1.6.09

TO THE BARRIER
AND BACK

Having lived over here for over 20 years I've seen
most of London's tourist sights a thousand times.
It was also the 10th visit to the UK for
my friend Tommi from Finland, so it
was time for something new.

A while ago I noticed an article about Flying Fish Tours
in one of the freebie papers you get on the Tube and
suggested it to Tommi. We both agreed it would be
more fun to bomb up and down the Thames in a jet
boat than go on a usual, rather boring river cruise.

The route

Plus speedboats are my favourites, I love being on lakes
(a bit difficult to avoid them growing up in Finland !)
and the sea. I also love fishing and I've had an
outboard motor ever since I was kid. My dad
also had a fast boat on the Finnish Gulf.

Yesterday dawned with glorious blue skies and we
made our way to St Katherine's Pier
next to the Tower Of London.

Our pilot and guide for the day were Glen and Michael.
We were in safe hands as Glen is actually the chap
who taught Daniel Craig the boat scenes in the
latest Bond film, Quantum Of Solace.

The route takes you from Tower Bridge to the
Thames Barrier and back in just under an hour.
Along the way we stopped at the O2 Arena
(The Millenium Dome), Greenwich and a few other
spots for five minute breaks while Michael
told us a little bit about each place of interest.

The starting point St Katherine's Pier

He was funny, peppering the info with interesting facts
and trivia, some of which he makes up just for a giggle.
Like the "fact" that if you turned the Dome upside
down you could fit 80 million litres of beer
into it! (Or was it 800 million...)

You can tell these guys really love what they do,
although he must do the same spiel dozens of
times a week it doesn't sound fake but like he
was telling it for the first time!

The boat weaves in and out of waves, sometimes
you get a bit of a spray but on a day like yesterday
(25 C) you're dry in no time. Not so good for the
old digi camera though so watch out!

The guys do check if people mind getting a bit wet,
any objections and it won't happen. Michael was
telling us about a stag party the day before and
apparently they requested a soaking ...
that's exactly what they got!

The trip is great fun, I could've carried on all day.
If you're looking to do something a bit unusual
away from the been there done that touristy
stuff, this is the way to go. Recommended!

Here are some shots from along the way.
Please click on the images
to view larger versions.

Above: our guide Michael and
pilot Glen (at the back).



Above bottom row, left: Antony Gormley's
sculpture
Quantum Cloud
next to the Dome.


Above bottom row, left: One of the original
ferries across the Mersey, the sadly dilapidated
Royal Iris sits on the bank of the
river awaiting her fate.



Above: Old Royal Naval College
at the riverfront in Greenwich.

PS: For those not used to boating it's worth pointing
out that they normally have a safe and easy
access mooring spot at St Katherine's Pier but
unfortunately yesterday some idiot left their
boat in the FF's usual place, hence the
rather precarious looking boarding
procedure in the top photo.


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