'Many people say that Nick Ardley is a bit of an eccentric, or an anachronism from a simpler age, for the way he sails his clinker sloop around the Thames estuary, wending among the tide-riddled marshes to drop anchor where the fancy takes him, his trusty mate at his side. In this volume, he has a clear unabashed plan: a reflective journey between the Pools of Rochester and London, a path once of commerce, but now pleasure. Rochester was once of immense importance to Britain's past trading richness, but, even if the belching chimneys pouring acrid fumes and cement dust have evaporated, and oil refineries have slipped away; the wharves lining the banks remain alive. As a distraction, he wanders a little above Rochester and then again, a little above the Pool of London towards Richmond. Between, he lands amongst the marsh and mud, finding graves, the ribs of old sailors and farmsteads enveloped in purslane and lavender. Many towns sailed past were part of this heritage, supplying building materials, food and fodder carried by the tan sailed barge to London. Nick Ardley dips and dabbles into these communities and explores how they have metamorphosed.
Nick Ardley was born in 1955 and brought up on a Thames spritsail barge. One of four children, he and his siblings soon became the crew. His working life was spent as an engineer officer with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, but upon retiring from 'big' ships Nick fell into writing, being asked to tell his childhood story. He now writes avidly about his love and enthusiasm of sailing among the rivers and creeks around the Thames and its estuary, discovering its industrial history. Christobel, Nick's wife and the 'mate' in his yarns, has grown to love the saltings too.