Shiver me timbers – where on earth did that year go? I was amazed when I came to write this final column of 2008 to realise that I'd been doing it for nearly 12 months - firstly in our now defunct sister paper, the Leader and more recently in the Herald & News.
It's funny how things can spark all kinds of memories for some folk. Jennifer Willis from Weybridge read my Riverwatch column on the history of Staines Bridge and was prompted to get in touch to say that it brought back recollections of her youinger years growing up beside the Thames at Staines where she was a successful competitor in punting races.
At a time when youngsters are regularly vilified for congregating on street corners and causing problems with antisocial behaviour, many people say there is not enough for them to do. Well, there is – and the sea cadets corps might be just the way to encourage the next generation to do something constructive with its spare time.
Des Davidson from Shepperton has contacted me about my column describing the activities of the Upper Thames Patrol, a branch of the Home Guard during the Second World War, who were given the responsibility of defending the locks, weirs and bridges on the river.
Hundreds of thousands of people cross them every year in cars, on cycles and on foot and they are a vital part of our day-to-day lives. Without them, many people would be unable to get to work, to do their shopping or to visit friends and family. So maybe it's a little surprising that few people give much thought to the bridges that cross the River Thames - we just take them for granted.
I love this time of year on the river. It doesn't really matter whether it's a bright, crisp autumn day or a dull, misty morning, the Thames has its own very special moods.
During the Second World War, people from all walks of life did their bit for the country in whatever ways they could – among them, helping to protect key installations like locks, bridges and weirs on the River Thames as members of the Upper Thames Patrol (UTP).
So what do you do after you take early retirement at the age of 54 following a career as a computer systems engineer working for British Airways? That was the question facing Derek Beake from Richmond Drive, Shepperton in 1997…
If you happen to be wandering along beside the river in a couple of week's time, you may see a wonderful collection of classic boats chugging past as the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS) veterans' cruise winds its stately way from Kingston to Shepperton.
Spelthorne's annual River Day takes place on Saturday, September 6 when the borough's mayor will be rowed up the Thames from Sunbury to Staines in a grand procession aimed at raising money for charity.