Our planned route today was almost the same as our trip at halloween. We started at the same place and had the same set of locks to go through. The big difference was that sunset today is half an hour earlier than last time.
We started the day with a quick trip in to Worcester to get bread and milk, and for Clare to visit a Post Office. As soon as we got back to the boat we set off to do the first couple of locks. The next order of business was buying more diesel – the control panel was flashing red and beeping at us.
The Worcester Marina is a little tricky to get in to. The entrance is at right angles to the canal and under a bridge. There is a widened section of canal opposite, but slightly offset. I ended up doing half of a winding manoeuvre before being able to drive in. The Lowesmoor Basin was lined with boats on both sides, with just enough space to squeeze in.
When we got to the end and asked about diesel a cheery chap pointed and said there was loads in Dubai. I said we didn’t have enough fuel to get there, so he relented and agreed to sell us some. I then had to turn the boat round to get the diesel cap to the right end (and let us leave). There was just enough room to do that with some careful fending off the rusty projecting parts of the dry-dock. Once we’d filled up, getting out was the easy part.
By lunchtime we had done nearly half of the locks. They were nearly all set our way, but Clare was still having to work very hard to operate the paddles. As we approached the bottom of the Offerton Flight we saw a kingfisher for the first time in a few days. We saw it fly ahead of the boat several times, once perching in a high branch so that its silhouette was visible as we approached.
I jumped off so that I could open the gates. As I approached the lock the kingfisher flew up the canal in to the jaws. I saw it do the same thing again at the next lock.
The locks continued to be set in our favour. They are close enough together that while Clare and Bartimaeus were rising in one lock, I could run ahead and open the gates of the next one. I then dashed back to finish the first one giving Clare a clear run between locks. We made excellent time.
Despite all this hurrying, I’m always careful to slow down at the important moments. Slipping or tripping around locks can be very bad news. At the top lock I was wary of the paddle I had hurt myself at last time. It looks much like all the others, but it has less clearance. I confirmed that it is not actually possible to turn the handle all the way round – unlike all the other ones on the flight.
We reached the top of the flight with more than half an hour of daylight to spare. We were rewarded a short while later with another lovely sunset.