Motoring towards Richmond Lock we had a real unexpected treat. We had planned to move through ahead of all the Jubilee boats, since 1,000 extra boats in London mean a lot fewer mooring places, even counting the additional places laid on at West India Dock Quay.
We had expected to see a lot of Pageant boats, but what we hadn't expected to see was the Jubilee Barge itself! It was moored up at Richmond, and the painters were still at work, putting the final touches to it. It looked fabulous in the early morning sunshine.
Jubilee Barge at Richmond
According to the tide tables, Richmond Lock should have been open so we could go straight through, the tide being high. However, the tide was about an hour late, so we had to lock through - I hadn't realised tides were so variable, I assumed they were pretty much fixed.
On through London and under all the bridges. I was surprised by just how many there are and how close some were together. Emma was excited by all of them, especially when we saw a red double-decker going across one.
We went by the Houses of Parliament just as Big Ben struck 11 o'clock and then on past were I used to work, by Southwark Bridge. It was quite a while ago that I worked there, but I was amazed by just how much had changed - I recognised two buildings (the FT offices and a great pub, The Anchor at Bankside).
Houses of Parliament
Thanks to the influence of her favourite TV character, Peppa Pig, Emma has come round to the idea of wearing her life jacket (Peppa always wears one when she's on Grandpa Pig's boat - thank you, animators!), which is essential, especially on a river as deep, fast and busy as the tidal Thames. We also have a tether-strap, which means we can fasten her to a rail on the boat (it's not as cruel as it sounds, honest! She doesn't even realise she's attached!)
We had managed to persuade South Dock Marina to push our booking forward by one day, despite how busy they were with pre-Pageant bookings and other work and we got there in good time to get through their lock. Stephen expertly manoeuvred us into the rather tight space we had been allocated. The marina was pretty full, but they seemed just as busy with boats arriving by crane and needing to be craned in. Emma and I made an expedition to Surrey Quays shopping centre and re-stocked with our essentials - bacon, hot-cross buns and milk, while Stephen got down to the serious business of plotting our next-day's journey through the Thames Barrier and down the Thames.
South Dock Marina