After two nights in Newbury it was time to move on - and fortuitously we'd missed having to travel on Tuesday when the heavens opened and didn't relent until the evening. Wednesday was a perfect temperature for boating and lock working - mostly sunny but not too warm.
Driving through Newbury wasn't quite such a spectator sport as Reading, but you do travel through the town centre, under the lovely bridge where shoppers walk over along the High Street - so the canal is very much a part of the town.
September's Canal Boat magazine - 'Pride and Joy' is the article about us - cool aye?!
And a close up of the beautiful bridge in colour
Driving under the bridge and straight into the lock
Informative board next to Newbury Lock
They certainly embrace the canal and the fact that it's contributed hugely to the town of today, though it was only by a concerted effort by a man called John Gould that the Kennet and Avon was saved from dereliction some years ago. Twenty years after the final section of the canal was re-opened, it's under consultation to be reclassified as part of the 'cruising network' - apparently BW make no distinction with regards to maintenance whether it's classified as such or as a 'remainder' waterway, but by the state of many of the locks we've encountered to date I'd question this!
Crossing under the busy A34 & 'Kia ora' to the kiwi's from Taupo who we met along the way
Another pretty journey in our parallel universe
There had been a widebeam boat (Rebecca) moored up behind us while we were in Newbury, and we'd chatted to the two brothers on board a couple of times (well I thought they were brothers but they turned out to be father and son). They left an hour or so ahead of us on Tuesday but we caught them up at one of the locks. Their boat is one of four that The Bruce Trust, a non-profit making company, have available to hire out to 'disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people'.
Dave and his crew are from Worthing, near to Brighton, and had the boat for a week. Prior to hiring it Dave had to go on a weekend residential course to ensure he was capable of managing such a boat - he said he'd been a bit sceptical about it at first but afterwards was amazed at how much knowledge he'd gained and how helpful it was when travelling on the boat and working out it's internal intricacies.
We followed them for the remainder of the day, until we reached Hungerford which was our destination too. I walked for much of the way, and did a bit of stretching yoga exercises at some of the locks (when I knew no-one was around!) as I must lose some weight. It's been creeping on as we've been eating far too many naughty things like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and crisps, while not really doing much in the way of exercise! We'll see how long it lasts ...
Catching up with WB Rebecca and crew
It's a trip boat from Kintbury (Kennet Horse Boat company) - awesome!
This poor old lady got a bit stuck and had to negotiate a passage behind the horse without falling into the canal inches away! Is that horse smiling?
A 2 hour trip from Kintbury to Dreweat's Lock, descend, leave, turn around, then ascend and back to Kintbury
The outskirts of Kintbury, and Kintbury Bridge and Lock
A couple of grand homes overlooking the canal in Kintbury
There's some old locks and bridges on this canal
Elaine, Dave's wife, kindly invited us to dinner aboard their boat that evening and we most gratefully accepted - it's not often that we get to go on other people's boats and we'd never been inside a widebeam before. Dave and his family seemed such lovely people too, so we thought it'd be very pleasant to get to know them better - and we were proved correct! What a friendly, happy family they were - thank you all, we really enjoyed your company - and of course a bonus was we learnt a new card game 'UNO' - thanks Brad!
Despite the delightful company, we possibly foolishly suggested that we all played Barry's card game which may've been a little bit too complex for a larger group to learn whilst under the influence of Barry's boat brew (apart from Tom and Brad of course!)!
So much more room in a widebeam
We didn't get back to the boat until almost 0100hrs after a wonderful evening, so there may be a bit of a lie-in on Wednesday before a stroll into Hungerford to check it out ...
A rose by any other name!