There are some things that are just Terribly English, and Henley Royal Regatta is one of them. Everything is so lovely, and I am really glad I had a chance to go this year. The sleepy little town of Henley-On-Thames is suddenly awake and awash with ladies in frocks and men in blazers. And oh, what blazers! So many different colours and patterns representing a multitude of rowing clubs.
We were lucky enough to have seats right against the edge of the water, and although it was overcast it was warm...rather too warm towards the end of the afternoon, and I ended up cooling off by sitting on the bank with my feet in the cool water, watching the rowing races whilst sipping Pimms.
We had to be a little bit naughty with our Pimms...you were really only meant to be drinking it in the Pimms tent, but that meant that we would miss races, so we decanted ours into disposable coffee cups!
One funny thing was that in the programme for the day, it gave you the crew list for each race, and the weight of each team member (shudder!). You can imagine how we were intrigued that the ladies in the Ladies Cup were all around the 16 stone mark! We could only imagine that they had big strong shoulders and a lot of muscles...until they rowed past and we realised that whilst it is called The Ladies Cup it is in fact a competition for male rowers!
I an reading a Daisy Dalrymple novel at the moment, set at the Regatta in the 20s. I am only a little way in, but I am looking forward to reading the rest of it having been there and seen it all happening.
In some ways not much has changed...there are no big screens like you will see at some sporting events, so you only got to see what happened in front of you, and there was no commentary in our enclosure, although we could hear snatches from the Stewards' Enclosure next door to us. There were brass bands, and an old man punting up and down for all he was worth. Our tickets were not tickets in the traditional sense, but little colour coded cardboard sheilds that came with a little gold safety pin to attach it to ourselves with.
I love such low-tech technology!
During the break for lunch, we took a walk along the river, and discovered a pop-up Mahiki bar. How could I resist going in to investigate once I had spotted the pina colada cocktails they were serving? They had hollowed out pineapples, blended the flesh with the pina colada to make a kind of smoothie cocktail, then poured it back into the frozen shell, replaced the top and inserted a straw. Icey, heavenly, pineappley bliss! The best bit was that just as I had decided that although I really wanted one they were too expensive, the bartended told me they were on two-for-one, so Carl and I both got to enjoy one.
I was reall pleased as well, becuase I had curled my hair for an evening out on Saturday night, and it was still in good shape for the Regatta, and I pinned a white lily in my hair and felt quite retro and tropical all at the same time. I wore red lipstick of course, and my amazing false eyelashes. I know I have mentioned them before, but they are really worth investing in. My Mac cut-to-measure lashes stay on all day and look incredibly natural but fluttery. I had a long flowery summer dress on and felt really good. There is something to be said for researching a dress code...there were one or two people who were decidedly underdressed, and some who had made and effort which was lovely, but were more suited to Ascot than Henley. I have always thought it is better to be overdressed than under, and to have made the effort than not, but after seeing the mix of people, I conclude that it is best to do your homework and come appropriately attired!
Wherever you are, I hope you are having a lovely Tuesday.