Friday, 2 May 2014

Coming like buses and Mrs Stupid.

We knew the rain today was due to arrive in the afternoon so at 9am off I went to set the lock, opened the paddles and sat back.  Two seconds later can you believe it but a boat came around the bend.  A dash ensued  to close the paddles again and let him in.  Only about 3ft had dropped out, I opened the gate in time and he seemed most surprised at my actions and thanked me..  Even more surprised was David, who having not seen any of this arrived close by and the gates were still shut.  I did my signals telling him what had happened, he has no idea what my signals mean and does his own back, these are the arms in the air in despair ones.  
Sods law would have it that in all three boats turned up, a bit like buses, we haven’t seen any boats this trip sadly these three all going the wrong way for us.  They were headed to Kintbury to ‘Wait’, they want to get off the K&A and go up norff but as you might know the Thames is on Red Boards.  Now non boaty friends this means that the river flow is too fast after all this rain and you have to wait for Green boards when it is safe again.

One lady from the other boats stayed to help me and very kind it was too.  Her own boat sailed off to the water point, the first of all three wanting water here, (Its evidently a trickle here note into Nicholsons) they had all decided to go to Tesco while waiting, obviously I told them about the wine offers there.

David by this point had made a phone call, (Remember reader, that he is only SEMI retired) it must have been an interesting call as he had drifted back a way and wasn’t looking at the lock, this nice lady dressed in only a tee shirt was now rubbing her arms waiting for the old duffer to hurry up in the lock so she could depart.  Finally he did and apologised nicely to her. 

I had my wellies on that morning as the grass all along this canal is long and very wet, to tell the truth I have been in wellies everyday on this trip, I had decided to walk this early part as there is a swing bridge just around the corner by the church.  

First swing bridge of the day at Hungerford.
I walked on now stodging through ankle deep mud in places and just thick mud in others… I arrived at a lock and set to to wait for him.  When he arrived he said in a somewhat exasperated tone asked if I was going to move this bridge.  Reader I was being Mrs Stupid from Stupidville take a look…..

Me getting the lock ready
Me feeling I was doing ok.
Me being told good and proper.
Me figured out what I am doing.
Bloody heavy bridge is finally opened.
Now this swing bridge was very hard to shift, it was fairly high to push.  But it goes right over the lock and if you don’t open it as the water rises you would end up with a crushed boat!!
Red face here so glossing over that quickly.  

Next was this adorable cottage, all broken down with windows smashed.  Such a shame, I am sure someone would live here.

Derelict cottage.

So onward we pressed.  We have developed a new system for locks.  this now takes longer however it means that at the end of the days boating I am not in a total physical meltdown which was becoming the case.  
So at the lock landing I hold the boat and David nips up in a nippy way and empties the lock and then opens the gate. (This is always the case as of yet we have not come across a lock in our favour).

David nipping

David opening gates and paddles
Then I give him the boat back and he puts it into the lock, I shut the gates, I start the winding, its always hard on this canal. He hops off and brings the middle rope, I hold the middle rope and he goes over the gate and opens the other paddle. (I hate these gates, see previous entry)
At the correct time shuts that other paddle. He then opens the gate and takes the boat out and I shut the gate behind. Much easier for me, thank god.
Little Bedwyn lock with an almighty leak
So today we arrived at Little Bedwyn and off he goes, I get a call… “Lisa you are going to have to help me with this one” OMG there were two of us heaving away trying to open the lower gate of an empty lock. But such a leak coming in the lower gates won't open.   Somerton Deep Lock on the South Oxford Canal that has received such stern complaints about being hard to open , but has NOTHING on this one.  What also is crazy is that at the far end of the paved way to help open a gate there are usually ridges to get a foothold on. None here right at the end where you really need it. Why?
The reason why not to moor here
Well yes we did it eventually. I could have done with that Fisherman's Bailiff here again…

Next obstacle  was this CART work boat, you can see that is not completely on the lock landing but it made getting off tricky as out of shot was a strong sluice wanging in, making it impossible for our boat to land so I clambered off over the CART boat.

CART mending the lock landing.
Finally into Great Bedwyn and a space on the hard standing, our size and in fact the boat in front was moving off…. The skies were as black as your hat and even before he had untied it was bucketing down, frankly I admired him as he had to leave having been there for his 48 hrs.  It continued to rain for almost three hours, I hope his wet weather kit was of a good quality.

I put the heating on and the wet washing all around make the entire boat like a steam room, we mopped the dripping windows all evening.

Skinny Day here, we had chicken with courgettes mushrooms and tomatoes and feta with rice.

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