Day 23: Jolly boating weather

July 5th, 2010

This morning the electronic postman brought me an email from my supervisor in Leicester with comments on a chapter I’d written a couple of weeks back. “Too long, too chatty, not enough references” is a pithy way to sum up what he said. He also told me that the word limit I was aiming at – 30,000 words – was probably too much, and that 20,000 was a better number to aim at.
I took out the metaphorical scissors and attacked my chapter, casting off tautological adjectives, rewording sentences and cutting whole sections that were interesting but not directly relevant. In this literary massacre 2000 words lost their place in my thesis. A moment’s silence for their passing.

This afternoon, I left Staines and almost immediately passed under the M25 and out to Runnymede, where King John was arm-twisted into signing the Magna Carta back in 1215. The land here is dotted with memorials, and lies right under the flight path out of Heathrow, so the peace is punctuated every few minutes by the sight and sound of an airliner.

Beyond Runnymede the river finds its way into the Windsor estate, and it shows you the castle from nearly every angle as you traverse around. Once actually in Windsor itself, the river comes alive with boats – cruisers, narrowboats, little hired motorboats, sculls, and even three men in straw boaters rowing a camping skiff – though no sign of Montmorency!

I stopped at Boveney Lock for water. It wasn’t obvious where to stop – I pulled up initially against the pump-out station only to find that it had no fresh water, and I had to go round the back of the lock island for drinking water, which was dispensed through a retracting hose with some of the lowest water pressure I’ve ever seen. Oh well. Please, EA, could you put clearer signs up saying where to go? Please, Nicholson’s Guide, could you actually print the truth? Too much to hope for.

Beyond Boveney the river skirts a selection of expensive-looking marinas and the amusingly-named Monkey Island (it’s a corruption of Monk’s Eyot, apparently) and passes under the M4 and into Bray. I imagine that whoever gets appointed to be the Vicar in the handsome church you see from the river must eventually get used to the jokes… I resisted the temptation to go and investigate the Shrine of St Heston, patron saint of molecular gastronomy (besides, there was nowhere to moor!) and motored round the corner to the edge of Maidenhead, where a fine stretch of public mooring awaited me adjacent to Brunel’s famous brick-arched bridge. Little green signs claim that South Bucks Council (this side of the river is Buckinghamshire, the other side is Berkshire) will charge me £8 to moor here, though the lady and gent on the boat behind had seen no sign of a warden collecting the fees. We’ll see if one appears tomorrow!

Day 23: Staines to Maidenhead – 14 miles and 5 locks.
Total so far: 265 miles and 153 locks. Thesis 6581 words and 35 pages.

One Response to “Day 23: Jolly boating weather”

  1. Matthew Says:

    How appropriate, you fight like a cow.

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