This is "Onbekommerd"!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tourists having their 'boat fix'

We had had not been 'away' for some time (except of course for walks to and from Richmond etc), so we decided we needed an 'outing'. Also, we have been away from Onbekommerd for over 4 weeks now, so we also needed a 'boat fix'. The result was a boat trip on the river Thames!We took a train (underground) to Westminster and from there a boat trip all the way upstream to Hampton Court. You start right next to the Palace of Westminster (better known as the Houses of  Parliament), go through West London, past the 'suburbs', all along the Tidal Thames. This 'Tidal' is no sinecure: the tidal difference can be as much as 5 to 6 metres! Of course the tides also cause quite a current and as we were travelling on the ebbing tide, we went against it. After almost 2 hours the boat got to Kew pier, which we have seen from the shore. Then comes Richmond lock, which is interesting because it is not a 'real' lock as we know it. At Richmond, there is a weir, which is dropped into the river from 2 hours after high tide until 2 hours before the next high tide. It then sort of 'traps' the water upstream, preventing the level in the river from dropping too much. For the 4 hours around high tide, the weir is lifted up (under the footbridge which spans the river at that point) and the water can flow upstream for 2 hours and then downstream for 2 hours until the weir is lowered again. When the weir is up, boats can easily pass under the bridge, but when the weir is down, boats need to use the lock which is next to the weir.
After the locking procedure our boat soon arrived at the Richmond pier, which we know very well from the shore. Then it moved further up, to the Teddington lock, which is a 'normal' lock and above there the river is no longer tidal. It is most interesting to see how the river changes from Westminster (tidal with lots of traffic) to Hampton Court, which is the palace built by Henry VIII, about 4 miles upstream from Teddington (a quiet river with almost only pleasure craft).
From Hampton Court we took a bus back to Richmond, did the shopping at Sainsbury's and got back home. Below are some pictures:

People call this 'Big Ben'. Not quite correct: 'Big Ben' is the name of the biggest of the bells which hangs behind the clock face!

Palace of Westminster (aka 'Houses of Parliament')

There are all sorts of interesting buildings on the way. Tis church is very popular for weddings due to its location. See how low the tide is: the barge in front of the church is far up the bank!

Hammersmith bridge is quite beautiful!

The 'London Apprentice' pub. On the quayside in front of the pub, one can see what the water level at high tide is!

Arriving at Richmond lock

The White Cross at Richmond where we celebrated Sean's birthday with a pub lunch a few weeks ago.

Inside Teddington lock

Whereas on the tidal part of the Thames you see quite a few rowers, upstream sailing is more popular. Here a sailing school near Kingston.

The end of the trip. The gates of Hampton Court as seen from the water,

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