Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Henley 1997

The first Inland Waterways Association boat gathering on the Thames.

It was a treat to travel through Henley on the river in our Nomad of Erehwon. All those posh boats being out numbered by narrow boats of all types with colourful paint work and decorations. The riverside between Henley Bridge and the next lock down stream was occupied by narrow boats 3 or 4 abreast over a distance of two miles. Found our spot. We are the third boat out from shore. Just happen to be alongside boats we knew from Little Bedwyn on the Kennet & Avon canal. We are about 10 minutes walk from the show ground and we go there to get our wrist strap identity tags. This gives us free access to the show. We had paid £25 for the mooring which included access and lots of local information.

Friday is boaters day so off we go to look round. Lots of stalls with things to buy and trade tents with information about things to go in boats. We are looking at detail for our new boat. What engine? What fridge? What shell. We get a look through some of the boats on show.

Then after a bite to eat we watched pleasure craft all lit up travelling up and down the Thames that evening. They had come to see the most unusual sight of narrow boats on the royal river. The big advantage of being moored on the outside is that we get a grand view of the river and the passing boats.

The next morning we set about putting our flags up. Most boats had already decked themselves over with flags and balloons. Walking along the tow path we saw the pretty sight, all the decorated boats so colourful. Many boats going by to look and lots of public walking on the tow path.

The Lavender boat comes by each day ringing a bell and calling 'Bring out your dead'. Porta - Poti emptying time. All done by volunteers and we gave them a big thank you for their services.

We listened to 'Keepers Lock', a group singing traditional songs and stories about the canals. In the evening many boats travelled up and down decorated with lights. It was a wonderful show that night on the Thames. A bag piper was playing music all evening on one of the boats not far away. What an effort every body puts in to make a memorable night.

It rained next morning so we listened to the local radio broadcasting live from the show ground. They report that 4000 people are living in this temporary village of boats.

IWA Henley 1997

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