Great Haywood and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Let's start with the weather. Today in Staffordshire the weather was grotty all day- wet and windy and quite chilly. It is hard to believe that it is June. Last night we lit the coal fire and we kept it in all day.

Wet and windy near Sandon with Albert displaying a Union Flag

Our original plan was to stay put and watch the Thames Pageant on the TV. However, last night despite all my best efforts we failed to get a good enough signal. We managed to get 51 Freeview channels (in theory) but in practice BBC 1 just froze in pretty patterns. We decided instead to move south and see how reception was in Great Hayward. After all we hadn't anything to loose.

It was wet and miserable all the way with queues at all the locks, all though they moved quite quickly. Great Haywood was busy and we didn't even consider looking at Tixall Wide, our favourite mooring. However, we got lucky and found a mooring right above the lock in Great Haywood.  Unfortunately we still couldn't get TV reception so we resorted to watching the pageant on-line via mobile Internet. It worked OK with just a few transmission drop-outs.

The pageant was wonderful and it was great that the weather in the Midlands was not repeated in London - at least it stayed dry long enough for most of the parade. The wind also didn't appear to cause much trouble. The pageant was simply superb and we enjoyed the nearly four hours(!) we watched. One couldn't fault the organisation. It was fabulous seeing the narrow boat parade but the so-called expert commentary by the BBC on the narrow boat section was pitiful. The commentators noticed President and that she was steam powered but totally missed her historical significance or her great age. There were some fatuous comments about her being a former working boat, because she was sheeted-up, and then some very poor comments about the significance of the inland waterways. There was even mention of an Inland Waterways Authority! Surely some comments about British Waterways being superseded, in England, by the Canal and River Trust would have helped. They appeared at a loss for words at times. To cap it all, during the passage of the next section there were extensive comments about the "restoration" of a 2003 dutch barge. I presume that the commentators had been supplied some briefing notes for that section. Still one shouldn't carp. It was brilliant to see a variety of narrow boats taking part in such a great occasion.

To stretch our legs we visited the nearby Essex Packhorse Bridge in the evening and found that the River Trent was swollen by the recent rains - a familiar situtation for us.

A swollen River Trent from the Essex Bridge

Shugborough (in the rain!)

I must mention that last night, after we lit the fire, we also lit the oil lamp in the saloon. Albert has two working oil lamps one in the saloon and the other in the back cabin. Lighting the lamp improved the cosy feel on a miserable evening. Too bad tonight the weather is just as bad.

Oil lamp lit in the saloon