The one thing you notice about the Thames is the great variety of boats making thier way up and down the river. I thought that on this post I would give just a flavour of some of the diferent traditional craft we have seen.
Back at Hampton Court, paddle steamers seemed to be the theme. Various trip boats up and down. Unfortunately the paddle wheels were for show, but, hey ho, I supose it is the look of the thing.
As we have come upstream there are more of the traditional Thames steamers.
Two sister ships, Nuneham and Streatley, both built around 1900 and kept in superb condition. We watched Streatley passing through Hurley lock, with clouds of steam and a toot or two on her whistle, she was expertly handled and a joy to watch. Several times we have seen Alaska, a rather smaller steam boat which is the oldest on the river, built in the 1880s. Available for charter with crew in uniform, it is not a cheap afternoon out!
For the less afluent there are the slipper launches, a style unique to the Thames. Very elegant with varnished mahogany decks and an air of the 1930s about them. I think the owners just cruise up and down to show off the quality of their boats. Moored here at Cookham we can watch people sailing on the river mixing in with the cruisers up and down all weekend.
Way down in the pecking order there are the traditional Thames rowing skiffs, much in the style of 'three men in a boat' and 'Wind in the Willows'. Just goes to show that there is something for everyone, and as Ratty said, "there is simply nothing quite like just messing about in boats".
As I write this the rain is coming down steadily. Just hoping the levels don't get too high!