained and rained but mercifully the gale-force winds never materialised. This gave a good combination of a fast flow in the river but stability at the helm. We were surprised by the large number of rowers and sailors on the water. We were actually very comfortable wrapped up in full waterproofs and boots – as Bruce from Sanity said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing”. But the sailors and rowers seemed woefully underdressed. My heart went out to a crew of four young women, wearing just shorts and T-shirts, sitting motionless in their skiff in the middle of the river being lectured by an instructor in a motorboat. Personally I’d have been rebelled – surely that bit could have been done indoors!

Memory lane for us in Walton on Thames

Memory lane for us in Walton on Thames

As always, Walton on Thames evoked fond memories. I used to live and work nearby and often walked my first dog, Honey, down by the river here. She was a terrier mix and would hurl herself into the river at every given opportunity. Once she was in the water, she considered that how to get her out again was entirely my problem! We also used to mess around in an inflatable rowing boat on this stretch – we had a great time (and usually got soaking wet). If we saw our younger selves now, from our perspective as narrowboaters, we’d be grumbling about feckless rowers getting in the way of proper river traffic πŸ™‚

A little further down we passed Walton Rowing Club, sporting a huge banner featuring the names of all their Olympians from the 2008 games. I’d forgotten that many of our rowing medals had come from this end of the country. I did muse on whether narrowboat handling should be introduced as an olympic sport in 2012. I think that tricky manouvering between random rowers and zig zagging sailors taking into account wind and current would be fine spectacle!

The Albany - don't all rush for the moorings!

The Albany - don't all rush for the moorings!

We flew downriver and soon passed by Hampton Court Palace and our favourite pub on the water – The Albany. We’ve stayed many a night here having enjoyed fine food, good company and a few bevvies. We’ve even moored here to get to the rugby at Twickenham (the pub was compensated by four lunches, four dinners and a few liquid refreshements). There’s even good dog walking nearby (upstream of the pub) – it’s got it all.

There was very little motorised traffic on the river compared to last weekend. In fact, you wouldn’t have thought it was the same waterway. But there were plenty of rowers, sailing boats and ferries around – enough to make us review the ‘rules of the road’ on avoiding collisions! You’ll be

Hampton Ferry

Hampton Ferry

glad to know that we didn’t hit anything but we did have tight squeeze between a sailing boat on a collision course and a moored barge.

I’ve never seen the Hampton Ferry in action before but today a man and his dog just walked up to the ferry point and over came the boat. I thought that the man was just stopping to enjoy the view. I have no idea how he signalled to the ferry but there it was.

Kingston’s a fine place from the water – there are plentiful moorings all along this stretch with great access to the town centre. We’re always threatening to come Christmas shopping here by boat because the car parking’s diabolical! Richard did offer me a shopping trip but I decided to move on. I was very snug in my waterproofs

John Lewis' moorings in Kingston

John Lewis's moorings in Kingston

and it really wasn’t the outfit for wandering around John Lewis….

Shortly afterwards we came to Teddington Lock. There’s a long stretch of lock moorings on the right – it can get pretty full here when boats are waiting for the tide but there is a LOT of room. You can moor overnight here by arrangement with the lock-keeper and they’re quite amenable to longer periods, especially off-season. It cost Β£8 a night to moor Indigo Dream and we’ll be here for a week before venturing down the tideway next weekend.

NOTE: Brentford Lock is now on its winter hours and you MUST book your passage, even during their core hours. Don’t miss this step or you’ll be stuck on the mud ’til the next tide! You can contact Brentford Lock on 020 8568 2779. Opening hours and lots of useful information available here.

Old lock gates never die they just go faster (in a butty)

Old lock gates never die they just go faster (in a butty)

The lock-keeper advised mooring upstream of the footbridge (which he says can get noisy) but he also said that they haven’t had any trouble at the moorings. One of the lock-keepers that Richard spoke to earlier in the week reckoned that Teddington Lock was the safest place to moor in flood conditions. The weir can shift a gigantic amount of water so you’re unlikely to get huge fluctuations in river level above the lock. It’s worth checking your ropes though – we were told that one time, when the red boards were up, the river was running at 14 knots. Even Indigo Dream’s big engine and prop couldn’t argue with that…..

There were only half a dozen boats on the moorings and most were sealed up against the weather so we didn’t get to exchange any boater’s gossip. However we had a bit of interest towards the end of

All wrapped up (but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!)

All wrapped up snug against the weather.....

the afternoon when nb Bounty came to moor here. Bounty belongs to Tom Crossley, the editor of ‘Narrowboat World’ – self-styled ‘voice of the waterways’. So now we’ve met two illustrious editors on our tour – it’s a small world on the water.

As well as being safe and sociable, Teddington Lock offers fine dog walking on the adjacent common. Blue ecstatically chased squirrels, Lou just mooched around – she’s still a bit sore after her encounter with a car park bollard last week. In the meantime, Richard got a taxi back to the car and I packed the boat up. It’s worth knowing that there’s a rubbish disposal point by the lock – it’s not marked in our Nicholsons.

...but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!

...but narrowboaters like to do it in the rain!

There’s convenient parking by the chandlery across the weir. On the way back to the car I noticed that the pub below the weir has useful visitor moorings but you can only stay during opening hours. I guess that may be ok for lunch but I’m not sure I’d fancy moving along the tideway in the dark after an evening in the pub. It was all academic – we were heading for home and work with two tired dogs on the back seat.

Despite the weather it’s been a great weekend – all hail the Thames – my favourite waterway πŸ™‚

Photoblog – curiosities:

Is this James Bond's stealth boat?

Is this James Bond's stealth boat??

The incredible hulk????

The incredible hulk????

An eclectic range of houseboats...

An eclectic range of houseboats...

Nice house.....

Nice house.....

6 Responses to “The Odyssey Summer 2008 – Day 47”

  1. Greygal said

    We’d like to lodge an official complaint about the lack of dog photos. They are, after all, the stars of the blog. More hound pics please.

    Yours coveting gravy bones

    Susie, Arthur, Miffy, Monty and Ranger

  2. indigodream said

    Dear Susie, Arthur, Miffy, Monty and Ranger

    I’m afraid that Blue and Lou’s fame on the blog has turned their heads. Blue will now not get out of bed for less than three pounds of fillet steak and Lou, well, she doesn’t get out of bed. As their official press secretary I’m authorised to tell you that they don’t do outdoor photos in the rain and the light inside the boat just didn’t show them at their best and I don’t know how to use photoshop.
    They have agreed to a photoshoot this weekend so we will put some pics on – do you want an autograph with that?
    Sue, Press Secretary

  3. Greygal said

    An autograph would be lovely – are they right or left pawed? Three pounds of fillet steak? He must be the highest earning greyhound in Doggywood!

  4. indigodream said

    Both dogs are in the office today and are far too tired [1] to lift a paw for an autograph.


    [1] Well not actually tired but too full of fish and chip left overs … Don’t tell Sue.

  5. Greygal said

    Fish and chip leftovers? For heaven’s sake, don’t broadcast that about, I’ll have a canine mutiny on my hands! In fact, you may have five refugees knocking on your door…

  6. indigodream said

    Blue and Lou have pre-ordered steak paninis for when they’re in the office with Richard on Friday. Maybe your five can go on the payroll as ‘security’……

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