ONE OF the real benefits of living close to the Thames is that there are a whole raft of events to enjoy during the summer months – and July is one of the busiest.
Apart from local regattas taking place at Staines (on July 26) and at the Thames Valley Skiff Club, Walton (on July 13), if you’re prepared to venture a little further afield, there are some marvellous attractions.
Firstly, from July 2-6 there is the world’s most famous rowing event – Henley Royal Regatta.
The regatta was first staged in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two World Wars. Originally staged by the Mayor and people of Henley as a public attraction with a fair and other amusements, the emphasis rapidly changed so that competitive amateur rowing became its main purpose.
Crews come from all over the world to take part and, quite apart from some top class competitive rowing, Henley is one of THE social places to be seen during the summer. Grab a glass of Pimms and a bowl of strawberries (you’ll only need a relatively small increase in your mortgage to be able to afford it) and watch all those jolly rowing types and their molls at play. Alternatively, just stroll along the bank and drink in the history of the thing.
For those for whom horticulture is more the thing, July also sees the now world famous Hampton Court flower show.
Organised annually by the Royal Horticultural Society, the Hampton Court show attracts a huge range of garden designers, equipment suppliers and nurseries.
The show runs from July 8-13. For more information, visit www.rhs.org.uk/hamptoncourt
From July 16-20 take a trip to Greenwich – with its incredible historical links to all things maritime – for the Greenwich Beer and Jazz Festival. Organised under the auspices of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) this five day festival provides the opportunity to taste some of the finest real ales brewed in the UK (including my own personal favourite Keel Over from the Skinner’s Brewery in Truro) whilst listening to a range of fantastic jazz.
Artists booked for this year’s event include Zena James, Gentleman Jim and the Jazzaholics, Snake “The Sax Man” Davis, The Commitments tribute band, The Bootleg Blues Brothers and Gumbo, a five-piece from Louisiana with a penchant for New Orleans licks. Tickets range from £7 to £12.50 (knock a pound off if you’re a CAMRA member). For more information, visit www.greenwichbeerandjazz.com
Finally, why not check out the Thames Traditional Boat Rally which takes place at Fawley Meadow, Henley on the weekend of July 19-20.
Dozens of beautifully-preserved traditional wooden boats will be on display and the weekend includes a parade by the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight featuring a Lancaster bomber, a Hurricane and a Spitfire and a two-day boat jumble. There will also be lots of stalls to keep the most demanding boatie occupied for hours. Admission costs £11 (whether you’re arriving by boat or on land). For more, visit www.tradboatrally.com