I was thinking about River Thames. I am looking forward to the Rowing The World tour there in September https://rowingtheworld.com/trips/classic-river-thames/ . I love to read about a destination in advance and also while there. Curling up with a good book that sets the scene or inspires you is wonderful for the times when you are not on the water preparing for your rowing trip.
The Thames has inspired poetry, historic narratives and features in many novels. For rowers, the most famous is the enduring classic Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome. Published in 1889, it chronicles the adventures of the three “martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness” who row between Kingston and Oxford along with a dog “who did not care for the water, did Montmorency”. We will have lunch one day on the tour in the pub where Jerome wrote this funny account.
Also on the tour, we will visit the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames http://rrm.co.uk/ . There is a section devoted to the Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. “Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Now that is something that we can understand.
Many novels feature the Thames in London. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens begins with a daughter rowing her father between Southwark Bridge and London Bridge. They are doing what we would not typically consider part of a workout or tour – looking for corpses. Despite this gruesome setting, Dickens seemed to appreciate the benefits of rowing, stating in a speech in 1886: “Rowing men pursued recreation under circumstances which braced their muscles, and cleared the cobwebs from their minds.”
A rowing woman who definitely braced her muscles on the Thames is Katherine Granger, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist. Her recent autobiography, Dreams Do Come True, includes some lovely descriptions of rowing near Marlow. Perhaps our blades will go in and out of the Thames are strong and clean as hers – it certainly inspired me.