Friday, 22 May 2009

Roses are Red; The Thames is Brown

The one thing I like about the Mediterranean is the various shades of blue that it appears to be.

Of course, all water, apart from the stuff in your waste tank is transparent.

Seas and rivers take on all hues of colours from blue to brown, green, grey, etc depending on a variety of factors like the colour of the sky, sediment in the water and what the bottom is made of.

I can remember talking to a free diver in Croatia who could dive without scuba gear to a depth of 30m, just by holding his breath.

He maintained that the clarity of the water on the Croatian coast allowed you to see the bottom in that great depth.

In 2002, Nick Clark decided to make a journey from the estuary of the Thames to its source, a distance of some 215 miles.

Fascinated by the Thames, he refers to it as that "cloudy current of history that shrouds secrets, lives and untold treasures".

He hitched a ride on over 30 different types of boat.

Initially dropped on to a Thames sailing barge called Greta, by a Sea King helicopter, he ended up in a canoe in Gloucestershire.

London Weekend Televsion/Limeleaf Productions released a DVD of the journey.

The only constant, through the 133 minute movie, is that never still, muddy brown water.

I thought I knew all there was to know about the river of my birth, but Nick's film had a few surprises, even for me.

Probably one of the most unusual and surprising characters/boats was Dave who fishes for eels from his small boat "Bumble B" between the QE2 Bridge at Dartford and Tower Bridge.

He is (was) the only surviving eel fisherman in the area. It seems that eels have prospered due to the cleanliness and high oxygen levels of the river in the last 10-20 years.

Some interesting facts came out of the story as well.

Capt.Bligh of "Mutiny on the Bounty" fame is buried in Lambeth Churchyard and Lambeth Bridge is decorated with stone breadfruits in commemoration of this.

Many people mistake them for pineapples, but now you know the truth.

Once Nick gets upstream of Teddington, he is in more familiar territory to your average narrowboater and ends up in Cliveden, kayaking (and capsizing) at Hurley with Sean Baker and on the narrowboat Ein Cariad at Pinkhill Lock.

The DVD is highly recommended and is called "Sea to Source"..

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