Friday morning, 30 September, and Mrs RM needs a workspace for the morning.

Where better than Henley Spoons ?

It gives me a chance to visit this near GBG oasis for the first time since Mrs RM’s uncle lived in Shiplake, home to some excellent Brakspears Bitter/Ordinary/Gravity/Whatever.

Henley really is the Stratford-on-Avon of the South, a tidy but hugely overrated town that nevertheless attracts coachloads and pashminas by the hundreds.

Wetherspoons did a decent job with the Catherine Wheel, and you can stay here for £46.80 if you’re not picky. Who said England is overpriced ? The parking was cheap, too.

I know many of you are deeply worried about the availability of the nation’s favourite beer at the moment. I’m pleased to report the Doom Bar was ON, along with some homebrews.

I stuck to 3 flat whites. I like to get my money’s worth.

You’ll know that Simon and I are students of pub toilet art. Henley’s Spoons has basic, but intriguing, graffiti (top). And a mere three spelling mistakes in the first name alone.

Anyone who has met me will confirm I look nothing like Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal, former leader of the Mongolian People’s Republic.

By Unknown author –

But what was in the ladies ? I may never know.

Barring the perennial back street Bird in Hand, Henley hasn’t graced the GBG for years.

The pubs remind me of those in Shakespeare’s birthplace, too. Excess signage, words written on ancient walls, and no mobility scooters gracing the exterior.

Of course, Henley was once the site of one of our great low ABV brewers, and a 3.4% beer that pre-2007 was a staple of the earthier Oxon pubs.

Nowadays folk come for afternoon tea via boat from Slough.

And stay in the Relais and consider themselves well out of the brutishness of Berkshire.

And they’ll never darken the doors of the Bird in Hand, that’s for sure.


  1. Very useful post, that’s Henley off the to-do list. I hated Stratford last time I was stuck there, though the micropub is pretty pubby. I always feel there ‘must’ be a flat roof proper boozer in an estate within walking distance, I’m guessing not in Henley though Even leamington still has a proper locals pub…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Whittled down this weeks choice to Leamington or Coventry. Tough choice, the safe Spa town option or somewhere I haven’t explored significantly for 20 years…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think central Coventry has changed that much in 20 years. Good thing too. A few oak beamed places near the cathedral, and a brewery tap or two. Still Bass at Town Hall Tavern !


      3. Ive never really noticed the students in Leamington, I guess they stick to the Wetherspoons and the smarter town pubs like the White Horse. The proper pubs I remember were just south of the station and definitely for Old Boys!


  2. We stayed at the Catherine Wheel a few years ago -it was very nice -looks a bit cheap now -perhaps its not as good & as Pashmina Pauline I enjoyed our Henley sojurn

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s