Monday, 18 April 2011

And I live by the river


Yes the Thames. We named our son Jerome K after the author of Three Men in a Boat, the story of three men (and a dog) on and in the River Thames. And now live by the river in Richmond.

The Thames is just a tad under 220 miles long (that’s the imperial way of saying a sniff under 350 km), from the village of Kemble to the sea. The Thames Path follows the river for 184 miles, and I navigated about 2 of them this morning – from Kew Green to Richmond.


There is 7 m (let me go metric) difference between low and high tide at London bridge, and near where we live the water certainly gets sucked up substantially each day or so. The Thames is tidal from Teddington Lock, oddly a few km above the Richmond Lock which I would have thought made the water pretty fresh between Richmond and Teddington.

The Thames is described as ‘the cleanest river in the world that flows through a major city’ by the Woodlands Junior School in Tonbridge, Kent. This comes off the back of being so polluted fifty years ago that it was described biologically dead. By this they meant there was no oxygen at all in a 20 km stretch, although as an algal guy I bet some of my biology was thriving even back then.

National Geographic in 2005 reported 130 seals being spotted in the Thames, dolphins frolicking upstream of London Bridge and the first Sea Horse found in the estuary for 30 years.

This is a far cry from 1858, when Parliament was ‘dissolved’ due the ‘big stink’ caused by the stench of raw sewage. Twenty years later a steamship sank with most of the 600 passengers dying after being overcome by the ‘noxious cocktail of human and industrial filth’.

Today the river looked just fine. A little chocolate-coloured, but I was brought up near the Yarra River in Melbourne so no problem there. Kayakers paddled past so I wait eagerly for my Beachcomber Barracuta to arrive (along with a bit of house furniture).

Although I walked under chestnuts, elms and assorted deciduous trees, passed by nodding bluebells, and peered into the green murky ponds for algae, this was a largely plant-free walk and posting.


Plenty of time, and potential, for botany.

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