By John Honeywell
“The raucous sound of vuvuzela, familiar from the World Cup, is not one you might immediately expect to hear in the quieter reaches of the River Thames.
Nor is the sight of a herd of alpacas grazing peacefully in a Berkshire field rather than the Chilean and Peruvian Andes.
But take a trip on the riverboat African Queen and you could experience both in the space of a few hours.
The boat, a converted Dutch barge, is based at Mapledurham, near Reading, it is one of the largest vessels on this stretch of the river, just squeezing through the locks and under some of the bridges with an occasional gentle bump along the way, prompting a muttered curse from skipper Andy Cowley.
He is also behind the vuvuzela using it to alert other boats and the occasional sleeping lock-keeper, to the African Queen’s imminent approach…”
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