The last couple of days have been more of the same. Boringly blissful. I’ve also met more cruisers going through the locks. It’s really helpful to have two in the lock at the same time, they sort of wedge in pretty tightly and don’t bounce around as the water enters. It can be quite violent if the paddles (lifting portals, often on the gate doors themselves) are opened too quickly. The water jets out horizontally, aimed at the front of the boat and can really move it around. So everyone prefers two at a time. Usually the other boat has crew (read: wife) that gets off and works the paddles while the captain (read: husband) stays aboard and watches out for the boat (this involves occasionally putting a little forward or reverse on while standing chatting with me). Don’t ask me why it’s almost always this way… I guess it’s to do with driving into the locks, it’s sometimes difficult to get in without banging the sides, and since there’s often someone watching (gongoozlers), the ‘crew’ don’t want to drive. The ‘captains’ don’t seem to care who’s watching.
Just a note about the history of the canals. The other day I had some pictures of a horse-drawn canal boat. These canals were primary reason that the Industrial Revolution took hold in Britain so early and so strongly. They were soon supersceded by the railways, but it was the canals that started it off. The ability to cheaply transport huge quantities of raw materials to industrial centres, and the resulting products to markets, changed the world. Check out the silent but indelible mark of this history (rope marks where the horses pulled the boats under the bridge):
Sunday morning was spent travelling from Newbury to Hungerford. This turned out to be a classic old English village in many ways. The High Street was loaded with antique shops, in fact people come from all over the country to look for antiques here. I had a nice chat with the owners of one amazing shop, they had left stressfull jobs to so this and loved it
That’s me tied up on the end, with the light roof.
Continuing on after lunch for several more locks, I wanted to tie up around 3:30 but the canal sides along this stretch were very overgrown and there was no way I could get close enough to get a rope ashore. I eventually did find a spot that was clear so I pulled in. I realized pretty quickly why nobody was moored there however, it was so shallow I ran aground before I got within about 6 feet (everything’s in feet and inches here) of the bank. I could jump the distance so tied up anyway, laid out my plank and settled in. It was the most peaceful spot I’ve been to yet. It’s a few hundred yards back to the last lock, and about half a mile up to the next bridge and lock. I’ve only seen two people walking the towpath, and no bikes at all. It’s very remote here.
I did hike a couple of miles to a pub (The Pelican) for their WiFi as there is no mobile (cell) coverage at all where I’m moored (you’ll notice I’m picking up the local words more and more. I now say crisps, not chips; and chips, not fries for instance). I got some messaging done and checked my email, while trying out a couple of new types of cider.
Speaking of cider, it’s really a big thing here these days. Lots of different ones, and every one drinks it. There seems to be fewer and fewer beer drinkers (well, in a relative sense, they’re still the vast majority). I found this in the supermarket, I couldn’t resist.
It’s now morning as I continue this, very early morning in fact. I had such a sound sleep that by 4:30 I was wide awake and up. To be honest, I got up because I went to the bathroom and walking down the alleyway I realized the boat was listing noticeable. Here’s why:
I seemed to be able to push it around with the pole, and moved it off the bank further so I’ll be fine (I think). I hadn’t expected the tide to go out… (it’s probably due to that massive leak in the last lock, it should sort itself out when boats start cruising and water is moved down from upper locks). Extra note: I went and shut the lower paddles on the last lock. Even though it’s supposed to be left empty I’ll let it fill and maybe the level up here will rise.
I’ve got more but it’ll have to wait. Might be a couple of days, Internet is scarce out here in the wilds. Just another reason for a pub visit (as if I needed one). Last night’s visit: