Hurricanes and Typhoons overhead

One of the things we’re enjoying about being on the Thames is the excitement of wild mooring. Can we find a bank where we can get the stern in close enough for me to clamber off with my dignity intact, and long enough that we can get the bow tied off securely?

We’ve mastered the art of tying up now

And preferably one that we wont be charged for. One of the things we’re not so keen on is the uncertainty of not being sure we will be able to moor roughly where we want.

Yes, that’ll do nicely

Beale Park hit the spot, and with a 4 day weekend approaching the river was suddenly coming alive with craft of all shapes and sizes, so we happily tied off to the convenient overhanging trees and settled down to watch the world go by, even if the weather was a bit dodgy, we even had a kingfisher family living directly opposite which provided a lot of entertainment

Thankfully Thursday dawned with clear sky and mist rising.

But alas although it remained clear over Buckingham Palace by the time the fly past was dispersing over Oxfordshire it had clouded over, we’d also got a few storm clouds above. But we still got to see quite a few of the planes that had saluted Her Majesty.

Some formations were better than others

We were able to take a very pleasant walk along the river and down Shooters Hill into Pangbourne village. We couldn’t help but notice a series of very interesting looking houses. It turns out they are known locally as “the seven deadly sins” of Pangbourne. They were built in 1896 to house the seven “lady friends” of the then Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VII

4 of the seven deadly sins

Pangbourne has a regal past with Bertwulf, King of Mercia being granted lands here in AD 844, Athough nowadays his allotted spot is on the village sign, underneath a Viking longboat, (frequently referred to as narrowboats by saxon gongoozlers)

The sign also pays homage to local resident, Kenneth Graeme, who wrote Wind in the Willows (although the book had already been written before he moved here) but its thought that E H Shepard based his drawings for the book from sketches done around this section of the river. It is a very pretty village.

St James church

Theres a brilliant butchers Greens of Pangbourne who boast having the best pies. I think we have been spoilt with good butchers recently, because we both agreed it was excellent so much so that we bought a second for our onward journey

Sadly prices are no longer in shillings and pence

On Saturday, whilst we watched Rod Stewart massacring Sweet Caroline at the platinum concert, I kept noticing the sky over London, and sure enough that same sky was all aglow over Firecrest.

But despite the red sky at night Sundays weather wasn’t condusive to us sitting outside for a “river party” so we ended our jubilee celebrations with a hint of a rainbow.

now, how long can I keep my bunting flapping for. Will we be celebrating Her Majesty’s century in 2026 or even her 75th Jubilee in 2027. Part of me hopes so, but by then I will try to devise a way to stop the pennants flapping onto the roof.

Locking down and looking up

One of the many nice things about cruising on rivers is that the locks are often manned

Always happy to help

with someone keeping an eye open for those brave enough to pass through

and invariably a doddle compared to canal locks even if the lockie isnt on duty

The Upper Thames lockies use a long pole and hook to open and close the far side. Its very impressive.

Is it a pole or a jousting lance

But what’s also impressive is that the lock keepers job comes with a cottage,

Grafton lock cottage

Which is ok until you remember these guys are also only paid for a working week but are on call 24/7 – Unless its lunch time from 1 till 2 every day. However the river seems quiet with not much traffic which is probably why they have enough time to keep their gardens looking good. We think there must be a degree of rivalry over who can have the best topiary Although it looks like the frog wants to eat the tulips.

The Rushey lock frog

Not sure if this is a fancy haircut, or work in progress, either way it made us chuckle

Burscot locks entry

But the winner surely has to be the grafton cat ready to pounce on the swan

I wonder what the swan really thinks

Whilst we were cruising back downstream we became very aware of the air traffic. The escorted jet was bringing Boris back from India, or might have been, because moments before we saw an identical entourage, so one of them must have been a decoy. We think the two flying in parallel might have been in training for mid air refuelling because they really stuck close by each other for the best part of a morning. And the jet on its own, was one of many that we saw, including the Awax reconnaissance planes, checking we had paid for a Thames license. Once we looked at the map and realised how close we were to several RAF bases, the quantity of planes made sense.

They’re definitely on a mission

The swan by the way is sitting on 8 eggs, and the cat is actually hoping for some tuna to swim past.