Farewell to Sarah – 26th August 2022

We bid Sarah farewell this morning as she is off to join her husband Mark who has arrived in the UK this morning from Calgary.

Sad to say goodbye to our lock and galley slave.

We cruised under the shadow of Windsor Castle to the first lock. It takes almost an hour of cruising to get past the grounds of the Windsor Estate as the river hugs the side of the property.

There is no way we could fault this weather. What we could fault though is the constant roar of plane engines overhead as they take off from Heathrow. We timed them at one every minute.

A lot of the large planes come over very low as they are still slowly climbing and it is impossible to talk to one another on the back of the boat.

They were running parallel runways today making it extra busy. We can fully sympathise with Liz now, as it would be very bothersome.

After all the rain yesterday, we worked out that the Thames rose by six inches but they are still making sure that the locks are filled with boats. In this case there were six gin palaces, two narrowboats and a dingy – busiest lock we have ever been in.

It was then under the M25 and into the inner sanctum of London Borough.

Not long after we had moored up, this small boat came along side us saying they had an emergency. We immediately worried that someone had hurt themselves but on further investigation we discovered that the emergency related to a lack of a cork screw for their bottle of Rose. Important to get your priorities in order. They were a boat filled of very eccentric Brits who were most entertaining.

A very kind reader has sent me a link regarding the story behind the metal steps in the wall that runs along the perimeter of Eton in Windsor. It actually relates to a game. Below are the instructions – enjoy.

The Wall Game is a unique game, involving many scrums against the Wall, in College Field. A soiled and soggy ball is placed along the eponymous Wall, a 278-year-old structure 11 feet high and roughly 355 feet long. A small boy sits, hen like, on top of the soccer style ball. About 15 of the game’s other 19 players called seconds, walls and longs pile on top of the small boy, forming a rugby-like scrum known with killing aptness as the bully. Then, after a signal from the umpire (usually a teacher in mufti), the boys push, shove and tackle one another, while the bully shakes around in a many legged frenzy that, as one appreciative former house master put it, resembles the “death throes of some monstrous crab.”After 30 minutes of this fun the players change ends and blearily set about knocking heads for another 30 minutes. There are metal steps on the road-side of the 1717 wall enabling boys to climb onto the wall to witness the melee beneath. The game has been played in the Michaelmas (autumn) term since the 1830s. The first written rules date from 1841, but there is evidence of playing from the 1750s. On St Andrew’s Day each year there is a special match between the Kings Scholars (those students provided for by the original foundation of Henry VI and who live in College) and Oppidans (students who pay and stay in boarding houses in the town), watched by parents and boys alike. M.R. James, one-time Provost of Eton, enjoyed playing the Wall Game as a boy, though damaged his knee and suffered a crumpled ear from friction against the Wall. Years later he wrote: ‘I sigh to think how little I remember of the inwardness of the Rules: they cannot, indeed, be kept in the mind unless you are constantly playing or umpiring in the game.’ It attracts casualties; Ian Fleming broke his nose and Lord Hailsham was bitten on the leg.

Nearby is the boy’s house, Timbralls, so called because it was built in Eton’s timber yard (‘timber halls’). Among its famous one time residents was Ian Fleming, creator of the secret service character James Bond. Coincidentally the lamp post outside is numbered 007.

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