MANY thanks to my old chum Roger Jolly for taking over the tiller while I toddled off down the Thames on Terra Nova last week. I’ve escorted the old boy back to the ‘Laughing Ferret,’ bought him a pint, given his parrot a handful of grapes and he’ll be fine until the next time he’s called into action.
It was a wonderful trip with my brother down to the Medway – although there were one or two small alarms.
Mooring next to a barge just outside South Dock Marina in Greenwich, for example, when we discovered that the passing cruise boats and passenger ferries were causing such a wash that it ripped out one of Terra Nova’s mooring cleats and scratched a lot of her new paintwork.
Also, the dear old engine overheated a couple of times causing us, on one occasion, to have to anchor at the mouth of the Medway surrounded by container ships and other heavy traffic while we gave it some TLC. Which was nice.
But those minor concerns aside, it was a great experience. Particularly, travelling through the heart of London on the water was fantastic, passing famous landmarks on either side and seeing the heart of the capital from a whole new perspective.
The journey also underlined for me what a beautiful part of the Thames we live on. The lower reaches of the Medway are fairly bleak and industrial (can there really be a demand for so many concrete plants?) and you can’t find a decent pub to tie up at for a pint for love or money.
It’s nice to go travelling but it’s also very nice to get home…
A FEW readers have written to raise the matter of this year’s swan-upping ritual starting from Windsor instead of its traditional point at Sunbury. I inquired gently of the Buckingham Palace press office and discovered that this was apparently a one-off to accommodate the fact that Her Majesty was going to take a trip out on the water to watch the proceedings. Next year, I’m assured, the annual swan census will once again start from Sunbury.
THANKS to David Wilshire for taking up the case of the vanishing river policeman. Spelthorne’s MP is arranging a meeting with the Chief Constable of Surrey – and two other local MPs – to urge him to reconsider the decision to remove Jim Halstead as our only representative of the constabulary based on the river. I await further developments with considerable interest. It is a matter which requires urgent attention – my sources tell me that there have already been an increased number of thefts and attempted thefts of boats and other marine equipment between Molesey and Egham. We need Jim back.