Summer 2003


Commodore’s Bit
Americas Cup
ATVSC Meeting
Bewl Water Visit
Commodores Quiz
Easter Egg Trophy
Hampton Regatta
Health and Safety Plan
Kitchen Skylight Removed
Jazz and BBQ program
Mid Thames Trophy
No Sailing = A lesson
Not just boats that rot
Open Weekend
Painshill Park Visit
Safety Boat Service
Sailing Report
SigneTs at Paxton Lakes
Regatta & ST program
Social Calendar program
Start of Season Party
Working Party

No Sailing = A lesson in history, well that’s the theory
Sunday 22nd October 2000, 11am -
Keith Hatton

Well, we couldn’t sail could we, the flag at the top of the flag pole was hanging limp and lifeless and although we didn’t have the benefit of Mike (Over Easy’s) flag as a wind vane, we assumed that the howler that arrived a day late wasn’t going to come today. And hadn’t it rained a lot as well the week before, old father Thames was telling us just that with the water flowing fast and murky past the sailing club.

Had the weather been like last week we could have spent a few hours on the top deck sipping a few glasses of wine. Joan G can instruct on that quite well, and we all go for those lessons in a big way when we can, thanks again Nigel for the opportunity to partake in a few bevies and enjoy the view on your top deck at the same time.

It was suggested that the rescue boat could tow us up to Molsey lock and then we could have a race to see which boat could float the fastest back down to the club. But that idea was scrubbed as we could possibly be reported to the Society For The Protection of Cruelty to Rescue Boats, or even worse have to buy a new engine.!

So leaving my sailing bag down at the club, wasn’t I ever the optimist? Madeline and I decided to take a walk back in history and visit Hampton Court Palace, of which Madeline had only seen the gardens and I was a young lad of around twenty when I last went inside the palace. Parking our car on Hampton Court green we walked into the Palace grounds and purchased our tickets, not cheap, but we agreed well worth it at the end of the day. Pass the two guardians at the moat entrance and into the main courtyard where we found directions are to all the different sections of the palace, and if you turn around while you are here you can see the magnificent astronomical clock designed by Henry the viii, high up on the wall, best seen in the sunlight in its gilt finish.

You have the choice of having a guided tour, and today the guides were dressed in the costume of the day, circa 1549, or of using a compact disc unit which gives you a running commentary as you visit the various parts of the palace. This you can stop and start at any time, which puts you in control of the pace of your visit, and this is what we went for. You do feel a bit of a fool for a little while with this thing slung round your neck like a handbag, and a pair of headphones on but it soon goes when you see half the other people attired just the same. There are buttons which you can press for the different parts of the palace and also for additional descriptions of various events that took place in those times.

Having set up the machines we decided to take a look at the kitchens first and the first room that you go into has a model of the complete kitchen and dining complex, and what a size it is, when you look at the vastness of Hampton Court you come to realize the staff that was needed to run such a place, and the organization that was required just to feed them all from Henry himself to the cooks and bottle washers. I thought British Aerospace was overdoing it with all the different levels of restaurants and canteens, but even back in Henry’s day they ate in different rooms according to your place in the social ladder. And even then they had to have two sittings for the kitchen staff so they could keep the supply of food coming all day.

Want to see a real BIG FIRE!. Then come into the kitchens, this was probably the best place in the winter when it was really cold. A really huge fire was alight, with half an Oak tree on it, the only thing missing was the three boys who’s duty it was to continuously turn the spits with the complete carcass of deer, sheep or pig on them. The cooks were busy baking pies and making soup for the staff on duty, again dressed in period costume. As we all know Henry was a big man who really liked his food so the kitchens were really important, and it is not surprising that so much attention was paid to this department.

From here we passed on to the Main Entrance and staircase, where all the royal dignitaries would be brought. This was a really magnificent place with no expense spared, to really exemplify the wealth and standing of the country to all who came to the court of Henry. Its walls are decorated with scenes of battles of the past and of weaponry of the time. To even get an audience with Henry would have meant that you were a really important person, but even then this could mean a long wait and no chance of sitting down as the only chair was for Henry himself. This was on a raised dais, so he was at all times above everybody else, but before you even got to him there were two rooms, so that his personal staff could sort the wheat from the chaff. The walls of these rooms and many others like them in the palace are decorated with beautiful tapestries depicting famous battles and scenes from the past, most of these were made in Europe and took many thousands of hours to make.

Henry needed a way of escaping from the many who wanted to see him, so his private apartments were not far away from here, and surprise, surprise his private apartments were in the basement right under the noses of all the dignitaries that wanted to see him. These apartments are a lot finer furnished and more spacious than many of today’s modern houses, the craftsmanship of the day was really superb, and Henry had the money to pay for the finest of that period. One letter on display states that even in those days his version of MI5 was costing him over 5,000 pounds a year to fund in espionage and spying, a fantastic amount of money in those days.

From Henrys apartments we went on to visit the Grand Hall of Henry the VIII, a magnificent hall with a hammer styled roof and some beautiful stained glass windows, here there would be dances and formal gatherings.

As it was getting late and the last of the suns rays were still shinning on the garden we decided to leave the house and spend some time looking at the restored privy gardens which overlook the Thames. These gardens have been restored to there former glory, and although only some five years old they still are a wonderful example of this type of geometric landscaping. We went on to see the Hampton vine which is a real monster of a vine, guess who’s got a cutting of this famous vine growing in his garden, via a friend in the know.

Feeling rather weary we decided to call it a day and go back to the club for my bag and then on home for a nice cup of tea, it was an unexpected trip but very interesting and a good way to spend the day when one can’t sail.

Its amazing that the most interesting places that are on one’s doorstep we tend to overlook, so if you have got a day to spare take a look at Hampton Court, and we’re sure that you’ll have a great day.