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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Newbury to Bristol

Tuesday July 15th:-

After an interesting weekend visiting my cousin and her daughter, Victoria, at Victoria's home near to Newbury at Crookham, it was time to get rid of the car so at 8 on Monday I set off to Debdale. I picked up the mail, went to see my mother, and got parked up at 12.30 and set off on my hike to catch the bus. I clocked it in the car at around 2 1/2 miles and I had not got too long to spare so I even ran a bit of the way....very strange action for me. National Express coaches ran me from Leicester to Oxford, change of bus there and into Newbury and I was back on the boat by 7 at night. A long day for 45 minutes with my mother and 30 minutes collecting post & having a coffee.

Carol had cleaned and tidied up the boat whilst I was away, as well as making a loaf of bread, filled with water & getting Lily ready for the off. I had changed the oil and filter on Sunday and applied an extra coat of paint to part of the engine bay. I noticed a slight water leak from the skin tank. It seems to be about 3 drops a day so it will be observed & we'll wait till we get back to base in the Autumn if it gets no worse.

So on Tuesday morning it was bright and fine. I emptied the loo & squeezed a few more gallons into the water tank and went into the engine bay to reset the drip tray below the stern gland after the painting, only to find the paint was far from hard! Never mind we set off about 10 and passed through Greenham Lock, the water was flowing much, much slower than on our arrival fortunately. We then went on about half a mile and tied up alongside Victoria Park, opposite Newbury Wharf (picture including the Canal Society building ) and meandered into town to do a bit of shopping, and to let Carol look at the flows around Newbury Lock.

Newbury Lock is very picturesque and is just a few yards off the main street, with a very good butchers shop almost on the bridge. We love Walkers pork pies but their pie was nearly as good. Lily arrived at Newbury Lock at 13.45 and the afternoon followed with very slow cruising at just above tickover with my shirt off & Carol wishing she could have done so too! Although the railway is very close along all this length, it was never really intrusive and the scenery was wonderful. I made a few notes to pass on to the BW Customer Services Manager, might as well keep them on their toes, though they do at least mow the towpath here.

We stopped for the day just above Copse Lock at 16.15. Just 4 miles and 6 locks. It is as far away from the railway as anywhere along this stretch, but moorings along the canal are not easy, I must get a mud weight!! We got out our chairs and sat on the towpath in the sun, and were pleased to see far more btterflies than we have seen previously this summer. Our butterfly book is not good but one was a White Admiral I believe and another a Comma and possibly a Marbled White. We also ate on the towpath later, by which time it had almost become the M4 for cyclists! They were all very pleasant. A really lovely day.

Wednesday dawned bright but initially overcast, though the clouds were breaking as we set off at 9.15 and my shirt was off for a short time a little later, but the wind blew a bit cool. Fabulously beautiful along here. We left Kintbury Lock just after a couple of other boats, and greast excitement as we approached the next lock as we saw a pair of water voles. As we were leaving the lock we saw another boat arrive so we waited in Wire Lock for them to arrive. Whilst waiting for them there was the whistle of a steam train and a heritage express flew past pulled by a streamliner. A Google search showed it to be "Bittern", unfortunately I didn't get a really good look at it, but it was good to see and hear. Magic Moments with Marayn & Steve joined us and we this lock & Dunmill Lock too, though kindly boaters coming the other way did all the work for us.

We have been undecided about travelling all the way down to Bristol, but reports from the last few people we have asked has decided us, we are going to do so. It was nearly lunchtime & we all wanted to stop & upon reaching Hungerford found pretty good moorings and wandered into the town. It is very pretty, and if you want antiques or ladies hairdressers or clothes, it is ideal.

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