Greenham Lock to Woolhampton Lock
Others were on the move before us this morning, so the lock was emptied before we could make use of it, well there was the Saturday newspaper to buy and a bar of chocolate!
A little after 11 we pushed off to the welcome sight of a boat coming up Greenham Lock. It took a little while for the penny to drop why they were taking so much time to fill the lock, of course we are now on the Newbury to Reading stretch where all the locks have a tendency to be fierce as they fill. We swapped with the boat and descended away from Newbury.
At Ham Lock Mick made sure the stern rope wouldn’t fall and get wrapped round the prop and our transit through here was much quicker than on our way up!
There are some dogs that are not content unless they have a stick to take with them on a walk. Well along the next stretch there was one such dog determined to get a good stick. He found one and tried his best to pull it out from the undergrowth. It came right across the towpath but no further, his owner persuaded him to leave it.
But the woofer wasn’t content and still needed a stick, a good stick. So he decided to pick his own, unsuccessfully!
Autumn colour may be slow round here to get going, but the leaves on the ground are starting to build up, it’ll soon be leaf kicking time!
Our first swing bridge was being held open as we approached. It was hard to see the boats coming as they were round the bend taking their time. Two recently picked up hire boats being very careful leaving the lock so we managed to sneak through the bridge before they’d got anywhere near it, they spotted us in time so left the gates open too.
As I lifted the paddles at a lock two cheery people walked up to say hello. I recognised them straight away and had been hoping our paths might cross, Mick needed a touch of reminding. It was Ann-Marie and Dave from NB Legend. We’d passed their boat a few weeks back just below the summit on our way west, but I hadn’t spotted them on our way back.
We met Ann-Marie and Dave about three years ago on quite a fateful day. They are great friends of Alison and Laura who used to own NB Large Marge. There was time for a quick chat, they’d just moved their car and would be following on shortly by boat. Hopefully we’ll get chance to have a better chat as both boats will be waiting for the Thames to go down.
Monkey Marsh Lock needed filling, so Mick came to lend a hand. The first of the turf sided locks they take an age to fill. I sat on the beam waiting for the last few inches to fill up, this takes about twice as much water as on a standard lock. Mick decided to give his beam a good old heave ho and surprisingly managed to hold it open a touch to help equalise the levels.
The moorings at Thatcham were still filled with C&RT boats, but two others had managed to sneak on the end, no space for us.
Approaching Midgham Lock we didn’t know what was happening. A wide beam was winding, were they heading for the lock? Were they planning to moor? Which ever there was a narrowboat in the way, one coming up on the lock, the other wanting to pull out from having lunch. Eventually it was obvious they were wanting to moor up so we pulled up and shared the lock with the narrowboat.
The crew were jolly companions on NB Seraph, helping to move a friends boat back up towards Napton, they were only out for the weekend. We shared a couple of locks and swung bridges together letting them continue without us when we found a space before the moorings at Woolhampton Lock.
We could get the bow in and tied on the last ring of the moorings, but to be anyway level the stern had to be quite a long way out. This would do us.
This would certainly do me! Trees, friendly cover as far as the eye could see, brilliant! I came home once, but got far too busy to come home when called the first time. She however caught me in a lull of excitement just before the lights went out.
A batch of biscuit dough made and in the fridge for fit-up biscuits, my sour dough starter out of the fridge warming up and a roast chicken in the oven. I could then sit down and sort out my receipts so far for Chippy.
We decided that sorting our list out everytime a boat filled the lock was pointless, so waited til after dark when boat movements would stop. The stove was lit and tonight for the first time this year we’d keep it in overnight as the temperature is set to drop to around 4 degrees.
8 locks, 5.94 miles, 4 swing bridges, 1 locking partner, 1 newspaper, 1 big stick, 1 batch of biscuits ready, 1 sponge ready, 1 roast chicken ready and in our tummies, 1 outside contender for a stamp, 2 more hours would have swung it, 1 batch receipts, 1 invoice, 1 cosy boat, 2 yellow decreasing boards!