Carry That Weight

The weather has been very variable this week, scorching one day and pretty cool the next wit some rain, sometimes not even forecast. It is just as well we were in no particular hurry to get somewhere as we have been able to go with whatever came our way. We have managed to moor for lunch during a shower, or hide under a tree and have a chat with a friendly boater, on the way to the shop in Crick.

Crick is small but has a few historic houses. It also has a marina that we discovered was the base of another Ortomarine boater. We got several food recommendations, though they arrived after I had begun cooking. I thought we might try the lunchspot but with rain threatened for the afternoon, Shane wanted to get through the Watford flight, in the morning. One thing Crick did not have was a good network connection and he had a video meeting to join.

Like Foxton, we were assisted by lock keepers all the way and we were the only boat going through, so got p!enty of attention. Unlike Foxton, I was driving and Shane locking. We had a cheery chat with a boater coming the other way who was intrigued that we both had dragon motifs on our boats. It was a little windy but it all went smoothly enough. I had time for a cup of tea, while waiting for the boats coming up, and staved off a bit of hunger, having arrived at lunch time. After entertaining guests last weekend, I had realised that we were low on several kinds of tea and out of any Grey varieties altogether! I looked for some in Welford and could find no Grey tea (Earl, Lady or Duchess) but did find one I thought might help me lose weight (or slow the gain). I don’t want to go on a diet but something to stop me wanting to eat a random snack might be handy. (The glass in the background is not because I also had a tipple, it is the insect catching device, coupled with the card, essential boat accessories in the summer!)

Tea without a biscuit that tastes like you are having a biscuit!

I am rather enjoying it and it had cooled perfectly while I helped the other boats through the locks, so I could swing it down fast before concentrating on the flight. Mostly going from lock to lock in the staircase is easy but the first one is always the one to make me nervous, when there is an audience. There was a very small audience, just the volunteers. Thank you for the “well done” Mr lock keeper, I must have been looking worried, and needing encouragement. I am sure I grazed a bit at the back. It was all over in time for us to move on and have lunch before Shane’s videomeet. 

Someone told Shane to avoid going towards Braunston at the weekend because it would be far to busy due to the vintage rally. Not one to miss out on an event opportunity we decided to move only a short distance then hop in the tandem and enjoy the event. It was good weather for a cycle ride (just 5 miles) and we arrived to the welcome advertisement for a Gongoozlers’ Cafe. There wasn’t even a queue, because we got in early. For the grammar nerds. I am thrown into confusion that their poster had the apostrophe denoting the plural possessive but the boat has it in the singular. 

How many gongoozlers does it take to eat a light lunch?

Another thing to catch my eye was a high viz vest worn by one of the event officials with SAFTEY STEWARD (sic) on the back. As the announcer said, as boats were manoeuvring into the marina entrance “the size of the cock up is proportional to the number of onlookers cubed”. That will be why the locks went well for me then. There is some weight of responsibility for these crews with an audience of keen boaters and boats that do not have bow thrusters and several more steps to put the engine into reverse and often towing another, in a crowded space. Ther was some interesting pole work and fending while these paired boats turned and reversed in.


Poling and driving round to point the stern towards the entrance
Heading backwards into the marina entrance
Barge and butty now between two other boats in the marina

Unfortunately they had done a long complex manoeuvre to get in, only to be wedged between two other boats as the space narrowed. The woman who had poled before, tried to gondolier them out and then tried pulling with a rope from the side, very hard since she was on her own and the boat was jammed to another boat! 

Unsurprisingly it was just too heavy a task. But the boat at the side used it’s engine and managed to reverse into open space behind and they separated the barge and butty and gradually moved them  (by rope hauling for the butty, making use of the rope attachment for horses, and rearranged themselves. No one seemed flustered at all.

We got a good look at them by going alongside and viewing from the bridge over the marina entrance. We also got to see work from canal artists and a rope fender maker making one. We had a nice chat partly about accents and then about knitting and knitting! A canal artist was offering us her stools and buckets. They are lovely but not suited to the style of our very modern boat.

Some fine canal art on jugs
Famous carrying company, and jugs with the boat name on them
Boat entering under the bridge into the marina, also in reverse
Boat entering marina viewed from the bridge
Boats going under the bridge from the bridge

It was a relaxed atmosphere with lots of sunshine, only the occasional squall and a brass band that played Meatloaf’s “I’d do anything for love ( but I won’t do that)” – I preferred it to the original – and Madness’s “Baggy Trousers”. The compere complained the band had failed to play “Don’t rain on my parade” when there was a shower. He had a good knack of making everything sound casual. Shane went for a slice of lemon cake and they gave him extra deciding the heel could not be sold separately.

All the boats had previously been working boats carrying coal, gravel, porcelain, bricks, salt, cheese, cloth, lime or anything else that needed carried. I wonder how busy the canals were then. It was certainly full today though most of the boats had no cargo. Some work boats: fuel boats and boats selling hand made fenders or other products can still be seen, but they are their own selling business, not just to transport heavy goods.

Full canal, just room for one to pass, gongoozlers on the bridge.