I love to go awandering.
The Fulham supporter and I last Friday walked the moderate 10 miles from Henley along the Thames and over the Chiltern Way to Marlow. Two churches, two pubs, a river, a hill, a regatta and change at Slough.
Henley with its historic industry of rowing regattas, its picturesque High Street and its mock Tudor fronts is a citadel of the Home Counties. The hour train ride from Paddington involved changes at Slough and Twyford. First the 12th century church. Here I discovered the grave of the French revolutionary general Dumouriez(1739-1823) who eventually switched sides badly and died in exile.
Soon we are on the tow path. The Henley Regatta was last week and they are still clearing the marquee city and duckboards. With typical charm, there is a sotto voce ,veterans regatta in progress. Men and women over 50 from all over Europe strokling furiously up rowing’s most sacred mile. Some must have been competing against each other for thirty years.
Hambledon Lock is where we cross the river over a delightful 300 metre walkway . A surprisingly sophisticated lunch in the Stag and Hounds then its up into the Chiltern woods. The medieval church has a17th century worthy laid to rest with his ten children,the four who predeceased carry skulls, the two who supported the Royalist cause are dressed appropriately.
Sweet as chocolate box, rolling Thames Valley countryside gives way to farmland and then mature English woodland. In one secluded car park we pass a BMW Mini with lovers rocking themselves to more than sleep. It is good see that some traditional pass times still survive. It was Friday afternoon.
And so onto Marlow. Another dinky town, a quick half in the George and Dragon and its the 4.05 . Marlow only has one line and one train an hour. We change at Maidenhead. Henley is Boris Johnson’s constituency and no walk does more to confirm that there will always be an England.
While in St Marys, Henley I picked up the sheet of the Regatta Service, it included the prayer
Lord we thank you that you have blessed this Regatta ; grant now that all who participate through competing, organising, spectating , may do all in thy Glory, and may so find fulfilment in body, mind and spirit ,through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
So ,any doubts that God is an Englisman? No sir. But does he row?