Monday, 20 June 2011

Devizes to Honey Street

When we arrived at the bottom of the flight last night there had been another boat waiting to lock up. They looked a bit horrified when we said we wanted to set off at eight o'clock, we eventually agreed on eight-thirty. As it was, we weren't quite ready at eight-thirty anyway, as we realised at the last minute that we had forgotten to load up our bikes which were tied to a post on the towpath. 

But we were still the first pair of boats up the flight when we set off with John and Carolyn on their narrowboat, Chalico. We made good progress halfway up the flight but then got held up by British Waterways who were doing running repairs to one of the paddles  on the lock.  This blew our schedule out of the water (as it were). I wondered whether John and Carolyn were secretly thinking, "Hah, that'll teach you, with your damn early start, huh?" If they were, they were far too nice to let on though.

The people on a hire boat on the other side of the stoppage were getting a little worked up, as they were behind schedule, we could hear some rather bad language so we retreated and put the kettle on. Boating is like that, there are often unexpected stoppages and hold-ups, just when you are thinking you are making good progress. If you like rushing about, or indeed actually getting somewhere, boating is probably not the best pastime. With boating its all about the journey.

Three quarters of an hour later we were on the move again and we finally found ourselves wearily arriving at Devizes wharf at half past two, having waved goodbye to our new acquaintances at the top of the flight. We popped into Devizes for some provisions.

If you ask me, Devizes is very under-rated. Its a lovely market town and, unlike many town centres, it still has plenty of independent shops, despite the presence of several supermarkets in town. it has two independent bookshops. We stopped at Walter Rose and Sons, an excellent butcher/deli and stocked up on meats and cheeses for the journey.

Back on board, by the time we had filled up the water tank and what not, it was a) gone four o'clock and b) tipping with rain. At least now we were at the start of the "long pound", a fifteen mile stretch with no  locks and just a couple of swing bridges, so we put up the hood on the boat and pressed on through the rain. And rain. And rain. We put the hood out and peered out glumly as we pottered along.

Honey Street is a small settlement by the canal, focused around The Barge pub. For some years now it has been the focus for crop circle hunters and one or two crop circle creators. This "phenomenon" has nothing to do with alien forces or the supernatural. It's down to a group of "trustafarians", upper middle class drop-outs with too much time on their hands, and no way of using that Oxbridge degree. So they compete to come up with the most complex designs, some of which, it must be said, are quite beautiful.

Anyway, today was the summer solstice and so the pub was brimming with space cadets, all out of their heads. No sooner had we moored up then a woman staggered over to ask for a light. When I produced one she flung her arms around me in delight, declaring that she loved me, the world and just about everything else.

"Not sure I can cope with too much of this," muttered Mick.
So after a quick pint we retreated to the safety of the boat, opened a bottle of wine and both fell asleep before drinking a drop. It  had been a long day.

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