Full Circle

We both enjoyed our cycle outing to Avebury. We didn’t check out the crystals shop but a peep in to check the postcards showed it was very popular. The community shop provided a fine lunch and the local pub gave me the new experience of a passionfruit gin (and tonic) in a large glass. There are several circles and lines of stones and the monumental task of making them  is quite incredible. It is no surprise people are in awe there and it is a draw for spiritualists. 

I am often amazed at the amount of man hours and engineering that went into building the canals too and they were all made with hand tools. I was also taken with the scenery en route, the thatched houses, hills and white horse and was very glad Shane had a fast smooth return worked out though it was an adventure through the fields and past the flowers.

If you were of a superstitious nature you might have read something into the appearance of a super blue moon on the same night as a trip to Avebury, but it was all down to coincidence. Wiltshire, the home of stone circles is also home to corn circles and we found ourselves moored next to a crop circle museum. We aren’t won over to a theory of aliens. Still the patterns are impressively intricate and the farm shop next to it had some awesome multicoloured carrots and free runner beans. What’s not to like?

Super blue moon

I bookended the trip with knitting. I was trying to finish a requested item before the last day of August. I have tried to not be too obsessed and still take turns driving but wanted not to end the “Knit every day in August” challenge mid garment. Everything I knitted was at someone’s request and I didn’t want to keep people waiting. Damp weather is better for cracking on. Trips to the odd museum and shop breaks it up a bit. Recently I had fitted in seeing a museum while we filled up with water and as well as lots of the usual canal paraphernalia of tillers, lock gates and information on navvies there was a bit of canal textiles and I was intrigued to learn that acid was transported by canal after the railways had taken over for most most of the freight carrying. The acid was in spherical glass jars (carboys) and deemed too fragile to go on trains to the fertiliser manufacturers in Bristol. They were stored and lifted in wicker baskets and carried by boat for a smoother acid trip.

I was glad of a rainy day on the last day of August and delighted to manage to finish the socks on time. I parcelled them up. We weren’t near a post office so I had to wait till we got to somewhere suitably equipped. Pewsey was not far so we could get to it the next day and we knew it had one. It was a satisfying end to think that I had gone to that same post office with the first completed item. It had been a very wet day and I was posting a cotton sun hat. This time it was a sunny day and I was posting my last item, woollen socks. It felt like a completed circle though going to Bristol and back was not a circular journey at all.

Wool socks ready for posting in Pewsey

I had noticed the last time that Pewsey prided itself on its carnival. This time the crochet top on the postbox, where I popped the Avebury postcard, had change to celebrate the carnival. Perhaps it was this weekend. I availed myself of the shop and bakery in Pewsey again too.

Someone on his boat called to us that we might see a wedding. As we went past a wooded area we saw a circle of people. I could glimpse a white dress and a man in a top hat with a feather who seemed to be the celebrant but there were trees in the way. Later I noticed a lady very smartly dressed picking her way along the towpath. She looked a little anxious. I guessed she was a late arrival having difficulty hurrying to complete the circle.

Circle of wedding guests in a wood

We continued to the start of the Crofton locks, but had to stop as they were all closed up. They don’t open until 9.30. While we waited Shane noticed a circular cobweb covered in water droplets. I went out to get a photo only to find there were several all along the boat on windows and between the boat and the bank. This must be home to a few spiders – all outside and coping with rain but they may still be with us as they were squatted in window crevices.

He also saw a boat waiting at the jaws of the lock. They were hopeful of getting in at nine but had a longer wait. When the gates opened we headed towards the lock. I was driving and Shane locking. I was surprised to see the gates closing but confident Shane would manage to persuade them that we could share and pleased to see the lock gates reopen. Once in I found out that they were in a hurry and had to get their hire boat back – no wonder they were keen to be in early. The driver was friendly and chatty and there were three generations aboard. The trip was a treat for his 90th birthday. I was impressed. His wife was out and picking up ropes and pushing gates. Their son-in-law and grandsons were working locks. Shane worked ahead to get locks set to speed us up. We had a bit of a tricky situation in one lock where we got wedged. I was on the roof trying to dislodge a bit of wood behind the gate on my side, stopping the gate from opening fully, and as he had drifted forwards too we were now stuck. We weren’t managing to move either boat forwards or backwards. Shane came back to see what was happening just as I was giving up and ringing. He suggested switching to diesel. I should remember that engine is more powerful, than the electric motor. It worked and back I went and I then asked them to go out first to avoid a repeat. We went single file from then on.

Boat behind us in the tunnel, only the light on the walls visible

We came back through the section that had been so very shallow before and this time the boats were floating not beached. It was a lock heavy morning and though getting two boats in and out can slow things down, I think we might in total have speeded them up since they didn’t generally prepare locks ahead.

Plenty of water in the pond this time. Easier cruising

Just before the last lock we found a space to moor and parted company with the nonegenarian and his family. Shane wanted to go to the old steam powered pumping station which was open that day and had been shut when we came through previously. It closed at four so after a busy morning and late lunch we had to step on it to get there before last entry time. Several friendly volunteers greeted us and chatted along the way and we were in deed last out.

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