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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Onward to Shepperton Lock-The River Thames

"You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you." ~Heraclitus

   This blog will be mainly pictorial in order to catch up to where we are now. I will revisit Hampton Court Palace at a later date as I took over 800 pictures which need to be sorted, edited, and chosen for a post!
   We said goodbye to Dick and Judy from Michigan who were breasted up next to us and left Hampton Court on an overcast morning the end of May. It was unseasonably cold for spring over here and many of us were still wearing our winter gear and burning fires in wood stoves. While spring seemed to fail us, there was still a promise of summer to come and Les and I were on our way at last to D'Oyly Carte Island near Shepperton Lock. From there one can access the River Wey--part of the Wey and Godalming navigation owned by the National Trust.
   Some time shortly after I found narrow boats and British canals--before Les and I met--I downloaded Google Earth to my computer and commenced mapping every navigable canal and river on Britain: every beginning, ending, bridge, lock--all of it. It took me over six months every night after work. I was obsessed by the beauty and ingenuity inherent in a system 250 or more years old which called to something in my soul. The River Wey was the last one I mapped and my excitement at seeing it for real was hard to contain.
An early start carried us past the trip boat landings for Hampton Court Palace on a cold, dark, overcast morning.
A look back at what was for me a fairy tale visit to the 16th century--Hampton Court Palace recedes under the bridge.
Soon enough we reached Thames-side homes with boat houses...
...some residences where the boat moored outside is bigger than the house behind it!
And others where the house is considerably larger than the rubber launch outside.
Along the way one sees interesting things in yards. I love this home owner's alarm system--and sense of humor. A gorilla hides up on the front porch to the left. Presumably the mannequin dressed like a Lara Croft Tomb Raider and pointing her weapon over the boat is warning enough!
Some homes are quite modest, nevertheless one may be certain the houses here cost a minimum of £200,000 more than the very expensive cruiser moored out front.
You could buy this lovely Thames side home on Ditton Island for the paltry sum of £600,000.
I love the swirly mooring poles in front of this house.
Splendid! From here it really looks like your average subdivision--just replace the water with a lane. The greenery adds a bright spot to a grey day.
Gorgeous garden rooms surround this house which is perched on the end of an island.
We spot a section with lots of house boats. I like this pre-fab house with the round windows. A modest bit of floating home.
This house boat has fascinating scaffolding supporting canvas sheets for shade.
This one is covered in lattice--but where are the plants?
This house boat looks like a transplanted American mid-western farm house! G & T on the veranda anyone?
There are many islands dotting the entire length of the river Thames. The metal skirting on the edges make the ends of the islands appear to be the prows of large, flat barges.
We travel ever onward against the current, passing islands, large and small. It can be a job sometimes to figure out which way one is supposed to cruise: left, right, or center! Thank goodness for the Nicholsons Guidebook and the Thames Guide!
Bridges cross the gentle landscape and we cruise around the the bend and underneath...
past apartment buildings constructed to reflect a river side theme.
Whoa! VERY LARGE boat coming towards us!  Which way do we go??? Thankfully the bloke in the small barge near the bridge support waved us to the right. Whew!
Here we go loop-de-loo, here we go loop-de-lie...
Now what is this hanging out under the bridge?
It is a very cool elevator for undertaking bridge construction and repairs.
A view of the semi on the bridge and the entire pneumatic operated cage system.
The Thames is a very bsuy river. There is always something happening on the water or its banks. This construction crew is welding the steel frame for a new houseboat...
After a lock or two we spot a length of large boats "used as houses" which are moored along the Thames. I am fascinated by the windows on this one. I wonder if they slide open?
This wooden boat-house with a canvas shade outlined in tiny LED lights is beautiful. Very classy...
The oval floating home!
The basic cube house. Simples!!
...and suddenly one comes around a bend in the river and A breathtaking view affords one a "pinch me" moment!
The Thames meanders, widens, bends, loops back around itself in places, cutting islands from the bank side over the thousands of years it has flowed to the sea. We wander through channels between islands and join the larger river again.
Richard D'Oyly Carte produced Gilbert & Sullivan Operettas in the Victorian era. He bought an island between Shepperton and Weybridge in 1890 to use as an annex to his new Savoy Hotel but authorities refused to grant him a license so he built Eyot house there instead. The island is named after him.
Moored up at last! NB Valerie at rest against the out side of D'Oyly Carte Island. Out of the frame to the left is Shepperton Lock which takes one further up the River Thames towards Windsor.
This is the view in front of NB Valerie. To the right, outside the frame is the Thames river weir. The arm directly ahead is a loop of the Thames around an island. The "street" or river sign point to the left--the entrance to the River Wey.
The Environment Agency (EA) is in charge of the non-tidal Thames and sets the mooring charges here.
    We made it and just in time. The skies opened up and cold, thin rain poured down. We could see our breath! It was the 29th of May and Les lit a fire in the boat stove to keep us warm while I fixed steak, potatoes and salad for dinner. I love the sound of the rain while sitting in front of a fire. We were hoping though that the weather would finally turn a corner and roll out spring for us soon. Next post...Wandering around Weybridge.


Ian said...

The houseboat with the canopy outlined with LED's is the Astoria, owned by Dave Gilmour (of Pink floyd fame) and has been converted into a recording studio.

Carol said...

Hi Jaq & Les, the very classy wooden boat on your blog actually belongs to Dave Gilmore of Pink Floyd……it is also his recording studio! Normally, there is an old fella on board who seems to do nothing but clean and paint the boat, no wonder it looks so good! Sounds like you are enjoying yourselves, as we always do on the Thames. love Carol & George

Anonymous said...

This was awesome (as always!). I loved the Church Walk Path. Really beautiful. But Les was dressed for December in Pullman. Was it that cold? I love the houses but I don't think I could live without a yard. You know, you need a place to grow your vegetables and "stuff."

Next time you take one of the paths, tell Les that he needs to take the pictures so we can see you walking around. Just want to make sure that you are getting your exercise. Ha, ha!
Love Bonnie Burkett

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Ian and Carol,
thanks for letting me know about the beautiful wooden boat house. I guess we never know whose home we are passing do we?

We are having a blast on the Thames. It has been such great weather and that has allayed Les' fears allowing him to relax and enjoy himself.
Hugs to all of you!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Bonnie!
Les is dressed in winter clothes because this blog is a month behind and this was back at the end of May when it was indeed quite wet, cold, and nasty weather--unseasonable for that time of year.

I will try to find larger yards for you Bonita! I hear you are having a heat wave of your own back on Pullman. Stay cool!
Drink homemade lemonade!!
Love JaqXX

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs