Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Visit to Henley-on-Thames

For my first Nice Day Out of 2014 I took a trip to Henley-on-Thames. Henley is pretty close to where I grew up, it's less than half an hour away by train... and yet I had never been before last week. Everywhere I've lived there have been loads of places (local towns, plus tourist attractions like museums, galleries, etc) that I've just not got round to visiting. I am loving that these Nice Days Out are making me make the effort to actually visit some of them!

After being a bit lazy over Christmas and being stuck indoors with some bad weather over the New Year, I knew that going for a walk in the winter sunshine was just what I needed... so I printed off the "self-guided walking tour of Henley" leaflet from the local tourism website (I love it when tourist boards bother to put leaflets online as PDFs instead of just saying "visit the tourist information office for our free leaflets!") & headed out.

First I walked along the river, watching the water and the wildlife (so relaxing) ...

 
 
 

... then I followed the tour all around the town, admiring all the old and interesting buildings (there are quite a lot of these)...

 
 

... and peering in the windows of all the fancy shops along the high street (Henley is quite smart!).

I looked at the lovely old church and all the old buildings around the church yard...

 

... and let out a quiet "wow" when I saw the gates and gatehouse of Friar Park. I do love a bit of bonkers Gothic architecture!

 

After completing the little circular tour of the town, I walked a bit further along the river...


... to the River and Rowing Museum (the website of which is where I first heard about the Art Pass, hurrah!)


Henley-on-Thames is the home of the annual Henley Royal Regatta and lots of rowing clubs, but the museum isn't just about rowing - there's also galleries about Wind in the Willows, the river Thames and the history of Henley itself. This is lucky, because it turns out I am not very interested in rowing :)

My favourite object in the musem was probably a section of bark from a really old local tree that had connections to the Civil War (exactly the sort of random thing I love finding in local museums). I also really enjoyed the temporary exhibition about Swan Upping (quirky old English traditions! plus fun facts about swans!) and the Wind in the Willows display (which tells the retells the story with 3D models and an audio guide) was completely charming.

All in all, this was a fab way to kick off my 2014 Nice Days Out - I hope you'll enjoy reading about the rest of them as the year progresses xxx

11 comments:

Swirlyarts said...

We used to live near Henley too :) Did you visit the Oxfam bookshop? It's fab!

BugsandFishes said...

I did! :) All the charity shops in Henley seemed to be pretty nice.

ga447 said...

I need to visit Henley next time I visit England. I collect "Wind in the Willow" books. I love charity shops.

BugsandFishes said...

What a lovely thing to collect! Henley is really easy to get to from London by train, definitely worth a visit if you're a Wind in the Willows fan :)

gloria said...

Very nice photos,dear and thanks to share them with us all!! Have a good day,
gloria

PetraB said...

I love Henley and your photos truly captured the spirit of it! Thank you for sharing.

BugsandFishes said...

Oh, I'm so glad you thought so, Petra! :)

Tumus said...

LOL @ Swan Upping. I love that this has a "name". All I can think about now is that part in The Tudors where Henry tears into a swan pie, the swan being one of the pair that Anne gave him as a gift.

Swan is apparently a tasty revenge.

BugsandFishes said...

Haha, yes, I imagine that would be an excellent revenge :)

It is a delightfully silly name! The ceremony is immortalised in one of Spencer's most famous paintings: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/spencer-swan-upping-at-cookham-t00525 (although embarrasingly for someone who grew up near the Thames and who has stood on that very bridge, when a friend asked me what this painting was about I said "er, not a clue").

EssexCommuter said...

Friar Park is where George Harrison (he from the Beatles) lived

BugsandFishes said...

It is indeed! :)

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