Saturday, 3 September 2016

A Wet Day in Whitchurch and a Lost Propellor.

Saturday 3rd September, 2016 in Whitchurch.
A beautiful sunrise but unfortunately the forecast rain soon arrived and, as it was expected to last all day, we decided to stay put today.
Behind us was the lift bridge on the main line of the canal next to the entrance to this short arm.
After breakfast, we walked the half mile into the centre of town. The arm used to go all the way into town but it was abandonned in 1944 and filled in soon after. As is often the case, the townsfolk soon regretted the decision and, in 1993 the first couple of hundred yards of the arm was restored to provide moorings and a winding hole.
Two hardy individuals had camped at the end of the arm and were cooking their breakfast (bacon butties). We walked past sniffing the aroma like a pair of Bisto Kids.
You could clearly see where the arm used to go through the next two bridges. There are plans to restore the remainder of the arm, possibly with an inclined plane, as the terminal basin is lower than the main canal.
Despite the rain, the town centre was thronged with shoppers and a thriving farmers' market was in progress.
Whitchurch started life as the Roman town of Mediolanum, a fact celebrated on the town clock in the marketplace - made by the local clock makers W.B. Joyce, famous for making tower clocks.
We visited the Tesco store for a "few bits" before having a drink in a local tea room. There is a bus station outside Tesco and a half hourly service to take us back to the canal but, as we had some time to spare, we explored the town a bit.
The town is charming and has many delightful old buildings and lots of small specialist shops, such as Walkers, a sandwich shop and delicatessen with its original shop front.
An old coaching inn was almost hidden behind its entrance archway.
It advertised a "husband creche" to look after husbands while the wives shopped.
The church of St. Alkmund was handsome indeed, both inside and out. It was built in 1713 to replace the late 14th century church which "fell ye 31 of July 1711"!
The no. 205 bus duly delivered us back close to the canal with our "few bits".
The rest of the afternoon passed peacefully (it was still raining) until around 5:30 when there was a knock on the cabin door.
It was a gentleman from a narrowboat that had just left the moorings in front of us. It appeared that the propellor had fallen off his boat as he was passing us and, as they are expensive, he wanted to try and find it.
Over the next couple of hours, R helped by probing the canal bottom with a pole from on board MM, while the unfortunate fellow got into the canal and searched back and forth beside MM.
Some time later, the sun came out but he kept on searching while R tried his luck further along the canal with a grappling hook.
Eventually he got out of the canal and M made him a warming cup of tea. One has to admire his persistence - and his good humour.  He was constantly joking about it all despite the fact it must have been very cold in the water and it was raining almost all the time - his hands were white with cold when he eventually got out.  He has said that he will try again tomorrow!
As the sun set, it reflected off the lift bridge behind us.
Today: No movement, just 2.7 hours for power.

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