Friday, 2 May 2008

The Wargrave River Bank.


The Wargrave River bank.

It has to be said that the Wargrave riverbank has
had a positive effect on the whole of my life, but
particularly my years up until the age of thirteen.

My very first memory is of the time when I was
just eighteen months old. My three older sisters,
Linda, Bev and Mary had decided to take me for
a walk down ‘the bottom end’ of Wargrave village.
To the winding river Thames that is still it’s jewel
in the crown. It was a hot, sunny day, and we were
walking across the fields as a short-cut.

We were some way across this field when suddenly
Linda grabbed my hand and virtually dragged me
across the rest of the field, screaming that the bull
was chasing us and we had to run for our lives.

Obviously we escaped the charging bull and carried
on our way to ‘the bottom end’ where we eventually
ended up at ‘the dirty water’. A little spot along the
side of the main Henley Rd just past
‘The St George & Dragon’ hotel.

We spent what seemed like forever there, sinking
jam jars on string to try and catch minnows.
I remember I was absolutely fascinated by these
little silver fish, which we took back home with us,
(though not across that field).

I grew up loving ‘the dirty water’ spot, and as I got
older I progressed to a fishing net, which our local
barber and neighbour Alf Beckford gave me.
(He also sold fishing tackle from his barbers shop
in Wargrave High St) This made catching those
minnows a whole lot easier.

At age seven or eight my older brother George
showed me how to catch the ‘really big fish’ that
I could see gliding through the deeper water.
This was done with a bit of old hawthorn tree,
(Nice and springy) with a length of string, a
safety pin and squashed bread for bait.
(Yes, we did catch fish that way, back in the day).

I don’t know about BIG fish, but we did catch some
gudgeon, dace and roach there using this basic
fishing rod. Out-fishing some of the Dad’s that used
to pride themselves and their expensive ‘split-cane’
rods and all the latest equipment imaginable.

Remember, the river end of the village at Wargrave
was (and still is) the posh end, but ‘the dirty water’
used to attract me like a magnet that I couldn’t
resist, and I would find myself often just sitting there
in wonderment of the place, hoping I’d catch the
kingfishers and dragonflies speeding past.

Believe it or not, I was at least nine years old before
I was told that it wasn’t ‘the dirty water’ at all, it was
‘Camps Pool’. Somehow, that name never sat very
well with me, and still doesn’t to this day. It will always
be ‘the dirty water’ as far as I’m concerned, and
although the main stretch of the River Thames at
Wargrave has been desecrated by the greed of
local landowners and the owners of ‘The St George
and Dragon’ hotel, ‘the dirty water’ remains almost
as it was over fifty years ago.

If ever you’re lucky enough to visit the ‘chocolate
box pretty’ village of Wargrave, Berkshire.
Stop by Camps Pool for a while and enjoy the
beauty that remains to this day. Look over your
shoulder there and you may well be lucky enough
to see the deer herd grazing on the front lawn of
Wargrave Manor.
The home of the Sultan of Oman.

Check this short video of Camps pool, (The Dirty water).

Turn your speakers up and listen to the birds competing and 'WINNING' the war of sound with the passing cars.

Wargrave Manor?
Now there’s a place that’s featured significantly
in my days at the village, and stories involving
the magnificent manor will feature later as this
blog progresses.

Catch you later,


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