One of my readers in the UK sent me a long email which among other things noted that, "every time we drive along the M4 now I look at all the water bodies wondering if you sailed on any of them."
Hmmm. I wonder too. To the best of my recollection the only lake that I sailed on in the UK that you can see from the M4 motorway is the lake of Burghfield Sailing Club in Theale, near Reading.
As you can see from the aerial photo, the motorway cuts right across the NE corner of the lake. I'm not absolutely sure -- hey the memory plays tricks at my age and it was a long time ago -- but I think this was the site of my first real sailing lesson. Must have been around 1980, maybe a little earlier. I signed up for an outdoor multi-activity weekend which included some kayak instruction on the River Thames, some climbing on an artificial indoor wall and... sailing in a Firefly on this lake.
After that I went off to a sailing holiday in Minorca with Minorca Sailing and then joined what is now called Taplow Lake Sailing Club (which by the way you can see from the main railway line running west from London but not from the M4).
Then I returned to Burghfield SC for a Laser open meeting, probably shortly after the one at Maidenhead Sailing Club. The only thing I really remember of that regatta (I speak Ameri-speak now) is of one of the youngsters from my home club announcing to the rest of us that he was going to go out sailing on the lake before the races to "suss out the shifts". I was so naive about sailing at the time that I thought he was just being a poser. Now I know he was the smartest and most committed racer among us.
It's good to see that Burghfield SC still has a very active Laser fleet with over 40 boats at their Laser Open last year.