All along the river everything is green and lush. I‘ve always admired the weeping willows and the way that their fronds cascade down to the riverside. William Blake seems to have had the same feelings because he wrote a poem around 1804 which Refers to England as “this green and pleasant land.” This poem, set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916, has become known as the second national anthem of England. It is sung at many sporting events and always as the second to last item at the Last Night of the Proms every year at the Royal Albert Hall.
All Saints church at Bisham has a long history. The unusual square tower was built in 1175 and there is a chapel from the late 16th century inside but much a the church was built during a restoration in 1849.
The regatta rowing course with the officials stand and the spectator stands on the left. The length of this straight stretch of river is clearly obvious when you see the church tower in both pictures and where the second picture was taken was still not at the end of the course which is 1 mile and 550 yards (2112 metres) long. Although there aren’t any showing in either of these pictures the course was busy with rowing shells practicing for the regatta which ends on the first weekend in July. I had a bit of excitement as I paddled along the course. One of the 2 person rowing shells collided with my canoe as they were pratising on the course. It was understandable because they are facing backwards as they row and I was facing forwards as I paddled. Fortunately I noticed out of the corner of my eye their bow close to the back of my canoe so I was able to shout a warning with enough time for the two rowers to be able to get their oars out of the way. In doing so they swung in towards the canoe and gave a glancing blow to the front of the canoe.
The weather on this day was beautiful – blue sky and warm sunshine. This view of the pub by Henley Bridge was too attractive to go by without taking a photograph. Just past the bridge the regatta venue starts. Take a good look at the church tower and see if you can spot it in the next slides.
Another good start to the day – 8:35am. Henley is an important location for competitive rowing and their annual regatta attracts rowers from all around the world. The significance of the location explains why the riverside properties in this area are often quite imposing.
It was important that I could camp at Shiplake Lock because my cousin, John, had arranged to meet me there and take me out for an evening meal. He picked me up and we drove to a restaurant by the river at Sonning where I had a very good evening with many of my UK family. Starting on the left at the front and going clockwise: Andrew (cousin), John (cousin), Bill (uncle), me, Anne (aunt), Claire (Andrew’s wife) and their daughter, Olivia. At the end of the evening the family gave me a generous donation for Hazel’s Heroes.
This is where I camped for the night. I had been told that all of the locks closer to London had camping sites available but unfortunately that wasn’t true. When I told the lockkeeper that I wanted to camp for the night he told me camping was not available at the lock. Then he went on to suggest he would not notice if I camped in a certain spot where I would not be too visible from the river. Taking his hint I set up my tent where he suggested and made sure I was as inconspicuous as possible.
There are many wild flowers along the Thames river bank but none seem to be as prolific as the Yellow Flag Irises. I frequently came across long stretches of the river bank with Flags as far as the eye could see.
When I was planning my original Thames canoe trip I contacted Marsport to inquire about renting a canoe. They were very helpful with information but I could not get them to reply to my request for the cost of hiring a canoe for two weeks. I tried several times to get a reply but none came. As a result I stopped here on my way by to let them know that I ended up buying a canoe instead of giving them my business.
I set off this morning at 8:53am which was a good start. There was an opposing wind all day but I still made good progress paddling just over 12 miles to Shiplake Lock. I passed through Reading a town that you may have heard on the CBC evening news programme, As It Happens. As I paddled along I was amazed by all of the swans and Canada geese lined up all the way down this riverside mooring. What you can see here is only part of their parade.
I'm a grandfather who lost an infant granddaughter and who wants to help Gillian, her mother, provide support for other grieving parents through Hazel's Heroes.