Sunday, 1 June 2014

Maidenhead to Runnymede

Tuesday 27th May

Here we are in London nearly a week later and getting a bit behind with this blog!  Anyway, back to last Tuesday… grey and damp but nothing like as bad as Monday!  Dave took Meg for a walk before we set off about 10.  We soon passed the Waterfront Inn at Bray, Michel Roux’s restaurant.  You can’t see the name, as I was using Dave’s camera (my camera batteries are on charge) and forgot how to turn it on till we were almost past!

2 waterside inn at bray

We past the old Bray Film studios, looking rather run down  …

4 bray film studios

and moored at Windsor’s Riverside Park for some shopping and lunch.  Our shopping trip was a little delayed when Meg found some poo to roll in!  Fortunately it wasn’t fox poo and a sponge and plenty of water got rid of it.  Poo rolling is one of her least appealing traits.

We walked through the park under this amazing live woven willow arch;

5 woven live willow arch riverside park windsor

and up into town where I took the first obligatory photograph

7 castle

before finding something a bit more fun!  One slums it sometimes don’t you know …

11 one slums it sometimes

and Dave waits for the phone while Kate natters on …

10 royal phone box 3

We found the Waitrose down past the station, and got some supplies in.  We wanted a paper but Waitrose didn’t have the Guardian – not even space for it!   Perhaps the posh grocer thought it wouldn’t be appropriate!   So we had to call in at W H Smith on the way back.

After lunch we set off for Runnymede.  The second obligatory photo;

4b castle from up river

They don’t go for self-effacement round here do they?

12 only do posh names round here

The weather was still dreary but not raining.  We passed the long long stretch round the Home Park and took the last obligatory photo;

14 castle from home park

There were hundreds of yards of piled banks, beautiful parkland and mown grass – but it’s all Crown Estates and there were dire warnings that it’s a criminal offence if you dare to moor.  What a waste of perfect moorings!  We finally got to Runnymede, beginning to feel just a little bit bored with the Thames.  Yes it’s usually beautiful, sometimes stunning, but there’s a chocolate-boxy sameness about a lot of it.  Anyway, we took the final National Trust mooring, furthest from the road, and after a quick cup of tea set off for the tourist trail with Meg.  The Magna Carta memorial rather left us cold.

16 magna carta memorial

We much preferred the JFK one.  It is approached by an irregular flight of 50 steps (one for each state), made of granite setts (Portuguese granite! what was wrong with Devon’s?) laid in a random fashion to represent pilgrims.  Apparently the workmen couldn’t get the idea of the randomness required until they were told to think of the random nature of a football crowd.  Anyway, we found the steps beautiful and fascinating.

24 steps to jfk 2

At the top was the memorial stone itself. 

21 jfk2  18 jfk memorial

To one side are two ‘seats of contemplation’, where you can sit to ponder the evils of the world, or just enjoy the view.  If we ever cruise the Thames again I would want to come back here, though I imagine it would be a lot less atmospheric on a busy sunny day.  There was just one other person up here.

20 dave and seat of contemplation

We then walked up Cooper’s Hill to find the Air Forces Memorial.  It had begun to rain by now, and though we were fairly sheltered under the trees, the steps were very muddy and slippery.  When we got to the memorial we had 10 minutes before they closed! Dogs were not allowed but the place was deserted so we put her on the lead and went up the approach as far as the building where we though we’d better take it in turns to hold Meg while the other had a quick look inside.  It is a very poignant memorial to the many thousands of airmen who perished in the war and whose bodies were not found.  Numbers are hard to visualise, but when you look at the numbers of names engraved on the sides of the alcoves – and then see how many alcoves there are – you can begin to appreciate the enormous sacrifice that was made for the rest of us.

25 air forces memorial  26 through the entrance at air forces memorial

Unfortunately the cloud had come right down so we could barely see the car lights on the road, let alone the river or the famed view!  But the caretaker had come to lock up, so off we went.  We came back down the second path, which was a little less muddy, and then back across the fields to the boat.  Luckily we had taken our waterproofs!  and even more luckily, it was only heavy drizzle till we were back on the boat, and then it poured down.  So we lit the fire and had a very cosy evening in.

13 miles 4 locks

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