Thursday was a great travel day. I met up with a lovely couple and we worked our way through lots of locks and swing bridges. It’s much easier with an extra hand and for two narrowboats to be in a lock together (less bouncing around). Bill, Sue, and Sam were great company and I hope to see them soon as even though they went on ahead, they are turning around and coming back in a few days.
I had thought about staying an extra night in Newbury but changed my mind when I arrived. It wasn’t that interesting, just seemed a bit industrial. So I spent the night, intending on leaving the next day. Then in the morning I walked along the canal looking for some information, and came across the actual town! It’s got a great High Street, lots of pubs and shops, and looked very nice. So I stayed another night after all. I tried to get tickets to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at a local theatre but unfortunately it was sold out. I also tried to go see Highclere Castle but it’s not open until July. They have a special opening on July 1st for Canada Day, apparently the 4th Lord Carnarvon was instrumental in facilitating talks with Sir John A. Macdonald and others in 1865 and 1866 concerning the formation of Canada. Lost of documents and stuff on display. They also, of course, have a tremendous Egyptian collection from the 5th Lord Carnarvon’s funding of the discovery and excavation of some Egyptian pharaoh named Tat, or Tot, or something. Oh, and it’s the set for Downton Abbey too.
(Small print: Not my picture)
So I spent Friday walking around Newbury. It’s a nice town, an interesting mix of the old and new. It’s got the requisite parish church, built in the 15th century (on the ruins of an older one of course). It’s a great example of the ‘perpendicular’ style, or later Gothic. Really beautiful stained glass too.
I also did a bunch of shopping, I finally have all the bits that I think I’ll need. So over the next few days, if the weather holds and I find good moorings, I’ll attack some more of the items on the ‘to do’ list.
I took the opportunity of a relaxed day to catch up on the pub crawl statistics. Two today, not a record but it’ll do. Neither were particularly noteworthy, the first was a chain pub apparently, but with a name like ‘The Slug and Lettuce’ you’d never know it. Nicely on the canal though. The second, for dinner, was a bit more traditional but the 90’s music was a bit loud (I’m old, remember?). It had a better name too, ‘The Lock Stock & Barrel’. It was right next to the Newbury lock, after all.
So, all in all, a nice town, and a pleasant stay. It was strange in the morning, not moving on. I’ve become quite accustomed to starting out early and cruising quietly along, with the world just drifting by. But I did enjoy exploring the town, and I am glad to have picked up the stuff I needed. I’m looking forward to the next few days too, I’ll pass the high point soon, where I start descending the locks. Then, all too soon, is the dreaded Caen Hill Flight. I’d better start doing pushups.