If you are lucky enough to be swanning around the Thames at the end of the month then do try to get yourself to one of the private enclosures north of Henley town.
For five days from 28th June you can watch some of the most exhilarating racing in the rowing calendar. Teams from all over the world converge to race in two boat heats down the straight course of 1 mile and 550 yards. For around seven minutes teams pull with all the strength that months and even years of training has given them.
The thrills start as soon as the two crews make the initial most difficult strokes and then speed along as the cox not only controls stroke rates but steers accurately between the bank and the floating booms dividing the Bucks and Berks sides of the river.
As sweat pours off the gasping competitors trying desperately not to catch a crab, so the champagne flows from misty bottles as canapés are eagerly plucked off passing platters.
Thus the spectating landlubbers and the river racers are in perfect harmony as the sun shines on the quintessentially English scene.
The days are made even more splendid by the sartorial efforts imposed by correct dress codes.
Ladies must wear skirts or dresses below the knee and preferably don a hat and gentleman definitely need to wear a tie and an elegant suit or sports blazer. But this is no occasion to just throw on something from the dreaded corner of your wardrobe labeled lounge suit smart casual, no this is a time to relish everything that Edwardian England has passed down to the heritage of an English gentleman.
It’s a time to dig out the old garish club ties and the spiffing blazers from school or university even if they are as in my case bright pink, a popular rowing colour as Westminster School and the Leander club seem to share the love of salmon hues.
With this in mind there is no danger of standing out like an over dressed new boy, this is the one time that your striped attire will not be mistaken for a reappropriated deck chair. Hiding in beige will have the opposite effect.
Of course here at Dashing HQ we have plenty of elegant suggestions for you. We have a choice of summer jackets including patched pocket blazer cut ones in striped wool as well as suitably dashing suits in marine Merino with fine Japanese cotton checks.
Nothing looks worse than badly fitting creased cotton chinos held from a blush rendering flash by a size compensating belt. Making it a social occasion enjoying new friends is the key to the day, and any rower will tell you the correct rigging and sweep is vital, then a strong stroke on well oiled rowlocks whilst avoiding the flutter of a coxless four. And don’t forget the boater.