The Wollaston family should have been sailing the Med this summer, but a serene riverboat adventure more than compensates, with picnics, kingfishers and their own Mr Toad
“This sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were”
That’s Kenneth Grahame, describing the river – this river, the Thames – in The Wind in the Willows, published in 1908. It could have been today though. We’ve pulled over to the bank to tie up for the night in an ideal spot under a tree outside Wallingford in Oxfordshire, not so very far up river from Grahame’s place. The evening light dances on the water; huge dragonflies like the Chinooks flying out of RAF Benson up the road dart low across the river; from high above comes the sad whistle of a red kite. The other sound is the unmistakable one of an English riverbank in summer: the gentle swish of leaves in the breeze, the wind in the willows.
This year’s family holiday was supposed to be sailing, around Corsica. Then … you know what happened. So we’re spending the weekend chugging down the Thames. Guess what though: it’s bloody lovely. Corsica may still happen, but it’ll do well to beat this.