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  • clivenmel

May 13th

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 not surprised when we awoke this morning to find that it was raining � it had been forecast after all!  We didn�t set off early as we had a few �admin� jobs to do, phonecalls to make, etc so it was nearly noon by the time we finally left our mooring.  The first thing I had to do was go and stop the traffic again!  There was a swing bridge just in front of where we had moored up last night and then about a hundred yards beyond that was a lock.   It was a pretty miserable day all in all, weather-wise.  The rain wasn�t heavy, just a relentless drizzle.  However we were togged up in our waterproofs and the only bit peeping out was our faces!  I wish somebody would invent windscreen wipers for glasses � I couldn�t see what I was doing half the time coz my glasses were all wet!   We hadn�t been going for long when Clive started laughing � he could see a farmer over in the field trying to tug a recalcitrant calf on a lead, finally it just lay down!  By the time I got the camera ready he was trying to persuade it to get up by lifting its back end!  Finally it did get up and go with him.  Goodness knows why it was there, there were no other cows to be seen anywhere � maybe it had wandered off on its own, bless!  I�m afraid the photo is a bit grainy, it was quite a long way away and it was drizzling to boot!   We had been cruising for absolutely ages without sight of another single boat then just as I was emptying one of the locks another I saw another boat coming up so we exchanged places in the lock as soon as I had the gates open.   We exchanged pleasantries, as you do, and went on our way and then met another boat in the next lock coming up, so that made life a little easier for me!   Because of the number of locks we had to negotiate today there was very little time for me to make any lunch, I finally managed to get inside and make a few sandwiches and a cuppa for us both at 3.00pm!  We just had time to eat them before we arrived at the lock with the traffic lights in Reading.  So I set the lock, Clive brought the boat in, I emptied the lock, opened the front gates then went down to press the button on the traffic lights � it went straight to green!  So I had to quickly run back as Clive was leaving the lock, shut the gates, then hop back on board and then we were cruising through The Oracle again in the centre of Reading.    Very soon we reached the very last lock on the Kennet and Avon, this was the one with the big wheels (like a ship�s wheel) for raising and lowering the paddles.  Just as we emerged from this lock we saw this enormous flock of swans up ahead, how many swans!!!   Then finally, after six weeks, we said goodbye to the Kennet and Avon � we were back on the Thames, at last!  We both agree that we have enjoyed the experience of being on the K and A and we certainly enjoyed visiting places like Bath and Bradford on Avon, but as far as the actual boating experience is concerned it was a pretty awful waterway.  It was very poorly maintained, nowhere to moor other than designated visitor moorings and even some of these weren�t good and the lock paddles and gates were much in need of maintenance.  All in all we are very glad to see the back of it and don�t think we will be going back again any time soon!   So, here we are back on the Thames again, this time heading in towards London.  Once again the contrast between the narrow confines of the K and A and the majestic Thames is marked.  We are now moored up at Sonning, just before the lock, right at the end of the visitor moorings and tied up to two very convenient trees!   Soon after we moored I noticed a strange little duck with some ducklings in tow and on closer inspection realised that it was a female Mandarin Duck.  We have seen several males before but never any females. She was really feisty too, Clive was throwing some bread out for them and there were a couple of Mallards trying to get in on the act and she was having none of it, but they knew to keep out of her way, she had a much sharper beak then they had!   Just as I was sitting here typing the blog I felt the boat start to rock and when I looked out of the window this huge boat was coming alongside us heading towards the lock � you wouldn�t have got this on the K and A that�s for sure!  On closer inspection I could see that it is obviously some kind of tour boat.  It certainly created a large wash as it went into reverse thrust to slow it down before the lock!   Then just a few minutes ago another craft went by � this one is like something from the bygone days of the Thames, when life went at a slower pace!  This couple certainly aren�t going anywhere in a hurry!  I hope they�ve seen that sign!!   Hopefully it will be fine in the morning but there is rain forecast for the afternoon and then Friday is supposed to be really wet.  So, all being well we will get off in the morning and see if we can find ourselves a nice mooring a bit further down where we can hole up till the rain has passed � watch this space!    

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