Christmas 2019 Part 2

Tuesday 17th December

A bleary eyed glimpse out of the window and a look at the weather forecast – once the tea had kicked in – convinced me I would not be going far but, in truth I wasn’t that bothered. I had another full day left, for which the forecast was much better and I wanted to say goodbye to Deb & Steve too who were headed home. With the cold still lingering a day doing little would probably do me good.

And so it did. Deb & Steve left just before lunchtime and the most strenuous activity was probably when I put finger tips to keyboard and started on the preceding blog post, chasing letters that had clearly had a re-shuffle. I read a lot, listen to the radio and snoozed too without feeling guilty about not getting out and about. A proper lazy caravanning day.

Wednesday 18th December

Given the previous early night I was awake before sunrise, but rise it did – the sun that is – accompanied by reasonably clear blue skies. The bods in the Met Office were spot on and I was feeling much more energised and looking forward to getting out and about.

The town of Marlow a few miles up the road was my intended destination and I did contemplate driving as I could also have taken a look at the route through – my next stop at Cambridge meant continuing around the M25 clockwise and joining from the M40 would have meant a few less miles on the clock.

In the end though I took the bus, downloading the Arriva bus app then having to sit down rather hurriedly when I saw the price of a day ticket. To be fair it would have taken me all over Beds & Bucks too but I guess being in one of the most affluent areas of the country made a difference as well.

The bus was on time, the UK Bus Checker app once again proving it’s accuracy and the twenty or so minute journey took us through some lovely countryside too. Marlow town centre, when we arrived looked pleasant too, almost picture postcard like if you could only remove all the cars. Traffic seemed far worse than Henley and it was probably then I decided against bringing Patsy through the following day, better the devil you know as it were and it was only a few miles further.

Anyway, I headed for the bridge first, crossing to get a view back towards town, then back over and into Higginson Park that sat alongside the river. Like Henley, rowing is a big thing and the town has it’s own regatta, though not as well known as the one hosted up the Thames.

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It is apparently possible to walk back to Henley along the tow path. It’s not something I’d seriously considered as I doubt my troublesome knee would have played ball, but at the western edge of the park the path disappeared under water anyway.

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I took a look at the statue of local lad and five times Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave then utilised Google Maps to get me to Marlow Lock on the Eastern side of town. Another cracking spot and it was a fine view looking back to Marlow across the water. Houses nestled by the water side in what I can best term a nautical cul-de-sac hinted at careers far more lucrative than school minibus driving. Jealous? No, although they did look nice, but the recent high water levels have have been some cause for concern amongst the residents.

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It was well into lunchtime by now and a sandwich was procured from the High Street and I stood people watching as cholesterol levels were restored.

I’d spotted my next point of interest on the bus in and I soon found myself in The Ship, a delightfully cosy low cellinged boozer in West Street. I’d come across ales from the nearby Rebellion brewery before and the IPA was beautifully bright and clear. Very very quaffable too. Alongside it was Roasted Nuts, a deliciously malty, much darker brew which will appear in the Ale Archive at some point.

The bus stop was only a few steps away – handy for when more extensive er, research is undertaken and we were soon back in Henley, remembering almost immediately when I got off the bus that I’d left the Treasure Trails printout for Henley back in the ‘van. No matter, it would keep and I wouldn’t be wandering far anyway thanks to the aforementioned knee. There were a few interesting looking antique shops on the streets to the south of town but I declined, thinking that given the location and relative affluence I’d unlikely find a bargain. I did just that though, in one of the charity shops where I picked up some DVD's along with an ornament for my little decorating project. Pictures of which will appear on social media when it’s nearer completion.

There were plenty more research opportunities in Henley, but decided on just two – The Argyll ‘pub and kitchen’ for a pint of Midsomer Murders (the TV series is often filmed around these parts), by some margin the most expensive and then The Bull on Bell Street for a Brakspear Gravity. Neither beer was as appealing as the offerings from Rebellion earlier.

I could have walked back to the site but decided instead to extract more value from my gold plated day ticket and got the bus the two stops back to the site. The garlic bread was more appealing than the lasagne it accompanied – shop bought I might add – but there was room left for cheese and biscuits later. Patsy was warm and cosy and a few more lights slung up made her even more festive – or garish depending on your point of view.

I would be heading off in the morning but there was no rush and it was a pleasant evening. I’d enjoyed my stay here immensely – far too short to see the area properly but, at the time of typing have booked a return visit next year.

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