Updated: Oct 10, 2020
As I won’t be hopping on a plane this summer, I’ve realised the travel section of my blog will be somewhat lacking. However, all is not lost. In the spirit of staying positive, I’ve opted to have a ‘Great British Summer Staycation’ filled with fun things I wouldn’t normally be doing. Each week I will be trying a new activity or visiting a new place in the UK.
I want to share what I get up to with you all, so I’ve decided to create a mini-series of blog posts detailing my adventures. Welcome to...
‘The Staycation Diaries.’
Episode One| Aquaholics On-Board: Goboating in Kingston
On Thursday, Harry’s family and I chartered our own little ‘Goboat’, named Jacqueline, and embarked upon the River Thames. I’ve always wanted to pilot a boat so the thought of doing this was pretty exciting but at the same time, having no boating license, it felt a little daunting. As we hopped on-board at Kingston Road Bridge, the lady operating the boats gave us a quick ten minute crash course on how to steer and reverse as well as the rules of the river (always stay on the right). It definitely felt like we were being chucked in at the deep end but after a few minutes of adjusting (and a couple of close shaves with the river bank) it came pretty naturally to us all.
One of the best things about being your own captain (as well as getting to wear this cool hat) is choosing where to go. We decided to take the south route to Hampton Court Palace, passing Raven’s Ait and Thames Ditton Island, which provided us with some beautiful views. (I am extremely jealous of the swanky riverside houses on there, they look like something from out of a movie!) We also saw plenty of other boaters in all different types of vessels, from steamboats to sculling boats. What I loved was that everyone waved and cheered as they passed us by. It seems Londoners are a lot more friendly when they’re on water!
On-board Jacqueline we had plenty of room for the five of us. The Goboats can seat up to eight people comfortably and will accept two different households on one boat if you want to go with friends. You can even take a well behaved dog if you wish to. In the middle of the boat is a large table perfect for drinks and a picnic. We had a spread fit for kings, including pizza and (quite literally) a boatload of prosecco, which made me feel pretty damn sophisticated. (I know right, who do I think I am?) As Jacqueline's top cruising speed was 4mph I felt pretty confident multitasking my prosecco glass and the tiller (steering lever). With the boats quiet electric motor, which meant no horrible noises or diesel fumes (yay), it was very easy to unwind. Not even the swans/ducks seemed phased by us, although a couple took quite an interest in our picnic.
The two hours we had booked quickly flew by and so we returned to our starting point feeling very happy. It felt like we'd had a quick little escape from everyday life. It was just nice to take a minute and relax, enjoying each others company and creating memories we'll have for a long time. Even though I've been to Kingston several times and for Harry and his family it's very local, we all felt like we'd seen something new and from a different perspective. I would definitely love to go again. I know from the Goboat website that you can go more central and book a boat from Paddington to London Zoo and Camden Lock, which must be fun.
If London seems a little far, there are plenty of other websites for self drive boat hire up and down the country. I'd highly recommend getting out there and giving it a go with friends and family/ your bubble! It's a great outdoor Covid-friendly activity.
(Special shoutout to Harry's Mum, Miranda, for organising this trip and taking these lovely photos. Thank you!)
Want some more staycation inspiration? Stay tuned for episode 2 of 'The Staycation Diaries.'