30 Jul 2012

A scarecrow trail festival

In most villages there are weekends in the diary that involve the whole community.  In Sonning, the weekend biennial festival featuring a scarecrow trail with many well-loved characters spread around the village has become a popular event.  Families are invited to see how many they can spot as they follow the trail and then vote for their favourite.  Many village gardens are open to the public and the money raised goes to local good causes.

Here are some photos taken two years ago together with some of the church and churchyard that I took on our recent visit.  





The beautifully-built, new church meeting room incorporates an older building.
  The footpath next to it leads down to the river.  
St. Andrew's Church dates back to Saxon times with later additions.



I hope you enjoyed an impression in photos of this endearing aspect of life in this Berkshire village.

29 Jul 2012

A lakeside walk

Cottages at Sonning Eye

On the opposite, north bank to Sonning Village is an islet in the Thames known as Sonning Eye.  They're linked by an historic brick-arched bridge.  In fact, half-way across the bridge marks the border between the counties of Oxfordshire and Berkshire.  The islet is a conservation area with some protected cottages, barns and an 18th century watermill which has been converted into a small dinner theatre.

Sonning Eye is surrounded by a nature reserve and the river backwaters join several lakes (Caversham Lakes) that have been formed by reclaiming unused gravel pits.  In particular, there's a training rowing lake named the Redgrave-Pincent Rowing Lake after the Olympian oarsmen, (Sir) Steve Redgrave and (Sir) Matthew Pincent who, of course, are associated with the area where this competitive water sport is strong with annual Regattas taking place in Sonning and Henley.  There's also a Marina, a sailing lake and a stretch used for water skiing.

It's also a popular place for birdwatching and walking and during last weekend we wandered around
one of the lakes.  We were pleased to find that the banks and paths were accessible as they have been flooded in recent months due to the continual rain.


a Wild Wood - we didn't see Ratty, Mole or Badger!




27 Jul 2012

Sonning Lock and Village


                "The floral tastes of the lock-keeper generally make Sonning Lock very bright and gay"

                                                                                                          Charles Dickens (1882)


Watering the plants on a hot Summer's day.
The lock-keeper's garden on the island.

There's a tea garden on the island
with views of the weir and backwater.
(This is where we saw the black swan).

"Is there a spot more lovely than the rest,
by art improved, by nature truly blest?
A noble river at its base running
it is a little village known as Sonning

James Sadler (1845-1885) Sonning lock-keeper
    
A short walk along the south bank towpath is the pretty village of Sonning. Walking up a narrow, leafy path, passing the flint-walled St. Andrew's Church and going through the churchyard visitors and locals can find another popular resting place at the Bull Inn. 





You can read more about the history of the lock here



Sonning Lock and Village


                "The floral tastes of the lock-keeper generally make Sonning Lock very bright and gay"

                                                                                                          Charles Dickens (1882)


Watering the plants on a hot Summer's day.
The lock-keeper's garden on the island.

There's a tea garden on the island
with views of the weir and backwater.
(This is where we saw the black swan).

"Is there a spot more lovely than the rest,
by art improved, by nature truly blest?
A noble river at its base running
it is a little village known as Sonning

James Sadler (1845-1885) Sonning lock-keeper
    
A short walk along the south bank towpath is the pretty village of Sonning. Walking up a narrow, leafy path, passing the flint-walled St. Andrew's Church and going through the churchyard visitors and locals can find another popular resting place at the Bull Inn. 





You can read more about the history of the lock here




26 Jul 2012

River rambling


The Thames is the longest river in England and it's possible to walk the entire length by way of the Thames Path.
The stretch of the river I know best is where it flows through the villages and towns of Oxfordshire and Berkshire between Oxford and Windsor.


                                  Sonning.....

                                  "the most fairy-like little nook in the whole of the river."

                                  Jerome K. Jerome in the book Three Men in a Boat

A boat waiting to go into the lock (going upstream).
The lock keeper begins to open the sluice gates from the island.
The weir is on the other side of the island.
The boat goes into the pound lock.



That was a beautiful boat, but there were plenty more smaller ones.  The lock keeper was being kept busy and we enjoyed watching the boating world go by from the river bank and the island.  Sonning has always been a popular spot and the towpath was just as busy on this sunny weekend. 




Tranquil waters for boaters and ramblers near Sonning Lock.

25 Jul 2012

A walk by the river



We took a walk by the river at the weekend. It was not surprising
that we saw many water birds, particularly swans, slowly cruising by.
Caversham Bridge, River Thames
  
Nearer to town the swans gather along the bank near 
the promenade.
There seem to be more and more of them
in the same spot each time I come back to my home county.