Bradford on Avon
Mick was up and off early this morning to catch numerous trains north. Tilly and I stayed in bed for a while longer, until the local ducks decided to clean the water line of Oleanna for us!
A work day for me. After breakfast I walked up the towpath to Sainsburys for a top up shop to keep us going to get to Bath. Mick wouldn’t be back until late so the biggest decision was what to eat tonight. I returned with some sad gits salmon which I’d have with some pasta, but I managed to forget to get some milk.
As I worked through a few alterations on my Houdini model several hire boats were returned to the hire base opposite. A very smelly black smoking narrowboat was reversed back to the pump out then all went quiet. The day was grey and occasionally drizzly, Tilly wound herself up into a circle on her day bed and slept away all the morning and quite a chunk of the afternoon leaving me in peace.
I woke my sour dough starter up, giving it a feed so that I could make some pizza dough for tomorrow. Finished off some sausages in a butty and made a 1:8.5 version of the water torture cabinet for Houdini. This is so that I can put my mobile phone inside it to represent a TV screen, so that we can try out an effect before the real one gets built.
All the hire bases had sent out the next batch of boats and they all seemed to be arriving at the lock here at the same time. The Americans we’d encountered at Foxhangers slowly approached taking ten minutes to pass us and then breasted up with the boat infront of us. At one time it looked like two of their crew, who were trying to hold their boat against the other, were about to do the splits and end up in the cut. Someone came to their aid and ropes were used instead of humans.
Stumpy was coping fairly well after it’s knock the other day. It’s amazing how much you rest your hand on your little finger as you draw and paint things. Once I’d completed building the cabinet I decided to give my fingers a rest and go out for an explore.
I walked down the canal past the lock where at 5pm three volunteers were trying to sort out the masses of hire boats still arriving. Two breasted up on the services mooring and two on the lock landing with two just leaving the lock below. I think the volunteers were hoping to make their exit, but were checking if everyone was alright before doing so.
A wiggle around various buildings to get back onto the towpath. Shh! don’t tell Tilly, but down here would have been very good for her. No road, a park not of the car variety, trees, walls, and a 14th Century Tithe Barn to explore. Because I’d left it so late the Tithe Barn which was part of Barton Grange Farm was all locked up, but from out side it is quite a building, possibly the largest and finest example of a medieval barn in England.
I walked across the park, checked both ways on the railway line and headed up an alleyway, Barton Orchard an old packhorse way which ran from the farm to Bath. Here there are weavers dwellings with workrooms at the top, No 3 was the clothiers house and below the road you can hear Ladywell spring. In the 17th Century Bradford on Avon had it’s most successful period in the textile industry, many of the properties date from this time.
All made from Bath stone, Jurassic Limestone there is not a single brick in view. Houses were built up the steep hill with narrow alleyways connecting each level. Each big house doing it’s best to better the last.
During the Industrial Revolution the textile workers moved to purpose built mills by the river where they harnessed the power from water and steam to power the looms. Thirty mills prospered along the river until the 19th Century when the centre of the English woolen industry moved to Yorkshire. The last mill here closed in 1905.
I had a wander around, alleyways appealing would lead me to another road and more stone buildings. Very dark clouds had been hanging over the town since I left Oleanna and finally they decided to dump their rain. A dash into a Co-op for the milk I’d forgotten got me out of the worst of it.
There was plenty more to explore, but my model was calling me in from the rain. Back at the lock two boats had just gone down and another two hire boats were arriving above, crew looking a touch like rabbits in headlights, their first lock.
I toyed with helping, but didn’t want to get any wetter and I still had more work to do. The last two boats came by at around 7pm, the last one pulling up on the services mooring, leaving the lock till morning.
Mick came home after I’d enjoyed my salmon and pasta, I finally finished painting my giant model cabinet just before 10pm. A good days work and exploring whilst Mick spent hours on trains.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1 loaf of bread, 1 forgotten 2 pints milk, 5 cables not 6, 1 new proscenium, 1:8.5 cabinet, 1 feline assistant checking things over, 14 hire boats, 2 splits, 1 bruised stumpy, 6 trains, 1 sad gits salmon steak, 1 very bored cat, 1 box of paints, 3 head but bites, 1 tithe barn, 1 wealthy town, 0 bricks.