Friday, 1 November 2013


Mid October 
Only two weeks after our last cycle-walk we assemble at Marlow. I make a drawing looking into the pale autumn sun. Across the river on the Berkshire Bank is the Complete Angler and to one side the filigree of Marlow Bridge.

Along the path on the Buckinghamshire Bank we are again manoeuvring bikes through a series turnstile-kissing gates. After six such manipulations we are well practised again.

Bourne End with its marina and the Upper Thames Sailing Club, though Cookham a spot immortalised by Stanley Spencer’s Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta

Cross over to the Berkshire bank again and we look up to Cliveden House grounds, woodlands rise up and up the house, a playhouse for the Astor family.

WIKIPEDIA As home of Nancy Astor, the house was the meeting place of the Cliveden set of the 1920s and 1930s—a group of political intellectuals. Later, during the 1960s, it became the setting for key events of the notorious Profumo Affair.

We see across the river the cottage were John Profumo entertained Christine Keeler.

We make a splendid early lunch which is provided by Jenner’s CafĂ© near Boulter’s Lock, Maidenhead: Bacon, beans, toast and sausage and fried egg with a mug of tea all for £3.90. We push on to Windsor.

From half a mile up stream Windsor Castle’s turrets stand out against as grey sky. Very high up from the river this tourist bastion is almost Schloss-like in its position above the river. We leave the river through Eton town and cross the bridge to Windsor.

Then an hour or two through odd Thames side places; Old Windsor, Wraysbury and Datchet, Thames-side places in the never-never land outskirts of Heathrow.

The landscape opens up on Runneymede fields and meadows. This was the signing-place of the Magna Carter where the Baron’s forced the hand of King John in 1215.

We finish our day’s ride just downstream from Runneymede, at Staines. The town now likes to be addressed as Staines-on-Thames. Perhaps this is to counter balance it image as the home of Ali G.

WIKIPEDIA: Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the leader of Da West Staines Massiv, a fictional gang composed of a group of wannabe gangsters from Staines (a suburban town in north Surrey, to the west of London); their chief rivals are Da East Staines Massiv.

A Southeastern train then whisks us back to Eton and Riverside station, after a cup of tea at BK’s tea bar on Platform 2, Staines railway station.