Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Wiltshire Wolds

I don’t particularly care for the unexpected, so I was delighted that our return up the 29 locks on the Caen Hill Flight at Devizes, last weekend, was every bit as pleasant as our passage down the Saturday before. Our plan, to be at base of the flight on Friday night, ready for the off, first thing on Saturday morning, proved a sensible move and  our premier locking crew of David and Caroline returned to The Cat’s Whiskers late Friday evening to make our ascent as painless as possible.
Dave and Caroline brought with them a third team member and we were delighted to pipe on board “Toby the Terrrier”, for whom this boating lark was a whole new experience. As it happens, Toby’s conduct was exemplorary, and the little fellow really seemed to enjoy the experience, though he was flat out on our floor when we finally moored in Devices Wharf later that afternoon.

Toby the Terrier on roof patrol
We shared our ascent with Bernie and Jenny on NB Varakei. They were two-handed, but promised even more help with the guests they were expecting for the weekend, though at 78 and 83, we didn’t expect their guests to be “hands on”.  They certainly did their bit though.

David & Caroline. Our premier locking crew
Devizes still retains the atmosphere of an old country market town, and the major moorings for the town, at the Wharf, means you are only minutes from the town centre. As luck would have it, we collided with the start of the Devizes Carnival celebrations. The opener being a grand concert in the local town park. So, yet again, chairs under our arms, we sought out some Sunday afternoon entertainment, and had a very enjoyable few hours, listening to a wide variety of music, in the warm sunshine.
We woke up Monday morning to a smell I knew very well. Wadworths were brewing and the smell of the malt permeated the whole area. Luverly! Since then we have slowly journeyed east  through the Vale of Pewsey and have just crossed back into Berkshire, where we are moored at Hungerford for the night. There have been lots of locks and we have befriended a number of boaters on our journey. We even saw another "Cat's Whiskers", without the apostrophe. I have heard of one other.
The Cat's Whiskers at rest in the Vale of Pewsey. If you squint you can see The White Horse on the hills

Snap!... but where is the apostrophe

Pat and I are unusual in that neither of us care much for fishing.  On most boats there is at least one fisherman, and no sooner have their boats moored up for the night, than the rod comes out (oooh missus!) and fishing commences. But though I am not a big angling fan, what I saw this morning has changed my mind a bit.  Whenever the crew of Narrowboat Bumble have pork chops they save the bones and then attach them to a line and dangle them over the boat all night. The result, as I saw for myself this morning, is a big catch of crayfish who attach themselves to the bones. They then fry the little critters, or boil them, or make soup, and they look to be good scoff. These are Signal crayfish, so the crew of Bumble are also performing a public service as this invasionary species should not exist is this environment, though they are rife in the Thames. And in the Kennet and Avon, it seems.
This Friday, we catch a train from these here parts and head for St Albans, to pick up our trusty old Citroen Picasso. It will be the first time I have driven a car since Easter and only the second time I have been in a car during the time we have been on the water. Must remember to drive on the left!
On our return with the car, we will be moored in a marina in Newbury for two weeks, so if any of you fancy a land-based visit, with a mini-cruise as an optional extra, then get in touch.


  1. are you trying to do the whole system in 6 months. see you are enjoying the k&a its a great bit of the system, i really enjoyed when we hired from foxhangers a few years back. dai

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