Category Archives: Theatre

In The Week Where The Thursday Is The First Thursday Following The 11th Of October. 16th October

Newbury

The Thames is still high, out of the reaches we’d need to cover five are ‘Caution Stream Increasing’ the rest ‘Caution Strong Stream’, no signs of it decreasing yet. Hopefully after a couple of dry days this will start to change.

A sneaky peek

Yesterday we decided to stay put until all my work is completed for Houdini and the bit of prep work for Panto I need to do. If then we have time to reach somewhere with a station nearer to Reading we’ll move. Getting closer towards the Thames would be a good thing and getting Oleanna through certain obstacles on the K&A would help too. This will give Mick more chance of reaching Abingdon or Oxford for my first weekend trip home from panto, that’s if the Thames goes down.

and another

So today I knuckled down, hoping to finish my model and any amendments to drawings for Houdini. Only one drawing left to do, a cross section. Lots of photos of the model to show the Director, Lighting Designer, Writer/Actor, Videographer. Just annoying that the internet started playing games as everything was uploading!

An Autumnal Mick

Mick cycled off to Halfords for some engine oil. Then he did a biggish shop at Sainsbury’s. They keep giving us really good vouchers so it would be silly not to use them. It’s that thing they do at this time of year, they think they have got you hooked with free nectar points, money off etc. so you’ll do your Christmas food shop with them. For us it tops up the nectar points that we may or may not be able to spend on a Christmas food shop. If all goes according to plan, our bird will come from the butchers in Braunston and our veg from the Post Office at Napton, so our points will wait for another time.

Mick spent the rest of the afternoon sat out the back, keeping out of my way and chaperoning Tilly. It was such a mild afternoon that I had the hatch open for much of it and Tilly could return as often as she liked. The Fish Selection Pocket Pillows have nothing to do with it! They are rather nice, thank you to Joa or Adam for them, although I think I still prefer the Chicken and Cheese ones.

Autumnal catwalk

She’d had enough after a while and returned to sleep leaving her chaperone outside. He eventually came in to carry on working his way through programmes on the channel tunnel, Heathrow and the first series of Star Trek.

Why the title? Today is the first day of Newbury’s Michaelmas Fair which happens in the week where the Thursday is the first Thursday following the 11th of October. It dates back to the 17th Century when Shepherds and Maids turned up to seek work in the town. It is about a mile away, but we could just about make out the words coming across the PA. Neither of us are big fans of fairs, so I doubt we’ll be paying it a visit. Although the fireworks on Friday may be worth it if we are still here.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0 steps of the boat for me, 4 hours, 10 litres oil, 4 boxes wine, 1 model finished, 2 groundplans, 6 sheets, 1 cross section still to go, 25 year anniversary, 2,000 robot women, 2nd left over pork meal, teriyaki stir fry.

Chaperoned. 15th October

Newbury

Left floating, right sunk!

Time for breakfast, we’d some big eggs to eat so a couple of poached eggs each to start the day. We have poach pods and normally only two sit in the pan to poach. But today with four in there it was a little bit cramped, so much so two of them decided to sink! So we had one poached egg and a boiled egg each. Getting the timings right was a touch harder than normal as they were so big to start with. But they turned out well. The yolks on the sunk ones just, but only just starting to thicken up, so lovely and creamy. Yum!

Hmmm

A dry day, the first in an age! The thought of maybe having to put up with a bored cat for a week made us reassess shore leave. It was decided that she could go out if chaperoned.

Tilly and I went out to access the situation, the river had quite a flow to it and was making a noise which caught Tilly’s attention. An amorous couple across the way did too, I told her not to stare! The noise was off putting and the trees were more attractive. So up into the ivy of a dead tree she scurried, the only sign of her position was the waving branches.

One sluice open from the canal to the river

Mick took over so that I could get some work done. The aim to get all my model wet so that it would have to have time to dry, meaning we could go out for a walk and explore Newbury.

That’s interesting

The warmer and drier weather meant this took some doing as everything was drying quickly. Tilly came in to lend a paw. Today for the first time she became fascinated with the paint water. I’ve been fortunate that she’s not noticed it before and today I was able to keep an eye on her.

I’ll just put my paw in it

Houdini our previous second mate, couldn’t keep her paws out of water pots. When I worked full time I had to remember at the end of the day to pour the contents away. If I ever left it on my work bench, by the morning it was guaranteed to be spilt over everything! Living on a boat means I am very unlikely to leave my water out as we’d be needing the table for other things.

Mid afternoon we set off to stretch our legs. I was after some grey card and we wanted to see if we could get rid of some rubbish. Newbury is quite a good place to be for transport, shopping and things to do, but unless you pay at a marina there is no water and there are no bin stores along the towpath, these are marina based also. So Sainsburys got our recycling, then we set off to walk to Hobbycraft.

Much nicer than the dual carriageway

The walk involved dual carriageways, underpasses which after a while I decided wasn’t worth all the noise and pollution for two pieces of card which I could get away with not using. So we turned back towards town to see what was on offer.

Clock Tower

A large town center with many big names including John Lewis and Lakeland tucked away to the side in a new shopping area. The main street is long and ends with a clock tower. Here fingers point towards Oxford and Bath. Oxford closer, but inaccessible to us for the time being.

Bath feels so much closer right now

We had a good nosy around the shops, if you ever want to buy marker pens go into Wilko first before WH Smith, they are a third the price there! I maybe got a couple of things for Christmas too and we had a discussion as to whether one decoration on a tree in John Lewis was a pie or pudding.

Pie or Pudding? The holly thew him!

More Houdini model painting before I put it all together, but by this time it was a touch too dark to check to see what else I might want to do to it. Hopefully not too much more, then I can have a couple of days off before Panto starts in earnest.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4 eggs, 2 floating , 2 sunk, 1 engine run, 8 red boards, 1 purple wash, 1 hour shore leave, 1 blue sky, 1 canoodling couple, 1 tree conquered, 2 red tabs moved, 2 black tabs okay, 0 grey card, 1 paw painting assistant, 1st pork left overs, paprika pork and peppers.

Strong Stream. 13th October

Wire Lock to West Mills, Newbury

Yet another wet morning, we loitered a while before inevitably getting wet.

Just touches of colour starting to show

At Kintbury we pulled in, filled the water tank, emptied the yellow water, cleaned out Tilly’s pooh box and disposed of rubbish, all the time getting wetter. A chap was coming up in the lock hoping to find a space on the 48hr moorings. He complained of the same boats frequenting the moorings here and nobody doing anything about it. He found a space anyway so could dry off and enjoy the rest of his Sunday, whilst we got wetter.

Is that the river joining us?

Soon we were joined by the River Kennet. It meanders around not quite knowing what it’s doing. In some places channels join the canal, others water drains off. At one place water seemed to be coming into the canal whilst at the same time dropping down through a hole into the center of the earth! Sorry no photo as it was a touch wet!

There were quite a few moving boats, well it was starting to dry up! A couple of boats were coming up in locks as we arrived, one lady needing assistance with a lock gate. I asked where they were heading, both up and over the top in the next couple of days. Neither of them knew about the locks up to the summit being locked overnight. Have to say that unless you look at the occasional notice board or get C&RT notices there is nothing to tell you. Some people didn’t like the notices attached to lock gates earlier in the year on the Grand Union, at least they made you aware of when things would be locked up. Both boats seemed to be heading to Bedwyn so they’d be going over the top in the morning.

Train!

Gradually our waterproofs stopped dripping. Having said that Micks new ones were holding up pretty well, whilst mine had just been absorbing the rain! That’s one thing to add to the Christmas list.

A hire boat was coming up Guyers Lock. It looked like a daughter and Mum and Dad. Dad at the helm and the ladies with windlasses. The daughter suggested getting on board to her Mum so that they could leave the lock, ‘Better do as I’m told!’ was said through gritted teeth. Think they are going to have a lovely week!

Mum, miserable. Dad concerned, Daughter working the lock, Stalker stalking.

Now, there are people who come to watch at locks, there are those who love to help, there are those who think they look after stretches of canal even though they have nothing to do with C&RT. Here there was a chap who had helped the hirers, he asked if I wanted help with the gates just as Mick hopped off to close the offside one. This was the gate that got stuck when we came up, Mick joked about leaving it open as he eventually managed to close it. The chap (wearing high-vis) said he’d make a note of it and get it seen to, but this wasn’t his lock.

Maybe he was a volunteer bored on a Sunday afternoon, so had come out to help at the locks without a windlass. The lock emptied and he took pictures of something below the lock a little like he was doing an inspection. As we left he got on his bike and cycled along stopping for us to catch up several times, I found it a bit creepy to be honest as though he was stalking us.

Think that tree isn’t very well

Tomorrow two dead ash trees are to be felled along the towpath and signs discouraging mooring by them were evident. We carried on hoping for somewhere with a touch less footfall. Mr Man was waiting for us at the v e r y s l o w swing bridge. There was space before the lock so Mick went to moor up whilst the b r i d g e s l o w l y c l o s e d, the current taking him by surprise and necessitating a good blast of reverse to be able to position Oleanna better to moor up. Mr Man loitered at the next lock, after quarter of an hour he cycled off, we’d lost him at last.

A quick H&S check for Tilly. Here there is a little garden that was proving popular and behind it the Kennet. We looked at the river, not docile infact it had quite a strong stream. As much as we would like to let Tilly out we decided that shore leave was cancelled for today, if she happened to fall in who knows where she’d end up. As I explained this to her she wasn’t impressed. I’m a very good swimmer I’ll have you know!

But those trees look extra good!

More work on Houdini for me, checking out sight lines because a set of black tabs won’t pull right off out of view. This meant having to chop my mud banks up and making them good again.

Whilst we waited for our mammoth pork joint to cook, we checked out the River Thames conditions. Yellow boards for the second day of our journey upstream and one red board. Not good. One thing is certain we won’t be cruising upstream on the Thames in a few days, we just need to work out where is best for us to wait and for me to be able to get to Chippy in a weeks time.

Have to say I managed to do some very good crackling on the pork today. Whether it was leaving it out of its packaging under a tea towel in the fridge over night, or because it took almost three hours to cook I don’t know, but what ever it was it worked. We’ll be eating pork now for the remainder of the week.

8 locks, 6.88 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 load washing, 1 clean pooh box, 1 empty wee tank, 1 full water tank, 1 more wet day, 1 red board, 5 yellow, 1 boat will not be going far for a while, 1 cat stuck indoors, looking at those great trees!

Cobblers! 12th October

Froxfield Bottom Lock to Wire Lock 76

At least the
fungi are enjoying the weather

Another morning with no cuppa in bed, another morning putting on waterproofs, another morning feeling to see which pair of shoes are the driest, another damp soggy day. At least it wasn’t as windy as yesterday had been.

All the locks ahead of us were empty some requesting to be left so, others maybe leaked over night or were we following someone down? It didn’t matter we were at least back on schedule which necessitates a four hour cruise each day.

Cobblers!

At Cobbler’s Lock our third of the day a chap busied himself outside the cottage. He’d been chopping logs, inside a big screen TV showed a marathon somewhere. A paddle at the bottom end needed dropping before the chamber could be filled, the pound below looked to be a couple of feet down from it’s normal mark, the bywash ran into it. We’ve certainly seen worse levels in the past.

Mick had a look, the chap from the cottage had a look, he’d never seen it so low! No lift for me to the next lock, I’d be walking so that Mick didn’t have to bring Oleanna into the side and risk getting grounded.

Going down

In she went and the water drained out as usual. I opened a bottom gate, but Oleanna was going nowhere. She’d developed a jaunty list at the bottom of the lock, she was sat on something and wasn’t going anywhere fast. Only one thing for it to try to flush her off whatever it was. I lifted a paddle above hoping the surge of water would help push her free and give Mick chance to move her a touch to be able to get out the lock. This worked after a while and she moved over to the other side of the lock. Next thing was to get her over the bottom cill, more water was needed. A couple of minutes and she was free, into the next pound.

Sitting at the top gates as the lock fills

Mick kept her central and slowly made his way to Marsh Lock another that has to be left empty. The bottom gates were open as were their want. so A top paddle was cracked open to hold them closed as I walked back to the top to fill the lock. Mick brought Oleanna in to meet the top gates, hoping that here she would stay afloat as the lock filled. Off to a slight angle and she grounded, it took a bit to get her off all the time the level dropping to fill the lock.

No water going over the bywash here
How inconsiderate!

Once level I opened a gate, the bow came over the cill it was time to open the swing bridge that sits over the lock. This was also easier said than done. The big bolt was already undone but it wouldn’t shift. I crossed over and tried starting it from the other side, it moved thank goodness. Oleanna came into the lock now with a decent amount of water underneath her, we were free of the troublesome pound.

Mick leaving the lock, bridge back in place

Oleanna dropped down to the next level, a pair of walkers swung the bridge back for us now that Mick’s head was low enough in the chamber. Onwards to the next swing bridge that was also too stiff to move at first, but I got it going in the end.

There was a space on the 24hr visitor mooring. Here I’d identified as a good spot for gunnel painting. We were facing the right way with starboard side to the towpath, but the constant rain put paid to any intention of getting the paint out.

The couple from the boat in front made sure we knew where Tescos was as they emptied their ash into the hedgerow, good job it was raining! They’d also had difficulty the other day when they came down and had managed to get their rear button stuck between the top gates as the lock emptied! The chap was pleased that he’d secured a mooring below the lock that they could move onto on Monday. Good for him but that meant another 48hrs on the 24hr mooring, but it did mean they only had one more chance to sink their boat!

A stock up on fresh items in town and a pork pie for Mick’s lunch from the nice butchers. We were still soggy so decided to carry on to where we hoped to moor for the day before having lunch, it was still early.

We’d just missed going down Hungerford Lock with a hire boat so had to reset it and as we were opening the bottom gates another boat appeared behind us wanting to come down. The service mooring was occupied so we carried on without topping up the tank, we could do that tomorrow.

Sharing again

Towards Dun Mill Lock we could see we were being followed by the hire boat, their bow wave visible before them. The lady waved to attract our attention as I crossed over to open the other gate for them. Mick hopped off to hold Oleanna into the side making room for them, they still pulled into the lock landing to drop the lady off and then proceeded to crash into the lock approach.

Off they go

Yesterday they had been caught out by a lock towards the summit being locked ‘early’ at 3pm so they were in a rush now to get back to Aldermaston for Monday morning and they’d just found out that the canal in Newbury would close at 4pm today for an event. A shame the hire base didn’t seem to have mentioned to them about the locks up to the summit being locked at 3pm and there was no chance they’d make Newbury before 4pm.

We shared two locks with them and then parted company as there was space below Wire Lock for us. Here the railway line is on the off side meaning Tilly could have an explore.

New and old versions

During the afternoon I finished my new bridge and luckily found time to make a new chair. This has now been put inside a box to keep it way from the feline assistants jaws!

With the constant rain of the last couple of days we have started to think of contingency plans should the Thames go onto Red boards and us not be able to make it to Oxford in time for me to go to work in Chipping Norton. Trains from Reading, but then the Kennet may go into flood too. Mick asked on the local facebook group for local knowledge. The first few answers suggested all the things we already do, like keeping an eye on levels and getting C&RT notices. Then at last a couple of people gave us useful information and not just about getting through Woolhampton lock and swing bridge.

New and old versions

If the rain keeps coming Mick may be left further upstream than Reading. But for now we’ll carry on as planned, getting wet every day.

7 locks, 5.01 miles, 2 obstinate swing bridges, 1 lumpy lock, 2 ft down, 72 hrs, 24 hrs, 1 newspaper, 1 joint of pork for 10! 1 pork pie, 0 card, 1 new bridge, 1 new super poisonous chair, 2 soggy days in a row, 2 soggy boaters, 1 muddy cat.

Fruit Salad. 11th October

Woolfhall Bridge to above Froxfield Bottom Lock 70

Still needing to catch up, the alarm was set again this morning. Not sure what time the locks were unlocked, but we took C&RT at their word and waited until 9am. Well it did mean being able to upload a blog post and check through emails whilst we had signal, unlike this evening!

The far paddle does it’s best to sneak closed whilst nobody looks

All the Crofton Locks are left empty which meant each and everyone one of them needed the bottom paddles and gates closing before we could start to fill them. This all takes time. I walked down to get the second one filling whilst the top one did too, but all the others were just that bit too far to walk to set ahead on a muddy towpath.

I love the ties holding the gates into the wall

You are asked not to moor in the flight, but two cruisers have tagged themselves onto the end of lock landings. One was there when we came through a month ago, but neither of us remembered it being half sunk. I wonder if the C&RT notice went on it before or after it took on water?

Wessex Rose hotel boat and the sunk cruiser

Coming up in the last lock was Wessex Rose a hotel boat. Very smart it was and it’s thrusters proved to be useful as they let us past before carrying on up the flight.

The weather was foul, wet and very windy. I’d put on my padded waterproof trousers thinking it would be cold, but these made me just the wrong temperature whilst working down the locks. Later on I did feel the benefit though as the locks got further apart.

Plenty of water in the river next door

The engine pound was only six inches down today but no boats were taking advantage of it. This is where we should have been last night, so we still had some distance to go today.

A nice but noisy mooring now full of water

No train obliged for THE photo as Oleanna moved thorough the pound. Maybe be a touch of manipulation for our Christmas card would be required!

A nest nestled on a lock wall

The distance between locks now grew, the first few needing to be left empty still so necessitated being filled first. As we got close to Bedwyn we could see a paddle was up, then the figure of a less than enthusiastic person opened the gate and walked back to get their boat. I walked up to close the gate for them and shouted hello down to the helm. Concentration however meant it fell on deaf ears. The chap carried on as usual, once the center line was tied up he turned towards the gate and did a double take at me being there. We helped him up the lock and compared notes on available moorings before we carried on in our opposite directions.

By now we had bywashes, each of them only just coping with the amount of water flowing down them, it wouldn’t have taken much more water for them to back up.

At Burnt Mill Lock ( ?) sat on the curved structure where a swing bridge once sat was a floral tribute to a Grandad. Green wellies some roses and runner beans, he’d obviously been a keen gardener.

A DIY
Fruit Salad

As we filled the lock we spotted a banana and a pineapple, we could make our own fruit salad! Why people throw their unwanted fruit and veg in the canal baffles me, earlier I’d seen half a butternut squash!

Lock 67 and another boat was heading uphill, they kindly opened the gates so I could hop onto Oleanna, the drop down onto her only just manageable still as the lock emptied.

Dropping down

Rain came and went. Emails regarding safety deposit boxes in the vault of the Bank of England came to and fro from Plymouth. My shoes squelched, we were damp and ready to stop. With fingers crossed we dropped down Lock 69, a couple of boats in view but long lengths of Armco available.

The wind had been very strong most of the morning so we chose a spot with the least amount of tree cover, found our nappy pins and moored up for the day. Internet intermittent at best, phone signal none existent and TV reception very poor, but Tilly was happy.

I spent much of the rest of the day making a new supposedly simpler version of the transporter bridge. My first attempt failed, but by the end of the evening I’d made the two horizontals, that would do me.

Funghi

Mick found things to watch from the PVR and managed to find the 2 hour programme All Aboard showing two hours of cruising along the Kennet and Avon Canal. He thought it might be interesting now that we’ve been there. It certainly was. Starting at Bath Top Lock 13 it slowly moves it’s way towards Bradford on Avon. Sadly our internet coverage didn’t help and we gave up with it after half an hour. It must have been filmed on an electric boat as there was no engine noise, did Paul from Waterway Routes have anything to do with it? Amazing how many boats we recognized including the first one that came into shot on the Bath moorings, NB Chapmans Rusty!

Today we found out about those blue topped posts near Bradford.  They have been put in for contractors, volunteers and staff to be aware of habitats in between the arrows. This could be newly planted small trees or quite often glow worms. It helps workers to not strim right back and decimate them. This explains why some of them have photos of insects stapled to them.

15 locks, 5.28 miles, 1 soggy day, 0.5 butternut squash, 1 banana, 1 pineapple, 2 wellies, 0 train when you need one, 2 many trains when you don’t, 2 horizontals, 0 internet, 0 phone, 0 TV, 3 hours of great fun!

Catching Up. 10th October

All Cannings to Wolfhall Bridge 103

Yesterday we’d stopped short of our planned destination for the day, today we needed to catch up. So the alarm went off, we had breakfast and were ready to push off into the chilly morning. At least the sun was out and we might be able to see the views that the cloud had shrouded on our way west.

Sun’s out

There are so many boats moored along the Long Pound, progress was very slow but at least Alton Barnes White Horse was in view for much of our way. Then we skirted round the Wiltshire mounds to our north were ancient terracing is very evident.

Mounds

Under Lady’s Bridge and past the wide water where a chap was just coming out of his boat full of the joys of spring!

Terraced Pickle

Just before Pewsey Winding Hole a chap pointed at us from the bow of his boat and then three others waved.

The Rustys

The Rustys had winded this morning and managed to get their boat just about into the side to moor so that they could go for an exploration. our boats were finally pointing different directions and our paths wouldn’t cross again. Hope their trip back to Hilperton is good. There was a bit of banter about meeting up next year, maybe Bingley.

Boat cat keeping an eye on us

We considered stopping to dispose of our yellow water but by the time we realised that the service mooring was actually free it was a touch late, so we carried onwards. The chilled medication emporium wasn’t open anyway!

Birdies

Approaching Wooton Rivers Mick took it very slowly, we didn’t want to get shouted at again. The boat in question seemed to have moved since we’d come the other way a month ago, by a full boat length! Maybe he’d been all the way to Bath and back having returned to the same spot, or maybe not.

At the bottom of the locks we disposed of all our rubbish with the handy recycling bins and then started to make our way up to the summit pound.

A chance photo paid off

Work emails kept me busy when not winding my windlass. Difficulty finding the paint I was after, where’s the drawing for the ladder, would I like an extra painty pair of hands in Chippy. This was all panto stuff, then the emails regarding Houdini started flying back and forth between the writer and production manager. All the time I was aware we would be heading into a black hole of communication once over the top.

Wooton Rivers Lock

Even though I was busy trying to respond to everyone there was still time to buy some eggs at our 2000th lock on Oleanna. I picked out the larger ones from the bottom tray thinking that they would be fresher than those on the top. I’d make use of these in the quinoa quiche I was making for tonight, we were a couple of eggs short before and now we had several very large eggs in hand.

As we pulled out of Brimslade Lock an abc hire boat came from the lock above. We left our gate for them as they closed the gates ahead of us. We all said hello and then we watched them pull into the lock landing to drop off crew, followed by having difficulty getting into the already open lock.

Last lock uphill

Cadley Lock was our last up hill. Sadly the plums by the top gate were now well past their best, most rotting on the floor making it very slippy under foot. But I was surprised at the number of butterflies here. About four fluttered their way around me, one hitching a lift on our roof for a distance. I’d have thought it was way past butterfly time.

Rotting plums

The locks up to the summit and down the other side are still being locked overnight at 3pm. We’d been caught out by the very low pound heading westwards and just made it to the top in time. With two more miles across the top we knew we wouldn’t be down the first set of locks by 3pm, so we’d find somewhere to moor instead. At least we’d caught up some of the time we’d lost yesterday, hopefully tomorrow we’ll get back to where we should be.

Hitching a lift

Through Savernake Tunnel we started to look for a possibility, the railway now very close by but on the off side, so Tilly would be safe. A short distance fro where we’d moored last time we pulled in by another boat. The water deep enough at the stern to get close, but the bow sitting a long way out. Here would do us for the day.

Out of the tunnel into the eastern side

Tilly jumped to the bank with ease and headed off to make friends. I then spent the next three hours trying to catch up on the Houdini emails about Kabouki drops and video footage, finally chipping my ideas into the mix that had been going back and forth all morning. My drawings were scanned and shared. Food put in the oven and after eating I finally got chance to do some model making. Four hours later I had a new version of the proscenium finished, it was now well past bedtime.

4 locks, 2000th on Oleanna, 11.96 miles, 1 final farewell, 1 white horse, 1 must have galloped away, 70 ft in a month, 6 giant eggs, 10 litres paint, 1 ladder, 20 pairs castors, 1 or 2 kabouki drops, 10 scanned drawings, 18 toing and froing emails, 1 prosc, 12 midnight finish., 1 black hole ahead

Finding Signal. 9th October

Devizes Wharf to All Cannings Visitor Moorings

Our suicidal cat managed to survive the night, A model Edwardian chair can’t be as poisonous as a bentwood or Chippendale. I still need to make a new one though as what was left by Tilly is only slightly useful for lighting the stove!

Nice pie shop
Plastic free dry ingredients

Before our order arrived from Sainsburys we took advantage of a later start and had a cooked breakfast. Then I popped out to have a ‘girl look’ around Devizes for some card. Sadly Mick’s boy look yesterday had been correct and he hadn’t over looked any. I found the bakers that sold him some pies yesterday, both gluten filled and free which were tasty. Several nice looking independent bakeries and The Healthy Life Co another shop where you can shop plastic free to add to the list, think I might start a separate page of these for easy reference.

The drivers brother runs one of the pubs in Stoke Bruern

Back at the wharf the Rustys were filling with water and heading to Pewsey today, this was also our goal, hopefully by 3pm when I was to have a phone call with Vienna. At 10:15 a Sainsbury’s van backed up to the boat, a very handy mooring for such things. Once off loaded and the perishables stowed we wanted to fill with water, but the Rustys were still there.

Mick went to check if all was okay. The red light had come on on their toilet, they needed a pump out. The hire base had said there was a pump out card they could use on board, but there was none to be found, someone was coming out to them, so they were staying put for the time being.

Bye bye White Swan maybe see you again next year

Talking of toilets. Since Mick unblocked our yellow water pipe on our toilet I can only just count to 6 when giving it a rinse. Just before it was looked at I could get up to 36! I think this is now better than when we first got the boat.

Then all got quite confusing. The boat in front of us started to reverse to the winding hole where he winded. So Mick set off thinking we’d get water further on. But as he pushed out the winded boat started to reverse past us. This took a bit of doing, as reversing does, we were most probably in their way and them in our way. He reversed to the bridge and then pulled into the now vacant service mooring, where had the Rustys gone? This should have been the end of boat manoeuvres but the chap on the reversing boat had hopped off with a centre line but left his boat in gear making it impossible to pull it into the bank. Mick had to get on board and put it in neutral. All was well and we could continue on our way.

Drawings for Houdini

I decided to stay below taking advantage of few obstacles on the Long Pound and continued with my technical drawings.

The Rustys. Would this be our final farewell, no they passed us later in torrential rain

There seemed to be lots of boats moving today, bottle necks at bridges, wide beams to pass both moored and moving. At the winding hole by Devizes Marina the Rustys had turned and waited for us to pass before heading back into town. They’d been told once the red light showed they would have ten flushes left before the tank was full. Two each with a couple spare, at least nobody was having to cross their legs!

We pulled in at Horton Bridge to make use of the water point, the washing machine had been in use, so a top up was required. No sooner had I started back at work and there was a swing bridge, after which I only had a bit more work to do managing to avoid a sudden downpour outside.

Working hard to get through the reeds

I’d timed my work quite well as we were now starting to cruise through the moundy landscape of Wiltshire. Plenty of reeds lined the way, a hire boat looked like they were ploughing their way through as they approached.

The bridge that nearly got away!

Showers came and went, the occasional strong gust of wind causing slight problems at the second swing bridge. Here I swung it back into position and as I crossed to secure the big bolt the wind caught it pushing it round, I managed to run back to dry land before I had nowhere to go. I pushed it back and then dashed across to get it secured before the next gust caught it. Mick said he’d have rescued me if needs had been.

Time was ticking on, we wouldn’t reach Pewsey by 3pm. Would there be space at All Cannings or Honey Street but more importantly would there be phone signal? We decided to stop as soon as there was space.

Now where are my friends?

At All Cannings there was a gap just made for us and phone signal too, even inside the boat. Tilly set off to find more nutritious food and I set myself up in the cratch for my phone meeting. Juggling a laptop, sketch book, plans and a scale ruler took some doing all whilst Tilly appeared from the friendly cover with friends to munch in front of me.

Horse

90 minutes of discussion later and my work drawing plans up hadn’t been wasted. Some clarification was needed from the writer and director about a few things in the show as there was some confusion over a few scenes. More emails to be sent, dinner to cook, chicken pancakes, one day I’ll get chance to finish knitting my cardigan!

0 locks, 6.2 miles, 2 swing bridges, 0 card, 4 boxes wine, 59 ft space, 2 crunchy critters, 2.5 hours behind schedule, 90 minutes phone call, 1 red light, 9 pancakes.