England or Bust

We've been planning this little adventure for over 6 months and on Friday we finally reached the start line. A ride-share van took us directly to the terminal - so much nicer than schlepping suitcases from Lot C - where we skated through check-in only to spend almost an hour in the slooooooow security line. Fortunately, we'd planned for that and still had an hour to wait when we reached our gate.

This was our first time flying Air New Zealand and it was amazing.

Dreading the 10.5 hour flight, we'd upgraded to premium economy and it was worth every penny. Tons more room, much more comfortable seats,

a menu with hot food choices for dinner and breakfast, and free snacks and drinks all night long.

A quick trip through Customs (hahaha - look at that line)

and we were on our way to baggage claim and a 45 minute van ride to our home for the next 10 days in Newbury.

We tried to stay up til 8 pm local time so we could get accustomed to the 8 hour time change more quickly, but both of us were sound asleep by 6 pm.

Newbury town hall


Sunday morning, after a wonderful 14 hours of sleep - and a call to apartment management when a fuse blew and killed electricity to over half the apartment - we were off to explore Newbury.

St. Nicholas Church, built in 1086


We're half a block from the town center, a pedestrians-only zone of shops and restaurants. We explored a bit of it last night in search of dinner - take-out Cornish pasties - and walked the entire length today on our way to the Jubilee narrowboat (barge).

The hour-long trip took us through historic Newbury,

through two locks, and up into the River Kennet.

I knew that France had a system of locks throughout the country that barges still use today, but I wasn't aware that England had one also.

And the locks are opened and closed the same way they have been for centuries - by people-power.

As we approached a closed lock, the skipper would pull to the side, two crew members would jump off and head to either side of the lock gate.

They cranked open the locking mechanism, then pushed the poles to open the floodgates and allow water into - or out of - the lock.

Our narrowboat slid in, then drifted quietly as the water level adjusted. The opposite gates were then opened and off we motored at the new level.

Very relaxing, very peaceful and absolutely fascinating to watch.

Some barges have people living aboard year-round, others are for rent by day or week.

I loved seeing them, but I think that's a bit too close quarters for me to live in.
Views from the river:
According to our volunteer guides, this timbered house was built in the 1400's.



Vickie said...

Fabulous start to your trip...JEALOUS!!!!!