We said goodbye to the Motorhome Chit Chats in the rain, wound the legs up and ventured towards our last stop of our winter break, Henley Four Oaks Caravan and Motorhome Club Site. Dodging the rain drops we make it to site in good time and a break in the rain clouds. We are informed by the very welcoming wardens that our friend, Legs Down , Richard, is already here and send us in his direction. There are a few empty pitches around him, we plonk down right next door. Slap bang in the middle of the shower blocks, service point and the path out of site towards Henley-on-Thames.
Set ups have only taken about twenty minutes whilst out on this trip, we do a quick pack down making setting up easier. Kettle on … correction, Richard’s kettle on … heating on, it’s starting to rain again. Time for an hour slurping builder’s tea chewing the fat with Richard.
So, the jeans are on and the big coat is buttoned up. It’s spent the last couple of hours throwing it down. A break in the rain and, along with Richard, we head out into the darkness armed with torches, side stepping the puddles. Our aim, Spoonies, in Henley on Thames. We almost run past the puddles which spread across the road to the white line, hoping to avoid any wannabe boy racers that may pass us, hoping that splashing three people collectively will earn them points. The road turns from complete darkness at the hospitable hour of 6pm to twinkly lights and Christmas magic. By night the town is enchanting, we haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing it in its daylight splendour.
After much research and finding it late in the day to be booking a table on a Sunday evening we find ourselves at The Catherine Wheel, good old obliging, all inviting Weatherspoons. After the nearly mile long, torchlit walk we peruse the menu over a pint. The festive menu seems inviting, we don’t even glance at the standard, everyday menu. Bacon and Brie burger with chips and pigs in blankets. What a feast, whilst sampling another pint or three of wet stuff.
The food hits the spot and we start to people watch and put the world to rights. Four people choose the table next to us and manage to bash all our chairs and bang into us without a second glance, sit down for thirty seconds then move across the way to a table with bit more room. They gaze at the menu by torchlight, blissfully unaware that as they chat they are waving a very bright torch across the pub into the eyes of other diners, who glare menacingly over their gammon. Menus down, creakily they get up mumbling and leave. Maybe the chairs weren’t comfy enough, maybe fish finger butties weren’t on the menu, who knows.
Across the room a group of affluent youngsters enjoying their evening with plenty of drinks and chasers. We shamefully label them ‘affluent’, it could have been the vertical, Rupert Bear stripped trousers that gave it away, the type less affluent would wear to the supermarket until mid afternoon … or are they pyjamas? Mr Affluent teenager (Rupert?) was certainly not in pyjamas, although for the unknown price tag I would have thought reaching the ankles would have been a minimum requirement, no socks in this weather either, maybe he isn’t as affluent as we think. His dozen or so acquaintances were equally attired, think Paint Factory explosion meets Antique Shop … if you can.
After copious amounts of beer we stagger back along the now flooded, torchlit road, hoping and praying that we don’t meet any cars coming the other way. Saying our good nights quietly so as not to wake the slumbering site, we fall into bed and beer induced sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
Up bright as a button the following morning we head along the same road towards Henley-on-Thames again. No torches this time, our weapons this time, cameras, poised, focused and ready to shoot. Henley is such a picturesque town with an abundance of varied architecture like snapshots in time. Naturally, you are drawn to the river and the bridge, which unfortunately still endures 40 tonne trucks at great frequency.
With no prior knowledge of Henley we plod aimlessly down the riverside past ‘island’ residencies remarking on the very high water level. One such house was for sale, The Boss guessed £600k saying “I know it’s Henley but it’s still just a big shed”, wrong again, sheds cost a bit more in these parts.
Then we came across a wonderful wooden footbridge across the river towards a lock and weir with sluice gates. I say wonderful, I could see through the gaps and could swear it was moving, but the boys were definitely not letting me get away without crossing.
By now we were getting hungry and had noted there was a cafe at the River and Rowing Museum, but the menu board had other ideas, every line on the menu seemed to include the words vegan or avocado, and either way, we couldn’t afford it as we are minimum wagers you know. Back to Weatherspoons then via the museum car park full of Range Rovers and Jags.
A slightly odd distraction on the way back to site was the sight of Dusty Springfield’s grave, Richard had read it was in Henley so we checked out the town centre church yard suddenly realising she was probably called something like Doris Fanakapan (actually Mary O’Brien … since checked). Luckily, she’s buried as Dusty, and luckier, it was the very first grave we saw.
We liked the Henley Four Oaks site, people often remark about the busy road by the site, and yes it is close and busy but we soon found we did not notice. In fact, at busy periods it is ‘nose to tail’ standing traffic trying to traverse the town ahead, which, served to remind us how much we don’t miss commuting at the wrong times of day. Our thirty second commute these days is far more preferable.