Pooh Sticks at Day’s Lock

The World Pooh Sticks Championships will be held on Sunday 29 March at Day’s Lock close to Dorchester-on-Thames.

The annual event used to be held in January but in 1997 the Thames froze over.

The custom was started in 1984 by lock keeper Lynn David. He often saw walkers dropping twigs into the water and thought of Winnie the Pooh who did the same although in Sussex.

Lynn soon decided that an event would be both enjoyable and a way of raising funds for the RNLI.

The Rotary Club of Sinodun is now in charge and this year’s championships start at 11am with the last entry at 1.30pm.

Family races are at noon.

See page 152 to 154.

Pancakes and Roni Horn

After watching the Shrove Tuesday pancake race on the Thames Path in front of Southwark Cathedral I went to the opening of Roni Horn aka Roni Horn at Tate Modern.

My interest was in her Thames photographs called Still Water (The River Thames, for example) 1999.

The 15 photographs are very similar. They are taken from above the water and show only dark swirling water. Sometimes there is a hint of oil.

They could be anywhere but under each print are lots of footnotes addressed to the visitor.

Twice she says “The Thames is us”.  She also compares it with the Hudson.

Other comments:

“I sometimes suspect the Thames of being water.”

“The Thames is a drain.”

“It’s curious how the Thames attracts people from far away.”

Today at lunchtime the river was high and dark when I looked out from this exhibition’s windows.

Interesting but maybe not worth the £7.80 entrance charge. You can enjoy the same view free from elsewhere in the bulding anyway.

Van Dyck and the Thames

Visiting the Van Dyck exhibition this morning I was surprised to find it very crowded. I forgot that it is half term week but this is a very good once in a lifetime exhibition.

The show is at riverside Tate Britain which is appropriate for many of the characters depicted lived along the Thames in London. Indeed Van Dyck’s studio was opposite Tate Modern.

The one disappointment of the exhibition is the rather poor Thames map which is vague about the exact location of the studio at Blackfriars. This is important for many went to the studio for their sittings. They were required to sit still for an hour at a time and afterwards colour approved by the master would be filled in by assistants whilst the next subject settled in the chair as if visiting the hairdressers.

Even Charles I, who paid for the house and its new landing stage, called several times. My understanding is that the building was just inside the mouth of the River Fleet which means that the Royal Bank of Scotland in New Bridge Street is the approximate site.

The King came on the Royal barge. Lord Arundel could have come on foot, crossing the Fleet by the bridge at the end of Fleet Street, for he lived just above today’s Temple Station.

The Earl of Northumberland and his sister Lucy both knew Syon House as home but probably came from the family’s London residence Northumberland House at Charing Cross where the garden ran down to moorings on the Thames.

Included in the show is the picture of Archbishop William Laud which fell off the wall in Lambeth Palace in 1640 and gave the Archbishop a fright. Queen Mary of Modena used the ferry outside to cross the Thames to exile in 1688. We see what she looked like thanks to a portrait by Peter Lely in the manner of Van Dyck.

The really famous pictures of Charles I are here having been borrowed from the Queen. In one group of Charles I and his family look as if they are posing for a quick snap in Hello! magazine. But it is a painting undertaken of course at Blackfriars rather than riverside Whitehall Palace although in the background is Westminster Hall rising above the water.

Van Dyck And Britain exhibition is at Tate Britain until Sunday 17 May; admission £12.20.

Thames flood warnings

The Thames Barrier was closed today which must have been a good idea. The water was still very high at Waterloo Bridge this afternoon.

The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings all along the River Thames. You should check its website or call the flood information number 0845 988 1188 before going on the Thames Path.