Traffic on the Thames

From the balcony of our new house, right next to the Thames, we have an excellent view of the river traffic going up and down past our front door. There’s not that much of it considering the size of the river (certainly not compared to, say, when the Pool of London was a real port, and its wharfs and warehouses, the remnants of whose slipways and jetties you can see on the foreshore when the tide’s out, sat where our estate does now), but it’s still fascinating to watch.
Nearly opposite us there’s the river police HQ, and their motorboats buzz up and down at intervals. The other day I saw two police motorboats and a rubber dinghy full of about 15 black-clad river coppers apparently running some kind of training exercise.
The river bus and river tours boats run quite frequently. Unfortunately for their use as a genuine part of London’s transport network, travel on them isn’t included in a Travelcard,and fares are quite high, though Oyster discounts are available.
Then there are the miscellaneous boats; party boats and cruise ships and rubbish barges and little tugs. Even better than just watching them, if you’re lucky you can find out who they are. The fascinating MarineTraffic website shows tracking information for vessels all over the world via a Google Maps overlay, and includes a lot (although not quite all) of the vessels on the Thames. The unofficial Tower Bridge Twitter account @towerbridgeitself also tells you when the bridge opening, for which vessel, and in which direction they’re travelling. Check out who it’s following on Twitter if you’re interested in other bridges, too. 
And while we’re on the subject of river information: don’t forget that the Thames tide tables are also available (in a limited way, anyway) via Twitter.