I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Cookham Meadow (River Thames) – Wednesday 26th April

I didn’t want to leave Boveney but Old Itchy Feet did so off we toddled.  It was bloomin’ freezing – well at least it was outside when I left the cabin to do the locks!

Boveney Lock Moorings

We passed Bray Film Studios.  The studios were centred around Down Place, a country estate built in 1750 by the Tonson family. It became residence of the Hartford family between 1835 and 1901. In 1951, Hammer Film Productions, in search of a base to make their budget horror films, settled on the derelict Down Place. Shooting in country houses avoided the need to build sets, and usually also meant large grounds were available for location work. As the one year lease on Down Place ran out and a union strike prevented a move to a studio, Hammer decide to build a studio in the grounds of Down Place, and name it Bray Studios, after the local town.   In 1965 Mr Ernest Oliver, owner of the adjacent Oakley Court, died, leaving the Court uninhabited. The building became an ideal setting for many Bray productions.  It was announced back in 2013 by Neville Hendricks, the then owner of Bray Studios, that the studios were no longer viable and were sold to property developers. There was a high profile local campaign supported by many past stars such as Christopher Lee and Richard O'Brian to save the studios but if failed. In July 2015, it was announced that the listed Down Place building would be restored and converted into luxury apartments and the sound stages and workshops would be demolished to make way for new houses.  I’ve been onto the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead planning page and things are moving but very slowly.  In December last year planning was approved for 8 apartments and 2 cottages in Down Place House and for the partial demolition of parts or part of the existing structure, refurbishment and change of use to residential accommodation (comprising 39 x studios, 25 x 1 bed apartments and 4 x 2 bed apartments.  I’m not too sure what that actually means!  However for Down Place House this restoration cannot come quick enough.

Monkey Island is another place looking very sorry for itself.  I can find planning applications going back to September 2015 for new staff buildings and a new footbridge.  The Island sports an interesting history involving grotesquely painted monkeys and the Duke of Marlborough.  Although painted monkeys still lurk in the pavilion, the name Monkey Island stems from the Old English Monks Eyot, i.e., Monks' Island. It was named after monks who resided at Amerden Bank, a moated site near Bray Lock, as part of the Merton Priory from 1197 until the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  In 1738, Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough acquired the island from Sir Francis Englefield. Spencer had seen the property while attending the Kit-Kat Club at nearby Down Place (Kit-Kat Club members met around the time of William III’s death to ensure the defence of the House of Hanover and the protestant succession.)  The Duke enlisted Palladian architect Robert Morris to design and build both buildings at a cost of £8,756.  The Duke’s most intriguing mark was the delightful Singerie paintings of the Monkey Room. Spencer commissioned the French artist Andieu de Clermont to paint these captivating and unique scenes of monkeys doing rather humanlike activities – shooting, fishing, smoking – and it is known they were completed before 1738.  By 1840, the Pavilion had become a riverside inn. 

This is how the hotel used to look.

We had three locks to do, two of which were on self-service.  It was then up to Cookham Meadows where we more or less had the whole place to ourselves. 

It was two years ago yesterday since my Mother died and I felt very low in the afternoon.  I still miss her.  So many times I want to share things with her but she isn’t at the end of the phone anymore.

7.89 miles
3 locks

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Boveney Lock Moorings (River Thames) – Tuesday 25th April

We woke up to gorgeous sunshine though it was very cold.

Harris Boat Builders
We had a long day ahead so we got underway quite early.  Up past Michael Dennett Boat Builders who have been restoring wooden boats in Chertsey since 1988.

Michael Dennett Boat Builders
Then into Staines where I made a visit to Sainsburys to top up the fridge.  We bought a new fridge during the winter which is a larder fridge as opposed to the one we had which had a silly little freezer.  I have so much space now – it’s fantastic.

Bell Weir Lock and Old Windsor Lock and then Windsor Great Park.  I just love this gate house tucked under the bridge.

I just wanted to get past this tree before it fell on top of us.

Romney Lock and through Windsor but we weren’t stopping there today.  We dumped toilet and rubbish and filled with water at Boveney Lock and then went a short way up to the Boveney Lock moorings which were completely empty. 

I’m not sure if people know about the new system of mooring on the EA moorings on the Thames.  There is a website, Thames Visitor Moorings and if you stop at one of the designated EA moorings you are supposed to go on to the site and register your arrival.  It’s very simple and we did it for the first time yesterday and again today.  At present, it is a year’s trial.

11.85 miles
5 locks

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Laleham (River Thames) – Monday 24th April

Woke up bright and breezy but went a bit downhill as the day progressed!

We left Shepperton with Thames Court buzzing with white van men!  Lorries arriving with stuff – it was a bit like DIY SOS!  Inside Thames Court there is a lovely old staircase – one of the lorries was a staircase company from Llanelli – I only hope there is a second staircase somewhere that is being replaced.

It was then just a short hop back up to Laleham so that our trip to Windsor will be shorted tomorrow.  I really don’t like any of the moorings between here and Windsor so we normally do it in one day.

The Laleham moorings are opposite Harris Boatbuilders Ltd.  The building is looking rather sad but various boaty companies are on the site now.  The only reference I can find to Harris Boatbuilders building anything is Woodland Lily.  It would appear that they built the hull in 1972.  Woodland Lily is 41 foot 6 inches overall with a 7 foot beam.  She has a counter stern, and aft saloon with 2 berths.  She was made in carvel mahogany. Carvel planking is a method of boat building where hull planks are fastened edge to edge, gaining support from the frame and forming a smooth surface. 

Woodland Lily

Richard got on with the roof while I sat in front of the fire, watching TV and crocheting.  The good part is that I have finished one blanket now 😊

I had an email from a “close family member” this evening.  She said “What WERE you thinking of?!  Getting smashed in the first place, and then PUTTING IT ON THE INTERNET”.  So I thought I would address this as maybe some of my other readers are thinking the same.  This is a blog – a diary of what we do and where we go.  If I hadn’t put that on, then my blog wouldn’t be a true record.  I am not proud of myself but it really wasn’t ALL my fault!!

3.23 Miles
1 Lock

Monday, 24 April 2017

Thames Court, Shepperton (River Thames) – Sunday 23rd April

Oh dear – what a day   We were going to Richard’s youngest step-daughter, Ollie’s, house for lunch and her sister, Sophie, was coming too.  With four children running around aged from 18 months to    it was very hectic but great fun.  Lunch was lovely but Ollie’s husband, Charlie, is a wonderful host and kept topping my glass up without me knowing!  I know you are saying “but you didn’t need to drink it” but I did and did not feel very well.  I won’t go in to details but what I will say is that I haven’t felt that for probably 25 years! 

We had planned to see friends, Shirley and Barry, in the evening and we didn’t get back to the boat until 10 minutes before their planned arrival.  We had planned to meet them in Thames Court but they had decided to close at 4pm – they didn’t say!  Anyway to cut a long story short I collapsed on the bed and woke up about an hour later hearing voices.  Richard, Shirley and Barry chatting in the boat! Richard had explained my absence and was doing a fine job of entertaining our guests.  I joined the party feeling about 90% and it was really nice to catch up with Shirley and Barry.

So what a day!  I can’t really believe that I got myself into such a state – at my age I should know better.  I will watch Charlie in future.

I didn't take any photos so I've added one of Muffin taken last week and a collage of photos of my gorgeous grandson who I miss so much.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Thames Court, Shepperton (River Thames) – Saturday 22nd April

Richard’s eldest step-daughter, Fay, her daughter Brooke and cousin Izzie arrived about 11am.  We had planned to go for a short cruise up to Chertsey Lock and back but in the end didn’t as we really wanted to keep our spot outside Thames Court.  However we went into Thames Court and had lunch before Fay took me into Shepperton village to stock up on wine and beer!  It was a brief visit but, as always, enjoyable 😊

Richard and I walked down to Nauticalia in the afternoon and had a browse round – nothing grabbed my purse!  It was overt to the lock island where we had an icecream.  The lock cottage appears to be having a lot of work done on it.  While we were sitting gongoozling the lock operation came to a grinding halt!  The ram broke so goodness knows how long that will take to mend.

In the evening my cousin, Alison, and her partner, Malcolm, came over and we had another meal in Thames Court.  They are closing tomorrow for a refurb and there were a lot of things off the menu   However, it didn’t really matter – it was the company that mattered 😊

A lovely day of being with family and we will have another one tomorrow.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Thames Court, Shepperton (River Thames) – Friday 21st April

I had the best night’s sleep since we came onto the boat 9 nights ago!

We left Laleham for the short hop to Shepperton.  Chertsey Lock was on self-service and Diane and I worked the two boats, oh no it was three as a motor cruisers drifted slowly down the river towards us, through the lock and then both Mary H and Clarence (which was named after a goat I understand by its previous owners!) pulled over for water.  Thames water supplies are usually good with a large bore hose pipe but this was a normal sized one and it took ages to do both boats – 1 hour and 10 minutes to be exact.  We were down to one bar on the gauge and needed to fill up but Clarence didn’t need as much as us – thank goodness.

The one for sale is up for £895,000 – it needs a complete modernisation or pulling down!
Down passed all the lovely houses on the Weybridge side of the river – there are quite a few for sale.  The Huf Haus opposite Thames Court is more or less finished – the house looks complete but the garden still needs a few last things doing.  It is nice but I wouldn’t have wanted to spend all that money on a house opposite a very popular riverside pub.


This was the house 11 months ago
There was plenty of mooring outside Thames Court so we both moored up and had a final drink together before Steve and Diane headed down through the lock and back onto the River Wey.  Hopefully we will see them again next year.

Thames Court was looking very sorry for itself last year but it is having a face lift and looking so much better.  In fact it is about to have an inside face lift too – it is closing on Sunday until May 5th

We were joined in the afternoon by friends, Barbara and Phil.  They had a cup of tea with us and then went off shopping before coming back and we all went for a meal in Thames Court.  It is so lovely to catch up with old friends and family of course.  We now have a weekend of both 😊

3.23 Miles
1 Lock

Friday, 21 April 2017

Laleham (River Thames) – Thursday 20th April

The Queen was in residence at Windsor Castle.

 In fact Richard saw the Queen out riding in the Great Park..  Of course he didn’t tell me in time to take a photo.

As we left Windsor Richard found his next boat!

We shared Romney, Old Windsor, Bell Weir and Penton Hook Locks with the same boats.  Another narrow boat, a motor cruiser and a beautiful new Dutch barge called Angela Dawn.  I would have loved to have had a look round her.

Here are a few photos of Staines.

I spent the time from Staines to Penton Hook looking at houses and deciding which one I would like.  Here are just two of them!

At Penton Hook there was a history of problems to navigation caused by floodwaters bursting across the neck of the island. A lock was suggested here in 1809, and an enabling act passed in 1814. The lock was completed in 1815, two years after Chertsey Lock, to become the lock farthest upstream on the Thames which was controlled by the City of London.  The first weir was not built until 1846, positioned below the outfall of the Abbey River for the benefit of the miller. This caused problems of too strong a stream and it was relocated above the outfall. The lock was rebuilt in 1909.

We moored up at Laleham where Richard did more on the roof – with a 60 foot boat the roof is long!  The name Laleham probably comes from lael meaning twig and ham meaning water meadow or village.  There may have been a 1st-century Roman marching camp on the field which is now part of Matthew Arnold School.  Iron Age spearheads from the 5th century have been found in the River Thames at Laleham Ferry. 10th-century charters record the village of Laelham.  The Middlesex section of the Domesday Book of 1086 records the village as Leleham. The manor was held partly by Fécamp Abbey from Robert of Mortain and partly by Estrild, the nun. Its Domesday assets were: 10 hides of land, 6½ ploughs, 5 ploughlands, meadow and cattle pasture. Its villagers and chief tenants rendered £5 per year to its feudal overlords.

In the evening we had a BBQ.  Poor Steve’s BBQ didn’t quite work and it was very late before he and Diane managed to eat.  We sat outside chatting until about 9pm – it wasn’t too cold but we put coats on and were fine.

10.2 Miles
4 Locks