Last night Shane went to look in the weedhatch in the dark, as something wasn’t working about the controller for electric generation at low speeds. He didn’t heed my masking advice but said he would be extra careful to avoid splashes. He didn’t need lighting as it is mostly done by feel and he managed to clear the propeller with the use of scissors. Flushed with success, he went to try to clear the bow thrusters which were not working well. They are not very accessible but using the boathook he got some weed and plastic cleared off the grid on the towpath side. Success again and I made judicious use of them to wiggle through a lock gate early in the day.
As well as the rubbish on the bow thruster to dispose of, we have an accumulation of recycling. I had thought we had an opportunity yesterday where we got water, but the only facility was in fact water, though there was a canal centre and shop, where Heather and I got free postcards!
Today we were at a lock where I was driving, when Shane spotted a refuse point, I got out the bin and gave it to Heather and she found a CRT worker but he declared that there was no recycling there. Meanwhile Shane and I had moved on to another lock and she had to carry it all the way there before putting it back in our bin. Shane was getting pretty fed up about it because there are not many CRT recycling waste disposal points at all. He researched on his laptop and found a solution – a community recycling point in Hemel Hempstead.
We had intermittent locks and rain all day and all took turns driving or locking, a very versatile team. We did a fair bit of throwing a coat to each other or swapping driving while someone got a coat on or put the pram cover up or made a drink.
At one lock, Shane and I were working, he had my Go Windlass and I had a simpler long handled one. The gate arms had been repaired and there was an uneven raised part on the gate arm and a notice on it saying DO NOT USE A LONG HANDLED WINDLASS ON THIS GATE. Shane crossed the gate and used the other windlass to wind the paddle and then gave me it and crossed back with the long handled one as his side had no such restriction. That meant I was able to wind down when needed.
As I was winding down the ground paddle I spotted something odd: a very fat peachy coloured spider squatted on the post. It was a good job Shane wasn’t there and spotting it, not sure how happy he would have been with its proximity. Later, I did some research and decided it was a female four spot orb weaver, or possibly more likely a marbled orb weaver. Its body was the same size as my fingernail, it only looks smaller because my fingernail is much nearer the camera.
I was a bit late for lunch getting the spider photos and had left Heather and Shane mooring up just beyond the lock. We were all well ready for lunch and had a varied mix of leftovers and Shane’s bread rolls. Heather finished off the pickled eggs, which pleased me since I now had a negative association with them. To round off the lunch Heather and I decided to share a banana. When I peeled it she remarked that it was amazing I had managed to do it despite opening it at the ‘wrong end’. Shane and I showed her that we had been doing it this way round after having it demonstrated by a kindly old shopkeeper over 25 years ago who had handed a banana opened for Bryn in his buggy placing the stem in his hand as a handle. We definitely find it easier and better all round and think it is the right end so now Heather is keen to try out opening the other end of the banana for herself.
Heather was going for a walk while Shane and I were aboard when we passed a boat with a huge jolly Roger. We thought it might be a left over Halloween decoration as plenty of boats had those but it was in fact painted black all over with skull and cross bones motif on the side, named Lucky 13, so was very much a permanent theme.
Shane had his own windlass issue today too. At one lock, while Heather was trying to deal with the recycling and catch us up, he was hurrying to do the lock alone and his windlass slipped off the gate arm and off the platform. When Heather arrived, she passed me the bin and hurried to start winding the other end but he had to tell her to stop as he couldn’t wind down his end as he’d dropped the windlass. Not again! This time it was fortunately not in the lock but in the bushes. He asked me to swing the boat across the lock so he could get to the boathook, while the lock was filling. He managed to retrieve the windlass and then found I wasn’t so near the side. He used the boathook again, but this time to pull the boat over where he could reach it and put the boathook back in its rightful spot – not sure what the family watching and videoing made of that but they seemed to enjoy the spectacle of boating shenanigans and shouted “well done!” as I exited the lock.
After we had moored for the day, Shane loaded the recycling on the back of the bike, a slight hiccup with an over-ambitious mounting so we had to change from carrying the bin to stuffing it into a rucksack. He fitted the glass in a pannier and rode off. Heather and I managed a walk in the Boxmoor Trust fields and were very pleased to see not one but two little egrets.Their yellow feet distinguishes the little egret from the great egret, as well as their size. It was Heather’s turn to teach me new information about yellow things today.
We further explored a cattle ford and chalk stream before heading back in the fading light. It was very muddy and I was pleased to have changed into stouter shoes. Back at the boat Shane was pleased to have suceeded in getting rid of all the recycling and we had another array of curries for tea – a fine ending to a day of wet locks, autumn colours and problem solving.