We had found yesterday (though we'll need to check again at the next lock) that our next opportunity to get through Teddington Lock will be at about 5 o'clock this afternoon. This is because you're only allowed onto the tidal section of the Thames roughly an hour or so either side of high tide. As it turned out, then, we didn't need to start early -- no point in rushing through locks before the lock-keepers turn up at 9.00 -- but as it happened we all woke up as usual about 7 o'clock. Breakfast, for once, while stationary.
Quite a good view of Hampton Court Palace from the river. There was a flower show on at the time, with queues stretching for a considerable distance along the bank. There was a paddle steamer (or an imitation thereof) ferrying more visitors to the show.
Off at 8.40, having put another jugful of water in the radiator. Going through Kingston, there was a regatta of some sort -- involving school children as far as we could judge. I happened to be steering at the time, and it was rather unnerving to have all these little boats shooting past us, turning in front of us, and generally showing what seemed to be an entirely misguided faith in my ability to avoid running them down! All this, of course, despite the fact that we were going down the side of the river marked out as not part of the regatta.
On, then, and under Kingston Bridge, which is under restoration at the moment. You can only pass under certain of the arches. Moored above Teddington Lock about 11.40. Off into Twickenham by bus for pub lunch. Sad to say, the pub which Nick had chosen from the Good Beer Guide (and which I think he had known from the time when he lived in London) was closed for restoration. Plan B ... into central Twickenham to a Hall and Woodhouse pub in a reasonably interesting pedestrianised section of the town. We were served good -- though much-delayed -- pizzas by a South African barman. I think he said that the cook had just quit! Some other customers in the meantime had got fed up with waiting, demanded their money back, and left in search of faster food.
Quite a pleasant walk back to the boat, noting the evidence of considerable tidal range on the river. Apparently there is quite a bit of flooding some years. Past various pubs, shops and schools -- with Nick showing signs of recognition and returning memories of a mis-spent youth. Back to the boat by 4 o'clock, to be in time to get a good place in the anticipated queue. As it turned out, there was no delay, and we were allowed straight through, and onto the tidal Thames by 4.10. We went down through the lock in great state (a large lock for a small boat), attended by a police launch, which stayed within sight of us for most of the way to Brentford. Probably just making sure we were OK. Very heavy rain set in just after we went through the lock -- even heavier than Monday.
A fine view of Richmond in the pouring rain. The hill leading up to the park, with the hospital/home on top, rose majestically in front of us. Also visible in front of us was an old -- well, not exactly friend ... the arkward customers in the launch which we had noticed on the way into Caversham Lock on Thursday.
Through Brentford Lock by 5.40 pm. No particular problem in negotiating the tight turn off the Thames onto the Grand Union. We had wondered whether the flow of the river could make the turn difficult. What's more, there was none of the expected interrogation at Teddington, no phoning ahead to Brentford Lock. The river did seem quite high, though, with the water at Richmond being only a little below the level of some of the pavements.
Arrived at the Hanwell Flight by 6.40. This flight is rather stretched out, so it was 8.10 by the time we completed it. We pressed on, through the heavy rain, aiming for Southall. Spirits rising, depite the weather, to be back on the canals. General feeling that, although the river had its attractions, and provided an interesting change, we really felt most at home on the canals -- wide or narrow.
Moored about 8.30. Much changing of clothes and drying-off. Then into Southall (except for Penny, who was feeling a little unwell and went to bed early). We were further from Southall itself than I thought, and it took us a good half-hour to get there, with the help of directions from a friendly local who accompanied us some of the way. His general appearance reminded my somewhat of a Nepalese student I had known in Rome. Alan also noticed some points indicating possible Indian Army background. Lucky he was in a good mood!
Aiming for the Broadway, we ended up at a place called Gifto's Lahore Tandoori. Excellent. I found myself already forming plans to take some students there next term. We sat near the area where chefs were working at a row of tandoors set into the top of a counter. One was preparing kebabs, another cooking Nan breads. Extremely skillful -- all quite fascinating to watch. Food good -- very good. No problem satisfying the Lhassi criterion of authenticity -- not only sweet/salty, but also a variety of fruit versions. Great atmosphere. I was reminded of the phrase from an old jazz tune: 'This joint is really jumping'. Must go back some time. Back to the boat by 11 o'clock. All quite tired, but at least there was one thing in our favour on the way back: I always find a return journey seems less long than the outward one -- perhaps because the route has become, even to a small extent, somewhat familiar.