Easy (Like Sunday Morning)

Yesterday we had the excitement of visitors. Having gone to bed late then not slept for a bit, I then slept in and realised they had already set off long before we had surfaced, never mind getting a thorough clean done! Well done to Stuart and Wendy for being organised and on the go as usual!

They had been to Foxton locks before but not actually gone through them with a boat. Wendy was official photographer, so wasn’t in many pictures herself. We didn’t yet have a time for going up but planned just to head towards the locks once they had arrived. Immediately a passing woman started asking if the swing bridge that we were moored beside was difficult.  This was the one I had struggled with the day before so we assured her it was, but Stu and Shane sprang into action to help. Wendy unpacked and got a picture of a Moorhen we had already seen this morning carrying a very long piece of reed. I assume a new nest is being built.

After a blether and beverage, we headed towards the basin, and I was preparing to do the small pedestrian swing bridge there. Shane had done it last time and not reported it as problematic. It was half open with a man standing at it but it wasn’t clear what he was doing and we  couldn’t see anyone else lining up. When I got there, his explanation was that he couldn’t get it to close again. I said we would manage no bother with two of us, but now we needed it open. Wendy recorded the joint effort and it was a piece of cake (oh no that was later…thanks for the cake Wendy, it is all finished now).

Pushing the bridge open for Bartimaeus to get into the basin
Closing it ..quick and easy with two of us, it slammed back into place.

Finding my way round to the side to help moor by the locks took longer than opening the bridge. You have to alert the lock keepers for this flight. There are two 5 lock staircases and they usually only let boats go in one direction at a time, though there is space for crossing in the middle. There was one boat coming down so we had to wait for it to complete and then we would get in and no-one else was in the queue. While we were waiting to get in, I took the rubbish to a bin where there was actually recycling. That was a bit of a trek plus it is a busy tourist spot with narrow paths and bridges to negotiate but everyone was in relaxed day out in the sunshine mood and I was very pleased to have got that job done.

We had great weather for locking. No rain and not too hot and a much better day than yesterday. There was a cool wind so I started with a fleece but that did not last long. Stuart admired Shane’s driving in without touching the sides. The lockkeeper was helping with winding. Unusually all the winding was done on the same side but there was an order for doing red before white so I didn’t have to keep crossing the locks. The lock gates were not at all heavy, the lockkeeper remarked that a child could do them. Between all the interested onlookers and Stuart (he did the first gate) on the other side and the children the lock keeper encouraged to operate the gates on my side, I didn’t have very many gates to operate at all. On the second or third lock, the lockkeeper told me to wind more slowly next time. I was so used to heavy difficult locks that I was finding it a breeze to wind these quickly. Wendy also came to do some of the winding too. The flight looks big but we were through very quickly.

Shane exiting the first lock, one done, 9 to go!
Finishing up at the top, Wendy under windlass instruction – Stuart’s annotation!

It was time for mooring and rewarding ourselves lunch. We were treated to a meal out and a drink at the pub. We all ordered the same thing and all enjoyed it. Then it was back for a wee cruise to get the most out of Stuart and Wendy’s 8 hours parking payment. We saw a heron that flew away as typical. There were no other exciting nature sightings but we saw two boats called Little Otter.

We winded and drove back to close to the top of the locks, bringing Stuart and Wendy close to the car park and us to a good mooring, ready for visiting the museum the next day. It has been great to manage a meet up in their busy schedule. We had time for an evening stroll to take in the site of the inclined plane that was built to accommodate larger boats, too wide for the locks.

Low sun over the old plane rails
Sundown over Bartimaeus

When you wake up in a different place every day, you have often forgotten where you are and opening the blinds is a surprise. Some paths beside a hawthorn hedge are commonplace, but this morning opening the blinds I had definitely forgotten about this handsome horse out if the window.

Horse sculpture in canal tack and traces with boy behind

Beside the sculpture is a sign saying how hard the life of a canal horse was and that the boys were not allowed to ride them because it was too much for the horses, so the boy will have walked all the way alongside. We had a trip to the museum this morning to learn more about the inclined plane, the building of the canals and life for families on the canals. Our life is so much easier than theirs.