One of those books that I've been meaning to read for years. A book about three men (to say nothing of the dog called Montmorency) who decide to take a holiday and row up the Thames in the 1880's. A very funny book!
It is, it's hilarious but it's also much more than an account of their daily exploits. The author often becomes introspective and wanders off into beautiful descriptions of Nature, he remembers and relates memorable anecdotes about people he knows and the history of the places they pass, and has no hesitation in commenting on the shortcomings of his companions.
I felt like I was on a Thames river tour with the good fortune to have a tour guide with a talent for bringing the stories of the people and places we were passing vividly to life. I've had great fun googling and sharing their journey up the river.
"The river - with the sunlight flashing from its dancing wavelets, gilding gold the grey-green beech-trunks, glinting through the dark, coll wood paths, chasing shadows o'er the shallows, flinging diamonds from the mill-wheels, throwing kisses to the lilies, wantoning with the weirs' white waters, silvering moss-grown walls and bridges, brightening every tiny townlet......"
" Years later, to the crash of battle-music, Saxon kings and Saxon revelry were buried side by side, and Kingston's greatness passed away for a time, to rise once more when Hampton Court became the palace of the Tudors and the Stuarts, and the royal barges strained at their moorings on the river bank, and bright-cloaked gallants swaggered down the water-steps to cry 'What Ferry, ho! Gadzooks, gramercy.'
"Harris wanted to get out at Hampton Church, to go and see Mrs Thomas's tomb.'Who is Mrs Thomas?' I asked.'How should I know?' replied Harris. 'She's a lady that's got a funny tomb, and I want to see it.'I objected. I don't know whether it is I'm built wrong, but I never seem to hanker after tombstones myself. I know that the proper thing to do, when you get to a village or town, is to rush off to the churchyard, and enjoy the graves; but it is a recreation that I always deny myself. I take no interest in creeping round dim and chilly churches behind wheezy old men, and reading epitaphs."
|Magna Charta Island 1890|
" We went over to Magna Charta Island, and had a look at the stone which stands in the cottage there and on which the great Charter is said to have been signed; though, as to whether it really was signed there, or, as some say, on the other bank at Runnymede, I decline to commit myself. As far as my own personal opinion goes, however, I am inclined to give weight to the popular island theory. Certainly, had I been one of the barons, at the time, I should have strongly urged upon my comrades the advisability of our getting such a slippery customer as King John on the island, where there was less chance of surprises and tricks."
"Tennyson was married in Shiplake Church."
" We got out at Sonning, and went for a walk round the village. It is the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river."
" We spent two very pleasant days at Oxford. There are plenty of dogs in the town of Oxford. Montmorency had eleven fights on the first day, and fourteen on the second, and evidently thought he had got to Heaven."
|Swan Inn, Pangbourne|
" Twenty minutes later, three figures, followed by a shamed-looking dog, might have been seen creeping stealthily from the boat-house at the 'Swan' towards the railway station..........We had deceived the boatman at Pangbourne. We had not had the face to tell him that we were running away from the rain."Very entertaining as well as interesting and informative.
The Classics Club