Milestones

Saturday 19th May 2018…

Sharpness Panorama
Early morning at Sharpness

The Sun peeped over the horizon early. Well, actually, it was bang on time, as always – the passage of the Sun across the sky can be predicted to the very second each day – but it just feels early. And I awoke on my very first morning out here alone on “the cut”, away from the sanctuary of the marina, away from the support of mains water and electricity, no-body, just no-body else around, within either sight or earshot. I’ve long imagined what this experience might be like, and the reality was – is – quite magical.

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A splendid day for a cruise… Not a breath of wind, and already pretty warm, even at this early hour.

Saturday 19th May is not over yet as I write, but the magic has continued, a day quite devoid of the usual toxicity of modern living in the big city. The blood pressure is coming down just nicely. Just what the metaphorical doctor has ordered.

Meanwhile, in Windsor, Prince Harry, all round good bloke Royal, heir to the British throne #3 and Meghan, his gorgeous American bride-to-be awoke on their wedding day. Every couple dream of perfect sunshine on their wedding day, and today of all days, the weather is is just that – perfect.

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Purton

Widewanderer staggered into the galley of Faith and fumbled around for a few moments, gathering together the implements for coffee-making. Soon the caffeine was doing what it says on the tin, and the body was responding to the stimulus – Widewanderer was waking up. Outside, the surface of the canal lay smooth as silk, myriads of flies skittering across its surface, hotly pursued by the fish underneath, occasional plops punctuating the Dawn Chorus as fish jumped to catch a tasty breakfast.

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Purton Ship Graveyard

Purton offers much for the early morning photographer: Just down from my mooring, still dominating the canal, are the remains of the former abutments of the Severn Railway Bridge, whilst just over the wall, the Severn river itself. Purton is the final resting place of many Severn river vessels, deliberately beached here at the end of their useful lives rather than being cut up for scrap. Over the decades they have filled with the silt of the estuary, and now serve as a vital defence to the canal, protecting its flank against the relentless erosive power of the river.

The Severn is quiet at this time of the year, and the Purton Ship Graveyard is a draw for many visiting tourists, able to wander around the old hulks, each marked with a plaque commemorating its building date and the day it was beached here. Sometimes, it has to be said, an old hulk has attracted subsequent attention, and it is now conspicuous by its absence, pulled off the mud and taken for preservation some place or other. But the plaque still marks the spot.

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Concrete that once floated…

Meanwhile, in Windsor, the big wedding ceremony is under way. Widewanderer has chosen not just to sit watching on a big TV screen, but instead to listen by way of an internet stream of the radio broadcast. And he is imagining what the scene is like in the Chapel of St George within the bounds of Windsor Castle. A sumptuous new arrangement of Ben E King’s classic Stand By Me, in Gospel style, and a rousing address by American Bishop Michael Curry, delivered in true gospel style as only, really, an American cleric can. Millions of us, listening from canal narrowboats to the very top of the highest high-rises around the globe, are now in no doubt about the Power of Love. Powerful stuff, indeed.

Faith is a sanctuary for me as a person, and Faith – that’s now Big Faith with a BIG F – is the bedrock of humankind. The power of Love. Today was a day of milestones, most certainly; May 19th 2018 is now a day etched forever in the stone of history…

I wish Harry and Meghan a long and happy life together. The two of you make the perfect couple…

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