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Monday, 7th July 2008
Virginia and I went for a themed week at Lindors in Gloucestershire. The theme was walking and waterways, but we didn't really do any walking meaning I didn't need my new half-price boots after all! Lindors is a lovely place, landscaped grounds with gentle rills running through them.

We were in the Forest of Dean, before we went I wouldn't have been able to say where that was. The Forest has been a mining area since Roman times, for iron and for coke to smelt the iron. The steep one-track winding roads were not fun to drive along. A pleasant enough ride on a Kingfisher festooned boat beneath Symonds Yat. Yat is Yorkshire dialect for gate, and the name comes from a guy from Yorkshire who extorted tolls for boats to pass on the River Wye. We went to the top of Symonds Yat with its great views over the bend in the Wye - sadly no views of peregrine falcons that day. The RSPB had a lookout spot with telescopes trained on the cliff crevices where the falcons nest.

Went down Clearwell Caves - another mine where in centuries past even young boys worked underground in appalling conditions. Before explosives they used to set fires underground to break up the rock for digging.

The hosts for the week were keen on narrow boats (barges are an incorrect term apparently.) We learnt about the Falkirk Wheel, a new revolutionary (in more sense than one) lock linking two canals in Scotland. Something added to the to-see list. Had a trip on a Redline narrow boat on the Monmouth and Brecon canal. This canal has been cut in two by the canal wall collapsing, and the slowness in repairing it is really hurting boat hire and the like companies.

I had some experience of plying the tiller as the narrow boat slowly threaded its way along the canal. Your turn the tiller in the opposite direction to where you want the boat to turn, the boat pivots in the middle, it takes a time to react. I never got happy at trying to shoot through the tight bridges, hitting the sides often particularly when I tried to steer under the bridge.

We had a shambolic experience when we went past the winding hole we should have turned round in, and had to turn round in the normal canal. Dire really dire. A winding hole (wind as in the wind which blows) is a large area where narrow boats were turned round, the operators would use the wind to help turn the boats.

A pleasant part of the week was sharing meal-times and activities with the other people, who were mainly elderly. It's hard to accept one is older too. One or two struck me as the kind of people who borrow stories to puff themselves up, hard to prove but some people just don't feel right. I probably didn't feel right to them.