Dr James Colthurst is perhaps best known for having been  a  close friend of  the late Princess Diana.  He  was trusted implicitly by Diana , and acted as a go-between during one of  the most difficult periods of her life.  It was Colthurst who   conveyed the secret tapes  she had recorded to the journalist  Andrew Morton.  Morton went on to  write  the international bestseller, Diana: Her True Story.

Dr Colthurst  is also an author  in his own right, and an inventor!  But more importantly as far as my Thames book is concerned, he attended Eton College,  and subsequently  completed his medical training at St Thomas’s Hospital  in London. Both  these historic institutions feature in All Along the River: Tales From the Thames.  I was delighted and most appreciative when,  as a person who knows  the river so intimately, he read the book and provided the following review;

When a great friend of mine asked if I had read “All Along the River” and went on to explain that this was the Thames, I was intrigued.

Having lived close to the Thames and having been educated at two famous establishments on its banks, Eton and St Thomas’s Hospital, and hearing that an Australian had written the book, I hoped it would do justice to this fascinating stretch of English heritage.

Far from being disappointed, I was drawn in. Pauline  Conolly’s meander along the banks and towpaths of this long river (the section from Oxford to London alone is 120 miles} is punctuated not only by a multitude of  historical anecdotes  but interspersed by recipes! Almost as if the pace of the book commands energetic attention, the reader  is sustained by regular grub; some old some new!

Love of the Thames has touched many; often engendering a sense of loyalty. The book inspired me to look at the Thames valley with a different set of eyes. The journey was fun, and filled with a mixture of historical, touching and mischievous anecdotes.

Having rowed the stretch from Oxford to London on a fundraising two-day trip, it would have been a joy to have had the cox read Pauline’s book to us as we paddled along! She manages to capture the essence of peace, nature and industry as they vary along the 33 locks which make the valley navigable.

After spending so much of my sporting life trying to pull a boat from point to point on the Thames in the shortest possible time, it was a great pleasure to enjoy a book of reflection and obvious enjoyment from someone who has also been touched by Old Father Thames. The book lifted me from the gentle paddling and ferocious competition of the Thames regattas, to a much more reflective immergence in its past. For an oarsman, the addition of recipes at frequent intervals was an additional treat.

The book is as appealing to someone unfamiliar with the Thames as to those who might feel they already know its stories well!

Dr James Colthurst

My sincere  thanks  to a mutual friend John, who gave Dr Colthurst  the book to read. I think you will agree that he was very generous in his comments. Despite leading an extremely  busy life, he obviously read the book carefully,  providing  thoughtful  and  insightful comments.  By the way, I suspect that as an old Etonian there was one recipe he was quite familiar with; Eton Mess, beloved by generations of the famous college’s pupils.   Here  are a  couple I made earlier!  The dessert is made from crumbled  meringue, whipped cream and soft summer fruits. It is more traditional to use strawberries, but I adore English raspberries.


Schoolboy's Delight: Eton Mess.

Schoolboy’s Delight: Eton Mess.

I should add that James’ mention of mischievous anecdotes includes Aussie rower  Stuart (Sam) Mackenzie) beating all-comers at the Henley Regatta. He won the Diamond Challenge Sculls 6 times (consecutively from 1952 – 1962). He was far cheekier than me and used to practice on the river wearing a bowler hat.

Henley Regatta at Pauline Conolly

Henley Regatta; my champagne toast to  Sam, and all Australian competitors. Sorry about the hat, it came from a Marlow charity shop. I blame my friend Cath, who said it looked alright!

More Australian related social history of the Thames is mentioned here.   WALTZING MATILDA DOWN THE THAMES.















  1. What a WONDERFUL review Pauline. I am so pleased for you, and well deserved. xx

    Phew: nearly forgot to do the sum as I hadn’t scrolled down the page low enough to remind me!

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