THIS is supposed to be my last Riverwatch for a few weeks. I say ‘supposed to be’ because my wife and I are scheduled to be flying to Hawaii to celebrate my 60th birthday on Saturday. But as I sit at home writing these notes with a week to go before ‘The Big Holiday,’ the sky is a brilliant, clear blue without a vapour trail in sight and there isn’t an aircraft to be seen in the sky. It’s worryingly quiet.
So instead of walking along the beach at Waikiki, I may well be sitting at Heathrow for a while unless a certain cloud of volcanic ash starts to dissipate fairly quickly…
Life goes on, however, and one of the highlights of the boating season is upon us once – Beaulieu Boat Jumble.
This annual event – the biggest boat jumble in Europe – takes place on Sunday, April 25 held in the beautiful grounds of Lord Montagu’s little country pad in Hampshire, right in the heart of the New Forest.
For boat-obsessed folk like me, Beaulieu represents the real start of the boating season each year. People come from all over the country (and indeed, all over Europe) to mooch around the stalls – there are expected to be more than 1,000 this year – looking for bargains.
Boat owners are a bit like jackdaws when it comes to collecting things. You only have to see something shiny on a stand and this strange urge to buy it comes over you. My brother and I have these urges too, although with us it tends to be when we see dirty old bits of Perkins diesel engines – oil filters, fuel lift pumps, starter motors, you name it, we’ve bought it at Beaulieu.
But quite apart from the acres of tables filled with boating junk, the event is a pleasant excuse to stand and yarn about boats over a pint or two with other like-minded souls – great stuff.
Visitors to the event will be able to enjoy all Beaulieu’s attractions, including the motor museum and the abbey for an on-the-day inclusive price of £8.70 for adults or £6.70 for children. Less if you book in advance on-line. Telephone 01590 612 888 or visit www.beaulieu.co.uk/tickets.
MY colleague, Barry Dix, read the recent Riverwatch piece about the sudden and unexplained loss of the majority of European eels from the Thames and was reminded that, in days gone by, eel fishing was a flourishing business on the river at Staines. He brought in this delightful old photograph of an eel fisherman working on a trap close to Staines Bridge. Does anyone have similar memories of this kind of thing in our area?
Well, I’m off to make a plea to the God of Volcanoes to stop the eruption in Iceland. Enjoy the river and do please keep those ideas coming for future Riverwatch columns. I’ll be back in a few weeks.