Moore 2 Life:Exploring the waterways

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Book:'LIFE WITH A NARROWBOAT' © Chas Moore

Chapter 1: The Begining, 1995

Discovery

Looking for canals on a road map is very difficult because the map is designed to show how to get from one place to another by car. Terry had seen a canal at Aldermaston, however it was not in working order in the 1950s. If you travel north from the south coast you are bound to cross a canal. So one weekend in 1995 we all set off towards Hungerford and found the Kennet and Avon Canal. It was in surprisingly good condition now. Lots of fishermen, a muddy towpath and an old wooden swing bridge were all found after a walk through the churchyard. Continuing our walk going west we came upon a lock. "This is promising". It is in good working condition and there are some boats using it. Back at the car we had a picnic on the village green and decided to go on to Newbury in the car.

We parked by the Kennet and Avon Trust shop at Newbury Wharf. The shop was shut. Noisy traffic was crossing the bridge, a contrast to the peace and quiet we had enjoyed on the canal earlier. A walk along the towpath under the bridge revealed the wonderful sight of narrowboats. Never before had we seen so many in one place. We started to pick out the ones we liked and wondered how much they cost. The name of the boat yard was noted down with the intention of writing to find out if any boats were for sale. Our journey home was full of talk about narrowboats and canals.

Positive action

A letter arrived from Newbury boat yard early the next week. It contained lots of useful information about moorings and services provided. Our letter had been passed on to a Broker. A letter arrived the next day from her complete with colour pictures of a boat we could view at Newbury and a list of other boats moored elsewhere. At this time we had no idea what Trad meant and that there were also Semi-Trads, Cruisers and Tugs. We thought that Cruisers were short plastic boats with outboard motors and not what we were looking for. So we each purchased magazines to fill in the gaps in our knowledge. We noticed that there were wide variations in price for what seemed similar boats.

The next weekend we went to Tring, to look at two boats. They both had solid fuel stoves for heating. One was too short and one too long. Something between 38 ft. and 50 ft. would suit us. On entering the longer boat we were greeted with a musty smell and further inspection revealed that the tin cans in the cupboard were rusty. We walked away from that one! It was two weeks later that we all went back to Newbury to look at a Trad narrowboat. We met the caretakers who let us into a very secure mooring site. Although this boat was the right length, the bathroom was quite large and the accommodation was clearly intended for two. The engine was a Russell Newbury and occupied a room of its own which restricted access to the steering position. Once there, we found room for only one person. We decided that Trad was not for us. A Cruiser style stern was added to our narrowboat specification. We then made an application for a mooring at Newbury, having seen the good security and excellent amenities. By now we had read the magazines from cover to cover. Easter came and went. Our next trip was planned a few weeks later; we are off to Canal Craft at Bugbrooke on the Grand union near Northampton. They had supplied us with lots of very useful information for us first time buyers, and short-listed a number of boats to see for sale.

Finding a boat for us

We all clambered over three or four boats in the pouring rain. One was too short. Another was very damp inside with water on the table coming from the windows. We began to wonder whether we would ever find our ideal boat. Then we boarded a 42 ft. cruiser stern boat for sale at 19,500 and built in 1990 and was bright and cheerful, all in good condition but more than we wanted to pay. We spent more time on this boat than any other. We made an offer about 10% below the asking price that was accepted immediately. It made us wonder if a lower offer should have been made! The rain had stopped and we went back to the boat to confirm our decision. We were hooked! The boat was called Nomad of Erehwon, sounded Welsh we thought. Where was it? My Dad knew the answer. It was 'nowhere' backwards! Samuel Butler wrote a book about a place he called Erewhon. But that was not quite the same spelling.

Back in the office we signed the agreement, subject to Survey, Finance and a Trial run. A trial run was arranged for 5 o'clock the following Saturday and completion was set for 3 weeks later. There was so much to sort out and a lot of paper work to get through. But first, a small deposit was required to secure the purchase. Now we have to apply for a loan, get insurance, a British Waterways license and to arrange the mooring. It seems impossible. How do we get the boat home? There were plenty of things to talk about on our way home. A call was made to Newbury Boat Company to tell them we had found a boat. They responded with a letter confirming that we had a temporary mooring until a permanent mooring became available.

A second look, Nomad pictures

On our second visit to Canal Craft, Chris came with us for his first look over a narrowboat. We spent a good hour on the boat. The first attempt to start the engine proved that the batteries were flat. A battery and jump leads were found to get the engine going. Chris checked that all the lights and the radio were OK. When the engine started the oil pressure came up slowly and reached 40 lb./sq. in. But the ammeter showed a discharge! Never mind, these were noted and we moved off. The engine purred below our feet. Out of the marina and onto the Grand Union Canal. The girls got up front, Chris helping with fending off on the way out. The engine temperature rose to about 80F. Now it was our turn to take the tiller and we found the prospective purchase a very responsive craft. We were reminded of previous trips on holiday. Trees, hedges and fields either side. The agent took over at the winding hole, turned and came back. A working boat went by. After half an hour we were back in the marina. Chris was quite impressed. He is a Shipwright by trade and his comments were favourable. Looking back at this time it seems that our judgment must have been clouded by the idea that a boat, almost any boat would enable all of us to explore canals. An engineer was appointed to carry out a major service on the engine and replace the two batteries.

Preparations

We had already booked two weeks off work and the completion came just in time for us to drive Nomad home ourselves. Ever since we got the keys it had been a question of what do we take to the boat for the trip and what to keep on it? A friend with a large car provided the transport to Bugbrooke. It was full of bedding, tools and some food. We set about cleaning, fixing and sorting in the afternoon. The headlight did not work. "I could deal with that," I volunteered. This was needed to get us through Braunston Tunnel! It was only a hand held light that plugged into a 12V socket that needed rewiring!

The chimney and the little stove were scraped clean by Terry and was used to great effect when we got cold and wet by burning coal or wood. A store of dry logs and thick branches were found in the bow hold. A bag of coal was purchased to keep the fire in over night.

The curtains had been taken home and washed. Now re-hung by the girls and made the accommodation more homely. The gas fridge was lit and loaded with food. It was a bit small and care was needed to use all available space. Ann remarked, "It did at least get cold!" The local pub was nearby and visited in the evening for a jolly good meal.

Our first trip, May 1995, Grand Union canal pictures

At four miles an hour it takes 15 minutes to move a mile, which is the same time it takes to get through a lock. So counting lock miles and dividing that number by 4 gives you the number of hours it should take. We had got a special map book of most of the canals. It suggested that 20 lock miles a day was a good average to aim for. That is about 5 hours driving. Between Bugbrooke and Newbury there are a total of 123 miles and 85 locks making 220 lock miles. "So that should take 11 days travelling", Terry informed us.

We would travel on the Grand Union Canal to Braunston, the Oxford Canal to Oxford, down the Thames to Reading and westward on the Kennet and Avon to Newbury. It was to prove to be an epic voyage and a shake down cruise. The boat itself seems to demand a certain amount of knowledge and respect. It became obvious that the Skipper had to decide a course of action early and then give clear instructions to the crew. Because of the engine noise it was almost impossible for the crew to talk to the Skipper. Some hand sign language was devised. Nomad was pointing the wrong way. The first trick was to turn it round! A winding hole is required. One of these was indicated on the map not far away. The engine started! So off we go in the wrong direction. Put the bow onto the bank and swing the back round, eventually. The fuel tank was only 1/3 full so it was essential to find some diesel. "We had calibrated a dip stick to find this out!" The next boat yard was not far away and we purchased 100 litres for 20. We had done nearly four miles in the first hour. The rev counter did not work and we were not sure how fast the boat went. It seems that providing you are not making a wash and the engine is not getting too hot that is a good speed indicator.

Accommodation

It later dawned upon the crew that the bedding arrangements were to be a trial of endurance. The cabin had a double bed consisting of a sheet of plywood on wobbly legs and a 4ft x 6ft mattress. The legs were later removed to provide a more stable base! The Saloon consisted of a long bench seat down one side with removable cushions. These were rearranged to make two single beds, one on the bench and one on the floor! We all had sleeping bags and elected to swap ends each night!

On our journey down much talk was about what could be done to improve the accommodation for four people. A lot of boats were seen on the way down. Some were immaculate. Their owners must have spent many hours and much money. The rest were average to tatty. Ours needed some tender loving care; a coat of paint outside and a good clean inside. By the end of our journey some of the dirt had rubbed off on us! Our first night on Nomad ended in the early morning with the sound of birds singing in the trees. So we got up and erected the folding table that came with the boat and laid it up for breakfast.

We stopped for lunch at Whilton marina where we got a new gas bottle. 15Kg of Butane cost 13. We did not have a spare so it was a good idea to get one, as we had no means of telling when the existing bottle would empty! We had negotiated the 2042 yard long Braunston tunnel by early evening. I held the lamp at the front to show the way. Stopped above the next lock for our second night. Terry, the navigator, reckoned we have done nearly 9 miles and 7 locks. We are a bit short of our target having intended to do 10 miles and 13 locks! Terry got the fire lit while the girls made dinner.

The next day saw us all up early again as we had resolved to make up time lost the day before. We join another boat to go down the Braunston flight of locks and past the Admiral Nelson. Once down at Braunston we take on water, dispose of the rubbish and empty the Porta Potti. This is the famous junction of the Grand Union and Oxford Canals. "Did we take the wrong turn at Braunston Turn?" "Which way to Oxford is it?" I enquired. The Oxford Canal is narrow, the locks being only 6 feet 10 inches wide, hence the need for narrowboats. The locks are small with one gate at the top and maybe two at the bottom. There are no signs so the only way is to go to the next bridge and get its number and look on the map. Finally we get to Bridge 122 having kept going by eating a sandwich lunch on the way.

Problems below deck

Myra heard a squeak from below, then another. "What's that funny noise?" she asked. Stop engine. Drift to shore and tie up. Lift up the boards. There was a hot stern tube. The plastic grease pipe had melted. Three hours from a boat yard. What to do, can we fix it? Are we stuck on the second day? It was 4 o'pclock. Get the toolbox. A knife was used to trim off the end of the tube. The olive was found, filed out with a round file that just happened to be on the boat, and replaced on the tube. Much gritty black grease was removed from the nipple before replacing the grease tube. We pumped some grease in and rotated the prop shaft by hand. Luckily it turned easily as we pumped more grease in. Some was coming out inside. By five o'clock we started the engine. For a while the tube was kept cool by going slow and pouring water on it. We got to Fenny Compton Marine after a long 3 hours. A man walked by and I asked for help. He had his own boat called Silver Lady, and knew what to do. A light was rigged up while he got his tools. We learnt much about stern tubes, packing and greasers that night. The grease should be going out the back towards the prop and not inside the boat. A few adjustments were made to the gland. We had done 29 lock miles that day despite the problems. By the end of the next day, after pumping grease in all day, it was better. Terry said "It was running as cold as a penguin's bottom!" and we all laughed with relief that night. (What was actually said is not printable.)

The Oxford canal, Oxford canal pictures

Got to Claydon Top Lock the next day for coffee, then on to Bridge 150 for lunch. Stopped at Copredy to purchase food at the local shop. We got to Banbury, treated ourselves to a K.F.C. meal for 10 and took it back to the boat. Our fifth day was Saturday. Got up and on our way by mid morning. Took on water. Eventually got to Lower Heyford just before seven. Some light drizzle fell from the sky today. We have done 8 more locks and 12 miles. Close to our target according to our navigator. It is Myra's birthday and we all walk to The Bell for an excellent dinner. Stopped at Thrupp where The Boat Inn was tempting but opted for a picnic. And so on into Oxford on Sunday where we could not get bread or milk. To be fair we did get another K.F.C. Stopped for the night among the old houseboats at the end of the canal.

On to the Thames, River Thames pictures

The next day we went through Isis Lock to get on to the Thames. A very low railway bridge was squeezed under then we turned south down river towards Osney Lock. It proved to be a bit of a culture shock. The Lock Keeper was standing there apparently waiting for a signal from us as we approached. Terry was skipper at the time and I asked him which side he was heading for. A raised arm signaling our intension was accepted. These locks are 17 feet 9 inches wide and operated by hydraulics. Terry reckoned we would be on the river for three days. So we paid the lock keeper 30 and continued on our way. What a difference. All the locks are manned. Just go in, hang on to the ropes, have a chat and go out. There were several boats in the lock at the same time. Some were narrowboats and many plastic cruisers going in with plenty of room. The river was very wide and most of the boats went past us.

We moored up at Abingdon and had lunch in the park, fish n chips. The engine stop lever had got a bit stiff and we had to fix up a temporary repair. Then we got our first decent drop of rain. On to Clifton Hampden where we turned to face up stream to moor and a helping hand caught our rope. We have done 13 miles and 6 locks on the Thames so far.

On Tuesday we got up and were off early. By midday it was raining hard with thunder and lightning so we found shelter and stopped at Sheridan Marine near Moulsford. The girls did us proud by getting a hot lunch. Pressing on we later arrived at Pangbourne Meadows. Terry lit the fire and Myra had a warm shower and it was still raining outside. "Better get some wellie boots at Pangbourne" Terry suggested because it was so wet. The next day our fuel tank was by now half full. 20 gallons gone and we were looking for Reading Marine. We found it but it looked deserted and not in business. Luckily there was another yard further down where we filled the tank, emptied the loo and took on more water. Our gas continues to flow. One of our first lessons was never to let the fuel tank go much below half full before looking for a supply.

Into the Kennet and Avon, Kennet & Avon canal pictures

Turn right off the Thames for the K and A. Old railway bridges and broken buildings littered the unspectacular entrance to the first lock. We need new windlasses for this canal, available at Blake's Lock. A keeper who is employed by the Environment Agency mans it. From now on the canal is looked after by British Waterways and the locks are 14 feet wide and just room for two narrowboats side by side. Once through and on the canal we stopped in Reading for a Cantonese meal. Could not find a post box for all our post cards! Back on board we moved on to the traffic light. Yes I mean it, traffic light on a canal that is so narrow it is a one-way street! Fobney Lock was very deep and we learnt not to open the paddles too quickly. The water rushes in and the boat is being pushed about inside the lock. We stopped at Burghfield for the night after another 12 miles and 10 locks that day. The locks and swing bridges were in need of repair this side of Newbury. Terry is not well and retired to bed early. Ann played cards while I had a shower. "Not my first I may add!"

Thursday is our tenth day afloat. Terry is feeling better and we wonder what should be done if medical help is required. The M4 is near and its noisy traffic reminds us of a different way of life. Sheffield Lock is quite different to most. It has concave sides and is only 2 feet 2 inches deep. Daffodils and well-kept grass make it look like a private garden. Just round the corner Theale Swing Bridge was very difficult to open and shut. Drivers in their cars just sat and watched. It was in desperate need of repair. The facilities at Tyle Mill provides for the disposal of refuse, sewerage and the supply of fresh water.

Swing bridges

Ufton Swing Bridge required a lot of puff to unwind the locking shoes under the bridge. Then we came to Padworth where we found Reading Marine had moved to. They hire boats and have a good chandlery. There is a new lift bridge and lock at Aldermaston. Our special BW key was required to operate the bridge that opened all by its self just by pressing a button. On passed that nice Wickham Knight footbridge and the meanderings of the river Kennet we arrived at Woolhampton swing bridge. This section is a navigable river rather than canal and was flowing fast against us. It was quite tricky getting into the lock just past the bridge with the river coming in from the left. We stopped the night and had dinner at the Row Barge. The service was slow and expensive, but good when we got the food.

Friday was the eleventh day and the end of our journey is in sight. We have done our 20 lock miles a day counting all those swing bridges as well! The village of Woolhampton is a short walk away and after breakfast milk and papers were purchased there. The pair of Hotel boats that we had seen at Woolhampton was in front now. They consist of a Motor and Butty breasted together. Nicely painted in the traditional bright colours of red, blue and yellow. Made our boat look very drab in just plain dark green. We resolved to get Nomad painted sooner rather than later. In fact there was much talk about improvements to be made inside and out.

A turf sided lock

Then on through Monkey Marsh lock. An old turf sided one with sloping sides that took a long time to fill. It is nearly 7 feet deep and so long you could get 4 boats in it. Most locks are at least 70 feet long and can take two boats side by side. We stopped for lunch at Widmead Lock. This is a completely new rebuilt lock. Then we got into Ham Lock 87, the last one on this trip, in the afternoon. An approaching boat was going too fast and nearly hit the gates. It ended up sideways on, across the lock. Terry went to give advice but it was not appreciated. Some people seem to use a lot of unnecessary power to get out of difficulty fighting against the power of the water rather than using it to advantage.

Just round the corner was the entrance to our Basin. It was to be our own private mooring owned by Newbury Boat Company. A new skill now required reversing into our space. We could have done with a celebration dinner at the local Swan Pub but there was no hot food. Had to settle for sandwiches from the BP garage of all places.

That trip was all one way and an adventure we will never forget. From now on it was a case of weekend visits, going a short distance and returning. Nonetheless we are all looking forward to going further west next time we go boating. A boat on the next mooring to Nomad is called Evening Shadows and belongs to John and Sue. We get to know our neighbours in the Basin and talk a lot of our adventure. The owner of Tiller Girl has renamed it Ranger after it was painted but he did not re launch her. Considered unlucky by some. We are keeping a book of boat names and owners.

That was the end of our most memorable journey together on a boat. Our plans, preparation and navigation all worked well. 10 days moving at an average of 21 lock miles a day. Usually setting off after breakfast and stopping early evening. It set a high standard to work to. Not often did we ever again do quite so much.

Friends and family

In June, Terry and Myra came up with their family. They took Nomad out to Benham Lock. That is 5 locks west going through Newbury. Guyer's Lock had a badly leaking paddle. The paddles are used to let the water in or out of the lock before you can open the gates.

The next day was Mum and Dad's turn to see and experience the boat for them selves. We went off west of course. I was the skipper, Ann the crew. Through Greenham Lock, on past lots of narrowboats all moored at Greenham Island and passed under the noisy traffic on the A34 bridge. We had a picnic at Newbury Wharf opposite the old wooden crane. Much of the old wharf is a car park now but some old buildings still remain. Went on through Newbury Lock and passed the swing bridge at West Mills where loading and unloading had been carried out in the past. Then through Guyer's and Higg's locks. "This is where the Newbury by pass is to cross the canal", I informed the crew. Ann did most of the locking with M and D helping. Turned the boat (Winded) at Benham and returned to Ham Manor basin by early evening. We had all enjoyed this new experience.

Maintenance

The next weekend we all went to the cafe at Newbury Wharf and made plans to get Nomad painted. Newbury Boat Company has a floating dry dock that is filled with water and sinks below the surface. The boat is pulled over it and the water pumped out. It was not long before Nomad was out of the water. The engineer replaced the engine mounts, anodes, re-packed the stern gland and tightened up the rudder. The engine is much quieter now that it is more firmly mounted. It is a wonder that we got home without more trouble than we did! The undersides were given a few coats of paint as well.

Our son Chris was allowed to take his friends out for a trip providing he did some work for us! He changed the oil and filter and re hinged the bathroom door. They took Nomad to Guyer's lock and back and on down to Woolhampton where they found a pub in the village.

A week for two

Terry and Myra had 5 days on Nomad all to them selves. Terry put a centre rope on the handrail that made it easier for one person to hold the boat steady. They got provisions at Tesco in Newbury and then went to the Swan for dinner. The next day they were off after 9 aiming for Hungerford. Teamed up with Toby from Pewsey, at Guyer's lock. He offered much good advice about handling the boat in a lock. Stopped at Hampstead lock for a picnic. It is a good long walk if you feel up to it, going round Hampstead. Then moved on to Kintbury where it is usually easy to moor with facilities, water and refuse. Good for a weekend trip. "Famous for Lardy Cake at the bakery, but get there early," Terry suggested and went with Myra to get some the next day. It was a hot day and they were looking for shade on the way to Hungerford. Winded just before Hungerford and stopped at Dunmill lock. Most of the locks are named after the designers and builders of the canal. By Friday they were back at Kintbury.

Late night visitors

It was a long drive up from Dibden Purlieu and after parking the car at the pub we walked in the dark along the canal and had arrived a bit late that night. "Sorry we are a bit late" I called after tapping on the window. "I will put the kettle on," Myra said. Mobile phones were not available to us at this time so we could not let them know that we would be late. This was the first time the four of us were back together again on the boat. After a chat we got to bed by 1 in the morning. Such was our determination to be together once more on the boat! It is a good job we get on so well.

The next morning we walked round Kintbury. The store here is also a post office. "You already know about the bakery, what more do you need!" Then we moved the boat on to Copse lock, leaving the car behind. The river joins the canal here and is very clean. Allie our dog went in for a swim with Terry. Allie enjoys our trips on the boat, gets lots of walks and barks at the coots but not the moorhens! She is always looking for the ducks. Back at the basin we helped pack up before Terry and Myra took us back to Kintbury to collect the car.

Working boats

At the end of July there was an unusual working boat gathering at Newbury Wharf. They all came down the Oxford canal and the Thames. Infamous names such as Ivor Batchelor and David Blagrove were seen with their boats. There were enough Motors and Butties to fill the canal at the wharf and walk across them from one side to the other! Other members of the family all came up to see the boat gathering and then went out on Nomad for a trip down to Thatcham. On our way back we saw many working boats returning home and we thanked them for coming down on to the Kennet and Avon. We had a picnic in the park in Newbury then went on to Higg's lock where it was just possible to wind Nomad. It was a very hot day.

Weekend trips

August bank holiday enabled us all to have a long weekend on Nomad. We all arrived on Friday evening. For the first time we would be able to get to Hungerford and back. Newbury to Hungerford is 20 Lock Miles. On the way a group of cyclists from London had tea and coffee with us by a lock. We had lunch at the John O'Gaunt at Hungerford on the Sunday before returning to Kintbury. On a walkabout we found an apple tree and some blackberries that we cooked for lunch. Then we went on to Hampstead Marshall for a picnic.

On our return we got 43 litres of diesel. That is all we have used since coming off the Thames. That works out at about a litre an hour. (We are now obliged to measure in metric). We keep a log of all the trips we do, noting the engine hours, locks and miles. The rear cover has been repaired and Terry has fitted new studs to make it fit better. The covers fore and aft are used during the winter months to keep the worst of the weather off. They also maintain the warmth inside.

It rained in September when we arrived. John and Sue were on Evening Shadows and we went east to Thatcham with them. After lunch at the Swan we went on to Woolhampton. Tried to wind above the lock but failed because the canal is not wide enough, then Allie fell in! Terry fished her out and then we turned the boat below the lock that proved tricky with the river coming in from the side.

At the end of September Chris and his friends stayed for a weekend. Went west on Saturday after a scrumptious cooked breakfast. Travelled with Colby. Good company helping with the locks. Got to Kintbury and had food at the cheep n cheerful Blue Bell pub, then a game of Pool. It rained all night. Returned with Colby. Chris sealed the gaps round the bath for this trip.

Into new territory

We all have a week off in October and planed to get to Pewsey. Newbury to Pewsey is 57 Lock Miles. It was raining when we left, picking up Billabong on the way to Kintbury. This boat is much longer than ours and is posh inside. With colour telly and a washing machine. The first boat we have seen which could be used for extended cruising. Having got to Kintbury for lunch we decide to stay. The Prince of Wales provided dinner later. Met Alfred, an old gent who pulled barges loaded with hay between Dreweat's lock and Kintbury for the sum of 1 1/2p an hour. "If it were loaded too high it would all tip over into the canal", he told us.

A sunny Sunday and we travel with four hire boats manned by members of the Inland Waterways Association on their annual trip. They have several members of crew going on ahead setting up the locks. (Lock wheeling). Progress to Great Bedwyn is quicker and we arrive about 5. Moor up opposite the station. "The railway is never far away."

Must mention the lock and swing bridge at Hungerford Marsh. Before rising in the lock be sure to open the swing bridge above you first! Then there is Cobbler's lock that has a pretty cottage by it. Great Bedwyn has a wharf but it is privately owned. There are some facilities here but not sure if we can use them. The village has several pubs a general store with a Post Office and a bakery. Having stocked up with provisions on Monday we set off into new waters heading up to Crofton. The Pumping Station with half a chimney. The pumps are the oldest working beam engines in the world. Wilton Water is a man made lake created to store water for the summit of the K and A. Stopped here for our picnic and watched the trains whooshing by.

On the summit

Up to the top, where it was slow going due to the lack of water. Much of the time the boat was scraping along the bottom. Through the tunnel, past Burbage Wharf with its old wooden crane and down the other side where we stayed the night at Wooton Rivers. We had dinner at the Royal Oak. Three Kingfishers had been seen as we proceed to Pewsey Wharf where BW provides boaters facilities. "Happiness is an empty potti!" And we take on water as well. Winded just past Pewsey bridge and had some lunch. The very next day an army lorry demolished part of Pewsey Bridge, throwing bricks into the canal. We had by then got half way back down to Crofton.

We left Nomad for a walk up to Wilton Windmill and had a picnic. On our return we found the boat stranded in mud. Most of the water in the pound had been drained out. We had to open up two locks to re-fill the pound. We should not have moored half way down the flight of locks as they leaked. Finally got to Great Bedwyn and had dinner at the Cross Keys.

A lazy day, we had an expensive meal in the Harrow, an exclusive pub in the country, before continuing on to Hungerford. Moored above the lock before the swing bridge by the church. It was cool and misty by the field and we saw another fantastic sunset. Stopped at Little Bedwyn. "You can get a good view of the lock, church and railway from the road bridge", I suggested. Our final day got us all the way home after a meal in Kintbury.

Winter and Christmas

A few odd days were spent on the boat in November running the engine just to keep the batteries charged. There are only two, one to start the engine and one for the lights inside. The water has been drained out of the tank and pipes because of the frost. Another 72 litres of diesel went in the tank to keep it full for the winter. "Good practice as it stops condensation in the tank." Then we spent Christmas day in Nomad. All decorated with a tree and lights! We cooked a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. Ann made the super Christmas pudding. Lit the fire and it was really cosy. We had a colour TV for entertainment with the shoreline providing the power and played a few games of Mah-Jongg in the evening.

Navigation note: We have travelled over about half of the K and A. Pewsey is 41 miles from Reading and Bath is a further 34 miles. And have spent 57 days on Nomad this year.

Thank you for reading Chapter 1. Return to Book.