Mother and Child Reunion

We are very pleased to have Bryn aboard. Of course there has been an uptick in the pun count. He was somewhat from his bed “untimely ripped” this morning. Like me he had heard quite a lot of rain in the night and we were just counting ourselves lucky that it was bright now, at breakfast, when we saw that one side of the boat was sunny and the other was a wall of deepest grey clouds. The clouds burst with a mix of very large drops and hail. It was soon over. The swans had all come out of the water to weather it out and were now swimming again and came over to the hatch expectantly. Bryn enjoyed watching and while he snapped away, they snapped at my hand, several time well up my thumb reaching for the cooked rice.

We were moored right beside the awkward lock with a bridge over it so it was an immediate call to action. Bryn had given a run down of lock working procedure from memory last night so we knew he had remembered standard practice. Unfortunately the next section contained many non-standard items so he still had a full on set of new things to grasp ( staircase lock, locks with side paddles to half fill the lock before using the ones on the lock, lock with swing bridge over it). Very glad he already had the basics so he only needed told the exceptions once to get everything right. Bryn and I worked the lock and bridge and it was handy to have someone work the padlock while the other held the bridge in place. We walked on and managed all the items easily. We got rained on and Bryn asked Shane to pass his water proof trousers, which he managed to put on while still winding paddles mid change.

At the set of locks with side ponds , we met a couple in full waterproof gear coming through. She remarked on being too hot in her waterproofs working the locks and he remarked on how cold he was despite his clothing. Typical! Not surprising as the hail from earlier had not melted completely at this lock. Sure enough during this set of locks, Shane too said he wanted to warm up and asked me to drive.

We finished those locks and through the junction into the stretch that Shane and I had not yet done. There werea few more sets of locks ahead. 

We stopped for lunch and enjoyed the acrobatics of a squirrel dangling upsides down to reach berries on slender twigs. Bryn informed us that squirrels can rotate their back feet right round to face the other way to allow them to run up and down equally well. This one was suspending itself on hind legs while grasping the berries with its front paws.

Bryn getting to use my windlass at the first lock of the afternoon

After lunch, I drove and Bryn and Shane started off towards the locks on this new stretch. We met another boat coming out and the driver told, me as we passed each other, that number 19 (we were going into number 17) had a very stiff gate that they had needed to use their boat to get it open.  When they were doing 18, I called to Shane to let him know and started “I am told..” 

“Do you want to me to drive?” 

“No, not ‘I am cold’, I am told number 19  has a very stiff gate.” He had just sent Bryn ahead to the next lock. I saw he was opening the gate so I supposed it would’ve the other end that had the stiff gate. Indeed it took both of them several attempts to get it open, not helped by a large puddle in the way. We didn’t have to resort to getting help from Bartimaeus.

Shane and Bryn winding on the Worcester and Birmingham canal

With Shane and Bryn working efficiently taking turns to go ahead and get the next one ready we got through them quite well just as it was starting to get duller and colder. We have moored up a short way from Tadebigge but there are a couple of locks between here and there so with a dodgy forecast tomorrow we may have  short trip tomorrow. We have had a walk up and Bryn is very tempted by the nearby pub, as was the lady we walked past, just mooring up saying “I’m very cold, I am so hoping the pub has a spare table tonight!”

Bryn hasn’t complained of the cold all day. He has been locking hard and came equipped with warm clothes and waterproof shoes. Well done Bryn! He has been rewarded for his hard work with a couple of excellent kingfisher sightings!

Efficient locking: Bryn going ahead to get the next lock ready for me while Shane finishes this one.