Straw boaters - you know you're at Henley
My good friend Will has been going to Henley for most of his life. Over the last ten years he's perfected his routine. Rent a few riverside pitches, put up some gazebos, invite forty friends, put on a fabulous picnic and have 30l of Pimms on hand to keep everyone lubricated. (That's 30l of Pimms neat, not mixed!)
Although Will has been going to Henley for years, this is the first time that I've joined him with his family friends.
An eight warming up before the start line
We arrived during the lunchtime break in the racing. Not long after we'd got there Will set up the picnic and it was a feast! Compared with the Aussies, Brits are generally a bit useless picnics, but Will's spread wouldn't have been out of place on a sunny day in Centennial Park. He even brought along a cake stand for all of his cupcakes....
Part of Will's amazing lunch spread
Henley Regatta is a social event masquerading as a sports day. It was pleasant to see boats go past in the background, but I think I only seriously watched a couple of races all day and that was probably more than most people!
During the afternoon we walked up the river, beyond the start and away from the crowds towards Hambledon lock. On such a hot day it was nice to get away from the crowds and see some of the boats warming up and pleasure boats cruising up and down the river. We had a refreshing ice cream as we sat and watched boats go through the lock.
An original red trouser wearer, none of this Sloane rubbish
After the end of the day's racing we went for a second walk up the river towards the finish line. Crowds had been sitting on the bank of the river for hours, drinking in the sunshine and it was beginning to get messy! Some were hoping into the river to cool off (which was a very tempting idea) while other were looking a bit worse for wear.
Colourful parasol on the Thames
With another three hours to go until sunset and the fireworks display we decided to slip away before the drinking competitions began.