It would be an understatement for me to say that I like Henley Regatta. I love Henley Regatta, even more so when the sun is shining. I have a lot of great memories from over the years, from the times I’ve camped with good friends, having left work in time to pitch up and catch the last couple of races over a Pimms or two, to the few times I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a pass to Stewards’ Enclosure. I also rowed myself for a few years at Maidenhead, so not only can I appreciate a nice stroke action, the stress of a racing start and the pain of a 40 strokes per minute rating, I’ve also been part of the rowing community so tend to know a few friendly faces around and about. All in all it’s a brilliant few days and if you like sitting by the river with a drink, people watching, I can imagine you’d enjoy it too.
Since the kids have come along, our approach has had to change somewhat. No longer can we hack the pace and crowds of the Saturday, so we’ve gone all ‘gazebo’ and started attending on a Sunday, reserving our very own car parking spot. It’s all very civilised from this side of the fence with knives and forks, ice-buckets and tables and chairs. To be honest, we always have put on a pretty decent spread, but the joy of having the boot of the car within sitting distance and not having to carry all of the gear 2 miles up the tow path never fails to please.
So, leaving all of the exertion to the young and strapping as they tear past in their boats, all that is left for me to do is open a bottle of wine, afterall, I always have been better at spectating than competing.
I chose a bottle of Furleigh Estate Classic Reserve from a beautiful little vineyard nestled in the West Dorset hills, that I’d had the pleasure of visiting the previous weekend. This dry and fruity little sparkler made from the three classic champagne grapes, couldn’t have been a more fitting refreshment. Of course, there wasn’t any left by the time the Andy Murray game started on BBC Radio 5-Live, and as I’m not in the habit of buying Scottish wine (it’ll take some serious global warming for that to happen), a nice chilled Friexenet Cordon Negro Cava (Tesco £6.66) was a fine way to cheer him to Wimbledon 2013 victory and finish of a splendid British summers day.