Monday, 2 September 2013

Golden Thistles and golden weekends

The sunset out of Maidenhead. 
So last week was all panic and post-it notes and well, a bout or two of overwrought, overwhelmed tears (one of which may or may not have been at work….) But this weekend just gone has been the loveliest – an abrupt and necessary circuit breaker – and the chance for some perspective on these next seven weeks, which seem to be tripping over themselves in the hurry to be over and done with.

I’ve just been feeling lately like I want to get off the ride for a minute, to catch my breath and just collect myself so that I can live each day as a series of honest, present moments and not with a view to everything else I have to see/do/start/finish/prepare/plan/organise/achieve that week, next week and the following week. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.

The swans at Marlow
So a well-time toy drop and a(nother) weekend away has cleared the emotional decks and now I feel present and ready to roll. Again.

This outing has been in the diary for months and I’ve been looking forward to it since ever since. Two night away with our friends Nina and Steve on their most beautiful of Dutch barge houseboats, cruising the upper reaches of the Thames.

The Golden Thistle moored near Cookham
The Golden Thistle was built in 1906 and is usually docked near to Canary Wharf but every Summer she heads up and out of London for some alternative vistas. When Nina and Steve got married on Monkey Island in 2011 they had their home moored behind them, decked in bunting. It was pretty bloody lovely

Heading out of Marlow towards Cookham
The idea of going on holiday and having my entire wardrobe at my disposal (as well as literally the kitchen sink) is just so my idea of a dream vacation. 'Home away from home' takes on a whole new meaning really. 

Anyway, after surviving Friday at work – and then a sauna on the Bakerloo line to Paddington – we hopped on the train to Marlow and spent the night moored amongst the swans.

On Saturday we made our way down river, through a couple of locks, towards Cookham, where we moored on a large, green island, populated mostly by cows.

We ate, we drank, we boated around the islands, we admired Cliveden, the former home of 20th century socialites Waldorf and Nancy Astor, from a distance and we almost got locked off the island after they closed the gates across the weir and we came back late from a drink at the pub. And by late I mean 7.20pm. 

Cliveden from the Thames

Steve and Lovely Boy scaled the fence and by luck came back with campers who had a key but for a small moment we were contemplating everything from bolt cutters to breaststroke. Every weekend needs a dash of drama I suppose and this happened to be ours. 

We had a barbeque that night and the most satisfying of sleeps, against a soundtrack of… silence.

The view from bed this morning
And then today we made out way to Windsor, mooring in view of the castle, where we left Nina and Steve to head back to London.

Honestly, being away from London, away from 3G phone coverage, away from traffic and tube rage and washing and worry is just so freaking good. Being on the water, with the weeping willows and the ducks and the rowers and the cheery, waving people on all the other boats and the sunshine and the gin and tonics and the dear friends is just even freaking better.

Heading through Boulters Lock with an audience overhead
We didn’t travel at more than about 4 knots for the entire weekend. At that speed it’s impossible to do anything but exhale and feel exceedingly grateful. And relaxed. So very, very relaxed.

We have seven weekends left in London. Seven. Fuck. Needless to say every one of them is already heavily scheduled so this weekend has felt necessary as well as special.

Windsor Castle
Things are about to get busier. But one thing at a time.

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