Monday, 13 July 2015

We are back

Saturday 11th July
Caen Hill Marina to Black Horse Pub, Devizes
2.25 miles, 26 locks

Firstly apologies for some funny coloured background to some of the text, but I have had so much trouble with the internet, that I am not about to 'mess about' to get it right and risk losing it all.  We seem to be in a communication desert, so blog posts may not come that often.

After a busy time at home for both crews we were back at the marina on the evening of Thursday 10th July.  We had had a raft of appointments whilst at home and also a great family weekend (4/5 July) with the weather good enough for the five grandchildren to enjoy time in a paddling pool.

followed by a BBQ and a birthday cake for our ‘Boys Birthday Bash’.  Our son, his son and our daughter’s eldest son all have birthdays in July.

Friday was a day to shop and sort ourselves out.  In the afternoon Chris, Boatwif, Monty and I walked up the flight of locks to the Black Horse Pub, three locks from the top.  We were booked in for dinner on the Saturday, along with two moorings and a car parked for the day – it seemed wise to check and sample the local ale before we headed back to the marina.


It also allowed for photos that we might not have time for the next day whilst busy locking.  

At the bottom lock we came across a well dressed ‘naval’ crew receiving locking instruction from the Foxhanger hire boat staff.

Ecologists might find this of interest

There was certainly plenty of reed

The Caen Hill flight of 16 locks – very impressive, if not a little daunting from the bottom!

Passage is strictly monitored and controlled mostly by Volunteer Lock Keepers.  There were 4 on duty on Saturday when we were going up and I have to say we found them very helpful and informative.  We were sorry to hear from them how much abuse they receive at times – one was physically threatened recently and despite being a retired prison officer (and as he put it – he is used to moving backwards very fast!) he was shaken by the experience.  I am so pleased that we have never experienced anything remotely like that at Stoke where we are VLKs when we are at home.

A lot of the locks have plaques and I guess it is fair enough that the top lock should be in honour of the President of the K & A Trust.

There are side ponds which are not used in the way we are used to seeing them on the Hanbury Flight near Droitwich 

Does anyone have any idea why these poles have knitted ‘tubes’ round them??  I should have asked a VLK the next day, but forgot!


I do wish a few more cyclists could read!

Back at the marina as we walked back to the boats (we were about as far away from the main entrance as possible) we had to pass these two residents and their young family.  Despite having Monty with us they did not turn a hair, not even a solitary hiss.

This lady on the other hand got very agitated and had a real go at us (good Mum that she is).  We could see she was trying to get her brood across the track to the water, so we stood back and waited.  I had seen this family before so knew there had been 8 ducklings, so where were the other two?

They had stayed on the other side of the track and were hiding in long grass making a lot of noise for things so small.  One scurried across the join the family

But Mum had to go back for number 8.

This was the sorry sight from our bow – someone’s pride and joy no doubt.

One of the reasons for us doing the walk on Friday was to give some idea of time for our friends who were coming to join us on Saturday morning – 45 to 50 minutes was the answer.  Now bear in mind we have not seen Dee and Steve for 23 years and they have never boated, we did wonder if they might decide they did not ever want to see us again!  Talk about a baptism of fire!!  The weather was, at least, glorious.  

They were at the bottom lock as agree when we arrived about 10:15.  A whistle stop tour of the essentials – loo, tea, coffee, mugs and milk and they were left to fend for themselves and chat to Chris whilst the locking began

Once they had got their breath back they were put to work!  I have to say a huge thank you from all four of us as they certainly spread the load.  Steve was a whizz on the locks, Dee also did a good number of locks, but she also kept us going with tea, sarnies and cake (lemon and blueberry drizzle cake that she had brought with her – there is no other way to describe it other than ‘yummy’!!) – such a vital role and much appreciated.

There was an ice cream boat after the first six locks – energy was required for the next 20!  Monty queued up patiently and was rewarded with one much smaller than this one.  They were very good and this size was sold as a ‘small’!!


The locks were very busy – we gather there was about 6 boats all day last Saturday, but for us it was like Piccadilly Circus!  Boats in front and behind.  We parted beautifully for this wide beam and at one point had to negotiate two narrow boats tied together as one had broken down.  I was on the helm at that point, so no photos!  I must remember to give Chris the camera as well as the dog when we swap!

Just to prove he does have to wind locks as well as steer.

This is the view down the hill from lock 38.

Finally into the last lock

And then we were moored up outside a very busy pub.  Thankfully it all went without a hitch, so no excitement for the spectators.  The meal in the pub was okay – pub grub, but it served its purpose and was a great way to end our day with Dee and Steve.  They assured us that they enjoyed the day and we have agreed we must not leave it another 23 years!

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