Life has been rather hectic lately so we decided a change of pace was in order. Where better to do that than on a little river cruise?
We booked a 10 seater with Kris Cruisers, which is a family run boating holiday business based in Datchet besides the river Thames. Furthermore, it’s just a cruise up the river to Windsor castle (a lovely stretch, my hubby confirms).
Being on a day boat turned out to be quite the romantic affair…
Having been given a quick guide on The Sovereign Lady and the important river codes, we set off, reversing our little day boat out of Kris Cruisers Datchet with some care and much excitement.
We have two Charlotte’s on board. This lovely lady is our James’s new girlfriend. Her nickname is ‘sauce’ because she’s not keen on anything, well, saucy. I think ‘saucy’ is a name that might stick.
The Great Windsor Park is on the left side and is looking perfectly divine with manicured lawns and well loved properties. Only Royal Windsor staff (and Her Majesty, I assume) can cruise left under this bridge.
Our first glimpse of Windsor Castle and she’s a beauty!
James is at the helm. We ought to drink to The Queen, it is the respectable thing to do.
Later we’ll be looking for a place to moor up and picnic. Perhaps not here tho’.
For now, with Charlotte taking the wheel we bob along,
spotting houses for sale,
graffiti (something about tuesday, I think),
and enjoying all the beautiful and colourful long boats.
We reach our first lock and it’s rather exciting. The two young men take the ropes.
This time of year help is at hand from the Lock Keeper’s, so the pressure is off.
With ropes correctly set, the huge, metal gates close.
River water is carefully let in with a rumble and a tumble, but not too much drama.
It was a doddle really.
With the gates open, we continue up stream.
Royal Windsor is ahead of us and that means there will be swans. Lots and lots of swans. They all belong to The Queen (given as a gift and multiplied over the years) and are, therefore, protected.
They enjoy the tourists as much as the tourists enjoy them!
Just as we pass by we spot Windsor castle itself, commanding the town below, just as it was designed to do.
A pretty ice-cream parlour sits on the riverside lawn. It’s very pleasant floating by watching others relaxing with their families too.
We spotted some lovely old but cherished boats and tried not to get ‘boat envy’.
I can’t say I have ‘boat envy’ here, just admiring the strength of a mother.
The sun did pop out for us a little and when it did Andy acted like a sunflower and faced towards it. It’s nice to be lazy every now and then.
Many of the houses we passed were exceptional, like this ‘New England’ styled one, with it’s big, shiny yacht. Lucky Lily May!
This is where you can moor your boat and enter Windsor race course. You know, as you do!
There was so much fun things to spot and great company that laughter came easy.
Glorious English wheat fields glowed in the summer sun.
We noticed how everyone waves when you are either on or by the river. It’s so charming and a relief from the usual grumpy English nature!
We approach another lock and are careful to point out, possibly too many times, that the lock is on the right and the weir is on the left.
This time we had to ‘park up’ to wait for the lock to empty.
Andy and ‘saucy’ Charlotte grab the ropes.
James watched on. I’m sure he was poised to jump in and save her.
Matthew and Charlotte take a stroll to watch the lock in action.
After a short while the other’s cruised in through the heavy gates of the lock, making it look easy.
The two Charlottes get to know each other. Natural buddies, I think.
There was another Kris Cruisers Sovereign Lady in with us. It felt a little like an easy going START line. I felt a little tense.
I needn’t have worried. You can’t help but take it easy on the water.
That, plus these boats go 5 miles an hour so expect a few bigger boats to overtake occasionally.
Like this beautiful boat cutting through the water with a petit row boat on it’s back.
Still, it gives you plenty of time to admire the riverside houses.
Empty party boats glide by, honking a deep hello. We peeped back, causing a roar of laughter.
Things took a romantic turn as we passed our wedding night hotel (27 years ago!).
Love was definitely in the air.
It was no wonder with views like this.
We had been keeping an eye out for a spot to moor up and picnic. I was a little dubious about this rather shabby chic piece of embankment. But my ever optimistic hubby said those two weighted words ‘trust me’.
So we left our little boat for a while and set up our lunch. Lots of blankets covered our snug little spot and the picnic food was emptied from the whicker picnic baskets.
We overlooked a sandy coloured wheat field with lush trees beyond. It was really lovely.
Note to self, pack a small pair of scissors next time.
We filled our bellies on healthy salads, shell fish, omelettes and more.
A gallant James served his new love some dessert. Note to self, pack a cake slice next time.
Back on the water, with bellies full, we head back seeing things from another angle.
With a little persuading, Charlotte took the wheel. After a little over steering she soon got the hang of it.
We pass the Eton Excelsior Rowing Club.
It was getting warm. We all turned up wearing layers, which got peeled off one by one.
Back through a lock and, by now, we know what we are doing.
The locks add some activity to the boat trip. Were we take turns to pull together. I enjoyed them.
A smiling Charlotte takes us out through the gates of the lock. It’s a slightly nervy experience for a beginner but she does really well.
There were lots of dogs crashing into the water after their ball. We are dog lovers, so cries of joy come from our little vessel every time we see them.
Lazy trees make do for shaded benches.
Back at Royal Windsor the castle looks magnificent from this direction.
Back round Monkey Island. You could get married here, my Dad did. It’s certainly a romantic spot.
We reach our last lock and the mood is relaxed and chilled. Fresh air, white wine and glassy waters have made our group tranquil.
Well, that is for everyone except me, who’s turn it is at the wheel.
I was trying to concentrate on the fairly tricky steering but kept spotting things I wanted to photograph, but my Charlotte managed to capture the mood of our little boat beautifully.
This castle-like bridge marks the point you enter Windsor Great Park. It is marked with the Royal seal.
You’ll see Windsor castle again on the right and the tops of Eton college on your left.
This trip has been wonderful, a bonding experience for everyone.
If you want to get your sailors hat on we would recommend Kris Cruisers. The have lots of day boats of various sizes and this is a stunning stretch of river. Expect to feel your troubles melt away as you cruise through the rippling waters.
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Other days out in the South East of England
Buckler’s Hard – the New Forest
Watts Chapel – Surrey
Watts Gallery – Surrey
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