My summer on the River Thames is over and it’s back to the relative quiet of the canals.
Left Kingston and made the short trip to Teddington Lock where both locks were filling up with narrowboats. Some of the boaters were returning from the IWA Festival at Beale Park.
Unusually, it was a bit of a free-for-all going into the lock and the normal queuing etiquette seemed to have been abandoned. Were we all so desperate to be leaving? The boat behind me tried to overtake at the last moment and I ended up going in at the same time as L’Escargot (you can’t miss it, it’s really well painted with a charming picture of Brian the Snail). The exit from the lock was equally chaotic; L’Escargot and I bumped bows and Bristol Fashion scraped fitfully along the lock wall.
Now the tide was behind the boat. I dropped into neutral occasionally just to enjoy the sensation of drifting along fast with the flow. The stretch of Thames from Teddington to Richmond, past Syon Park and on to Brentford is particularly wide and surprisingly green, with cows poking their heads over the hedges. At Brentford I had to turn Bristol Fashion to port to enter the lock: a slight turn of the wheel and the stern swung out fast, pushed by the tide, so I had to rev up the engine to just keep steady in the water.
I came back to Thames Lock to find the river outside empty of water. So strange to think I’d been driving through here earlier.
So here I am again in Brentford, moored outside the British Waterways office, with excellent launderette, toilet and shower facilities to make up for the dullness of the town. There are more boats here than I’ve seen in Brentford before, some of them antiques returning from the IWA show.
I feel sad to have left the Thames, it was a great experience and already I miss the wide open spaces and the variety of boats, river cruisers, launches, canoeists and swimmers. But I really won’t miss the mooring fees!