Jumping on the train at Kintbury, as I went to sit down the chap on the opposite seat put a copy of the Metro “newspaper” on it. Barely glancing up I asked “have you finished with that” and he said he had. Then we both did a double take, as it was Joe Phillips, a dear old friend from Bracknell and Uxbridge Folk Club days, who we knew lived in Great Bedwyn – the previous station / end of the line – and who we were planning on phoning a couple of days later as it is on the canal. He never normally travels by train, but that day by chance was going up to London, collecting a friend en-route at Virginia Water (on our beloved slow train from Reading to Waterloo) rather than going direct to Paddington. What are the chances of that?
Not having seen each other since a funeral several years ago, there was lots to talk about!
Mooring up at Great Bedwyn a couple of days later, Fran was heading off to the village shop when she was hi-jacked in the wharf car park by Joe and his musical partner in crime Clive Buckingham (an old Bunjies resident!) and we were dragged off to a splendid dinner in Wilton then a music session in Ramsbury before being returned to the boat well after normal bed time. It’s a hard life…
Joe’s also a volunteer at the fascinating Crofton Pumping Station, so we had the luxury next afternoon of being heavy-crewed on the short cruise up through a few locks to the Crofton Moorings, from where we got the full guided tour. The boiler was fired up already, in preparation for a special evening steaming event the next day, at which Joe and Clive were singing. A fascinating afternoon… thanks, Joe!
Meanwhile, outside the martins were gathering on the wires, and inside the swallows were keeping warm above the boiler while waiting for the flitting time to arrive. Won’t be long now!
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