Monday, 14 May 2007

Crossing of the River Thames 1 - The Hampton Ferry

Now for something completely different. Today, was a lovely day off. I spent it repairing bicycles, testing out my camera, shopping (ugh) and of course as a promise to my regular reader(s) my first crossing of the River Thames.

Although a cold and windswept day, it was with a nervous anticipation that I approached the ferry terminal. This shorn looking outpost of the quaint life, a tradition all but dead on the Thames - that of the watermen. Across the river was the English Capital city, ablaze in all its suburban, cloudy glory. I fingered my pocket for the shiny one pound coin that would carry me across the river. And at a pound sterling (US$2), it is the most expensive river crossing in London.

I approached the board and checked the departure time. And then I saw a luminous notice on the board. Due to the 'severe' weather, there was no ferry service for the day. Doh. After all the hype and excitement, it ended and suddenly my suburban adventure came to an end. This great series had stopped before it even started. I continued pointing my camera across the river, expecting nothing more.

Then suddenly a boat swept across from the other side of the river. Green in colour and large enough to take eight people, it pulled up to the jetty. Against the odds of the weather, the ferry had arrived! And so began my great Thames odyssey and number one of the river crossings could finally be done.

The Hampton Ferry runs in the summer only. Every half an hour in the day during the week and on weekends on demand. Believe it or not there are a regular bunch of commuters who use the ferry to get across the river. And at a pound, it is great fun! The ferries of the River Thames have been superceded by bridges and tunnels. The car has overtaken our very lives, but this little pedestrian ferry on the fringes of London is fantastic fun! If only all commutes were as fun as this.

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