Fallin’

I have been pretty scared watching Shane on the roof holding the boat on a rope and it looked hard to do. I have therefore always volunteered to do the locks and let them open slowly watching him closely to see when it looks to be calming and he looks ready to cope with more turbulence. I am not totally happy on the roof. Nonetheless a couple of times when a lock was already opened for us, it has been easier to drive in rather than drop me off and this has meant me going on the roof to climb up the lock ladder to help out. The walls are slimy and a deep lock is not where you want to slip. At least an empty lock is less deep, so drowning wasn’t likely but still a fall in would be yucky. Some of the lock gates in this area are harder to cross with no little shelf, so I have avoided those . We are in no great hurry though so Shane has no objection to me taking the long way round rather than the nearest available crossing point.

A cautionary sign.

I am prepared to drive through a swing or lift bridge and have done a little more driving than on the Thames in high water. Still with Shane doing the majority, I have also done most of the bridges and they usually need a key. I went to one with key in hand and found it needed a windlass so I ran back to get one and stumbled on the uneven surface with a big dip at the grass border. Far from the slipperiness fears, this was a grippy surface that grazes a knee nicely. I wasn’t sure whether to be rueful at the choice of shorts, or glad not to rip a pair of trousers. Shane found he could unscrew the chain without the windlass after all so I drove through, handing back to Shane once he had finished closing the bridge so I could clean myself up. I showered my leg down to get any dirt out and took extra care for the rest of the day at every lock crossing. At one there was oil spillage just where you climbed on to cross over and I could see the crossing point was oily. The last thing I wanted was oil on my shoes, so that made for an awkward lock to manoeuvre around. I can still count myself lucky that I only fell on dry land and not into the river.

I had got 2 small mystery cuts on my right thumb the night before too and they were much more annoying as they interfered with knitting , cooking, washing and rope handling. The next day was transfer day so would not need much more roping.

We did need to find a place to moor that would be okay for leaving a boat for over a week. We had rail tickets from Thatcham so somewhere near there would be handy. There were a few easy moor spots but clearly marked as 2 days only. Another swing bridge later had the same arrangement and while I thought it should need a windlass, Shane remembering hand tightening the previous one, came and opened the chain without it. We opened it letting another boat through. The woman asked if it been hard to move as it was before. Shane said not and she concluded it must have been fixed. Shane got back aboard to drive and when I was closing it I found it stuck half way. Obviously it was easy enough with two but too much for me. Shane was trying to moor so it was swung far enough to walk over so I joined him and wrestled with the stakes and ropes and nettles for a bit. By the time Shane went to finish closing the bridge, someone else had done it for us, but he did let another boat through while he was there.

Now the solar panels work, Shane is looking for somewhere not under trees and I am finding that this sometimes means much more in the way of plant growth at the edge than in a shady spot. Shane used the rope as a flail to flatten an area at one end to put the gang plank down.

Meanwhile on the boat I had a plant problem. Having bought a tomato plant which I had watered every day, I had the choice of trying to carry it or work out a way to water it with a heatwave expected. I looked up about wicking and tried to set up some strings and a bowl of water with a bag over to reduce moisture loss. I didn’t have ordinary string so was using multicoloured cotton wool. I don’t know if it will work at all, it may fail miserably.

Our journey via London took us to Paddington and time for a stop in a coffee shop then to King’s Cross past a man who needed plenty of water for his work and certainly didn’t want to fall from a great height. He needs a longer ladder. I could only get a small fraction of the towering panes above. That would be a right pain in the neck.

On my return to Edinburgh I was pleased to see the plant I had given to Nye just before we left Edinburgh last time, was still alive and sprouting some extra growth. A succulent survives infrequent water but the tomato plant seemed very thirsty.

Making use of the sunshine to hang washing outside, I stepped out with a line to string up in the back green. In a trice I was in crumpled heap in the geraniums having come off the side of the step. I did some more rolling into the grass and scrambled to my feet. Well good I hadn’t tipped the whole basket of freshly washed clothes and sheets in the flower bed. I had a few scrapes in obvious and unobvious places, but all different places from the last tumble. I was in the shower washing my foot again. A couple of plasters and I got back to the laundry. I was quite stiff by bedtime and there was a little swelling in my right, ankle but in the morning, I felt the lying down giving my ankle elevation, had sorted it out.

We have found ourselves busy making plans ahead as we have received an invitation to Devon next month. The Kennet and Avon goes west but pump problems are causing a water shortage, even before the heatwave and a boat has broken a lock. As usual the course of canal planning is never smooth.

Still we are enjoying the sunshine. It is hot here and we are escaping even higher temperatures down south. Shane is making up for the lack of cycling by doing 60 miles on his first day back. Nye spotted a goldfinch in the front garden and it came right on to the window sill and flitted around the ornamental thistles. A speckled wood butterfly waited obligingly for me in the back green, while I went inside to fetch my camera and return, going carefully down the steps.

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