Thursday 12th September
Our Thames riverboat cruise outing started with a luxury coach to London and Festival Pier. Initially expecting a different named vessel, forty-four members, partners and guests embarked MV Golden Salamander, a modern riverboat with beautiful lines, gleaming white bodywork and a stylish interior. We wouldn’t argue with the website description of it being the finest boat of her size on the Thames. There were two spacious covered decks with plenty of seating and a pleasant open sundeck – lots of space for our party. After setting off downstream and a round of drinks from the bar we all sat down for the Fish ‘n chips lunch – let’s not forget the mushy peas – followed by tea/coffee.
All the time we were cruising under well-known Thames bridges including the Millennium (wobbly) Bridge, passing Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre, through the arches of London Bridge with the City on one side and the Shard on the other, sailing past HMS Belfast to just beyond Tower Bridge (it didn’t need to open for us). We then turned back upstream passing the City once more to Westminster (don’t mention the ‘B’ word) and beyond. Throughout the cruise a cheery commentary reminded us of the various sights on either bank with more than one mention of the Super sewer currently under construction!
After passing under Chelsea Bridge we caught sight of the Royal Hospital on the north bank and turned back downstream with, in the distance, Albert Bridge, London’s first ‘wobbly’ bridge still with a notice requesting Victorian era troops to break step when marching across. We sailed past Battersea Park with its riverside Pagoda and had a close-up view of Battersea Power station engulfed by construction cranes with nearby at Nine Elms the new US Embassy.
Passing under Vauxhall Bridge with its magnificent bronze statues unseen from the roadway and with the Vauxhall Cross MI6 building to our right we were told that the riverboat we were aboard was actually used during the filming of the James Bond powerboat chase down the Thames in the film “The World is not enough”. When Piers Brosnan launched his little weekend rocket powered run-around boat from the MI6 building, we were told that a minute of action took ‘considerably’ longer to film!
So, retracing our route we returned to Festival Pier with some free time to explore the Southbank before rejoining our coach for the journey back to Crowborough. A most enjoyable day with good weather, calm seas, no one over-board, a nice meal and not toooo much traffic in either direction.
More pictures will be added later in the Gallery.