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Archive for August 28th, 2013

Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (1)

Posted by indigodream on 28 August, 2013

Rewind to Tuesday 6th August

Teddington to Staines (Swan Inn moorings)

Waving goodbye to nb Matilda Rose - I'm not who'll be sadder - us for their company or Muttley for the "chikkin boat" :-)

Waving goodbye to nb Matilda Rose – I’m not sure who’ll be sadder – us for their company or Muttley for the “chikkin boat” leaving πŸ™‚

It’s just as well that we didn’t go for the pressured cruise round the Thames ring – we had yet another relaxed start – waking late and having our usual visit from Muttley and Baxter from Matilda Rose –

“That’s fine boys, come aboard, our boat is your boat”

“We know” they chorused complacently πŸ™‚

We said a regretful goodbye to Jill (Graham had been called away to a funeral) – we so hope that we see them again before they head away for the winter.

We bimbled along, enjoying a day on waters that are very familiar to us. I’ll let the photos do the talking, but this was a restorative cruise. The last time we came this way, it was Lou’s last cruise, though we didn’t realise at the time. I don’t begrudge her one ounce of the care she needed, but it’s very relaxing to cruise without a desperately ill hound on board. Ollie is very quiet and Henry tends to snooze inside when we’re cruising – Archie is the only real contender for the Rio Olympic looking team πŸ™‚

We’d barely started cruising when we stopped at the services above Molesey Lock to fill with water and do a pump-out (not the same tap!). A boat using the water point before us commented on the excellent water pressure, but it seemed to take ages to fill our tank – I think we might have been down to the last drop! While we were at the services, I took the hounds for a bimble and we enjoyed watching a tug skilfully manoeuvering a barge into place at the building site above the weir – impressive…

We had planned to get as far as Runnymeade, but when we got to Penton Hook Lock, the lockie told us that Bell Weir lock, the next upstream, was closed for emergency repairs – apparently there was a problem with the hydraulics. It would need a few hours to fix so we decided to decided to stop either in Laleham or Staines. The visitor moorings at Laleham were full, but we did pull over briefly at the boatyard opposite. We’d hoped to have a chat with “4 all marine” to arrange some winter maintenance – sadly the boatyard seemed to be deserted so we’ll have to give them a call instead.

We pressed on to Staines and moored on the town pontoons on the right just downstream of the road bridge. We’ve moored here before and liked the spot very much. Richard took Henry and Archie for an extended bobble while Ollie and I mooched around the path and gardens that surround the moorings.

I then had one of those very special moments – I’d seen a middle-aged couple sitting on one of the benches – on the way back they made a fuss of Ollie and I ended up sitting with them for ages. We were later joined by Henry and Archie who stayed with me while Richard went shopping. The couple were very interested in the hounds and boating – they were easy company and we were comfortable together, chatting like old friends. Then the woman revealed that she’d just had her first session of chemotherapy that morning – they’d decided to spend the afternoon somewhere beautiful, determined to make the best of the lovely weather and the river scenery. I felt for them – the man was fierce in his determination to seize every moment and see something beautiful in every place every day, because who knew when it would be taken away. I didn’t pry into her cancer or her prognosis, but I did invite them to visit the boat. Sadly they had to head for home – they’d had to pay for town centre parking and they didn’t have much time left “on the meter”. I wish them well – I can’t explain why, but it was a tremendously moving encounter which made my day.

Name that structure!

Name that structure!

We had planned to visit Staines’ town-side hostelries, but at 7.30pm, the steps adjacent to the moorings were colonised by some insolent youth – children, in fact. They were just being loud and irritating, in the way of young teens, but we were unnerved enough to move the boat across the river to the moth-eaten pontoon outside the Swan Hotel. Of course, not long after we’d moved, the kids vanished, but we were happy with our new mooring as the Swan is dog-friendly pub (garden and bar) which did good food and had extremely pleasant service. We sat outside with the hounds, but Ollie got spooked by a wasp and was soon back on board – at least that’s easy to accomplish with the mooring right outside the door!

We wondered why we’d never moored here before……

One of the affable barmen told us that there used to be a Β£10 per night mooring fee, so the moorings were never used; however, now that it’s free, they have far more customers from the river. However, their pontoon was quite rickety, with two significantly broken planks – I’d be willing to pay a mooring fee if they promised to use it to repair the pontoon!

Today’s Trivia:

Other bloggers, and, indeed, this geography site, have commented on the strange brick structure on the path just downstream of Hampton Court. I thought I’d have a go at working out what it was and found lively speculation (as you might expect!) on Canalworld Forum. However, definitive answers to the purpose of the structure have been hard to find. I believe that Hampton has many more intriguing things to look at – including Hampton Court Palace itself. The local historical society have a website, but the “shaft” is not mentioned. Alas, I’ve run out of time – the search for the definite answer will have to wait until we come downstream again – never mind, it will still be there!

In researching the strange structure, I did answer another question – while we were in the area, we passed, by car, “Seething Wells road” – a name with a story attached if ever there was one! This document explains that the “seething wells” are/were a spring (now part of the waterworks) where the waters were reputed to have “opthalmic qualities) – make of that what you will, but plans for a spa on the site were apparently abandoned. The Seething Wells are is now classified an an “area of special character”.

As always, along the way I found some interesting but irrelevant websites – including this for “Derelict London” – there’s a book also! Hmmm – might be worth a download onto the e-reader…

Photoblog:

The spirit of Indigo dream - Henry Beanz looking forward - he cruised with us here last year too...

The spirit of Indigo dream – Henry Beanz looking forward – he cruised with us here last year too…

nb Reckless, of TV fame, looking mighty fine - it would be interesting to talk to her new owners and see what they've done (or undone!) since she was last featured on TV...

nb Reckless, of TV fame, looking mighty fine – it would be interesting to talk to her new owners and see what they’ve done (or undone!) since she was last featured on TV…

Oh yeah! Archie hound loves cruising...

Oh yeah! Archie hound loves cruising…

We like to see the water being used for freight - in this case a barge full of what looked like large pipe sections being manoeuvred into place very skilfully above Molesey lock...

We like to see the water being used for freight – in this case a barge full of what looked like large pipe sections being manoeuvred into place very skilfully above Molesey lock…

Out with the old - the "temporary" road bridge at Walton on Thames finally being demolished..

Out with the old – the “temporary” road bridge at Walton on Thames finally being demolished..

We love that nb Bubles has a bubble-making machine on the back deck - such fun...

We love that nb Bubbles has a bubble-making machine on the back deck – such fun…

I do like the Staines town moorings - maybe we should have stuck with them and not allowed our discomfort with the local "yoof" to make us move...

I do like the Staines town moorings – maybe we should have stuck with them and not allowed our discomfort with the local “yoof” to make us move…

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