Henley-on-Thames, England: The Eccentric Club at Fawley Hill

England, UK

On Sir William and Lady Judy McAlpine's kind invitation I travelled to their estate, Fawley Hill, for a picnic with my fellow eccentrics of The Eccentric Club. I whiled away an afternoon drinking and supping on the terrace, wandering the grounds to play with the lemurs and the other exotic animals in the sanctuary, waved at the deer from the steam train that I rode around the estate from the train museum, played on the carousel, fell in love with Bertie the friendliest cockatoo who does a cracking impression of the stream train's horn as it rumbles past the house, and of course made new and eccentric friends. T'was a most lovely afternoon, and I was so distracted by the sanguine, charming, countryside prettiness of it all that I was late for the second half of my day in the city. Do you remember when I rocked up to Everyman Cinema for a movie screening by invitation of Battersea Power Station only to realised I'd got the dates wrong and showed up a whole month early? Well I'm proud to announce that I got it right this time, and I finally did manage to watch Grand Budapest Hotel from the comfort of my elevated pods, although I did miss the first forty minutes of the film. Oh.

My day began in Henley-on-Thames at the hospitality of the gracious hosts who opened their home to us for an Eccentric Picnic, guided through the winding countryside lanes with the help of some party pigs.

A spread which I demolished with some difficulty and a little help from the dogs, who wouldn't leave me with their sweet simpering eyes and pleading paw rested on my table. T'was my fault, I did encourage them as I can never say no to dogs. 

Bertie was painfully adorable, he'd hop over to me and turned his head upside down, inviting me to scratch his feathery head. As per suggestion I treated him to his favourite grapes.

We were treated to Megan Henwood's renditions of jazz, rock and folk song.

I feel like a wildlife photographer who caught a moment of nature in all its glory.

(I plonked my hat onto the carousel chicken for safekeeping)

So enamoured was I by Fawley Hill's charms that I realised that the trains back to London were only once every hour and that were definitely, absolutely late for the movie. I raced to Battersea Power Station for the Everyman Cinema's final screening on the last day of Power Of Summer, and ducked apologetically as I was ushered to my pod with mojitos and beers in hand. I may have missed the first half of Grand Budapest Hotel but it was still tremendously enjoyable. I'm certainly going to watch it again in its entirety!  Thank you Battersea Power Station for the invites and VIP experience.

The view from the pods. After the movie, the chairman of Everyman Cinema saw me eyeing the pile of beanbags like a pile of autumn leaves begging to be dived into and he actually encouraged me somewhere along the lines of 'I dare you to dive into the pile, and if you do you can have a bean bag to take home'. I'd be a fool to say no! So after three running dives and headfirst plunges into the bean bag pile I came away with a turquoise bean bag of my own. T'was a good day - from country to city.


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