After a few slightly crazy weeks leading up to our (critically acclaimed!) appearance in Portchester Players’ s production of Stepping Out, and after, it was time to hitch up and take a weekend away with Mum. She has been staying with us while Uncle D is on holiday in Bulgaria and we have also been house/cat-sitting for friends and had Paul’s Mum to stay – briefly. We had an early start on the Saturday morning near Newbury so we thought we’d halve the journey and stay at the Morn Hill CC site on the Eastern outskirts of Winchester. We stayed here once before and it was very pleasant. Quiet with lots of rabbits – so many that there are even warnings in their leaflet and around the site warning people to beware of all the rabbit holes on the site! Very nice pitch and a lovely sunny evening. This was our first outing with Molly our new towcar. Molly and Mr Munsch – sound’ like a band name! Anyway – Molly performed beautifully. A totally different ride but very comfortable.
As already explained, it was an early start on Saturday morning – we needed to be in Kintbury by 8.45, so we had a light breakfast (with a view to bacon butties on arrival) and set off. The rainy weather wasn’t quite what we were hoping for a day on the Kennet and Avon Canal but that’s boating for you. Always the rough with the smooth.
We arrived in plenty of time and so did Anne, Gray and Anne’s Mum, Sheila. We dubbed it “Take Your Mother on a Boat Day”. We had hired the boat, called Cygnet, from the Kennet Horse Boat Company and it was very cute. A little tatty but watertight! And very easy to handle it turned out, with all mod cons. I’d hire her again without hesitation, anyway.
We had a quick handover and then we were off – and on went the cooker for the Bacon Butties! Go Anne! It was a cloudy/showery/delugey/sunny/cloudy sort of a day and our coats were donned and shrugged off quite a few times. On balance, though it was far better than the forecast had led us to hope for – although we did get one really good soaking.
Archie, after some initial trepidation, took to the boat like the boat dog he really is and had a great day. He soon remembered how to get round locks and was on the go all day.
We went through Hungerford and a total of 5 locks before it was time for our halfway stop and the K&A was just as beautiful as we remembered. As a seasoned sailor, Gray took to the boat with aplomb and was soon steering into locks and generally manoeuvring Cygnet like an old pro. A very useful crew member to have around and he thoroughly enjoyed himself as you can see below. Well, we all did! We had a sumptuous (sumpnerous!) lunch, probably over-catering by a factor of 3, and then turned round for our journey back to Kintbury. You can see a map of our route here. It doesn’t actually look very far, but it took us from 0900 to 17.30 with a half hour lunch stop. A very slow pace which is part of the allure of canal-boating in our opinion. We miss it very much.
I should add that we had numerous cuppas all day and scones, clotted cream and jam at around 4 pm. We didn’t starve!
Here are some pics of the crew in action>
All too soon we had arrived back at the boat’s base and we reluctantly handed her over. We all had such a good day. Getting Mum on and off the boat was a bit of a trial but she wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I’m only sorry that I don’t seem to have any pics of her. Mind you – we left our camera in the caravan so it’s our own fault!
We have another canal day planned in August, this time on the Oxford canal. This trip is being paid for by the winnings from our quiz team and we’ll have a few more people on board. More people to open the locks! Yay!
We made the journey back to Morn Hill in record time. We had planned to have our evening meal at a pub but we were all so full we didn’t bother. The left-overs from lunch were more than enough of a snack to see us though until morning. We were all – particularly Archie – very tired after our early start and were tucked up in bed good and early.
As we had to be off-site by midday we had our usual leisurely brekker and read the papers before leaving for the short journey home. Our next trip will be to France for our two week summer holiday. That will be a mammoth report!