After great times with my family and friends in Ahlen, Remscheid and Essen, we left today for England. Landing at Gatwick is so much nicer than finding your way through Heathrow. We picked up our hire car and drove on to Wargrave near Reading where we booked in to do our Inland Waterways Certificate.



Just having a glass of red in the “Bull Hotel” next too a crackling fire. This place is as English as can be! It’s at least 120 years old – and this is no “bull”! - with crooked walls and low ceilings of white bulging plaster and black wooden beams. People around me speak a strange foreign language and drink Fosters (imported from the colonies – well, someone has to drink it!).

Wargrave is a beautiful little village full of little cottages but also grand mansions. Among the estates we found a white Victorian mansion on a grassy hill full of deer. The estate is apparently the English holiday place of the Sultan of Amman, and not a deer farm as first suspected. I guess for him these are exotic animals.  

Getting back to our busy schedule today:

 At 9 am we met with our examiner for the boating test . Unfortunately, due to flooding, the Thames had a vicious current, and so (fortunately in my case!) we could only do the theoretical examination for our license.  Well, we passed with flying colours!

The practical test had to be re-scheduled to next weekend. Therefore we had the whole day from 10.30am on for our leisure.

We first visited near-by Henley on Thames. A charming place with houses from the 15th and 16th century, one of them called “The Anne Boleyn House” due to the connection of her family to the area. In the yard of the 12th century church a memorial for the singer Dusty Springfield has been erected.

Henley is apparently the highest mortgaged area of England – very expensive estates, more Mercedes and Audis than on the German Autobahn!

After eating our “cut lunch” we carried on to Windsor. We had never been inside the castle, and on our arrival we were told: “She” arrived this afternoon”. Our request for having high tea with her majesty was declined, but we were able to see all the rooms used for reception and entertainment of VIPs that are often closed to the public. We were most impressed by St. Georges Chapel with the grave of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII, and burial chamber of King George VI, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. The knights of the Garter Order and their individual regalia and flags dominate the choir of the chapel. So much history under one amazingly ornate ceiling!

Well, the weather was typical English: it poured all day, so we were happy to settle in the hotel at night with a steak and kidney pie and a glass of red. 


The last 4 days we spent in Manchester, Cleveleys and Lancaster with Austin’s family. It was lovely to see everyone again; meet Samantha’s gorgeous new baby, William, Paul’s beautiful daughter, Keeley and Donna’s Josh.

Tomorrow we’ll have an early start to go back to Wargrave for the practical boot test. 

© Austin Robinson 2019