The Olympic Torch arrived in Henley on Tuesday. We were planning to walk down the towpath to watch it but just as we were leaving my neighbour George Constantinidi invited us to join his boat party and see the event from the river. All went well till we reached the island opposite Hobbs Boatyard when we detected a problem with the impeller. It had stopped working, resulting in the boat drastically overheating. We made our way to the shore to moor next to the Thamesfield Care Home. Having convinced a warden that we really needed to moor until the problem could be solved, he reluctantly agreed. So we watched the torch being carried by Steve Redgrave as he rowed one-handed in an eight (with a full crew I might add) towards Henley Bridge.
The exciting part of the day, however, was being violently tossed around as the boats following the torch raced along on a very strong current at about 15 knots, causing a lot of turbulence. Henley hasn’t seen that sort of speed ever before. Pity we were so far away or we might have witnessed the streaker! Yes, a real live naked man ran along the torch route at Riverside closely followed by the official torch carrier. He was collared eventually by a pair of Henley policemen in true Keystone Cops style. (Watch the video on YouTube – it’s hilarious). When everything was over, friends of George – Peter and Anne - came to our rescue in their boat ‘Spanish Lady’ and towed us up to Marsh Lock.
A word of advice – don’t leave black pens in shirt pockets when you put them in the washing machine! I did on Tuesday and the result was 10 ruined shirts, an assortment of black spattered underwear and socks and a sorry looking pair of trousers! Nothing could be saved despite several attempts, so we drove in to Marks and Sparks in Reading to replenish the items. On the way there we happened to pass through the photographic department in the John Lewis store. So I bought a new camera.- 20 times optical zoom, 18 megapixels etc. etc. (It can even shoot videos in 3D.) And it’s really compact. You have to indulge yourself from time to time, don’t you?
The Henley Literary Festival will soon be here, so on Monday evening ‘Friends’ of the Festival were invited to Bix Manor, just outside Henley, to be given a preview of all the authors due to participate and to book tickets. On the way from the grassy car park we encountered a couple of furry beauties,
Hundreds of people were milling around in a snake-like queue. I joined it and eventually bought a dozen or so for authors like Michael Palin, Sandy Gall, Gyles Brandreth, etc. And, one of my favourite events – an hour-long trip down the river on the ‘Hibernia’ with Rula Lenska and others reading poetry. So many friends were there – I discovered that a neighbour of mine (Annie T) will be presenting a programme called ‘Country Wives’. Apparently she, and two other ladies, write the 70th most popular blog in the world (out of millions.) Should be fun. We ended the evening by having dinner with Robert and Dinah at the Strada restaurant in Henley.
When I attended the Hilliard Exhibition in Wells earlier this year I met Michael Eavis C.B.E who was opening the exhibition. He is the man who, for many years, has organised the Glastonbury Festival on the land he owns in Somerset. I persuaded him to pose for me and took a few snapshots. The result is this miniature which I completed yesterday.
My young friend and I decided to take Marsh Midget out for a little row last Saturday – despite the warnings at the lock of a very strong stream. Luckily, after an amazingly swift 100-yard row she suggested that before we go too far I ought to turn the boat around to see how strong the current really was. Boy, was it strong! At first I could only go backwards, then we stood still. But eventually, with a superhuman effort I managed to get us back to my mooring in one piece. When will the river slow down? I’m looking out of my window right now and it’s still racing along.
Vince and Annie Hill came over for dinner last Friday. A nice evening was had by all. My friend and I shared the cooking – she did the main part – I just did the starter and pudding.
On Saturday, after visiting Rolf – and almost getting a broken leg when a load of logs gave way when I was helping him with an 8 inch thick table he was making. ( My part was just labouring) my young friend and I paid a visit to the delightful village of Turville. Only about 3 miles from Henley, it was the venue for the film ‘Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang’ and the setting for the TV series ‘The Vicar of Dibley’.
We tried to get close to the lovely windmill high above the village but couldn’t manage it. Here, however, is a photo of the windmill taken by my friend with her big zoom, from the village.
I’m now busily compiling scores of boat pictures so I can construct an interesting layout for the large painting I propose to make depicting the Queen’s visit to Henley.
P.S. This will be the third time I’ve completely written this blog – only to find it disappears when I try to publish it. Why do Google keep changing its format?