“when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.” ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
Spring is here and I set off on the next stage of my Thames walk, from the barrier to the source. Good Friday was a beautiful day by the river and I managed to walk the 18 miles from Windsor to Hurley and then the following morning, in the mist and drizzle I made it as far as Henley-on-Thames before having to abort due to a dramatic turn in the weather.
Once again I was enchanted by the incredible beauty of the Thames and riverside villages. It's like being in another, almost magical, world along the Thames side and I can see why some of my artistic and literary heroes found their muse there. I had the chance to spend time in the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham and see the village that inspired his amazing paintings. Yesterday, I called into the Wind in the Willows museum in Henley. Kenneth Grahame is a massive influence in my life and his stories of riverbank characters, along with the incredible illustrations by E H Shepherd (alongside Raymond Briggs, The Snowman) was the main reason I picked up pencils, crayons and paints as a child. Something which obviously continued into adulthood. Yesterday was a great privilege to get a glimpse into Kenneth Grahame's England and see the places which inspired him and in turn have inspired me to set off on this particular journey.
80 Miles down, 104 miles still to go. My only deadline is to complete the whole of the Thames before my 40th birthday next year. Not sure then what my next challenge will be, but if the rest of the Thames is going to be like the places I've visited so far, I think I'd like to just start the journey all over again....