Wednesday, 27 August 2014

A Clipping Great Tour

The MBNA Thames Clipper


Travelling under Tower Bridge - no road closure required
Last week Mumsnet Hackney revisited her sea legs to attend the unveiling of the new addition to the fleet of Clippers that currently service commuters and tourists alike, up and down London’s iconic divider, the River Thames. Bearing in mind the recent drop in temperatures, I was bracing myself to have to frantically root through my wardrobe to locate the crumpled North Face jacket, lurking beneath a mound of other ‘unseasonal’ clothing. However, it was with relief the forecast, for once, accurately predicted a gloriously sunny morning which as it turns out was perfect for a jaunt down the 
river. 

It is undoubtedly a good sign when the event you attend supplies such deliciously noteworthy canap├ęs they could possible secure a blog post in their own right - miniature eggs florentine, hash browns and salmon and cream cheese piped onto miniature cucumber platters which had me virtually stalking the unsuspecting waiting staff of County Hall. But enough about the food and onto some history: the MBNA Thames Clippers are now in their 15th year of travelling the Thames along various routes between Putney and Canary Wharf. They initially began with one Clipper transporting around 21,000 passengers a year, which has now expanded to 13 vessels transporting 3.5 million passengers a year. On a personal note, prior to becoming a London resident, I had previously travelled on the Clipper from the Tate Britain down to the Tate Modern on a sightseeing trip and, even then, thought it was a rather glamorous mode of transport.

  
These fountains were borrowed from the Bellagio (not really)
The ‘launch’ commenced with the event organisers transforming a small section of the Thames into the lake of the Bellagio, Las Vegas i.e. a choreographed mini fountain show and, after a brief presentation, announced that even though we were attending an unveiling today, there was going to be another imminently as they had received the go ahead to build yet another Clipper to add to their obviously quite fertile fleet. 






We were then escorted onto the shiny Aurora Clipper for a cruise down to Canary Wharf for a journey that included, rather excitingly at one point, a short burst of travelling at high speed. So why would this experience be of use to Mumsnetters? I made it my mission to assess the Clipper's suitability for families. So for starters, children under 5 travel free and you can use your Oyster card. To view the commuter and tourist route timetables please click here. The Clipper is easily accessible with a buggy. If I had brought my 2 young sons I would have been wary about ensuring there was no way they could ’escape’ out of the indoor seating area on deck but to do this they would have had to open a heavy door which put my mind at ease. The baby change facilities are found in the disabled toilet out on deck, whereas the main toilets which are roomy single cubicles are inside. There is a coffee and snack bar onboard too should any refuelling be required. I came away not only coveting anyone who has this experience as their daily commute but also mentally adding it to my list of trips I will be making with my boys in tow, I cannot wait. 



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