I love this time of year. Everybody is getting very excited in the build-up to Christmas, there are (with any luck) some of those glorious bright and crisp sunny winter days to lift the spirits and, most importantly, the London Boat Show is looming ever larger on the horizon.
For all those suffering the annual problem of what to put underneath the tree for their boat-obsessed other halves, here are some suggestions – some to be taken more seriously than others…
Huzzah! The river bobbies are coming back. Earlier this year, I bemoaned the loss of the very excellent PC Jim Halstead who was a regular sight aboard the launch he shared with Environment Agency officers whilst patrolling our bit of the Thames.
“Doesn't it get terribly cold in the winter?” That was my first question to Pamela and Edward Burrell aboard their beautiful old Dutch barge, Angelus, when I went to their mooring at Sunbury to talk to them about living on the river.
Earlier this year, I took my old Seamaster cruiser Terra Nova up the Thames from her mooring at Shepperton towards Staines – and as I passed Dumsey Meadow, I was struck by how beautiful Chertsey Bridge looked in the morning sunshine.
“What's going on down by the river at Weybridge,” asked my regular contact Doug the Ancient Angler, “and just why have they chopped all the beautiful trees down?"
Charities find very diverse ways of raising money for their causes but one of the most original – and effective – has recently been demonstrated by the good people associated with the Thames Boat Project, which was set up to help make the Thames more accessible to a wide range of people.
So the clocks have gone back, Marks and Sparks have got all their Christmas merchandise out on display and the youngsters are letting off fireworks left right and centre ahead of Guy Fawkes’ night. The summer is officially over.
I'm always delighted to hear about the hard work put in by volunteers aimed at helping youngsters make the most of their free time. So it was with a great deal of pleasure that I attended the official unveiling of a new roof for the premises housing Sunbury and Walton Sea Cadets on the banks of the Thames next to Shepperton Marina recently.
As regular readers of this column will know, I deplored the decision by Surrey Police to remove the only officer dedicated to patrolling our stretch of the Thames back in August.