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  • clivenmel

May 10th

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 set off to Newbury on Friday, we stayed in Kintbury another night!  Well, it wasn�t a very nice day on Friday, pretty miserable in fact, so we just stayed put � no hurry!   We finally left Kintbury on Saturday morning � it was a funny day really weatherwise, it just couldn�t seem to make its mind up what to do.   When we set off we both had our fleeces on as it was quite chilly but these soon came off as it warmed up.  However if the sun went behind a cloud it felt really cold.  Then it clouded over completely and we ended up with our waterproofs on because it started to spit but it only lasted a few minutes then the sun came out again and the waterproofs came off!    We have been hearing Warblers over the last week or so.  They nest amongst the tall reeds that grow alongside the canal.  We haven�t however been able to spot any, until today.  I heard the song as we were approaching a hawthorn bush and judging by where the song was coming from I figured he was actually in the hawthorn and sure enough I spotted him and got a couple of photos.  We assumed he was a Reed Warbler but on checking with our bird book we have actually identified him as a Sedge Warbler.   We had a pretty uneventful cruise, which included seven locks and we finally arrived in Newbury at lunchtime.  The first thing we had to do before even tying the boat up was to put the TV aerial up and check for a signal � it�s a Grand Prix weekend!  Well we got a signal but it wasn�t brilliant however it would do just to let Clive watch the qualifiers, so we tied up and stayed where we were, just on the outskirts of Newbury.  Whilst Clive was watching the qualifying I popped into Newbury to do some shopping.  I was delighted to find that Griffins, the famous Newbury butchers, was still open so I stocked up on meat for the freezer, then I popped to Tesco�s for everything else.   We spent the afternoon relaxing, playing music; family tree research etc   Sunday � we had decided yesterday afternoon that it would make sense to get up early this morning and head off for Thatcham as we were pretty sure we had had a good TV signal when we were there before.  So we set off about 9.30am.  The first thing I had to do was open the electric swing bridge, so I walked down and got it open just in time for three boats who were coming the other way to go through!  After the third one I was thinking about charging a toll!  Finally Clive was able to bring Lady Arwen through and then we were at the lock, which was just behind the mooring we had been on when we stayed in Newbury on our way to Bath.    Clive had just brought the boat into the lock and I was actually closing the gate when I noticed another boat coming through the swing bridge, so I opened the gate again and waited for them to arrive.  It turned out to be a charitable trust boat designed for keeping young people active and outdoors.  The crew on board today were all young scouts, both boys and girls (what�s that all about then!) from Burghfield near Reading.  They were on a team building exercise.  Anyway, as far as I was concerned, it was great having them along � they did all the work!  Well not quite, we got into a sort of rhythm, we would leave the lock first and pootle on to the next one, I would then set the lock so it would be ready when they arrived, then I hopped back on board and let them do the gates, lower the paddles and then empty the lock.  It worked very well indeed.   We were a bit worried about them at one point, we had just cruised past a weir going off to the right, where the river leaves the canal for a little while.  Clive happened to glance back a few minutes later and said �oh no! they have gone down the weir!�  I was just about to jump off and run back to see if they needed any help when they suddenly reappeared again � having realised just in time that they had gone the wrong way � phew!  A little later on I happened to look back to check on their progress only to see them heading into the reeds, broadside on to the canal!  They soon sorted themselves out again though.  It turns out that they were actually letting the kids take turns at steering the boat � I know myself that it isn�t easy!!!  Anyway, I think it�s a great idea taking kids on weekends like this, they get lots of exercise and fresh air and they will never forget the experience.   At one point as we were cruising along we spotted a Common Tern.  However this one didn�t just whiz past us and disappear it stayed around the boat doing aerobatics.  I offered it some bread but it wasn�t interested at all, it just flitted around the boat with its beady eyes on the water, looking for surface-feeding fish on which it preys.  This particular specimen had lost some feathers from its tail so was easily identifiable.  It stayed with us for several minutes and I managed to get some really fantastic shots of it in flight.  We have been seeing lots of new hatchlings over the last few weeks and between locks this morning I spotted a couple of Canada Geese with their brood of four goslings � they are sooooooooooooooooo cute!   Well before we knew it we had arrived at Thatcham and were moored up once again next to the railway station.  Clive is absolutely delighted as there is a brilliant TV signal so he is now happily watching the Grand Prix and sipping a gin and tonic � oh this is the life!

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