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Henley Regatta

I followed the pretty people from Oxford Circus through three changes of underground and train to Henley-on-Thames. The women were dressed in gauzy, strappy sundresses with heels and Ascot-worthy hats. The men were all in loafers, khakis, yellow ties, blue blazers, and straw hat. In lieu of the traditional picnic basket, most of them carried M&S bags. Most of the pretty people were bound for the Enclosures, the acres of tented areas encompassing shaded grandstands, bands, and other requisite amenities. The rest of us walked the long stretch of towpath alongside the Thames until we found a place to perch or picnic along the riverbank.

One-and-a-half kilometers or so further down the longest straight stretch of Thames, I found a large swathe of riverbank claimed by my fellow London food bloggers - the incentive for my morning's journey back to this lovely town. We were nominally there to watch the culmination of the annual four-day Royal Regatta; it's a good thing we had Cook Sister's husband along, a one-time rower, to provide explanation and commentary for the seemingly-arbitrary sequence of races which went by - a pair of eight women; a pair of single men; a pair of four male rowers. But really, we were there for the food - and, of course, the delightful company.

We arrived hungry and within an hour had laid out the savouries for the eating. Lots of people paused as they passed us on the towpath, feet away, to admire our spread. "Now that's a picnic," said a man carrying a barbecue. And it really was. There were breads baked full of savory treats; a tasty bacon-topped potato salad; smoked salmon dip and a meat salad; fresh mozzarella-tomato-basil skewers; chicken with preserved lemons and coriander; curried pasta salad; chickpea salad; lots of fresh crudites; and spicy peppadew and parmesan muffins - among other things. Later, we limped to dessert, partially a competition of bakewell tarts.

Well-armed with a copious supply of that classic British summer drink of Pimms and Lemonade, we whiled away the afternoon lazily by the banks, while England-supporting Elvises motored by in white-and-red, lipsyncing, and the main characters from the Wizard of Oz danced by on another boat. Teams lost and won and other people had all the good hats, but we were the ones with a Picnic.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 3rd, 2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
Ooh, looks lovely. The chicken with preserved lemons sounds especially interesting. I hope it was.
And now I know what a Bakewell tart is :)
Jul. 4th, 2006 03:41 am (UTC)
mmm. sounds wonderful. I love bakewell tart. Because I can't eat chocolate, for me, almond is the new chocolate... so anything with almond is good as far as I'm concerned :)
Jul. 4th, 2006 05:50 am (UTC)
I nearly bought Pimms last weekend. Think I should before the weather breaks really.
Jul. 4th, 2006 12:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks, as always
I love talking about good food, and not only did you do so here to great effect, but... you had a link to CookSister! I've never heard of her. And when I read her food-related parody of "The Da Vinci Code", I fell madly in love with her. What fun.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )