|Moored at Beale Park on a sunny evening with no geese|
Why do they feed them? And pigeons for that matter? Swans and ducks I understand – I'm happy to feed a duck an occasional piece of something when we are moored up – but I just cannot understand why people continue to feed these birds that are nothing short of pests.
I don't mean just throw them a few leftover crusts, no I mean shovel industrial quantities of food into the water and onto the riverbank. For some reason, Asian families seem to be the worst. I understand that the swan has a significant place in the Hindu religion so I'll concede feeding those but pigeons??
Anyway enough of the ranting: I was pretty grumpy at 4.30 a.m. and I had only just got back to sleep again when it started raining heavily and I realised I hadn't put the cover on the engine chimney so I had to get up and go outside to do so, rather than risk getting water in the engine.
Fortunately, once the morning rain had stopped, the day was blustery enough to keep me wide awake at the tiller.
We haven't come far, just to the edge of Beale Park wildlife sanctuary between Pangbourne and Goring. That's partly because of the rain but also because we decided to stock up the galley at Reading Aldi before leaving. There aren't many shops between here and Oxford – and certainly no Lidls or Aldis in posh old Oxfordshire.
|A pair of pretty old Severn tugs now on the Thames|
|Hardwick House - the inspiration for Toad Hall|
The present owner is his descendant, Sir Julian Rose and, as toffs go, seems a jolly good bloke. He started as an actor, took over the estate when his father died and changed it into a pioneering organic farm. He has opened up the estate forests for a young offenders project and lets out cottages at affordable rents to local people. He is now a leading 'green' campaigner.
|Alpacas that have swapped the Andes for the Thames|
|Bulky Edwardian piles line the river at Pangbourne|
House-watching is one of the fascinations of cruising the river – everything is here from ultra-modern glass and steel Huf houses down to little tumbledown timber cabins that are probably still worth a few hundred thou simply by virtue of their location.
Tomorrow we'll head through Goring, where money really is no object when it comes to building a flashy Thames-side home. Tonight though it's been kingfisher spotting in the beautiful, tree swathed countryside.