Tuesday 15 August
Marlow to Cliveden
Glorious sunshine, lush green woodland and the sparkling River Thames. What more could a gal want? Except maybe a nice big marrowbone…
The section of the Thames from Marlow is very beautiful, you see some amazing houses before hitting the varyingincolour trees on both riverbanks.
There are too many houses to mention but two that took Leigh’s eye were a ramshackle place with a tin roof – that reminded her of the Shack Up Inn in Clarkesdale, U.S.A (a favourite place to stay for my humans) – and a curvaceous, sleek, new-build which had more glass windows than Wee-Willy-Winkie has sleep!!
Leigh has come to realise she has a penchant for anything different. She is not a ‘grand’ or ‘big’ kindofperson, she just hankers after the more unusual.
We moored up at lunchtime so that Leigh could get some writing done this afternoon. No chance of that when the weather is so lovely. Yelp!
Leigh has been sat in the sun, reading a book; Tom has been in the shade, next to this ‘riverside piece of art’, fishing.
We’ve also enjoyed a couple of walks through the woods, where Rosie and I could go off-lead and take full advantage of the many scents lying around. Badgers, foxes, squirrels – you name it, they have been there. I do love a good walk through a wood and it’s been a while since we’ve done that.
It is so peaceful here, we are moored up with a long-distance view of Cliveden House – which is an Italianate style mansion.
Humans of a certain age may remember the scandal involving John Profumo and the model Christine Keeler. Set high – about forty metres above the River Thames – the grounds slope down to the river. The house is now owned by the National Trust, having previously been a home to an earl, three countesses, two dukes, a Prince of Wales and the Viscounts Astor. Cliveden was originally spelled Cliffden, meaning valley among cliffs.
Woofs, Martha X
Monday 14 August
Henley-on-Thames to Marlow
It hit me today just how big and beautiful old father Thames is. Of course, having travelled Europe and seeing the wondrously wisde rivers of other countries – Germany for example – I realise it is not the widest river in the world but there is something special about it. A couple of times I felt my heart rise and a flutter in my tummy as I simple took the time to take in my surroundings.
I hadn’t realised we had passed George Clooney’s house the other day so I made sure I spent more time ‘house spotting’ although I don’t really know what I am looking out for. I’m just not a celebrity-spotter and my knowledge of ‘famous’ humans is very limited. Yelp!
On our journey today we passed Temple Island – according to one of my sources this was once owned by Kate Bush. Very nice it was too.
Arriving in Marlow we did a swift about-turn (you have to moor up-stream on rivers in case you didn’t know) and moored bang outside an ice-cream van. Convenient for my humans methinks…
Higginson Park – where we moored – has a rather imposing statue of the Olympian Sir Steve(n) Redgrave. Impressive!
Leigh hadn’t realised that Marlow and Budapest (a city dear to her heart) had a commonality until she crossed the bridge today!
Walking around the town, Tom and Leigh came to the same opinion; the Georgian town of Marlow enjoys some pretty buildings, yet it is a tad too busy, so doesn’t quite have the charm of Henley-on-Thames.
It does, however, offer some very nice notonthehighstreet type of shops and it does boast two eating-places owned by celebrity-chef Tom Kerridge – The Hand and Flowers and the Coach. My humans couldn’t get a table at the Hand – you do have to book well in advance – so decided to eat dinner at the Coach where they don’t take forward-bookings – so it’s down to luck.
As luck would have it, Leigh and Tom arrived around twenty-past-eight and were told a table would be free in about forty minutes, which was fine with them.
I won’t bore you with the whole experience; suffice to say the food was excellent (although you need to order two to three plates per person as a main due to the, ‘Plates being small’, as they were told by staff when ordering).
Unfortunately, the staff were too over-enthusiastic which came across as a little bit false and a little bit overbearing. Their enthusiasm didn’t lead to over-efficiency either. Leigh’s drink was not the drink she ordered and a guy at the bar was presented with celeriac that he hadn’t ordered!
Worse was the ‘waiting area’. For those who need to wait for a table – which is completely acceptable and expected – you are propelled into a corridor. It reminded Tom of a public bathroom area and another guest mentioned he felt like he was, ‘In a dentist’s waiting room.’
Not good Tom Kerridge, not good!
With a little staff training (enthusiasm is good but you need to relax too, when you are providing a service) and a little less greed (after all, if you have too many ‘guests to chairs’, then just say, ‘We are fully booked but please pop back in half an hour’) this place would be just the job for ‘on spec’ dining-out humans!
It is all so simple really…’Martha, the customer service training canine’…has a certain ring don’t you think?
Woofs, Martha X
Sunday 13 August
After a pretty brief walk this morning, Leigh dumped Rosie and me back on the boat and took herself off for a run. A few kilometres and a cool shower later she was ready to greet her cousin Leo and his lovely wife Jacky. Leigh and Tom haven’t seen much of Leo and Jacky over the years so thought after about an hour they would run of out of conversation and we would set off for whoknowswhere. What a mistake that was!
The first two hours flew by with the four humans finding so much to talk about; their respective off-Spring, travel, houses, work and allsorts! By around twelve-thirty Leo and Jacky were saying their goodbyes and making tentative arrangements to meet us on our way home in a few weeks.
Tom commented to Leigh how quickly the time had gone by, and how easy it had been to spend time in the company of Leo and Jacky. Leigh said she felt terrible that she had only made them one drink in all that time! She did provide cake though, as promised!
Deciding that we would stay put for the day – after all the weather is good and our mooring was justthejob – Leigh and Tom decided to pop out for Sunday lunch. Arriving at the Anchor in Henley who should they bump into but Jacky and Leo. Some hours, a nice lunch and a few drinks later the four parted company for the second time today. They will definitely meet up again in a few weeks time for more food, drinks and the inevitable banter.
Leigh has absolutely loved spending time with family members who live a bit of a distance from her usual home. She and Leo laughed as they remembered ‘situations’ that had occurred during their childhood and teenage years. Jacky is absolutely delightful and fun to talk with. The song, ‘A Lovely Day’ comes to mind for sure!
Saturday 12 August
Sonning to Henley-on-Thames
Arriving in Henley we took a stroll into the town. Oh what a pretty town it is? The buildings are so pretty – bricks of red, brown and grey, interspersed with white stone – and blue engineering bricks – just add so much interest. I love the way many buildings in this part of Berkshire use flint as decoration. There was a craft and produce market in town today – you can’t doubt the origin of the honey when the bees have come along too!
We are moored just before the stretch of the river where the regatta takes place, right next to a huge park which is jampackedfull of picknickers. During the early evening picnics give way to bar-be-ques – although a local lady explained, ‘These people come in from Slough and take over the park in the summer. Fire’s are prohibited but they flaunt the law and if the authorities try to stop them they just don’t listen’ and get aggressive!
Leigh and Tom could sense the tension that this causes, and they do understand, but…it is nice to see whole families enjoying time together in the fresh air and lighter evenings.
Woofs, Martha x