Spirit of Chartwell celebrates Olympiad in London
In two weeks’ time, I will be holidaying on a luxury hotel barge named Panache on the canals of Strasbourg, France, but today I was invited to experience a different sort of barge. You might well remember the Spirit of Chartwell, the vessel used as the Royal Barge for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. When it was decked out with the livery of the monarch, red velvety fabric and gold tassels and emblems, it was a sight to behold. And, I am sure it thrilled the Queen to be part of the Flotilla in such an iconic vessel. Of course, today we are celebrating other gold symbols – the gold medals of the Olympiad – which are coming fast and furious for Team GB. But it is an exceptional experience to be able to sail down the Thames on a river ship such as the Spirit of Chartwell. The rain clouds eventually cleared so a sunny afternoon ensured we could tick off all the sights along the river: Royal Greenwich, Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf and Limehouse, to name but a few. Thanks to organisers at Visit England (www.visitengland.com), we also had a gala five course lunch which was quite delicious. The Amuse Bouche appetiser was a sort of mushroom soup that was simply gorgeous. I had the fresh trout (yum!) plus everything was topped off with strawberries and cream for dessert (of course!). Emma, Rebecca, Laura and Mark took very good care of us. If you ever get the opportunity to try out a journey like this, jump at the chance!