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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aldermaston to Hungerford.

Saturday 14th June.

Aldermaston to Newbury. 8.4 miles, 11 locks and 5 swing bridges.

Up early at 6am so we could get an early start. We had a peaceful night at the Aldermaston Wharf along with NB Otto. Paddy even had his walk early, not that he cares what the time is, he just does what he has to do, and then he wants his breakfast. So having walked Paddy, I prepared Aldermaston Lock whilst Keith turned the Hadar back on to the navigation. The morning was beautiful, sunny, cool and no breeze so perfect for a full days cruising. We crept past the moored boats, onward to the first swing bridge of the day, Woolhampton Swing Bridge, which used to be operated manually but has recently been mechanised. We arrived there at 8.10am and I went with my BW key to operate it for Keith. I inserted the key and turned it clockwise, waited for the instructions to come up, only to see Hydraulic Pump Isolated, Emergency Stop. So Keith came and tried, turning the key to no avail. I could not even get my key out of the machine.So Keith rang the BW emergency helpline and they said they would send someone out. Whilst waiting we had a look at the Pillbox which is in the pub garden at the Row Barge on the side of the canal, they have made a feature of it and it looks like they keep it tidy. I was surprised at how cramped it was inside.8.30am and two BW guys arrived, they tried everything they knew including trying to reset the bridge, but it was having none of it. So they then called out a technician who had to come from Heathrow, they said he would be an hour. He did arrive and once again he tried all he knew, but once again nothing worked, so he rang the guy who built the electrics for the bridge. Who went through the plans over the phone to the technician. I in the meantime was cleaning some of the brass on the boat. Finally he solved the problem and we were underway at 11.15am. By this time there were now 4 boats behind us and three coming from the other way. The joy of that was we had someone to share the locks with.
So we paired up with NB Ruby Tuesday owned by Ian and Jenna and headed off through the swing bridge and up through the lock. Now you have to set the lock first so you can then open the bridge because it has a nasty flow below the lock.Our final lock of the day with NB Ruby Tuesday was Newbury Lock; we then found a mooring at West Mills, whilst Ian and Jenna were carrying on further, so we said our farewells.
Having moored up we decided to finish cleaning the brass before having our dinner which was a stir-fry, it was then time to relax for the evening watching Euro 2008. We will be making another early start for Hungerford in the morning.

Sunday 15th June.


Newbury to Hungerford. 8.7 miles and 10 locks.

The alarm clock went off at 6am, but we were already awake anyway, so we got up and did the usual morning stuff, which yes as always including walking Paddy. 6.45am we left the mooring at West Mills.The first job of the day was to operate the West Mills Swing Bridge. You need a windlass to wind down the barriers and a BW key to operate the panel for the swing bridge. On the way out of Newbury you pass some delightful cottages which face the navigation.It was nice to see we were not the only ones up and about this early; a couple were out for their early morning walk. I reckon it is the best time of the day, especially when it was like this morning, sun was out and was warming up nicely.
We had 10 locks today all to ourselves, there was no one going our way to share with, but none of them were that difficult. Once again some of the locks are in need of some TLC. A couple had paddles not working properly and some very leaky gates. We used to think the ones on the Trent and Mersey Canal was bad; they have nothing on these gates. Mind you some of the gates are over 20 years old.
We were operating Copse Lock and a wide beam boat was moored on the lock moorings above the lock.Which as any good boater knows is not the done thing. They had spent the night there. Now this was not a hire boat, it was an organisation boat and therefore they should have known better. It meant that the only way to get back on Hadar was to do it from the lock, leaving the gates open. I say shame on them. It all comes down to having a little bit of respect for others, particularly when there is a sign there saying Lock Mooring Only. We were fortunate enough to see Kennet Valley the horse drawn wide beam boat; they were getting ready for a trip.The scenery from Newbury to Hungerford is really picturesque, much nicer than yesterday if that is possible. I am always mentioning the wildlife and flowers and now I am going to give a mention to the trees, because we have seen such a wide variety. Willows, Poplars, Oak, Ash, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut and others. They have a wild beauty of their own, giving us a shady spot to moor up at the end of a hot days cruising.
On our way to Hungerford we passed by Kintbury with its 13th-C church and quiet village.
11.40am and we arrived at Hungerford after an uneventful cruise. We managed to find a mooring opposite Station Road Bridge, Sanitary Station, and a really nice shady place. We may be here for a day or two as I have one of my closest friends coming to see us. Having had something to eat, we thought we would take a walk into the town and get to know the lay of the land as it was back in 1994 when Keith was last here. For me it was another first. Hungerford is well known for its Antique shops so we took the opportunity to have a nose around the ones that were open. We also looked out for a place to have lunch tomorrow when my friend arrives. When we got back to the boat she was listing and sitting on the bottom, so we decided that staying there was not an option, luckily there was a mooring place at the wharf Hadar size so we moved her into the wharf, and whose boat should be moored in front of us.Trevor on NB Beau, with his lovely border collie Bill. Trevor got Bill from the Border Collie Rescue after I recommended them to him, and Bill is certainly a cheeky chappy and very loved by Trevor. We stood chatting and drinking coffee for ages, catching up on all the news and adventures we had all been through. I so enjoy catching up with boating friends and hearing their news. Trevor will be carrying on up the Kennet and Avon Canal tomorrow where as we will be moving off Tuesday back down the navigation.
With my friend Yvonne coming tomorrow it was time for a quick clean around, to make sure the boat was at least tidy. Floors washed, mats brushed, brass in the back cabin cleaned, Victoria Sandwich made, so all ship shape and Bristol fashion. We spent the rest of the evening watching football.

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