Newbury to Bradford Upon Avon
Its been a busy week since last report done. We are still in the company of Allan and Annie Cox. He's a bad influence!! We were talked into going for a pie and a pint at the local pub at lunch time.. the ale was excellent but when we looked at the menu, it was so expensive (again) we passed and returned to the boats to make our own lunch, £14.99 for a beef burger..???….. no way!! ….that would have been nearly £60.00 for the four of us.
The Ocado delivery sent some quarter pounders on our last supplies order and they taste wonderful. 10 minutes cooking time with onions, as they say the jobs a 'gud un'.
Also we are better off with the money in our pocket than theirs.
With the bosun (Jenny) doing all the planning on a day to day basis, we know roughly what to expect regarding locks and any obstacles, ie weirs etc. We have two books that give the directions and tell you where the water points, sewage disposal points and towns are.
We are, one week later, still running with Allan and Annie. They are also going to Bristol so it make sense running together, it makes so much difference with the wide locks, half the work and not so much bouncing about in the locks themselves. We are managing about 9 locks a day and four hours cruising. There are 107 locks on the Kennet and Avon. Next week we have a flight of 21 in one hit ..the Caen Hill flight, lifting (or dropping dependant on which way you going) some 130 ft. Not for the faint hearted.
We can’t get over how quiet the canal is. Not many people moving in either direction. Its been a routine run with no real problems from Woolhampton down to Pewsy. Monday last was May bank holiday and there was a raft race being held over some few miles of canal. We debated whether to hold off because of it or sail straight through..we sailed straight through.. great laugh. . lots of youngsters enjoying themselves, some boats sank, but it was a laugh. Shouting out too them as we passed.
Annie and Allan are like us and like to moor before the other people start to look for places, normally about 2 pm, we have a routine sorted out. Tie off bow and stern. Jenny takes the two dogs for a squat or leg-lift.. I grease the stern gland (that’s where the propshaft goes though the back into the water) it stops water entering the engine room. Remove the tiller then tune in the TV..by that time I'm ready for my afternoon kip. Then 5pm its G&T time or glass of beer and debrief on one or others boat.
While talking the other night the question of age came up. Jenny said her birthday is in October..so’s mine said Annie … Jenny said the date..so’s mine said Annie..and believe it or not they were born in the same year !! yes said both ..not sure of the exact time but they are claiming to be twins separated at birth. Yes !! they are as mad as we are ..in a nice way.
Sadly we saw a full grown deer float past us in a part of the cut through some trees. Must have fallen in during the night and was unable to get out. Being a wide canal with wide locks there are a lot more wide beam boats on here. Must be lovely to live on but very restricted to where you can go. We love to move about.
Spanish Grand Prix and afterwards onto Devizes for a couple of days rest before the 21 lock marathon.
We always said . . if it rains….we stop...however when we started on our way on the Monday it was a gentle drizzle. . we would be brave and just put up with it.
By lunch time the drizzle had stopped.. it turned to rain, followed by heavy rain !! followed by thunder and lighting !! followed by HAIL !! ….doh !!
We were dressed in welly’s, waterproof trousers and a good waterproof mac we were ok .. Quick chorus of singing in the rain and good company made the day go quite quickly and we had a few laughs.
|Carly was not happy in the rain but wont go inside.|
When we moored up at Devizes Wharf I dropped into the museum there. We have seen lots of WW 2 pill boxes also big pointed concrete mounds (which we hadn’t a clue what they are / were.)
In the second world war as we were awaiting the German invasion a defence line of pillboxes was placed in a line roughly from Bristol to Dover some 1000 plus were constructed. As a last defence.. manned by ‘dads army’. ..The home guard.
The big piles of concrete are what they call the ‘dragons teeth’ designed to stop or overturn any enemy tanks. Some are now listed buildings and covered by preservation orders. When on private land some are put to use as garden sheds or storage.
The Kennet and Avon canal is really a link of various rivers by man made trenches. When we arrived at Pewsey Wharf, and old barge depot where grain, and lots of other commodities were moved to and trans shipped to various destinations. Allan went off too check out the old steam pump house which moves water about on flight what goes down must come up, as water doesn’t flow up hill, it needs assistance. What did I do? You may ask..
I toddled off to bed. I’m still struggling with energy levels, some days I'm OK, others I need to sleep in the afternoon. In the evening we went for a very pleasant meal in the converted barns and stabling areas. A good ‘real ale’ and very good company before the Caen Flight.
|Steam pumping station|
The canal has to rise some 130 feet to go over the peak. There are some 7 locks leading up to the main flight and another few after but its a long long day what ever way you look at it.
Jenny and Anne work really well together, sharing locks is so good, not only conserving water but conserving energy. Once the boats are in the lock, one of the girls would go ahead and prep the next lock. If we are lucky we meet another boat coming up the flight.
We did have a bit of a scary moment in one of the locks. We got wedged.
Before we did the flight we both topped up with water at the service area.
Normally when you arrive at these places there is enough room to moor unless, you get a selfish boater who moors there thus reducing the area.
I pull up first because I was in front and Forget Me Not drew along side. Fenders down and we laid together as we topped the tanks and disposed of the waste and rubbish.
20 minutes saw us back on our way again.
At the next lock, Allan went in first, I slid in along side, the girls opened the locks and we started to move. Not very far sadly.
All of a sudden the boat started to tilt.. I shouted to the paddle operator to stop the flow of water.!! . . . .we were wedged together.
Moving off quickly we had forgotten to stow the fenders. These are six inch go cart tyres.
As we moved, the walls of the lock forced us together, normally a tight fit but, with tyres down, an impossible fit.
Luckily enough, We sussed it quickly and re floated the boats and an indecent was avoided. Sadly a few inexperienced skippers don’t realise until its to late, resulting in sunken boats in locks. There are quite a few each year.
The end of the day resulted in a well earned few drinks on the last landing mooring at the bottom of the Caen fight. The sun was out, so was the gin and tonic. Chairs out and a lovely unwind. Early evening meal and an early night. Next morning we decided to have a day off and fully recover, however Allan and Annie needed to push on because of family commitments meetings planned. Sadly we waved goodbye to our companions of nearly 10 days.
We had a day off and moved on the next day. We soon found another solo boaters and linked up for a few locks.
The last few locks on our own till we arrived at Bradford on Avon. Time for a big shop at S’bugs,top up the bar and wine cellar. Also have a look around. Its the Green Man festival here this weekend we have never seen so many Morris Men / Dancers in one place.
Nearly every pub, shopping area, village green had people dancing and performing.
|Bradford Upon Avon Green Man Festival|
We left the dogs on board because Jake doesn't do crowds or cars, Carly is OK, but as Jakes getting older he’s a bit more temperamental. He, like me, gets very tired, quickly.
The next place we are off too is Bath for a few days and then plan how we tackle Bristol. As it is a tidal area we need to increase our boat insurance. Three days are planned then we are on our return trip. Its gone quicker than I though it would. Great fun ...met some lovely people, spent more money than planned, but that's life.
Over to Jenny for some pictures and bits to be added ..