We've travelled along the canal to Cowroast (should that be one word or two?) today and spent a few hours with Ellie and Mick chatting about our travels and their plans for the future - check out the blog of their preparations at 'Narrowboat Dreaming', or on Gypsy Rover Australia's blog post for 11 October ...
Wednesday 15 September
Thankfully the sun paid us another visit this morning, following yesterday's dismal weather. Our mission today was to get as far as Teddington Lock and hopefully find a 'boat buddy' with a VHF radio and license to operate it, to travel up the tidal Thames.
We'd planned this year to check out the River Wey but sadly we ran out of time, so just did a short trip to the mouth of it just past Shepperton Lock ...
Through Shepperton Lock and the river branches off in all directions with the Thames weir, the River Wey and The Bourne all meeting here
'Northern Pride' passes 'Southern Comfort' a short way up the Wey!
The footbridge to D'Oyly Carte Island is the only connection to it
We took the left hand turn which meanders around Desborough Island
The houses along the Thames appear smaller now, but still delightful, and one would suit us very nicely indeed with a little cruiser parked outside. My how the other half live. Barry was beside himself as we cruised alongside Dave Gilmour's recording studio boat - he's an avid Pink Floyd fan (nobody's perfect, lol!).
Still some very attractive properties and boats around ...
like many things, they don't have to be massive to be adorable - though these are probably 'just' holiday homes on Sunbury Court Island!
Now in Hampton passing Dave Gilmour's bedazzling house boat, used as a floating recording studio for 'Pink Floyd' and others
Looks like it should be on the Mississippi River!
More house boats in all shapes and sizes and making the most of every available space ...
and the house boats have their own boats too!
Looks like a pink candyfloss houseboat ...
and a rather palatial one
Approaching Hampton Court Bridge
There were moorings available adjacent to Hampton Court Palace, and, although we knew it'd be expensive, also decided we may never get the chance to see it again so lived dangerously and grasped the opportunity as it arose. The entrance fee was standard or included a 'suggested donation for the upkeep of Hampton Court' - we decided not to give the 'donation' pleading that we were only poor boaters! Even with Tom paying a student rate it still cost us over £36 to enter.
First sight of Hampton Court - not so welcoming with a huge hand painted 'No Mooring' sign
Chimneys galore - bet they go through some coal
More of the queen's initials in case of theft
What a massive place this is - originally belonging to Cardinal Wolsey, the rather corrupt sidekick of King Henry VIII until he failed to gain permission from the Pope to annul Henry's first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Catherine had been his deceased brother's wife, and when she didn't bear Henry an heir, he found a loophole in the bible suggesting it was sinful to see your brother's wife in the flesh, never mind marrying her (at least that's what I made out from the story in the re-enactment)! I reckon you could find a passage in the bible to excuse any behaviour if you looked hard enough and translated it to suit your needs - rather like research in the 21st century! Subsequently he disinherited Wolsey and took over the palace - Wolsey, bless his cotton socks, died not long afterwards.
To cut a very long story short, when Henry died, his son and heir was a mere 9 years old and had to take over the Monarchy - he reigned for just four years then died. A daughter then took over the reins (!), then another daughter, neither of them produced any offspring so there ended the line of Tudors.
The following Monarchy, William and Mary, introduced the Baroque style to Hampton Court Palace with the assistance of Sir Christopher Wren and contains a wealth of breath-taking paintings, ceilings, furniture, gardens, etc. It's difficult to believe that there was such extravagance at a time when much of Britain was living in abject poverty - we think there's the 'have's' and the 'have's not's' today - what must it have felt like in the 16th and 17th centuries?
Actors re-enact the preparations and marriage of King Henry VIII and Kathryn Parr throughout the day
Beautiful old brickwork
Part of Henry VIII's kitchens
The King's wine cellar
A lovely glow of sunlight streams through the leaded windows
The Tudor style main entrance
Inside 'Base Court'
One of the many Roman looking busts adorning the walls
The 365 day clock high up on the tower in 'Clock Court'
The grand staircase leading up King Henry VIII's apartments
The ceiling in the 'Great Watching Chamber' ...
After losing each other in the mass of buildings in the Palace, we eventually all got to the same point and went to take a look at some of the more than 60 acres of gardens. There must be a round the clock team of gardeners caring for the grounds, which you can pay to go around separately to the house and could easily spend half a day exploring.
Eventually we arrived at the famous maze and paid another couple of pounds to tackle it - Tom found the centre easily, recalling what his dad had told him years before that if you keep your hand on one side, never changing or removing it, you'll eventually find the middle. I also found it in the end, though more by luck than judgement. Barry, meanwhile, decided he couldn't be bothered to keep turning back and trying another way, having forgotten his fatherly advice to Tom. I foolishly waited in the middle for Barry for about five minutes, as I knew he'd taken a wrong turn, but then decided he must've already left so went out and found him sitting outside with Tom - he'd gone back the way he'd come! I made him return with me to take a photo to prove that at least that I'd got to the centre, lol!
One of the Shire horses that tows the sight seeing wagon around the grounds
The back fence/gate keeping the riff raff from the river out of the garden ...
that might be some - those common narrowboaters - you can see from here!
'The Great Vine' planted in 1768 (a year before Captain Cook visited New Zealand), and still going strong, producing a good crop every year - amazing!
Tom takes a break before entering the famous maze - and Sandra wonders which path to take
Sandra legitimately reached the centre, so did Tom, we won't mention Barry though ...
Leaving the grounds after a few hours, we walked across the bridge to find a store for a few groceries and were then on our way to our day's destination of Teddington. Having been such a glorious day it became miserable and freezing cold in the evening.
How's this for futuristic living at Kingston-Upon-Thames - they look like 'Stealth Apartments'
We arrived at Teddington Lock just after 1800hrs, and had to pay a mooring fee to the lock-keeper of £7 for goodness sake! What a captive audience they have when high tide's around 0800hrs. It was definitely not worth paying for apart from the convenience, being alongside an incredibly noisy weir. But it was the site of the famous (and still ridiculously funny!) Michael Palin and John Cleese Monty Python 'Fish Slapping Dance', so maybe it's the notoriety you're paying for?!
Barry went to have a chat with the lock-keeper about our possible journey tomorrow, the length of our boat, and lack of VHF radio. She suggested he call Limehouse Lock, as it's their responsibility from here on in, so he decided to do that in the morning and see what transpires.
We forced a game of six-handed rummy on Tom at around 2130hrs to try and keep him awake a little longer. It certainly had the desired effect. He became wide awake, thrashed us both not once but twice, and then stayed up till after midnight chatting to his girlfriend on facebook, while we went to bed exhausted - hilarious!
It could be a big day tomorrow, depending upon the outcome of the early morning phone call on whether size is going to matter ...