Pack a picnic and enjoy a cruise down the Thames with GoBoat Kingston

What?: Remember when we did GoBoat’s Paddington route 15 months ago and Roro was a tiny baby who we barely knew was there because she basically slept the whole journey, and I complained about how I was so cold I couldn’t feel my bum? Well this time we did the Kingston route, Roro was a giant, lumbering 16 month old whose presence kind of dominated the whole trip because she was in dire need of a nap and was very, very angry, and this particular day was so unbearably hot that there was literally only about 10 minutes where at least one of us wasn’t crying or shouting. Obviously none of this has any reflection on GoBoat, who are awesome by the way, but it did confirm my feeling that if I’m ever in doubt about doing something with my one year old I should probably just not.

Actually, although I’m not a fan of hot weather this would have been lovely if we hadn’t had to spend the entire trip trying to appease a hot and bothered four year old and keep the small one from constantly bashing her head on stuff/drowning (she had to wear one of those over-the-head life jackets that might as well have been made of molten iron it made her so hot, so we ended up taking it off, which was probably illegal, and then the big one started crying because she wanted to take hers off too lollllz). The route itself is beautiful. You can either head north up to Teddington or west towards Hampton Court Palace. We chose the latter: up past Ravens Ait and Thames Ditton islands and all the many, many huge houses of Surbiton, although obviously we didn’t get to see much of it since the entire trip basically turned into an exercise in damage control.

So yeah, maybe don’t bring your one year old. Maybe don’t bring any kids at all. In fact in an ideal world it would just be me and a few mates and some booze, but not too much booze because obviously you’re still in control of a motor boat. To be fair these things don’t go particularly fast and you’re given a pretty thorough briefing at the pontoon before you set off – unless you’re Adam who’s all like “actually I have a boat licence sooo…”. Anyway, I didn’t drive it but I’m assured it’s pretty easy, and we managed not to get anything stuck on the propellor this time so that was a bonus. Seriously though, these kids…

N.B. COVID safety measures are currently in place aboard GoBoat boats. Boasts can be booked for a maximum of two households/bubbles per boat (max capacity eight people), or for four individuals from different households who must keep a 1m distance from each other while on board. Check-in is contact-free and boats are disinfected between sessions.

Where and When?: Boats are available every day from 9am-9pm. Find the GoBoat Kingston pontoon at Bishop’s Palace House, Bishop’s Hall, Kingston-upon-Thames KT1 1QN. We parked in the Bentall Centre car park (four-minute walk) but you can also park in John Lewis (three-minute walk) or take the train to Kingston (10-minute walk).

Best Bits: Being able to drive your own boat without having to pedal/row is the most amazing feeling. The staff are friendly, relaxed and knowledgable and the route is beautiful.

Worst Bits: Our children (not included).

Cost: Boats cost £79 for one hour, £109 for two hours and £139 for three hours.

Would We Come Back?: I would, believe it or not.

Babu pretends to be happy outside Hampton Court Palace on board a GoBoat.