A Lazy Afternoon on the River Thames

It was almost like stepping back in time. A happy group of MNTA members met on the footpath in Higginson Park on a slightly overcast but warm afternoon to board a Salter’s (steamer) boat. There was an excited air of anticipation as we cast off and the Ukulele Band started to play and sing. The plan was to get as far as Henley before returning to Marlow, dependent on the timings at the various locks. It was a perfect day, not too hot for those on the top deck, a gentle breeze with sunny intervals, giving all lots of opportunities to join in the singing of familiar tunes from the band as we progressed up the river.

Some of us had not been on the river for a while certainly not beyond Temple lock and it was a great joy to follow our beautiful river past familiar and less familiar, at least from the river, landmarks. The impressive launches at Harleyford Marina, the imposing Danesfield House perched on its prominent cliff top high above the river and the chance to see the beautiful, historic Medmenham Abbey being carefully restored.

The river banks in the quiet, still stretches of the river seemed to emphasise the timelessness of our historic river as the banks closed in, recalling the secrets of Wind in the Willows, with Ratty and Moley. More locks and then into the more open stretches, passing the extensive site being prepared for the Rewind Festival with its seemingly hundreds of tepees and tents, Big Mainstage and funfair coming together, passing the sign of the Flowerpot riverside pub, much loved by many it seems. Then into the centre of Henley along the regatta course, passing the manicured lawns of Phyllis Court, the handsome riverside houses and the iconic Leander Rowing Club.

It was just as peaceful, relaxing and beautiful doing it all in reverse, having enjoyed a delicious and ample cream tea. The ukulele band only stopped playing when we were in the locks and many people in the passing boats and on the riverbank joined in the dancing and the happiness of the occasion. Thank you Roy and Jan and the band for such an enjoyable experience; please can we do it again?

Anne & Brian Morse