Ships that pass in the night
The deep-throated engines of a pair of tugs echoed around Greenwich Reach, inward bound to collect the cruise ship ‘Hamburg’ which had been moored up in the Pool – a thrilling anchorage overlooked by the Tower and its bridge and the new hotel just opened in the Shard. A fine looking ship which shows its Finnish style of 1993. I have a hunch she was originally launched as the ‘Hanseatic’, which would be very apt for her German passengers.
Meanwhile the proposed cruise ship terminal downstream at Enderby Wharf is still under construction, just part of the proposed, massive development on Greenwich peninsula. The high rise hotel tower next to the Dome is some 20 storeys high, in complete contrast to the narrow boat ‘Sunrise’, fresh out of the canals into the tidal Thames, her half dozen crew packed in like sardines in a can. What a contrast to the ‘Hamburg’! which sleeps some 190 in superb luxury. I couldn’t believe it – just as I was counting the number of floors in the new tower, yet another cruise ship ‘Sea Dream 1’, a yacht-like vessel, glided past with the same pair of tugs busily tending her stern. Superior, streamlined as a Boutique Ship according to my Douglas Ward’s ‘Cruising and Cruise Ship Guide’, she is the ‘ultimate’ having been originally funded by 800 investors – a five star rated vessel which would look more at home in the Med.
In complete contrast, a venue hidden away in Constable country near Nayland on the Suffolk-Essex border, provided the background of a joyful family wedding, where young and old celebrated a second marriage for the couple.
The ceremony was held in an ancient Norman chapel overlooking the River Stour, adjacent to a water mill where barges once traded in the now busy ports of Harwich and nearby Felixstowe. Murals on the tiny chapel’s walls depicted extraordinary subject matter from dragons to galley ships. The 10 bridesmaids were well and truly overawed. Wiston (or Wissington) is off the beaten track; a diverse collection of barns and granaries make up the little river port, and it’s well worth a visit. Rosemary Knox’s little book sets the scene of this Middle Ages trade which I am delving into, and which will provide an ideal subject for yet another PK aerial port view.
Earlier in the week we had been close to Harwich for a dear friend’s funeral, where we ran into old art school friends. Gunvor and Peter Edwards who became the illustrators of some of the Thomas the Tank Engine books seen on every child’s book shelf. Gunvor came originally from Sweden and their delightful home, set in wide open fields, became an outpost of Scandinavian style.
While up in that part of the world, we called in to see Tony and Margot Bailey who used to live in Greenwich on Royal Hill.
Cyril Katkov (a Russian Artist) imagined this view of the Bailey’s House in 1988
We admired Tony’s newly published book
and also a coracle and a Portchester One Design all ready for the summer ahead.
Their house in West Mersea is an ideal sailing base just a few yards from a slipway and useful moorings – a great place to retire and still write for the world market. Tony’s latest effort in the literary world, published in New York by Henry Holt, is as shown on the illustrated book jacket.