Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Henley Royal Regatta 2013

One of my favourite weekend’s of the year.  Men in blazers.  Rowers, boats, yachts, lots of pretty dresses, champagne, champagne and even more champagne.

The dress dilemma started weeks before.  The 4 of us who’d been planning the weekend since 4 July 2012, left it until the week of the Regatta to find outfits.  There had been fashion shows showcasing the entire contents of our wardrobes at our apartment for a good 3 nights before.  Leonie and I didn’t even end up packing any of the dresses we’d been parading around our front room.  Ah well, what we’d packed would have to do.  Especially seeing as there was little room for clothes because the Tattinger bottles took priority.  Oh, and the sparkly pink and purple champagne flutes.  (Didn’t wanna be forgetting those..)

As last minute as ever, we arranged to meet at Paddington 10 minutes before the train departed.  That allowed approximately 7 minutes to grab food (and more drink) from M&S, and 3 minutes to make it to the platform furtherest away.  Our nails we summised, we do on the train, while supping on a bottle of fizz.  Not.  Last on the train, we were jammed in like sardines with another hundred Regatta go-ers.  Squashed up against the doors, a man with a bike attempted to get on.  Sylwi told him to get on his…

An hour and 20 minutes later (via a champagne incident at Twyford involving a crazy flying cork and a soaken wet dress (that’ll be me then), we arrived at our destination.  The Catherine Wheel hotel.  Which was also a Wetherspoons…  At £150 a night, not the cheapest stay, but hey didn’t they used to have rock bottom prices because they weren’t allowed music?!  This one definitely did play music.  Directly under our room and until 4am as we found out later…

Dresses on, champagne bottle number 2 gone and we made our way down to the Royal Enclosure.  What a beautiful day.  Almost 30 degrees by lunchtime, blue skies and sunshine – we couldn’t have hoped for better weather.  By the time we made it into our enclosure, it was time for afternoon tea.  Sandwiches, pimms, tea and cakes – absolutely delicious.

We decided after all that food to have a little sit down in the shade, where we bumped into another 2 of our friends.  Then we got chatting to a lovely guy called Andrew, who looked a little bit (a lot) like Barry Manilow.  We all decided to hit the Mahiki tent together where we managed to get through another 8 (8!!!) bottles of Veuve.  Oops.  That was to be my undoing…  8 bottles, 8pm, ermm bedtime.  But I struggled on until about 11.  Well done me!  Mahiki was awesome, from what I remember.  The girls told me it was anyway…

….I woke up on Saturday a little scared to open my eyes for fear of a really bad hangover.  I shouldn’t have worried.  (All that water must’ve helped).  With dress number 2 on, we were ready to do it all over again…  Which is exactly what we did.  Some more of our friends joined with a picnic.  Another glorious day and absolutely packed down by the river.  We considered trying out JuJu, Chinawhite and Chase, but Mahiki got the winning vote once again!  Sadly, the burger and steak van they’d  hired did not.  Massively long queues, no cheese left, no ketchup, and our ‘medium’ steaks were tough, chewy and overcooked.  A coconut grenade cocktail softened the blow.

Another fun day had by all and we made our way back to The Red Lion Hotel (which is a gorgeous place to stay right on the bridge).  We checked out a few bars in town, but after wearing heels all day, had resorted to flip flops… This did not bode well stood in a packed club surrounded by rowers who were all 6 foot plus.  We made it back with a hat we’d managed to acquire on the way.  And a pizza.  Classy, I know.

Sunday started with a delicious cooked breakfast at The Red Lion followed by a day right on the river watching the boat races and enjoying the sunshine, before catching our train home.  What a delightful weekend….

Here’s a few tips if you’re going next year:

-Book your hotel NOW!  Otherwise you won’t get one…

-Regatta Enclosure tickets come out in April and also go fast.. You can buy these on the website

-Afternoon tea can be paid for in advance – we paid £16 per head and it was well worth it – really nice food

-Decide in advance which club you fancy going to as some you have to buy tickets for beforehand… Chinawhite in particular

-Take heels and flip flops (even if you’re a boy) It can be a really longggggg walk back at the end of the night

-Always find a Barry Manilow lookalike.  This will provide you with amazing banter all day long (Awww Andrew we love you really…!)

-Finally, plan your outfit!!  Don’t leave it til the last minute like us! Grrrr….


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