We cruised back down river, passing this herd of cows who seemed unconcerned at a Humber Keel passing close by as they bathed in a narrow section of the river. We cruised as far as Walllingford, but had to stop a mile below the town as there were no moorings available.
After mooring up we noticed a plume of smoke and heard sirens. We walked down the towpath to see where it was coming from. We didn’t have to walk far before we came across a burning haystack in the centre of a field. By the time the fire brigade had extinguished the fire there was not much left of the stack.
As we set off the following morning we passed a hot air balloon drifting low across the adjacent fields.
We stopped for lunch at Goring, where we renewed acquaintance with the owners of the very smart new build barge Joni. We took the cog boat to explore some of the weir streams.
As we passed this fine wooden clad house, we spotted one of the few remaining paddle and rymer weirs. The owner of the house saw us photographing it and invited us to moor up and look at what the Environment Agency is doing to update the gear. He was angry about what he considered to be a complete waste of money.
On the trip up river we had looked for the post box which used to be on Sonning bridge, but it had been removed. We were pleased to see it has found a new, equally inaccessible home in the middle of a huge railway embankment wall just above Reading.
We moored up for the night just below Reading, again across the river from Laurel. Marcus came to tea and he said he would like to do a picture of Daybreak in the morning light. He was out early in the morning taking photos and when we went over later in the morning he had already started painting. We are looking forward to seeing the finished artwork.
Later that day we saw friends Penny and Basil on board their barge in Henley and decided to stop to say hello and to have our lunch. It proved to be an expensive lunch as we were charged for a night’s mooring, even though we were only stopping for an hour.
As it was now October there were fewer lock-keepers and we had to operate most of the locks ourselves. We moored overnight in Marlow again.
We had been lucky to have lots of sunshine and fine weather during our trip, but after leaving Marlow it continued fine, but increasingly windy. By the time we reached Bourne End, where there was a long, straight stretch in line with the wind, there were waves and white caps. We are used to these conditions on tidal waters, but it came as a bit of surprise on the upper river.
We moored up at Cliveden for lunch and then continued down to Boulter’s Lock. As we motored into the lock we saw a pair of working narrowboats in the lock cut. We moved right down to ensure they could fit in the lock with us. As they got closer we saw it was the Narrowboat Trust, who deliver coal to riverside properties. As we hadn’t ordered any we asked if they could stop at the Orchard. They suggested that they could deliver to Daybreak at the next lock.
We let them into the small lock first, where they unloaded 20 bags onto the lock-side. We then took Daybreak into the lock and moored her alongside the coal. We then emptied the lock, so that the deck was almost level with the lock side, and the narrowboat crew then helped us to load it onto Daybreak’s well deck.
With our cargo of fuel on board we then carried on to a mooring above Boveney lock. As there was still a couple of hours of daylight, we took the cog boat to explore another weir stream.
The next day was a short run back to Staines where we arrived in time for lunch. After I had unloaded the coal of course.