As this Thames skiff went past during the TTBS display at Beale Park, I was amazed to hear the announcer say that it was owned and rowed by the Wilder family. My mother was a Wilder, and the family had been based only a few miles away in Wallingford, and we had a double skiff almost identical to this one...we must be related, mustn't we?
So I introduced myself to Nick, Jan and Stuart Wilder and it turns out that we are, sort of. Their family owned a farming estate in Sulham, near Pangbourne, since the 15th century but until recently it was thought there was no connection between them and the Wallingford lot. But now, it seems, a link has been found some hundred or so years back.
So we are distantly related. On that basis, they took me out in Wrey, a double skiff built in Pangbourne in the last century and unusually equipped with sliding seats and square-pattern rowlocks. Despite the slide, I still had the usual problem with legroom but she is a lovely boat to row nevertheless. Stuart, who rowed at the University of Hertfordshire, went bow. We went through the bridge and took a tour along the river. What a pleasure.