Most of us take the Thames very much for granted as a place for recreation and relaxation – but it has a significant role to play in our overall lives as a source of water, as a habitat for wildlife and as a potential flood threat.
It seems astonishing now, but there was a time, 100 or so years ago, when Staines was considered a riverside resort to rank alongside the likes of Marlow and Henley.
Last week I wrote about the Richmond Venturer, the converted Dutch barge operated by the charity the River Thames Boat Project. It runs trips up and down the river aimed at introducing the beauties of the Thames to groups and individuals who may not otherwise have had the opportunity fully to appreciate the river.
Strolling along by the Thames at Walton the other day, I was fascinated to watch a sizeable old barge called Richmond Venturer go chuffing past me with a group of wheelchair-bound guests on the deck enjoying the spring sunshine.