Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Lunch Engagement

It was a 9.00am departure this morning with a short cruise up to Staines-upon-Thames where we had a luncheon engagement with a long standing family friend of Jan’s. The question was whether we would be able to moor outside The Swan Hotel where we had booked a table. When I phoned they would take a booking for the lunch, but not for the mooring.

The Swan Hotel

We reached the moorings at 9.30am and found them vacant.  There was time for morning tea before our friend, Hilda arrived.  She has lived nearby for most of her adult life and was a good friend of Jan’s grandparents.  We chatted aboard Waiouru for an hour before heading to the hotel for a leisurely lunch. 

During our lunch a launch arrived decked with white ribbons.  The ladies then noticed a bride was waiting at the mooring.  Boats were shuffled around to allow the bride to board the launch before being whisked away.

The unanswered question was…. Is she heading to the wedding or escaping from the groom?

After our enjoyable lunch we wandered back down the steps to the boat where Hilda had her photo taken beside Waiouru.

Whilst we prepared Waiouru for cruising Hilda headed back to the Staines bus station stopping to take a photo of us from the town bridge.

On the opposite bank is a statue of the Swan Master.  The statue actually depicts The Queen’s Marker of Swans.  Every year the Royal Swan Upping occurs.  The Royal Swan Uppers wear the scarlet uniform of the Queen and traditionally use row boats to check the condition of all the swans and cygnets on the Thames.  The swans all belong to the Queen provided the Upping occurs that year.  In 2012 the weather was so bad the Upping was cancelled.  The consequence of this was the swans fell into common ownership until the 2013 Upping.  You could have taken a swan for the pot that year and not broken the law!

The river started to get busy at Runnymede.  Whether this is normal or a consequence of the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta wasn’t determined.  However at one point it did look as if we might be involved in a “near miss”.  The Lucy Fisher came into sight and appeared to believe she owned all the river.

We squeezed further to the right leaving the large tupperware boats behind to manage their own problems.

It wasn’t until she passed that we realised propulsion was via a large stern paddle wheel.

All the locks today were manned but despite this Jan thought transiting them was just as physical because she needed to securely hold the bow line against the side flow of incoming water.  I guess that means pressing the lock control buttons is easier!

Whilst waiting below Romney Lock Jan could hear the sound of a band playing.  Being somewhat deaf, I couldn’t hear much.  She could hear a bugle and then a brass band before finally hearing bagpipes.

On entering the lock she asked the lock keeper where the music was coming from and was told “Eton College band is practicing!”  Neither of us had realised Eton College was to our immediate right.  Nothing to see as a line of trees obscured the view.  Eton was established by Henry VI in 1440.  It’s a boys independent boarding school.  It’s a public school, which in England means it’s a private school (ie, not a state school).  Fees are around £35,000 per annum.

We cruised on before mooring for the night just beyond Windsor.


Mike Todd said...

I think you will find that the stern paddles are just decorative rather than propulsive.

Tom and Jan said...

Paddles and a hidden propeller...... very clever!

Pip and Mick said...

On Eton High Street there used to be a really good fudge shop. Suspect it is no longer there as it must be around 40 years since I last went. BUt their chocolate fudge was the very best you could get anywhere!

Tom and Jan said...

Too late Pip & Mick. We are now at Reading! 😊