Wednesday, 7 August 2013

We're in the money

Harry moored in welcoming Abingdon

To be more accurate we're in amongst the money. Money has started to talk – or rather shout – on the Thames. It's a big river now with big boats, big houses and big fees for mooring.
Abingdon was the last town that welcomed boaters with open arms and no demand for mooring fees. As a result this delightful riverside town was thronged with boating visitors spending money in its stores and coffee shops. (It's not just boaters who get the 'welcome' treatment; cars are allowed two hours free parking in the town car parks.)
It's a pity Henley doesn't offer the same welcome. Attempt to moor to visit this snooty town and before you have tied your ropes someone will have arrived with a demand for eight quid. We left and did our shopping in Marlow instead, a much more cheery and welcoming place. It's our old home town where the house we bought 30 plus years ago for about £30,000 is now worth £630,000!
But that's nothing compared with the price of a riverside home anywhere within striking distance of London. It's depressing to discover that hereabouts even a lottery win wouldn't buy you a fancy home. In Henley, for example, a riverside building plot with planning consent for a large modern house will set you back £3 million. That's before you start building. A big plush pad would probably be beyond even a Euromillions winner.
Glass and steel modernity at Wargrave
Sadly in among the supremely genteel 'old money' houses, the modern glass and steel Huf houses and Scandiwegian log lodges are many riverside super-homes that flaunt their wealth like a fat rich man flaunting his sun tanned gut and chunky gold jewellery.
Same goes for the boats. Quite why anyone needs a boat so tall you need an elevator to reach the steering wheel I just don't know. Boats that might be at home on the Med spend their time burbling and bow thrustering around the Thames simply being bigger than the boat next door.
Even a Euromillions win wouldn't get you this one!
All the same, the rich variety of floating fun on the river is a great part of the Thames's charm. There's everything from kids learning to scull to athletic paddlers standing up on surf boards to elegant old steam launches to huge Dutch barges. And swimmers. Inspired presumably by David Walliams the bobbing scull caps of wet suited river swimmers can be found everywhere.
So with blog updated, Tillergraph column written and shopping done we're off to visit the Queen in Windsor before moving on to Teddington where the tidal river begins. We'll run down this to Brentford then turn back onto the canals for the trip through central London.


  1. We have a very strange way of encouraging tourism, travel and even just local shopping. The universal U.K. answer seems to be 'charge for it' then they are surprised that folk vote with their feet (boats or cars) and go elsewhere. I see that Bath, a major tourist venue is to close its public conveniences! Cost too much to maintain they say...yet I bet they have more than a few major projects in the pipeline that are probably questionable and cost one heck of a site more. Dover has done the same....result lots of notices in Café windows 'no public toilets-customers only. But apart from that moan you look as if the weather, location and activities are much to your liking.

  2. That flashy riverside house was on grand designs, the people who built it came across as thoroughly unpleasant!