the voyage of friendship
part 9: the hanwell six and the tidal thames
Dear friends and family,
The last time I wrote to you I was in central London, about to make my way out of town by myself. It was forecast to be a very wet day and I'd never moved Therapy anywhere near so far by myself before. I grounded her as I moored up for lunch but otherwise managed well, there being no locks to deal with all the way from Paddington to Maypole Dock where Ewan and I both drew up at 3pm, exactly at the appointed time. I was delighted to see Bunty again (and Ewan too) and was really looking forward to having her back on the boat with me now that I was out of the city. She is a remarkably adaptable puppy and quickly switched from farm routine to boat routine.
Ewan helped me through a couple of locks before dusk and reunited, we settled down for the evening. Ewan had plans to visit his daughter Steph in London next day and an old friend from school, Chantal was meeting me at lunchtime. Following my success the day before I decided to try the next flight of locks, the Hanwell six by myself. As well as opening and closing gates and winding paddles up and down, this meant climbing out of the lock on a side ladder after Therapy was lowered to the bottom of it by the reducing water level. It was tricky. However, at every lock I was helped by passers by and for the final three, a young couple took over the windlasses (the winder things) and then came on board for a cup of tea.
Chantal arrived as planned and we had a very relaxing afternoon with only one lock to get through. Like others, Chantal fell on love with my little dog and tried to hide Bunty about her person when she left.
I pushed on to Brentford where I met Ewan and we moored up for the night. The next stage of our trip was on the tidal Thames and early Sunday morning saw us leaving the Grand Union Canal through a big lock and catching the last two hours of the incoming tide to take us to Teddington. It was very exciting and Therapy seemed very small on the big river.
Ewan had to go back home, but it was now half term holiday and my next guests, my grandchildren, Mary, 8 and George, 6 joined me the next afternoon. Oh yes, and their parents Katy and Mark too. That evening we moored on a small island in the middle of the huge river, that we had to ourselves; it was such fun.
Next day we cruised regally up to Hampton Court Palace, where we met up with more grandchildren, Edith, 4 and Thomas, 2. Oh, and yes their mummy and daddy, Jenny and Struan too. It was a very relaxed way to arrive and we pretended to be kings, queens, princes and princesses, (and of course a royal dog) as we disembarked.
The week passed very quickly and in no time we'd got upstream to Shepperton where we left the Thames and took off on a much smaller river, the Wey. It was time to say goodbye to the children and extricate Bunty from their luggage.
Its tough being on holiday for such a long period, so Ewan and I had arranged for a little holiday from this long holiday- tomorrow we will be going to Iceland. But that's another tale...
The trip is going by very quickly and there will be only 4 weeks left when I come back from my holiday. Some people have not managed time on the Voyage of Friendship and there are only two nights when the bed is still free, Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th March when I'll be on the Thames around Windsor. Let me know if you'd like to join me. Also, you are very welcome to come aboard for a day, or even a couple of hours, anytime over the next month; I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my former work colleagues as I get nearer and nearer to home reaching Newbury on Friday 27th March.
Love and best wishes,
X x x