In the morning I heard a lot of tweeting and went to look. I eventually spied a robin. I had some crumbs, the then down and it came down and took one then disappeared into the tree.


Last night Shane had a look at a different kind of lock, that was coming up. I wouldn’t want to try and work out what to do, but if there are instructions I was happy to give it a go. Shane was interested  to see it working and went to see what was happening. He cast me off just as I was moving towards the lock, I saw two men with binoculars. I hoped they’d give me some ornithological insight. They had the binoculars trained across the canal and looked quite animated. I asked what they could see  and they laughed and said they were just wondering what was being built at the building site because they didn’t think it was a house. ” We’re just nosey,”they said. Ah well I had just been nosey too.

There was a boat waiting to go in to the lock when I approached so we had to join the queue. In the past I’ve hovered without holding the rope, and bow thrusters are a help. The thrusters aren’t working though and so I was a bit more worried about holding it still in the wind. I held it at the bank on a rope I saw there were Canal and River Trust workers there and thought Shane would be surplus to requirements and would come back and help get Bartimaeus pushed off, or drive. No such luck… Just an open lock gate and expectation to drive in. Shane had done this lots of times. I have never done it before.

Anyway it went smoothly. Shane was deep in conversation with a guy who was very enthusiastic about the hybrid engine. As Shane went to the other side of the lock to help (or something), the chap came and chatted to about the display and controls, asking all about it. He continued to chat to Shane later and then when I was driving out here was at another boat regaling them with how lovely our boat was. He seemed so happy. I was relieved I had got through the lock and been able to answer his questions.

There were many more locks to go and also a sign warning about a dredging operation that might cause a delay and Shane seemed to be enjoying locking and knew there was another staircase to go. It being windy, I’d decided to just do the rope technique from now on, since I seem to have managed it. I wanted to get through the morning handling the boat in the wind, in front of various canal and river trust workers with my dignity intact.

Many apples had fallen in the canal and were giving along and followed us into a lock. I saw a may fly across the canal holding a whole some in its beak. I was glad there were going to some use.

Bartimaeus bobbing for apples

Later on a squirrel ran along the bank with a chestnut in its mouth, still in its been prickly case. Stocking up for a game of conkers, no doubt.

We reached the dredging area and I was standing on the side holding the rope and ended up in a long conversation with one of the men who drives lorries taking away the silt, another animated chap, enthused about hybrids and telling me need watched a video last night about several different hybrids being run to judge which is most efficient etc. I checked if that was on the Severn and that the film was made by the same people who made Bartimaeus. We’d been invited to take part in the event but were still in Edinburgh at the time so had decided against it. He’s reminded me I should finish watching the video, he seemed very enthused about it.

We had a long busy morning and wanted lunch. As we were eating one of the dredge barges bumped us and scraped along us for a bit. I saw the driver move forward into the driving seat. I’m not sure what had been occupying him, but he didn’t seem to have his eye on steering. He gave us a cheery wave anyway. I kind of expected them to be experts, but I guess we all make mistakes. Shane had been watching all the boats and noted with amusement that the one that had teamed into us was called “Dignity”.

After lunch, Shane drove and I took over working locks. At the first a woman told me there was a photo opportunity and pointed out a huge growth of  yellow/orange fungi. I am not a fungi expert but they were impressive. It seemed to be a perfect environment just there, as I saw at least 4 different kinds of fungus at that lock. 

photogenic fungi

Later a cyclist was stopped on a bridge beside a lock. He said hello to Shane at the far end of the lock. He hadn’t seen me working the lock, just below him and got a fright when I said “hello,” too. We had a short chat. Then as he set off, he called, “Enjoy the rest of your life!”