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  • clivenmel

April 6th

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;} We didn�t go anywhere yesterday � it was very pleasant where we were moored and we most certainly aren�t in a rush, quite the opposite, so we had a very lazy day.   Clive got up as planned to watch the Grand Prix � I left him to it for a while and stayed in bed with my book and cup of tea � that�s what Sunday mornings are all about!  The Grand Prix was a wash-out, literally!  The race was stopped after 31 laps because of the torrential rain but Jensen was in first place when it was stopped so he was the winner � brilliant.  Well done Jensen!   I did a bit of wood gathering in the hedgerow alongside the towpath and Clive sawed it all up and stowed it in the cratch so we do have another couple of days of firewood.  Mind you, it hasn�t really been cold enough to light it over the last two days.   We needed the central heating on for a short while late last night, just before going to bed, but other than that it has been very pleasant indeed.   I had been keeping an eye out all afternoon for a certain boat to come past us � the Rosina Emma � I was hoping to see the guys again on their way past because I had downloaded all the photos I had taken onto a disc for them, however there was no sign of them all afternoon.  Then I noticed a boat moored in front of us and on closer inspection it was them!  So I grabbed the disc and went to deliver it � they were just having a quick snack before continuing on their journey home.   I managed to get one more photograph of them, this time altogether.   From left to right: Dave, Paul, Alastair and Dan. At least you can see Jensen�s face in this one � oops, I mean Paul�s!  A little while later they cast off and waved goodbye for the last time.  We woke to another lovely sunny morning today.  Clive was soon on his laptop working on his �project� so I decided to have a walk up into Thatcham and see if I could get a few staples such as bread, milk and fresh salad.  It was lovely and warm and I was only wearing a Tee shirt � Spring has definitely arrived!  I found a Co-op and got my bits and pieces then set off back to the boat.  It seemed to be taking me a lot longer to get back than it had coming and then I began to noticed things I hadn�t noticed on the way � oops I think I have taken a wrong turning somewhere!  I saw a lady with a child walking towards her car so I stopped and asked her if I was going in the right direction for the station?  I wasn�t!  I had managed to turn right as I was crossing a roundabout instead of going straight forward!  So I turned round and headed back to the roundabout and got myself back on the right road � I was glad to see the boat again!   Clive is always teasing me about my sense of direction � or lack of it!   Once back on the boat and the shopping unpacked it was time to head off so I grabbed the windlass and walked up to the lock, which was only a short way up the towpath.  Now this lock is a bit different to the ones we are used to.  It is known as a �turf sided� lock and is evidently one of the last remaining examples of these locks which were once quite common on the Kennet canal.  They have timber walled chambers to about two feet above the lock�s lower level and above that turf sides, which sloped away at an angle of 45o.   These locks were evidently quite leaky and a lot of water used to be lost but as the River Kennet was feeding the waterway it wasn�t really a problem.  Eventually though most of them were replaced.   We have passed several �pill boxes� along this waterway and evidently during the war the Kennet and Avon was identified as a Blue Defence Line.  Pill boxes were installed at numerous locations.  Rumour has it that the last of the K & A boatmen was dragged from retirement and put in charge of a leaking maintenance boat hauled by a broken-down horse led by a dim-witted youth.  Ere long, the vessel, overloaded by inexperienced squaddies, sank and put a summary end to the proceedings!   I have to say that this waterway is riddled with locks � there are loads!  However they do at least have reasonable pounds between so I do get chance to get back on board and have a rest in between.  But of course there are also swing bridges in between some of the locks as well.  One of two of these have been really stiff and we encountered one of those this afternoon � it was so stiff that I couldn�t even move it, not even with the help of a young Glaswegian girl whose family has just recently moved down here.  So Clive had to tie up Lady Arwen and come to the rescue.  A bit of brute strength did the trick and he hopped back on board leaving me and the wee Scots lass to finish the job. I have to say I was a bit nervous, there was another girl with her, a little younger, then two toddlers and I really don�t like to see little ones near the water without a responsible adult on hand � however they were very well behaved.   Well before we knew it we had arrived on the outskirts of Newbury.  The canal goes right through the middle of the town centre and under the Town Bridge which is a stylish, single-arched stone structure dating from 1770.  I think its rather pretty.   After negotiating a couple of urban locks we moored up and went to explore the town.  We had been reliably informed that there was an excellent shop right next to the canal selling Newbury sausages � well I am a bit of a sausage fan and therefore this was a must.  We found it straight away, right next to the Town Bridge but it was shut!  However it was quite late in the afternoon so I am hoping it might be open in the morning, if so I can go back and stock up on bangers!    We wandered down the main street in the town and came across a very ancient looking inn selling cask ales, so we popped in for a quick one before returning to the boat.  We are moored up for the night in a very pleasant spot called West Mills.  Just in front of us is a swing bridge and row of picturesque cottages which were evidently once a 17th century weaving factory.  Also the mill�s silo has survived and this has been converted into flats, very tastefully evidently.  I didn�t realise it but Newbury was evidently an important cloth-making centre in the fifteenth century � so Huddersfield doesn�t hold the monopoly on that!   Rain is forecast for tomorrow and unfortunately our moorings are only 24 hour max, so we will have to move, but hopefully not very far, just on to the next visitor moorings.  So there probably won�t be anything worth blogging about tomorrow.    

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