By Carolin Hendrie
“As the sun burned through the morning mist, I sipped my tea and surveyed the scene from my chair on the deck of the African Queen. A pair of great-crested grebes performed dives, a swan and three cygnets paddled by and a heron took flight from a tree stump in dramatic fashion.
Less thank 40 miles from London there wasn’t sight nor sound of a car, just the gentle noise of a rushing weir and the sizzle of bacon in a pan. While the occupants of a nearby craft had to cook their own breakfast, the eight guests on our vessel – the only moving boat hotel on the Thames – were being waited on hand and foot.
No flinging of ropes, learning tricky manoeuvres or even pouring drinks for us. All we had to do was sit back and watch the landscape slip by, or hop off and become part of it ourselves on the towpath.
We joined the boat a Mapledurham, Berkshire, in the heart of Wind In The Willows country. Captain Andy gave a blast on his vuvuzela and was soon taking us through our first lock.
During the afternoon, as we admired the scenery, Andy’s crew-mates, Karen and Cherry, handed around glasses of Pimm’s while the guests got to know each other…”
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