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  • clivenmel

April 8th

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 were a bit naughty yesterday!  When we arrived in Newbury on Monday we moored up on a 24 hour max visitor mooring - but we stayed 48 hours!  Well, it was a nice place and we just didn't really feel like going anywhere - even 200 yards to the next visitor moorings!  Plus, the boat in front of us had arrived hours before we did and they weren't moving - so we didn't!  However we did move today!  Clive had quite a surprise when he woke up yesterday morning.  He had just put the kettle on to make us both a cup of tea when he heard a strange noise, high pitched squeaking!  He looked out of the window and saw a mother duck with eight tiny newly hatched ducklings!  How lovely - the first Spring babies we have seen.  However, there has been an awful lot of feathered fornication going on over the last couple of weeks so no doubt they won't be the last!   Just a little way behind our boat, over on the other bank was a weir with quite a strong current and the stupid mother duck kept taking her babies over to it and of course the inevitable happend - bloop, bloop, bloop - one by one the tiny ducklings disapeared over the weir!  In the end four of them were left up top and the mother shot over the weir, quacking furiously, after her other four ducklings.  We could hear them squeaking - mummy, mummy, plaintively for ages afterwards.  Then she suddenly reappeared from the river where it emerged upstream from our boat and this time she had loads of ducklings with her!  She finally caught up with the four she had left behind and we counted 16 ducklings in tow althogether! Where the heck did they all come from?  However, she did the same stupid trick a little while later and over they all went again!  I was telling my daughter Vicki about it all last night and she said "well its probably like taking the family to Alton Towers for the day"! We set off around 10.30am this morning and headed for Kintbury as we knew there was a water point there and we were down to a quarter of a tank - it's the only reason we moved really!  However the good thing is that I went back to Griffin's the butchers shop on the bridge, which was open at last, and stocked up with some of their famous sausages; cornish pasties; pork chops; pork pie; chicken breasts; and Scotch eggs - yumcious!   It was supposed to rain yesterday, which is the main reason we had decided to stay put, but it didn't.  Well at least not that we were aware of, it must have rained in the night though as there were puddles around this morning that weren't there the day before.  The first thing I had to do when we were ready to go this morning was walk up to the bridge and open it.  First of all I had to manually wind down the STOP barriers then open the bridge electrically.  Clive had noticed that there was a boat in the lock behind us as we set off but it was obvious they were going to be quite a while so we decided to wait for them at the first lock.  It worked out perfectly as the lock was full when we got there, so by the time I had wound the paddles up, emptied the lock and opened the gates the other boat had caught up with us - brilliant!  This meant that I had assistance with the next few locks.  We had it all worked out - we went on ahead and I got the gates open on the next lock then once the lock was full and the front gates were opened I jumped back on board and the other boaters lowered the paddles and shut the gates - sharing the load is great!  We managed to do three locks like this then the other boaters decided to pull in for lunch.  We carried on to the next lock and had our lunch on the hoof so to speak.   Half a Scotch egg each and quarter of a pork pie - ooh they were so good.  We can highly recommend Griffins of Newbury!  (Thank you Barry!).   It was lovely and sunny as we left Newbury but there was quite a nip in the air so we needed  our coats on.  I have to say that so far we have not been very impressed with the Kennet and Avon waterway, but today it redeemed itself somewhat as the scenery was lovely.   Though it is quite hard work, there are lots of locks to do!    I was quite delighted when we arrived at Copse Lock to see a couple of Yellow Wagtails - we do occasionally see these lovely little birds and strangely enough they seem to like locks!  Anyway I managed to snap a couple of pics this time. They are just like the Pied Wagtails except for their colouring.  We also managed to gather more wood for our stove whilst we were in the lock - there were no boats coming in either direction and as the name suggests we were in a copse and there was lots of dead wood lying about - its now lying on top of our boat!   We continued cruising along and passed several more World War II pillboxes, then through an area which was noted on our map with rather unusual names - this photograph shows on the left - Wilderness and on the right - Irish Hill!  Not sure what the origins of either name is though!   After a pretty uneventful cruise we finally arrived in Kintbury.  There was one more lock to do and this was quite interesting!  As I arrived at the lock I noticed that the rear gates were open, the lock was full and there was a swan swimming around in it!  I tried to shoo it out but it wasn't having any of it.  So I opened the front paddles, the rear gates swung shut and the swan started going down!  It did look a little non-plussed as it started descending into the depths but remained calm and unruffled.  When the lock was empty I opened the front gate and the swan swam serenely out into the canal quite nonchalantly!  It never even said thank you!   Once through the lock we pulled in straight away as the water point was immediately after the lock.  We filled up with water then towed the boat about 50 yards further along to the Visitor Moorings.  We were delighted to see that these are 48 hour moorings and even better they are right next to a British Waterways car park!  This means that Vicki, Gareth and Indy can park here when they arrive on Friday and it is right next to the boat which will make unloading their stuff from the car onto the boat much easier.   Once we were moored up and after I had done a bit of hand washing and got it hung out to dry in the cratch we decided to pop to the pub for a drink, there just happened to be one right by the lock we had just come through.  However when we got there it was closed!  So we went for a walk up into the village and lo and behold we found another one!  This one was open - excellent!  We got a couple of drinks and went to sit outside in the beer garden in the sunshine - lovely.  However, when we returned to the boat we had squatters - our boat had been boarded!   Clive tried to entice them off with bribery and corruption and bread!  All to no avail - the male just looked at us with a raised eyebrow (feather!) and said "you talking to me?" - however his missus was a little more amenable to bribery - she took the bait and jumped off.  Finally he left as well but a short time later, as we were taking off our boots she was back, shouting at us through the rear hatch and trying to persuade us to invite her on board for drinks and nibbles!  What barefaced cheek! Eventually though they both got bored and left to terrorise some other poor boaters who had moored up in front of us! I have no doubt that if they decide to stick around our granddaughter Indy will be delighted when she arrives on Friday - better lay in extra supplies of bread!

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