Simply messing about in boats

September 11th

"Is it so nice as all that?" asked the mole, shyly...
9ft clinker built wooden boats
"Nice? It's the only thing," said the Water Rat Solemnly, as he leaned forward for his stroke. "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." "Simply messing...about in boats -- or with boats... In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter. Nothing seems to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not." "Look here! If you've really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together and have a long day of it.?"  An extract taken from Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Preparing the garden for the invasion of boat loving people
For the past 14 years along with family and friends we have held a regatta on the river Thames in late August early September.  It sounds posh and fancy but in reality it is not.  But what it is, is chaotic, fun and inclusive.  We usually cover at least three generations and everyone mucks in and has fun, it is simply one of the highlights of our family year.

The beginnings of this 'regatta' began long ago on Christmas Eve in Barbados in the early 90's.  Six of us, all unknown to each other had one way or another sailed across the Atlantic that autumn and had landed on the beach for Christmas.  It was here that friendships were cemented and have become long lasting and true. Two of the six on return to the UK the following years decided to return to education and became  students at Lowestoft boat building college.  It was here that skilled craftsmanship was learnt and these beautiful clinker built boats you see here were made.

Most people Spring clean their homes in the Spring, but I tend to do mine in the days between returning home from summer holidays and the regatta.  Friends and family descend from the Friday (although notoriously one year, several turned up on the Wednesday, that threw me a bit!) and stay until Sunday.  No part of the house, garden or sheds are left empty and there is no where to hide my mess.

Remembering to add some colour too in the early autumn garden

Almost ready for everyone to arrive, just a few bits left to do

Final preparations, everyone gets roped in
Borrowing glasses from the local super market

Some of our numerous prizes

The boats begin to arrive

We take it all very seriously ?!?!?

The house and garden begin to fill up
Friday night tends to be more mellow as not everyone comes
for this evening.  But cocktails are a must!

Dinner on Friday tends to be a fun dish, we have had
paella, mussels and sliders to name but a few.
Friday night puddings

Even the dog helps with washing the dishes!

Down at the Thames we take over a small section for the day
Over the years the racing has become less competitive?!?!?

There was very little wind to sail this year

So little in fact, one sailor decided to tow his boat

As the children grow, they become the
more serious competitors on the river

We put all sorts of boats on the river, not just the wooden ones

Lunch is always important and year on
year it becomes even more sumptuous

Lunch time rest for the boats too
After lunch the rowing races begin

Singles, double and anything that goes!

The obligatory splashing seems to begin earlier each year

We have had some interesting moments over the years
and need to remember to keep a good look out!

There is always time for a snooze by the river
...or reading the paper

...or playing

We even have an anything that goes race,
and often anything does!

But we always take safety on the water seriously
and wear buoyancy aids
We have racing marshals

Who seem to just make up their own minds as to who has won
and nobody really knows who will win
the trophies until presentation time!
On returning back to the house, showers are had and the adults begin to prepare the food, now helped by the children.  The great joy of this week end is that everyone mucks in and helps.  Before everyone turns up, jobs are dealt out and shopping lists given along with the ever growing invitation, this year it was 12 A4 pages long, including in the later years a section on nautical fashion, last year is was all about fur and leather?!!?  Everyone has a purpose, everyone contributes an no one person is left out or left to manage it all, I love it. 
Helping out with the tapas
...or just playing
Each year the tapas selection is outstanding

Whilst waiting to eat even more food,
we partake of a few cocktails
This year we had Icelandic Brenvin too!

The tapas always looks so colourful
and tastes even better

Everyone crowds round the tapas
Sometimes if one of us has made an unusual journey to far off lands,
we are a motley crew, so this happens quite often, we have a slide
show and all dream of doing something similar very soon

At some point during the evening we have prize giving,
 always an interesting turn of events, with much hilarity

For the past couple of years we have tried to be in touch with those who cannot make
it back to the regatta for whatever reason. We use Blue jeans as a means of communication
 and it has served us well.  This year, those abroad were able to sit in on the presentation too!

But sometimes the day and evening can get a little too much for some...

After the presentation and tapas, we always have a great big BBQ, looking through all the photographs from all the previous years, there is not one of the BBQ!  I shall have to make sure to rectify that next year.  The evening continues with much talk and drink and people peel off to whichever corner of the house, garden or shed they have been allocated for the weekend.

Sunday morning dawns and everyone needs feeding again.  Each year, someone different is given the job of cooking for the masses, not an easy task.  The smallest number we have been is 30 and the largest was 48.

I hope you have enjoyed a snippet of our home regatta weekend, I used photographs from a selection of years to try and give you a feel, however the majority were actually taken last weekend, when we held the 14th Classic Regatta.

♥Have a great week and enjoy♥


  1. I love these windows into your wonderful life!

    1. Thank you Beth. It is a lovely week end. Relaxed and full of family and friends and boats.

  2. Wow. That sounds like heaven. Absolute heaven.

    1. It is Phil, it really is. What is so fabulous is that even though we have hosted it each year, it belongs to everyone this weekend. Everyone is involved and has a job and takes their part seriously. It is our fBourite weekend x


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