5.5 miles, 7 locks, 2 swing bridges
The decision was made last night to delay our start from our usual 10am to 11:30 allowing time for shopping. Whilst we were out fellow bloggers nb Freespirit and their travelling companions nb Vixen went past us. We left on schedule and into the town lock in Newbury. I asked what these black 'handles' were?
As others have pointed out - the locks round here have interesting gaps in the gates
Under the Town Bridge
To find this cruiser trying to get under the bridge before Victoria Park - would he or wouldn't he make it? We gather he didn't and had to turn back.
Into the park to find Sola Gratia, Vixen and Freespirit with Waiouru all lined up. Sola Gratia and Waiouru had been there over night and the other two had stopped to shop. We spotted Tim from Solo Gratia walking guide dog Oakley. Monty greeted his friend with loud squeaks, but no chance to play today. We heard from Tim that his Dad died yesterday - sad news and it will mean a delay to their walk, but it will happen in due course. Our sympathies to you all Tim, Tracey and the family.
When the Captain came out of the chandlery he had a gift for Boatwif. Now I know we ladies can be thrilled with gifts from our best beloveds, but I never thought I would hear such excitement and appreciation for a pack of bungee cords!!
When we were both nearly finished Monty and I walked ahead to get Ham Lock ready and spotted this hotel boat making it's way to the marina - a tight squeeze and no mistake. It was a good job no one was coming. I believe there was a bit of a jam, but we missed it.
The lock was ready as the hotel boat had recently left it, so I opened the gates and Monty and I waited when suddenly he was fully alert - what had he seen? Boatwif on the way with her windlass.
Expecting Tentatrice and Cleddau to arrive we were surprised that they had been beaten to it by Freespirit and Vixen and we were left in a queue. It had been agreed, however, that if there were two spaces at Thatcham they would take them both and then we could shuffle and breast up with our travelling companions. A sound plan, but would it work?
We made it out eventually - there were boats going up and down all over the place
What a wonderful place to have your lunch on such a lovely day - the only downside - the lady did not want to go back to work.
This stretch is called 'The Long Cut' - quite appropriate
The last lock before Thatcham is called Monkey Marsh and it is one of the only two in the UK that has sides made of earth and plants rather than bricks.
It is a very long lock, so slow to fill and empty, but it does have an attraction all its own.
And so to Thatcham where we wanted to moor - would our plan work?, sadly not! - no Freespirit or Vixen and no space for more than a very small cruiser. These are 48 hour moorings and we are sure that at least one, if not two of these boats have not moved for quite a while.
My bit of natural history for today - large banks of Buddleia.
Colthrop lock is looking very smart - new paint and the landing stage has been restored from something unusable to a very good and safe structure. It is good to see that some really good maintenance is taking place at this end of the canal.
Just before Midgham lock we spotted nb Vixen moored on the left and nb Freespirit on the right. Ian and Irene from Freespirit were waiting to take ropes from us and we made it in - just. We were very grateful for the help as we were all ready to stop!
We have had to deploy the gangplank, but at last Monty seems to have got the hang of it, so that is no problem.
A rather different view from my computer today.
The lesson learnt today - don't delay departure!
A postscript from yesterday's blog with reference to the animal droppings