My day started by finishing the last photos and publishing last night’s blog. Unusual for me to do this but I wanted a picture of the gates we were moored next to and hadn’t got them yesterday. Again I thought that Shane might want to do the rest of the closely packed locks in this flight and I had my thermals on ready, but through the window I saw a CRT volunteer walking towards the top and I thought it might be a day they were helping. I walked to the first lock and it was set our way so that was easy. I went ahead to the next one to see if it was ready and opened it. My day was further brightened by the patch of flowers at the side of the lock.
As we got to the third lock, we met 4 Canal and River Trust volunteers with a variety of gardening tools, and I surmised that this was not a day when they were being lockkeepers, but groundsmen. They said they’d have helped if they could but they had no windlasses. I said I had spares and they laughed. Too early in the season for helping on the locks. They were friendly and one (the one I had seen earlier probably) said he had noticed our boat earlier and was interested in the name.
There were posts at the side telling people about the groundforce volunteering opportunities and with rubbings and nature info on them. I had not noticed them before, perhaps because I had been driving on this stretch rather than locking, though we had also walked along there a few times. It is much faster on foot.
Some locks leaked a little so while they should have been ready for us, they needed a little winding and emptying, so I was walking back and forth. I saw another volunteer on his own carrying a strimmer, who remarked that we were the first moving boat he had seen this year “You’ve made my day!” he said. Glad to be of service. A lock or two later I met him coming back up. He had forgotten his phone and had to go back, and he said he would set some locks ahead for me when he got back he would be able to fetch a windlass. Some of the very top ones were particularly hard work.
There was a lot of jaunty waving and chat from a man in a car park. He kept calling from his car and both occupants waved as I passed back and forth. He did a bicep pumping gesture to me. I told him I could see I was getting help ahead and was going to need it. The volunteer waved from a bridge I knew he was there and I didn’t have to rush forward as he was getting that lock ready for us. It was very good news as I was overheating and regretting the thermals. As I caught up with him he urged me to have a rest. And he would do that lock. We worked together, more than halving my effort, so he was making my day too. He was very happy to chat as well as being a help on the locks, he advised me on the local facilities. They were all familiar but the reminder was good as Shane had noticed we had a lot of bottles and glass recycle points were rare. We made use of the water and recycling point and the cafe.
After lunch we cast off again. It was sunny but there was some very light snow. We had passed a boat called Snowdrop and Shane remarked it was an unusual name for a boat as not many moved in the snowdrop season.
I was now thankful for the thermals. We had a bright view through the tunnel but I put my hood up as there were a few drips and gushes. But bright greenery at the end.
After a bit I thought Shane might be cold and took over to let him get a coffee. We did see another boat, Enterprise, casting off so we weren’t the only moving boat. I expected to meet one round a corner as soon as Shane went inside for coffee, but no. It stayed sunny and we found a pretty place to moor.
The sun stayed out and we enjoyed a seat outside having a coffee. Shane got on with a few jobs and while he cleaned the outside of the windows I did the inside of the windows – and the mirrors.
That improved the view even more. A passing woman told me that it would be a good place for a sunset. We did see the sun go down but we were even more impressed by the full moon. That made my day complete.