Tearing myself away from the cricket … loving it twofold, when Strauss cracks another boundary into a board that says 'Laithwaites Wine'! I must tell you that for us, this weekend combines the Jubilee with our village's 'Peppard Revels'; an ancient sports and jollity bash that – we like to boast – pre-dates any modern-day sports-fest.
For centuries, the rougher elements of all the Thames villages in the Henley to Goring loop would congregate every midsummer up on the wild and – importantly – completely lawless central commons at Peppard.
There would be 50-a side football, tugs o' war, and greasy pole. Cudgel fighting was the big one. Not only a sporting spectacle, but an inexpensive way for the thugs and footpads of the day to improve society by wiping each other out.
With Health and Safety being unreasonable about us re-introducing cudgels, we have running, jumping and such next Saturday, with that great sporting film 'Cool Runnings' later in the marquee. I'm popping corn, apparently. Sunday is 'Big Lunch' and the River Pageant is on the Big Screen on our Green. The tickets for the Monday Evening Beacon-lit Revels sold out in minutes but there's fireworks for all.
I'll be sustained by my boy Will's Abingdon Bridge Ale … (did anyone spot Inspector Lewis knocking back a bottle of this on last week's episode? How'd Will swing that then?) … whilst flipping burgers for my wife's food stall during the day. In the evening I'll enjoy comparing a glass of cool Laithwaites Champagne with one of our own English Sparklers.
(An aside: Yesterday we picnicked in our Royal Farms Vineyard in Windsor Great Park. For the first time; it was perfect. Under the great oak at the bottom of the slope by the lake. A piece of heaven. 'We' were Hugh and Judy Johnson, Old Ted; the Great Park's guardian of the ancient oaks – some over 1000 years old – John and Sue from the Woodland Trust – successfully re-foresting much of Britain for the Jubilee – and Beverly and David Aspinall (she famous for having run and 'turned-round' Fortnum and Mason, now resting before going to sort out someone else). We showed them our wonderful new vineyard, they showed us their wonderful ancient trees.)
But to get back to next weekend:
At the Jubilee Revels dinner I'll be drinking the gorgeous 'Gunboat' Pinot Noir from the Greenings of Central Otago, NZ, which will bring fond memories of our recent stay at Felton Road. It will be perfect with the Crooked Billet's menu of 'very slow cooked lamb' – which is exactly what Nigel Greening cooked for us at Felton Road. You cook it – cling-filmed – in a small bath! Weird. But it worked.
Many villagers put in a huge effort for the 'Revels' not least my dear wife. I see her now, working on her Revels preparations, her garden, her vineyard, cakes for Joan's garden day and the Company Budgets for next year. I do feel a bit guilty here watching the cricket but, well, it's kind of 'work'; someone has to check they've put our boards in the right places.
Have a Great Weekend. Revel till you drop. I certainly will.