We said good bye to our to our breasted up neighbour and I set off into the shop, a mundane task but I enjoyed the jaunt in the sun, passing what I guess is the house referred to by the nearby boater as George Michael’s. Later I find out he had three houses and this house is where he died. I am glad I didn’t know that at the time as it might have dampened my mood.

I meet a large group of cyclists. There was clearly an event on and they had numbers in the 7000s.They keep coming and going. On my way back they are still coming and going, as it is a refuelling stop. On my way back I at last see a couple of women cyclists among the men and hear one of them point out that George Michael’s house was just down there.

I was looking for a place to leave a leaflet about recycling and taking action towards sustainability. I had said I didn’t want to take it but the man in Abingdon insisted and said he trusted me to shRe it not bin it. Beside the cyclists was a repair workshop, a regular event and it was full of tables. I thought there might be people there that would be interested in the “one planet Abingdon”” climate emergency centre. I was too early and though I did meet a man setting up tables who talked about their high success rate for repairs (computers, electrics, crafts, clocks – anything portable), I couldn’t see a suitable place to leave a leaflet and thought it might just be tidied away. I shared with him that we had a repair to be done but as it was on a radiator on the boat, we couldn’t really bring it in. So in stead I found the library, which was not far from my target shop, and left the leaflet in the rack of pamphlets about local attractions.

The small detour let me spot a sign of interest. It seems it’s not just boats and hairdressers that like a good pun in their name. Come to think of it I do know of an ironing service run by someone I went to school with called Increase Ironing – the pun is alive and well. We had spotted another amusing sign in Goring on Thames the day before and it was still out today. I was in time for breakfast but had already indulged in a slice of spicy fruity loaf.

A dry cleaners and laundry service named The Thames Valet
A clean joke
A blackboard outside a pub saying "AndI said what about Breakfast at th Miller of Mansfield? She said I think it's served daily from 8 to 10.30"
A slightly less clean joke

I found the shop with interesting bread in the window and bought a few other items. On another visit I might make a more exciting purchase but today was not the day. I did spot an eye atching product in the window which I definitely didn’t need labelled “breast enhancer”, which appeared to be a flavour mix for rubbing into chicken (an even less clean joke). I had been considering buying local asparagus but when I saw the price I thought they were having a laugh. Anyway I had meal plan already.

I headed back, past the mill and, after a short chat about plans and some mooring advice with another neighbour, we got out of the shade and into the sunshine. Once past the moored boats, an electric flash of a kingfisher flying along was a good start to the day’s cruising.

There were plenty boats about but there was plenty of room for all in the wide river. We went slower than everything else and it was easy for people to overtake. I noticed a boat coming last was called Sunshine On Leith and were marked that it was sunny alright but we weren’t in Leith. The occupants called back that the would be next week. We hadn’t time to say we might be near there in about a week too as it was now ahead of us.

There were cormorants and geese around and we have noticed different geese as a group with multiple families of varying ages will come together, even different species. Parenting and looking after the group seem to be top skills, with loud honking as part of their protective and group togetherness trait. We came across six adults in charge of about 25 goslings. We didn’t quite get all of them squeezed into one photo as another couple of Canada geese with a younger brood were lagging at this point, but they did cross the river in a tight group once we were past.

Four adults and two dozen Canada goslings

The river felt calm enough for me to drive for a bit, not just for two minutes while Shane had a comfort break. The pace and mood was very relaxed, until we met the man in the water and the narrow boat being hauled by a much smaller, lighter boat. We wanted to help but they seemed to have plenty of involved people already so I weaved slowly through. The man in the water had jumped in to help but was thankfully safe and cheerful when we saw him driving later.

My extended driving stint gave Shane the chance to take a photo of his namesake boat. We wonder if it is named after the book or film or someone else.

Finding a mooring was again a challenge but we found a stretch that was just and no more long enough. I briefly regretted the shorts choice while taking a spike and rope ashore and stamping down nettles on the way to my chosen spot to hammer it home. Once a place is found it wasn’t worth relinquishing it and so we stayed for the rest of the day. We were about to go for a walkwhen Shane reported ducklings at the bow of the boat. I went to see and was as taken with the mother than the babies, as it was a dainty little crested duck. I took a photo and we headed off. Later Merlin identified it from my photo as a mandarin. If there had een a drake I would have recognised it.

Mandarin duck and duckling

We had a stroll through the park and into Pangbourne, collecting railway tickets on the way. We weren’t expecting an elephant, or even the elephant, in the centre of town.

The Elephant hotel and sculpture

There were several vintage cars making their way through town. On the edge of town was a toll of 60p each way for cars and £4 each way for heavier vehicles to cross the bridge. There was an effort to discourage large vehicles passing through town. The elephant stays put and isn’t listed in the old toll charges, but many other animals were. Unlike today even pedestrians had to pay to pass through.

List of toll prices dating from the reign of George the Third

On our way back through the park we saw a young man standing on the edge of the bridge over the river. He made a spectacular somersault in doing multiple spins before the splosh. Another young man was not into the aerial acrobatics and lowered himself dangling from the bridge then dropped. Another man climbed on the bridge and only jumped in after the first diver went back up and did an even better display dive in. It was a hard act to follow.

Two friends encouraging each othe to jump or dive off the bridge

We have ended the day with new neighbours again. I was just finished cooking when the narrowboat,Stella, hailed us and asked to draw up next to us. They were exactly the same size as each other so it worked perfectly and was very swift and their dinner was about ready too.