Tuesday, October 25, 2011

World Cup Final – 22-23 October 2011

The Chilterns and The Thames are a wonderful backdrop to London. We spent the weekend enjoying both.

We converted a seven mile walk from Whitchurch-on-Thames to Goring, which relied on public transport to provide the missing link, into a ten mile walk by returning along the Thames Path. This looked easier on the computer screen than in reality, as the Thames Path climbs high above the Thames here along a cliff top. But despite this, it was a really enjoyable day out.

Goring is a particularly beautiful town, as most of the Thames side towns are. At the completion of our walk we drove to another town close to the Thames, Dorcester-on-Thames. Oddly, Dorchester is actually on the banks of the Thame river, just above its confuence with the Thames and to make it even more confusing the river downstream of Dorchester is the Thame while upstream it is the Isis.

Dorchester-on-Thames is a beautiful small town, and we stayed the night in the White Hart, a lovely old coaching inn, where we enjoyed a great dinner. When booking the room, the important criteria were, is there a large screen in the bar, and will you be showing the Rugby World Cup final on Sunday morning?

We were the first to breakfast on Sunday, and also the first in the bar at 8.30am, so had the pick of seats! A few other guests joined us eventually, surprisingly there were some French supporters, but no other Kiwi supporters. Along with the whole of New Zealand, we felt the 'tension is mounting in the stadium' type nervousness, and it felt more of a relief to have won, rather than an exciting triumphant conclusion!

After the cup presentation, we checked out and enjoyed the rest of our day doing an AA tour which started in Dorchester. Highlights of the trip were the lovely towns of Warborough, a stunning Romanesque church in Iffley, a very grand school in the tiny village of Cuddesdon, Abingdon, Clifton Hampden and The Whittenhams.

The church in Iffley was built 1160 and retains many original features, some of which show quite a decided eastern influence. We visited a number of other lovely churches on the tour, ending up outside St Peter's in Little Whittenham. This also has a Romanesque entrance. Opposite the church is a walkway to the top of the Whittenham Clumps. This hill has a terrific view, which highlights just how many churches there are in relatively close proximity.

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