It's funny how we often overlook what's right on our doorstep. It's taken me eight years to take the boys on the river with Tonbridge River Trips and I wish we'd done it sooner.
Last Saturday afternoon was hot and muggy, and we were all a bit frazzled and irritable. But spending fifty minutes with Tonbridge River Trips meandering up our local stretch of the Medway was the perfect way to cool down and relax.
The river trips are run by Glynn, a really lovely man who does what he does because of his genuine love of the river. Glynn was welcoming and friendly and his boat (which seats 12) new, clean and comfy. As we headed to the lock and then the flood barrier, Glynn kept us entertained with his knowledge of the river's history and the wildlife we could see - did you know we have six species of bats on the river bank and a family of Kingfishers?
The boys were kept busy counting all the bridges we passed under and they asked Glynn countless questions which he patiently answered. They were allowed to take turns of steering the boat too which they loved. And with the boys happily occupied we were able to just sit and soak up the scenery, enjoy the breeze and learn a bit about our lovely town.
The river looks pretty unassuming when you see it from town but it felt entirely different from the boat. Being electric, the boat was super quiet and (when the boys weren't making noise) we could hear the sounds of the water and its wildlife. It felt like we were on holiday, not ten minutes from home.
I must say the experience wasn't ENTIRELY blissful: Theo needed the loo twice and had to wee over the side of the boat, and Jude decided to test cause and effect by throwing his best sun hat overboard - Glynn kindly circled back to save it but it sank before we got there. Lessons learnt for next time.
There are all kinds of trips you can do on the boat - dawn chorus trips, evening bat trips, down river evening trips and you can hire the boat for private use too. Glynn also has rowing boats for hire which are large enough for 4/5 adults - plenty of space for a family. You can try your luck by turning up on the day at the Big Bridge in town but best to book via tonbridgerivertrips.co.uk/
If you’re stuck for ideas with the kids this summer I highly recommend a boat trip. The kids will love it and you might just snatch a precious hour of relaxation, whilst enjoying a different view of Tonbridge. And you're allowed to take snacks and drinks onboard too so next time I'll be taking a picnic and maybe a cheeky Pimms...
Disclaimer: Tonbridge River Trips gave us a discounted trip along on the river in return for a review. All thoughts, words and pictures are my own.