Out of Europe, that is!
First we had the shock “Brexit” result last Thursday, which has, as predicted, had severe repercussions. The pound falling to it’s lowest value for over 30 years, billions wiped off share prices, both the government and the opposition in disarray. Not to mention the Scottish call for another independence referendum which, if successful, could allow Scotland back into the EU… maybe. And then Irish unification has appeared on the agenda again. Thank God for Wales!
And then last night Roy Hodgson’s band had a humiliating defeat at the hands of Iceland! Still, it could have been worse. If we had have gone through to face France, losing to them would have been so, so much more shameful. Just imagine the Gallic gloating!
Not a good few days for the UK, eh.
Yesterday was a fine day at Pangbourne, but we knew that the weather was due to change today. So we upped sticks and set off at around 11:00, heading under the recently refurbished Whitchurch Bridge to Whitchurch Lock.
We passed this boat flying what appears to be a Royal Standard. I thought it might be something to do with the annual Swan Upping, but that’s not until next month.
In medieval times swans were a valuable commodity. The meat was prized, the feathers made durable quills for writing and the down was useful for cushions and pillows.
It’s a common misapprehension that the Queen owns all swans. Not true, two of the ancient London Livery Companies also have rights of ownership.
The annual swan upping was to mark young swans to identify ownership. Originally done by filing grooves in the beak, it’s now done by leg ringing. The ceremony, taking place on the Thames during the third week of July, has the practical purpose of assessing the population and general health of the birds.
Six skiffs and crews are involved, two from each of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, the Worshipful Company of Dyers, and the Royal Swan Uppers, representing the monarch. Working together they capture each young bird and attach leg rings to indicate the company’s ownership, and a census ring for the RSPB. The Royal Swan Uppers only attach the RSPB ring. Cunning, that. Any that they miss automatically become the property of the monarch…
There’s a schedule for this year’s event here.
Whitchurch Bridge, taken from Pangbourne Meadow…
…and from the river.
There’s been a bridge here since 1792. This is the third span, it being replaced in 1852 and again in 1902.
The major rebuild undertaken in 2013 and 2014 strengthened the supports but retained the 1902 lattice girder sides. It’s one of two privately owned toll bridges crossing the Thames.
The lock is a couple of hundred yards beyond the bridge.
Some fine houses above the lock…
The broad reach up to Goring
We hadn’t intended going far, and, spotting a suitable bit of bank at Beale Park, pulled in.
It was a fine morning and early afternoon, but clouds started to roll in and the rain followed by half-three. Tomorrow is looking a bit dodgy too, so we’ll probably stay put.
Locks 1, miles 1¾