Still time to get in a cruise or two…

The nights may be drawing in and the leaves may be turning, but the year isn’t over just yet and there’s still plenty of fun to be had out on the water

Medical herbalist Elaine Cole from Walton will be leading two riverside walks explaining the medicinal benefits of many of the plants that grow on the towpaths

I THINK I must have blinked and missed the summer. It doesn’t seem possible that it’s nearly October, the evenings are drawing in, Christmas cards have started to appear in the shops and many a boat owner is contemplating snugging down his charge for the winter ahead.

But hold hard on that, shipmates – there’s still time for another cruise or two on the river yet.

In many ways, I think that, as a skipper, this is one of the best times of the year.

The hordes of summer visitors have long since disappeared, the river is in a mellow mood – matching the season overall – and although the days are shorter, there is still enough warmth left in the autumn sun to make pottering around on the Thames a very pleasant experience. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as cruising along listening to the melodic rumble of Terra Nova’s old diesel engine and the gentle slap of water against the bow as we glide along between Shepperton and Staines or Hampton Court.

So while the weather holds, I intend to get out on Terra Nova another time or two before my brother and I haul her out of the water for a clean and cover her up for the winter. Hope to see a few of you out there as well.

IF you’re not lucky enough to have access to a boat, there are still opportunities to enjoy our lovely stretch of the Thames – for example by taking a riverside walk to learn about herbal medicines.

Botanica Medica, the herbal dispensary in Sydney Terrace, Claygate, is organising a couple of country riverside walks on Sunday, October 16 and Sunday, November 13. They will both start at 11am from Molesey Lock towards Hurst Park, East Molesey, where you can pick your own herbal medicines.

Medical herbalist Elaine Cole from Walton, who I’ve written about before in this column, will lead the walks. She will explain the healing properties of wild plants and weeds, talk about herbal folklore and discuss wild food recipes.

For example, did you know that nettles not only make a delicious soup and a reviving cup of tea, but can also be used to treat arthritis and hayfever? The cost is £6 per person and the walks will last about an hour and a half. Dogs are welcome. For bookings and details of where to meet, please call 01372 470 990 or e-mail info [at]

DO you know any outstanding young sailors? If so, now is your chance to help give them the recognition they deserve by nominating them for the Royal Yachting Association’s Young Sailor of the Year Award. It could be someone who has overcome adversity and carried on sailing or someone who has made an exceptional achievement. If you think you know someone who might fit that category – and who will be under 19 years of age on December 31, 2011 do put their name forward. If you’d like to nominate someone, visit the RYA website at The closing date for the Thames Valley area is October 17.

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