We started immediately with a lock. Shane went to work it leaving me to finish casting off and get going while the lock filled. There were some people watching from the bridge and a family came round with two small girls to watch the proceedings. Mum called out that there was a school project on canals so they were keen to show their daughter what was happening and get a photo of her beside the lock, while also very cautious of their toddler getting anywhere near the edge of the lock. Shane was trying to encourage them to help open the gate which children generally enjoy and they are away from the edge when they do it. The older girl was very shy and didn’t join in but the toddler pushed. I am not sure we helped the project much but perhaps she was soaking it all in, ready to share at “show and tell” if she brings the photo in. I noticed that there was another boat approaching so told Shane to leave the gate open. As we left, Shane having just stepped easily on, someone watching from the bridge said “Nicely done!” With not having to shut the gate, it is a lot easier to step quickly on without the boat having to hover outside or pull in later.
The approaching boat was one Shane had met before when working locks. As they had been the boat ahead of us on a flight. She apologised for tooting (we hadn’t heard) but was unsure we would see them, due to the bridge, and didn’t want us to shut the gate.
Shortly after I was coming round a curve to see a bridge on a corner so that it wasn’t possible to see through the bridge but due to the bend we could see there was another boat approaching so reversed to wait for them as they had moored boats on their side too. The oncoming driver had a slightly bumpy ride and ended up rather grounded and I worried he had oversteered to avoid us seeing me across the canal though I had straightened as they approached. However he did seem to be blaming the boat that had moored right beside the bridge on the bend, making the approach and turn that bit trickier tha it already was. He too had sounded his horn for which Shane praised him since due warning was helpful (I hadn’t heard again – perhaps I need my ears syringed).
Later we saw a boat that was well in the bushes or so we thought, and we were taking evasive action, we weren’t sure if they had seen us. Shane noticed they seemed to be carrying a lot of tree with them. They had been making space for the other boats by removing overhanging bushes. Looked like camouflage when they were near the bushes… Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane.
There was a fair stretch of moored boats on a steep curve to navigate and a particularly crowded spot later where there were moored boats on each side , and of course a bridge on the corner at the end after that but it all passed without incident and I was able to look at the cross breed ducks at Mrs Miggins pie boat.
Ahead was a river section with a lock at the start, which was already occupied as we approached. Shane went to assist and I held the boat on the rope, but was pleased to see the wooden post was sturdy and held well. There have been a few times when the posts have been suboptimal or missing. The river was calm and not much wider than the canal but still had a different feel to it and was quite wiggly. Shane took over while I washed my hands and so at the end of the river section I got off to do the lock. It was another lozenge shaped ones with very little drop in the water but it took a long time to fill. The gate crossing was sloped towards the water which felt a little unsafe and the gate arm was angled and was hard to open. Shane got off the boat to get a lozenge shot and enjoyed the photography while I made heavy weather of closing that awkward lock gate and Bartimaeus drifted to the middle.
In a narrow lock the boat is never very far from the wall. I was concerned it might not be close enough for him to get back on, but Shane predicted it would be close enough some where. Just as I made progress with getting the gate to move he came over to help with the easy bit and got back on.
After the river lock we moored to have lunch and saw another boat come through. They fancied stopping for lunch but there was not really space to stop so they moved on. Unfortunate timing for them as we were about finished and would have moved soon. Being a nice sunny day plenty people were ot and Shane was a bit concerned about a canoe at the side and if it was secure, then we saw it was tied and the canoeists were a group of three girls having a picnic on the grass at the side of the canal, using their life jackets as a comfy cushioyn.
The next awkward spot was a sharp turn just before a lift bridge. I got off to operate it but forgot the water board key. Shane carries one with him all the time, so perhaps he should have done it. We moored just beyond it as it was obviously a place to be be with canoe hire, a cafe, boater facilities, a book exchange (donations to a local charity) and Shane now has an Asimov book of short stories. The moorings are well kept with attractive plant pots all the way along and we have of course been visited by a swan who turned out to be a picky eater and didn’t like anything we offered.
Shane spotted some mud and set to scrubbing the rear deck. Then had a wipe over the front. It could do with a bit of an autumn clean all over really, but this is a start.