It was less than an hour from London to near Marlow that we received the orientation and checkout for the canal boat that was our home for five days. Part of the orientation was going through a lock. Normally there is a lockmaster available to help. It worked out well that the lockmaster was not there. David, the owner of the boat showed me which buttons to push to raise and lower the sluice, and to open and close the gates. The Sancerre weighs 30 tons and is 60 ft long and 11 ft wide. The boat was surprisingly challenging to drive. It was like driving a truck without power steering. A lot of vibration came through the tiller. I expected it to easy. No way. It took some muscle to Negotiating 180 turns on a river, dogging scullers rowing with their backs to their forward motion, and trying to figure out which channel to take for the lock were what complicated the being at the helm of the canal boat.
During our first full day, we travelled from Bisham Abbey to Windsor. We were headed down stream and managed to successfully pass five locks. Two of the locks were unstaffed, so I had the opportunity to try my hand at operating locks. It was comforting that David said the controls were set up so you could not make a mistake. Nevertheless it was a relief when everything worked as designed. The bow thruster made steering the 60 ft boat into the lock easier. The hard part was controlling the stern. During orientation when I was entering the lock the stern scraped the side of the lock. My comfort level increased as we passed each lock. By the next day it was relatively easy to enter the lock straight and stop where directed by the lockmaster.
David had mentioned that the locks were designed two centuries ago when the pace of life was much slower. The canal boat travelled a hair faster than a person could walk. This allowed us to attend to the rural nature of the countryside. There were pastures and forests abound.
On our last day in London, Marcia and I visited The Brick Lane Market. Sarah, Ella, and Rachel choose to take a day off. They stayed in the apartment. The market is huge. There is a covered area. Several streets are closed to cars for the Sunday market and the sidewalks are full of vendors and their new and used wares. The best part of the market was the array of food vendors from all parts of the world.
We had Gosleme, a Turkish dish. The free sample made the decision to stop
After perusing the market, we returned to the Underground to get to the Tower of London.
Marcia, Ella, Rachel, and I enjoyed a sunny day. Everyone else thought it was a great day to buy tickets to ride the London Eye. Marcia stood in line to buy vouchers, then in another line to convert the vouchers to tickets. Then we approached the line that looked like a two hour wait. So, off we went to have lunch in hopes that the line would be shorter when we returned. Much to our delight, the line was about half of what it had been.
We walked along the Thames and came open sand sculptures. The artist had sheets laid out for tourists to toss coins.
The focus of the outing today was a trip to the Prince Edward Theatre for Aladdin. We arrived early enough to have time to have lunch before the performance. We found the Theatre and Marcia braved the line to pick up the tickets at will call.
Before the performance, we wandered into Chinatown looking for a restaurant. There were many great options. We examined many menus. Some were too expensive, others were missing Szechuan dishes that I was hoping to see.
On our first morning in London, we visited the light cruiser, HMS Belfast that is moored on the Thames. It is part of the Imperial War Museum and includes wax figures to depict life on the ship.
Marcia is smiling at one of the cooks.
After the HMS Belfast, we headed to the Muggles Tour. We arrived two hours early for the tour. Plan B turned out to be a great option. We headed across the street and to the Borough Market. From the first step into market we were bombarded by the most delightful aromas. Initially it was paella, and then chicken and beef cooked over a wood fire. Eventually we were
Then it was on to the Muggles Tour. The guide was well steeped in Harry Potter trivia. He clearly had theater training and had much practice guiding groups to see locations where the Harry Potter films had been shot. There were approximately 20 people in our group. I believe we were all from the US, as I did not detect any British accents. The group ranged from one 11-yr old boy who had read the entire Harry Potter series six times to a grandmother who had not read or seen a Harry Potter movie. When the guide asked a question, the young boy had the answer. There was a college age couple who were also Harry Potter fanatics. He had an entertaining trivia throwdown with the guide. The guide prevailed.
The 10-second video shows another bus on the same street.
We ended the day with a visit to Platform 9 3/4 of Kings Cross station. The site where Harry went through the wall to catch the Hogwart’s Express.