True to his word Shane set off to speak to the lock keeper about the refuse rules. The tip beside our mooring point had a tape round it which is usually a sign something is out of use or out of bounds so crossing it to dump stuff seemed pretty strange. There was a pile that looked like a bonfire but also used oil, a fridge. A washing machine, a pair of shoes and two plastic bags with household rubbish. Shane had asked the man as he passed, after depositing the bag, “Is that where you’re supposed to leave your rubbish?” The man replied, “Have you not been here before? You just put it over there and then a tanker comes and takes it away.” When Shane spoke to the lock staff they were very clear that rubbish was not to be put there and asked if he knew who had put it there. As it happened the very boat was queuing for the lock so Shane was able to pick him out from the line up, “second one in the jetty”,- “Aha, right!”
Shane returned and was shortly followed by the man walking past and collecting his bag of rubbish and skulking back again. Shane appeared more delighted with his little victory than over his phonecall from the consultant yesterday!
We were soon unplugged from the electric point and on our way to the lock ourselves. The lockkeeper I had met yesterday was there as well as the man (possibly a volunteer) that Shane had spoken to. The lock keeper came to speak to Shane and explain that she had actually told that man, last night, that he could moor overnight at the services point but that there was no rubbish disposal service here! So this morning she had said he couldn’t come through her lock until he had taken back his rubbish. The staff cannot see the moorings from the lock so are heartily sick of the tip growing when they cannot see who is doing it. As we left the lock the ‘possibly volunteer’ waved us off saying, “it’s a pleasure to have met both of you!” And now for the main event of the day. As usual I was a bit concerned about the number of boats but Shane was confident it would be well organised and signposted. He was right again.
The weather was overcast but many people were in gay summer attire and straw hats as we were heading towards Henley Royal Regatta, so spirits were generally high. One lock even had their blackboard adorned with a joke on it, “Was the inebriated rower drunk out of his skull?”
When we entered that lock we were sharing it with a boat, named Cygnet, had a small smooth platform at the bow where a woman was holding the rope. I was glad I had a range of seating and standing options to hold on. She also had sandals with three inch wedge heels. She must have good balance and be very used to that position, I wouldn’t be wanting to stand there at all let alone in those shoes.
The race and general public are kept to separate sides of the water and all went smoothly through the regatta space. There was a wide variety of boats and several were moored in the middle of the river against the wooden divider separating racers and spectators.
We caught some races and I complimented an official on his fancy blazer as we passed his stall. Some umpires were on boats. We were a little under dressed, mind you so we’re some of the ladies in the cool breeze. The day warmed up later. The racers were plenty warm enough!
I felt we lacked a hamper full of goodies, an ice bucket, balloons, flowers and bunting, but made some salmon pâté sandwiches which felt in keeping and I put my hat on as the sun appeared. We didn’t get to eat till we were through and unusually didn’t stop for lunch but we were well entertained by the passers by. Large party boats, like us had the advantage of toilets aboard.
The New Orleans was a magnificent paddle steamer and we had the good fortune to meet it as it passed under trees so we got to see the two huge funnels lowered and then raised as it got past the trees.
It was followed by another funnelled boat really using its steam. She was a beautiful trip boat.
As we reached the locks after the race we found we were sharing with the same lady in her heels. The lock was sedate which made it easier, but took quite a while, which was harder for her. I must say she got back in quite nimbly when we emerged. We were obviously going the right way as the queue to get into the lock was about 20 boats long and some were wondering why there was a hold up and if there was a problem at the lock, but it was just the volume of boats. Nobody seemed cross though. Some didn’t care and were just enjoying their wine and some were dancing. One chap praised my coordinated hat and top.
Once through the regatta traffic, it was business as usual with a two tufted ducks and two grebes to add interest. And a bit of a nerve wracking bit of driving for me through some sailing practice when a young sailor tipped over right in front of me, but a safety boat arrived and helped her and we didn’t collide.
When we found a place to moor the cutest cygnets came close to nap. They must have had a long day too.
But they may have been woken later by the firework display. It’s been a very good day from start to finish.