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Simon from NB Tortoise has pointed out that a lot of the top lock gates on the stretch from Kings Langley to Grove Mill swing open when the lock is full so I may have maligned the young men. Anyway we were grateful to be able to steam in on a cold day. What is really tricky is when gates swing wide open when you are working the lock and every time you get up to the paddle you look back to see the gates are too far open to close with water pressure. One on the way back from Chester on the Shropshire had me running backwards and forwards with Alan in the empty lock until finally I started it filling and sprinted back to shut the gate.

We are enjoying being near home. Alan got the bikes out and cleaned and oiled them and we managed a short ride yesterday. The conditions are good when the mud is frozen! We have also not succumbed to bringing the car down to make us walk up the steep hill to home as often as possible.

Today we went over to Reading to see Risa and baby Mayu. The M25 was its usual ghastly self and we went off on the M40 and via High Wycombe. We always find Reading complete hell to drive round and however many maps and routes we print off we always get lost. (We sold the car with the sat nav and I miss the lady telling me which way to go.) And this time we had little Ralph with us so didn’t want to stretch his tolerance of sitting in the car. There was only a short diversion on the way there but we found ourselves going in completely the wrong direction on the way home so headed over Caversham Bridge and back through Henley and Marlow. We were stranded at the Thames and Kennet Marina for a month in 2008 so we often took this route and it reminded us how attractive it is by the Thames.

We continue to wake to ice every morning and tomorrow the forecast is for snow. The fire has been on continuously for days so Alan keeps a keen eye on the diesel level. Ara and Archimedes are due to come past tomorrow morning so we can fill up.

Statistics so far:-

2141.60 Miles, 1209 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels

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