I can’t believe it’s a year since the last Henley Regatta. Time just races along. Anyway last Thursday dawned hot and humid with the threat of thunderstorms. Dressing in our Regatta finery my young friend and I drove over to Wargrave to pick up Paul and Debbie at their riverside home.
After a week of congested traffic I was surprised that our route to Phyllis Court was almost completely clear. Strolling into the grounds from the car park this was the sight that greeted us as we looked over the little bridge. Very Henley.
Making our way to the verandah we were soon joined by the others in our little party – Julia and Graham, and Jane and Brian. Out went the order and very soon a foaming jug of the favourite Regatta drink – Pimms – arrived. Good to see all the fashions – Phyllis Court becomes very elegant at this time of the year. Here’s Julia, Jane and Debbie, and me hiding behind Debbie’s hat.
After a sumptuous lunch in the dining room we made our way to our chairs lined up by the river’s edge giving us a great view of all the activity on the river.
There were crews going upstream to the start at Temple Island, and crews racing back down the course, followed by the sleek umpire launches. And mixed in with all the actual participants were great big passenger boats, canal barges, slipper launches, punts, motor-boats, and even a floating shoe!
And in this skiff is Tony May and his family, They are specially posing for me as I’m planning to paint a large picture of about 50 or so boats taking part in the recent London Jubilee River Pageant, and they were there.
I’ve been wanting to take Marsh Mundy out for a while now, but what with the bad weather, the dangerous height and speed of the river, and the various problems with the boat it hasn’t been possible. But finally on the last day of the Regatta – Saturday – Val, Felicity and my young friend joined me for the evening when we went to see the traditional fireworks display. We had a bit of trouble trying to tie up next to the booms in the middle of the river. You have to somehow get the ropes over and then under the booms as notices on the piles wouldn’t (for some reason) allow us to tie up to the uprights. But my young friend managed it by leaning over into the water from the bathing platform. Next time we have this problem we hopefully will come armed with a right-angled boat hook.
The fireworks this year were quite magnificent. Lady McAlpine organised the display,and to my mind it was the best ever.
I’ve just started a miniature of Michael Eavis CBE. Famous for his Glastonbury Festivals, I might try and include Rolf Harris performing at Galstonbury in the background unless it complicates it too much. Apart from that I was bowling in the handicap tournament on Friday (lost), and on Sunday morning went to the BBC Radio Bekshire Studios in Caversham to be interviewed (by Debbie) about my proposed paintings of the river pageants and the Queen’s visit to Henley.