This morning was cold and horrible, so rather than work on the boat, we decided to take the opportunity to walk the half mile or so into Eastwood. I had a vague idea that this had some D.H. Lawrence connection, but hadn't really been aware that it was where he was born, and the excellent birthplace museum, run by the local authority, was a very pleasant surprise. Trying the rather forbidding door, it yielded to let us into the gift shop, where two ladies were on duty. As we we the only customers at that point, they decided to start the guided tour just for us, and it was very well done. I just love recreated historical houses anyway, and the literary connection - and Lawrence's interesting life - made it all the more rewarding.
The house, in Victoria Street, was where the family lived until Lawrence was two - they occupied a further three houses in the town, each bigger and in a better area than the last, culminating in a five bedroomed house at the top of the hill. For a miner's cottage, the house seemed spacious - two up, two down with an attic, a shared wash house and toilet - but the rooms were large and reasonably high ceilinged. While Lawrence's father, Arthur, was a miner, his mother Lydia was educated and had worked as a schoolteacher. She was determined to pass the gift of education on to her five children, of whom David Herbert Richards (known to the family as Bert, but to everyone in his adult life, including his wife, simply as Lawrence) was the fourth (from memory they were Emily, George, Ernest, David and Ada). Bert was consided a bit of a mummy's boy, and didn't start school until he was eight - by which time he already knew more than most boys leaving school at fourteen, including French which Lydia taught him.
So I learnt something today, as well as sheltering from some vicious sleet and hailstorms which continued throughout the afternoon.
Preparations for the brass band have been postponed in the faint hope of better weather. Bath has had staging built in the hold so that at least the upper part of the band members will be visible; we have our extended deck over the back end, but beyond that it looks like our contingent will be seated at floor level, as there is no more material available to make staging. I have visions of them all being deafened as the sound bounces around in the hold.
We have come up into the basin forwards; the winding hole is a little way down the canal, at Anchor Bridge, which is where we will be loading the band. So the idea is that Bath, which is facing downhill, will tow Chertsey backwards down to Anchor Bridge. Bath will then wind, and we will breast up, the band will get on, and will play as we return to the basin, including ascending the lock, emerging from the depths playing the same music as was played at the opening of the canal in 1779 years ago, as has been done every five years since the first rally held in 1973.
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