I’m on my way back along the K&A, returning to Reading. This is where I’ll turn up the Thames toward Oxford. I had considered going downstream to Hampton Court or Windsor Castle but there’s so much happening on the river that it seems kind of congested and I’ve been warned against it. So I’ll turn north and head toward the smaller canals up in the Midlands. The trip toward Bath was certainly made better with the company I kept. Guy, Rose, Bob, and Cate from Into the Blue were amazing, we had the best time together. And I learned lots from Guy, even if I’m not following him out on the Severn! Here’s Bob and Guy, and the group at a pub deciding on drinks.
Somewhat to my surprise, I’m not minding retracing my route. It’s a different perspective, and a second chance to see and photograph stuff I missed on the way ‘up’. There’s been all kinds of little things that I seemed to have skipped, I’m enjoying the new and even liking seeing the familiar places again.
I’ve now parted company with my latest boatload of friends. Rich and Jane (and Dorothy and Olaf) were great fun and I loved the time with them. I met them near Bath, on board were also Karen, Jill, and Jo but there were some crew changes and only Rich and Jane continued. We did the flight up together and now they’re heading back down to return their hire boat… I’ve continued on toward Newbury.
Okay, since I didn’t post that last section due to limited Internet and a somewhat busy party schedule, I’ll just add to it. After saying goodbye to Rich and Jane and their puppers, I arrived at Newbury again. Having found another great mooring in the 14 day area, I decided to spend a bit of time. I had previously tried to go to Highclere Castle to see the Egyptian exhibits and relive some Downton Abbey memories but it doesn’t open until the middle of July. But, and this is interesting…
A couple of years ago Lady Carnarvon was doing some research for a book about famous visitors to their home. On a page in the guestbook from 1866, along with Benjamin Disraeli and his wife, were the names John Macdonald, George Cartier, and a man named Galt. She decided to look into who they were, and quickly discovered that they, along with others, had visited the castle several times in the process of negotiating for, and writing, the British North America Act. As I’m sure you all remember from school (hehe), the BNA formed the constitution of Canada at it’s formation as a country in 1867. The drafts, written largely at Highclere, were taken to Queen Victoria (and Parliament and the House of Lords) by the 4th Earl of Carnarvon for final approval. As an added interesting note, the Queen approved the name “Canada” but only if it included “The Dominion of”! Nobody at the time minded apparently, so we had Dominion Day instead of Canada Day for all those years. (I still like the sound of Dominion Day better).
Once all this had come to light, Lord and Lady Carnarvon decided to showcase the documents, photographs, and history of these events. They now open the castle on July 1st for special access. And I was able to go! They had lots to see and read about, and most of the house was open for viewing (except, unfortunately, the Egytian exhibits). They limited the number of guest to 150, instead of the usual 1000 per day as in the summer. So it was very relaxed and simply lovely. Nothing like afternoon tea at Downton Abbey either! (no pictures inside the house unfortunately).
Thanks so much for sharing the day with me Jo, it was so nice to have such great company! I am going to send the Castle some Canadian flags, there was an appalling lack of them.
After leaving Newbury, I started sharing locks with Annie, Juliette, and Roger. They are lovely people from Chipping Campdon (I love that name), cruising on Annie’s boat. We spent a couple of days together, firstly because they needed a CRT key to open the lift and swing bridges, and later because we were having so much fun together! We visited some pubs, bought some Indian take-away and just generally enjoyed each other’s company.
So, now back in Reading. I’ll do some cleaning, some shopping, and some maintenance in preparation for the Big River (the mighty Thames). I will be doing some tourist stuff too, in London. I can’t miss the opportunity, it’s just a short train ride away and the boat is safe in the marina.
I hope everyone is having a great summer so far. Be safe, and feel free to add comments. I love hearing from you.