Boats, Boats, Boats.

It’s nearly the end of the season and. apart from painting boats, I seem to be spending a lot of time travelling on them. Last Friday Tony Hobbs invited me – and a dozen other friends and family – for a trip on ‘Enchantress’ up to Marlow.
Here we are leaving Henley – with ‘The New Orleans ‘ in the background. ‘Enchantress’ – an umpire’s launch - will be 100 years old next year. It was built by Tony’s grandfather, and as Tony will be 80 next year they are already planning a big centenary celebration. It was a gloriously sunny day as we set off about 11 and were soon speeding along towards Hambleden lock. As this type of boat has very little wake we could go much faster than the average craft. Past Medmenham Church…

…we reached Marlow after a couple more locks and moored by the towpath where we languished with ice-creams in the hot afternoon sunshine. Here’s Jackie Hobbs and my sister-in-law Val enjoying the sunshine. We always look forward to this very special day of the year.

As we approached Harleyford Marina we saw ‘Alaska’ being readied for it’s next trip.

This lovely steam-powered vessel was the boat that carried the Queen to her garden party in Henley last month. And here it is again under full steam
What a great day it was. On the way back to Henley we stopped for tea at the little tearoom by Hurley lock. Sadly the tearoom will be closing for good at the end of this month. I suppose trade isn’t as good as it used to be. It will be missed as there are not many places like this on the Upper Thames.

The following day ‘The Regatta for the Disabled’ was held on the riverside at Phyllis Court. Another beautiful day. I had been asked to judge the Children’s Art Competition. Many of the schools in the area were asked to make drawings with the subject of ‘Enjoying a day on the river with disabled friends’. The age group was 7 to 11 and here are some of the drawings, There were three prizes – the first being £100 for both the school and the artist, the second £75, and the third £50. So well worth winning. I chose as the winner the drawing on the top left showing Mr Badger (from The Wind in the Willows) with dark glasses and a walking frame. Very nicely drawn.

Many of the disabled children had an exciting time in the dragon boat races. Here’s one of them.

And among the other attractions was a Punch and Judy show.

The Mayor of Henley – Elizabeth Hodgson – presented the prizes. I spotted a tall climbing ‘mountain’ and persuaded her to climb up it. She’s a very sporty lady so didn’t need much encouraging (I did give her a donation for the Mayor’s Fund – but she didn’t really need an incentive). Her she is at the top of the ‘mountain’.

Back to the boats – ‘Royal Thamesis’ - a row barge or ‘shallop’ was there and I was privileged to be invited on board for a half-hour trip on the river, Here it is, and a view from my cushioned seat inside the cabin.

Contrast this lovely boat with the much larger – and even lovelier - row barge housed in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich

Yes, another day with boats. My young friend and I took the train to London on Sunday to The Maritime Museum and, if there was time, to see The Cutty Sark.

It started well as we left Twyford Station in the morning. Until just after the train started. “Where’s my camera?” I said. I always carry it on my wrist – even have a second strap for the case. After a frantic search I realised I’d left it on the seat at the station. I only bought the camera a couple of months ago! We tried to find a telephone number for Twyford Station, but couldn’t. So we got off at Maidenhead and waited for a train back to Twyford. In the meantime I telephoned Debbie McGee to see if she could find the number for me. (Debbie is very efficient and reliable). She rang me back soon afterwards to say she couldn’t find it but was on her way to Twyford to see if she could find the camera. What a star!

When we got back the camera was nowhere to be seen. Debbie was there with Norman, the Stationmaster. It hadn’t been handed in, so obviously had been picked up. Someone out there is now the possessor of a top of the range Sony camera. Ah well. So we continued on our journey to Paddington once more. After a couple of changes arrived at Greenwich station - to be welcomed by a host of pink-clad people - some carrying outsize hands. They weren’t for us but for the Paralympics spectators who’d come to see the Equestrian events close by. We were very impressed with the organisation. As the roads around the event were mainly cordoned off there were no taxis so we walked along to the Maritime Museum. A little late for our timed tickets due to the delay but were still allowed in. We had especially chosen to come at this time because it was the last week of the special exhibition there called ‘Royal River – Power, Pageantry & The Thames’. And what a great exhibition it was . From Canaletto’s enormous and magnificent painting of The Lord Mayor’s Day in 1752

…to this collection of old figureheads…

…everything you needed to know about the River Thames was there. A history of the Swan uppers complete with all the uniforms, paintings of every description, badges, boats etc etc. We had a great time. By the way, all the photos I’m showing you from this day were taken by my young friend, as I was unusually cameraless!

We then walked the short distance to the magnificently and recently restored Cutty Sark.

This famous Clipper Ship, built in 1869 was neither a wooden ship nor an iron ship, but consisted of a wrought iron framework onto which wooden planks were bolted. As the framework took up a very small area of the hull compared to the massive beams a wooden ship needed, this left more precious space for cargo. The cargo being mainly tea from China The Cutty Sark has a very colourful history, from losing its rudder when racing around the Cape of Good Hope to being bought by the Portugese in 1922, and recently, when under repair in London in 2007, catching fire. Finally it was re-opened by The Queen earlier this year. This is the hull from underneath.

And this is the hull from a higher level.

From the top deck I’m enjoying the day.

And more figureheads from the collection of ‘Long John Silver’ who donated them all to the Cutty Sark.
So the end of a really good day. As we stepped off the ship one last picture of a wooden carving.

So now it’s back to work. Yesterday I completed the fist of two large rectangular miniatures for a German client, and have started the second. Also as a birthday present for my friend, Brian Hill (who’s birthday party we went to last week) I made this little pencil drawing of him