Even though I am a self-confessed shameless Anglophile, I will admit to not being entirely agog at the people whose island I occasionally have the pleasure of sharing. There was that rude couple from the walk into Kingston I wrote about back in December. But most of the people I have met here are great!
Les and Jen are prime examples of nice people I have met over here.
Les and Jen and I have chatted down at The King's Arms on a number of occasions. He is a brit by birth and the grace of the almighty, she an American who has seen the light and immigrated here. We have always had pleasant conversations and they seen such nice people that it was not a bit when I received an invitation to dinner when I had a chance. They invited me to join them for dinner on the Thames.
This was not to be any figurative dinner on the Thames, either but literally on the Thames! You see, Les and Jen live on a houseboat moored off a small island in the Thames a bit upstream from Hampton Court Palace. The invitation was to meet Les at the pebbly beach just by the boat hire to the south of the palace and he would shuttle me to the island in his motor boat. We met at approximately five and headed to the Island by way of Ye Olde Swan, a pub which, coincidentally, my Thames Ditton office window overlooks.
After a quick pint (or two) we boated back up the Thames, dodging the odd weekend punter or two and an ersatz stern-wheel paddleboat; making our way eventually through the locks and up to the island. On an side note, I believe this is the first time I have ever traveled through a set of locks. I have, of course, seen them before, many times. But I believe my previous experience with locks has all been of a more theoretical nature.
Sunset on the Thames
The dinner was superb and my hosts could not have been more warm and accommodating!
We arrived and had a wonderful glass of white port on the deck watching the sun set over Molesey. We then had a wonderful dinner. Onion soup with home made croutons, a lovely stew of chicken, mushrooms, and onions; and an incredible pudding filled with blackcurrants, raspberries, and blackberries. All accompanied by a wonderful red wine I had discovered at a local shop. (I couldn’t arrive empty-handed. It was a wonderful, complex red called Sangre de Torro – Bull’s Blood.)
About midnight they invited me to join them again the next time I have an evening free. Although I had a good feel of where I was and it was not a long walk, Les showed me the way back to Hampton Court. It was a very pleasant time. I cannot wait until the next time I am invited to their place.
I hope that wherever it is your day is as pleasant!
Don Bergquist – 02-May-2005 – Hampton Court