The Big One

Well, we went for a walk in the early morning sunshine, stopped off at Spencer’s Boatyard for some more of his cheap diesel and Calor gas (his supply boat Aquilo was moored up for once, despite seeing him several times after the previous refuelling session in Wilcot). And then we stopped overnight in Caen Hill marina to get a shore line and catch up on some washing. But come Friday morning there was no putting it off any longer… [cue dramatic music] going up the Caen Hill Locks to Devizes.

These big locks on the K&A are hard work, and worse going uphill even when things are set fair – particularly with a light crew consisting only of self, SWMBO, and the ship’s cat. We waited at the bottom for a while, were delighted when another boat came along (it’s much easier when two boats share the locks and lockwheeling) and then disappointed when they dropped out after the first lock. And so we went all the way up, on our own, with every lock set against us. Just before lunch we saw some CaRT volunteers helping an already heavy crewed boat down, and our hopes were raised… they took one look at us, knocked off for lunch and never reappeared.

Coming down last week with company was a doddle compared to this! Six hours and 29 broad and deep locks later we tied up on Devizes Wharf, breathed a sigh of relief, and went in search of sustenance as the cook had gone on strike. Biggles disappeared into the bushes.

Nice spot, Devizes Wharf. Two minutes walk from the town centre. The museum, K&A Trust HQ, a canoe club and trendy theatre to provide interest, and enough boats without being mobbed and overcrowded. Even the local rat family the other side of the bridge provides local amusement by teaching their young ones to swim across the canal and nick the bread thrown for the swans.

Walked into Pizza Express then out again instantly (we normally like them as useful standbys, but that night it was mobbed, unbelievably hot and noisy, and with  a distinct smoke/fat haze in the air). And stumbled into the delightful The Bistro, where we had one of the most delightful, interesting – and reasonable – meals we’ve had in a long time. Slept well, too!

With no plans to move for the weekend, Joe visited with a lady friend who wanted to look at the boat, Bob Berry kindly delivered us some fRoots mail and then gave us a bollocking for not roping him in as crew on the locks even though he’d been at work (damn!), and we all bumped into each other again doing the cafe society bit later in the day. Nice place, Devizes – neither of us are really town-folk, but even Biggles thought he could live there.

Sunday, saw Joe driving us over to Crofton – he’s a volunteer there – for their end of season Gala, and the beam engines working are definitely impressive. Having had the guided tour a few days earlier, here’s just a couple of pictures of some other stuff there for the day.

Crofton Gala: Three WheelersCrofton Gala

And then another pal, who’d heard we were moored up on the wharf, changed his dog walk route to come and say hello too. A busy weekend…

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