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  • clivenmel

April 4th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} The following day we left late in the morning.  Clive didn�t particularly want to go far but we wanted to find a more pleasant mooring.  We soon passed through a lovely tree-lined stretch and found a nice mooring just beyond a bridge and there were some other boats moored up as well.  Mind you it was fun coming through said bridge as there was a really strong current on this part as of course it is a river as well.  As we were passing under the bridge the current just sucks the boat into the bank so it took quite a bit of manoeuvring on Clive�s part, but he managed it.  As luck would have it we had moored up right next to a pub - again!  This one had the unusual name of The Cunning Man.  Once we were settled I decided to have another cook-in, having had a really good shop at Tesco�s and stocked up on plenty of meat and veg.  So I made a chicken curry and a steak casserole whilst I was downloading all the photos from the day before and doing a blog � well I am a woman after all!!!   Clive has a project in hand at the moment � a work in progress!  He had spent about an hour working on this when he announced that he needed inspiration and was off to the pub!  I left him to it, thought he might enjoy a bit of peace and quiet to think.  So I carried on with what I was doing.  He came back some time later with a satisfied grin on his face having had a couple of pints and also having come up with the inspiration he sought � a happy man!  Bless!   A little while later I was up at the stern just taking the air and listening to the birds singing when I noticed a boat coming up towards the bridge, quite quickly!  I thought to myself � this is going to be interesting!  It was - the boat careered through the bridge, shot over to the far side of the river, hit reverse and hurtled backwards towards the nearside bank, then the lady driver(!) leapt off the back of the boat with the rope and started hauling it in, however it was still very much trying to go forward!  Now I have to say, there is nothing worse than trying to do something difficult when you have an audience so rather than embarrass her by watching I went back in and shut the hatch!  The next time I looked out the boat was neatly tied up against the bank.  We found out later however that she nearly lost the boat and had screamed for help � fortunately some people sitting outside the pub ran to her rescue and helped her to get the boat back into the bank � oh dear, if I had stayed to watch I would have realised she was in trouble and we could have gone to help her!   Some time later, just as I was about to serve the dinner, there was a knock on the roof, I opened a window and there was the lady from the boat.  She asked if we could help a damsel in distress � she had owned the boat for exactly two days; was completely on her own; had no experience of boats whatsoever and did we know how to light a diesel bubble stove?  I said we hadn�t a clue but if she would give us chance to eat dinner I would send along a man who might be able to help her sort it out!  So, after eating the chicken curry plus quaffing  a nice glass of wine I sent the knight in shining armour with the large beard off to help the damsel (Sally)  � I stayed on board chatting to my sister in New Zealand on MSN!   Ages later Clive returned saying that the whole thing was a total mess!  The stove was all rusty inside and there was no way he was going to risk trying to light it, it was too dangerous.  The gas bottle, which Sally had been told was full by the vendor turned out to be empty � so she had no stove to keep her warm; no gas to cook with and to cap it all, the water heater wasn�t working either so she had no hot water!  We both felt that she had not really gone into this transaction with her eyes open!  Plus the fact that her partner is currently working in Bridport, on the South Coast and Sally is supposed to be taking the boat down as far as she can get � all on her own!  The following morning, she called again and asked if we could let her have some boiling water for a cup of tea, which we did of course, then Clive went and had a look through all the boat paperwork at her request, she told him that they had paid a large deposit first, then paid half the balance in cash and put the rest on a credit card!  Basically though, it was a bit like buying a car, bought as seen � with no warranty!  Oh dear!  He suggested to her that she walk back to a marina we had passed, which wasn�t far back along the canal and see if she could arrange for them to come out and service her stove; fix the water heater and sell her a full gas bottle.  We both felt rather sorry for her really.  So we ended up leaving her moored outside The Cunning Man � hope she manages to sort something out.   Just before we set off on Friday morning I noticed another boat coming along and as it passed us we saw that it was a hire boat, the crew gave us a friendly wave.  We caught up with them a little while later at one of the locks.   I jumped off and went up to see if they knew what they were doing � as I have mentioned before, the gate paddles on some of these locks are very fierce and I didn�t want Lady Arwen getting swamped by an inexperienced boater!  As it turned out they were under instruction from the guy from the hire company, he was teaching them how to operate the lock!    After that we cruised along together and shared the locks.  They were a lovely bunch of lads out for a �boys� weekend together � it turns out that they were all at Manchester University together some years ago. Dan, is due to become a daddy in six weeks time so this weekend was his final fling with the lads before he has to settle down to fatherhood!   We had a great afternoon, the weather was lovely and because the guys were having such fun doing the locks I got to stay on board and experience going up in the locks myself, which of course is something I don�t usually get to do as I am always up on top operating the paddles. So there was me just thinking I had done very well having �pulled� four guys at once when we arrived at a lock just as another boat was going in so the boys aboard Rosina Emma went ahead and shared the lock with them � it was an all girl crew!    Well, I have to admit they were all younger and better looking than me! There are lots more pictures of our encounter with Dan, Paul, Dave and Ali in the Gallery. At one point we were cruising along in the sunshine when we noticed two boats moored up on the left.  One of them caught our attention because there was a cat on the roof!    We had noticed a lot of people getting on and off the boats then we saw several young ladies in long dresses standing in a ring on the bank � we were beginning to think that this was perhaps a coven of young witches  However when we looked closer we realised they were putting up a tent!   After that we decided to pull in to Aldermaston Wharf for a pump-out, Rosina Emma was carrying on up to Woolhampton and the pub!  So we said farewell to Paul, Dan (the father to be), Dave and Alastair.   After we had got the pump-out we had to wait before we could set off again.  There was a lift bridge up in front immediately followed by a lock but this particular bridge is closed for the rush-hour from 4.30 to 5.30!  We had just missed the cut-off so had to wait for nearly an hour before we could go any further.  We had a great chat with the guy at the wharf though � he has a Dutch barge, which he keeps in France.  He was telling us all about his experiences on the French waterways � sounds great � we might have to try that sometime � I can just see us now cruising down through the vineyards, sampling the local wines as we go � ah yes, that�s the life!    Where was I?   Oh yes � finally at 5.30pm, with rush-hour over, the bridge was available for opening again and as it happened there was another hire boat with a family of six on board waiting to go through as well.  So, their crew (the sons!) went off and set the lock and I raised the bridge � you get a great sense of power when you press those buttons and the barrier comes down and the traffic has to stop for you!    Once through there we started looking out for a good mooring � no easy task on the Kennet and Avon!  This waterway is unusual in that it is actually a mixture of two waterways together, river and canal.  So in the river parts it is flowing, quite quickly I might add, and at others, where locks have separated the river from the canal, it is not flowing.  However the banks are more like riverbanks all the way along, in some places it is impossible to get into the banks at all, or at least you are about a yard away because it shelves out from the bank, which means you beach at the bows and the boat tilts, no good for mooring at all!  We kept trying but just couldn�t get in and then just as we were approaching the next electric road bridge we found a spot in front of another moored boat and we got right into the bank, no trouble at all, brilliant!  Guess what � right next to the bridge was a pub!  So as soon as we had got tied up we decided to go for a quick drink before dinner and guess who we met sitting out enjoying the evening sunshine with their pints � Dave, Paul, Dan and Alastair!  So we spent an hour chatting with them and enjoying our drinks al fresco (first time this year!) then we went back to the boat for our steak casserole and chips � yummy!  No doubt we will see the guys again as they will have to turn around and head back the other way on Sunday.   We had a leisurely morning and finally set off around 12 noon today.  We don�t want to travel too far each day now as Vicki, Gareth and Indy are coming to visit us next weekend and we don�t want to be any further away than Hungerford really because it will be a long drive for them.  So we didn�t intend to travel for long.  It has been an absolutely stunning day � really warm sunshine and blue sky with only the occasional fluffy white cloud.  We encountered several locks and also swing bridges, some electric and some manual.  At one point just as we had come through Midgham Lock Clive noticed this really sweet little church up on the hill - isn't it pretty. But other than that there is very little to report.  Again we had a problem trying to find a decent mooring out in the open countryside this afternoon and we have ended up on the visitor moorings right next to the railway station in Thatcham!  That actually sounds horrible but it is in reality very pleasant.  It is not a built up area at all and rumour has it there is a pub nearby so we may just pop for a quick one later � well it is my birthday today after all!  (Thanks to all of you who have sent emails and text greetings � especially to Emma for my virtual cake!).  The first thing we did when we moored up here was to put the TV aerial up to ensure that we had a good signal � it�s the Malaysian Grand Prix tomorrow so we had to be sure we could get BBC 1 � we can - so Clive will be up early tomorrow morning to see if Jensen Button can pull it off again � well he has a chance, he�s in pole position again � way to go Jensen!   These moorings are 48 hour max so we don�t actually have to go anywhere tomorrow if we don�t want.  We will play it by ear and see how we feel after the race is finished.  We could even catch a train somewhere if we wanted!   I am afraid to say that as I was sitting here typing this blog, we saw a hire boat cruising past us and to my shame it was being steered by a young boy who only looks about eight!  What makes it even worse is that he was doing a very good job of it!  Oh dear I really am going to have to try harder aren�t I!      

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