Slip Away

Shane was keen to get going this morning. A series of slightly longer days were planned and starting the day going backwards is not the fastest way to cover the miles. Shane went to take the rain cover down and cast off as he didn’t want the day to slip way and start losing time. Bryn and I were getting shoes on when I heard an unhappy noise from outside.

Shane had slipped off the gunwale while removing the cover and was coming in dripping. Bryn and I assembled a change of clothing for him. While Bryn kept him company out the back, as he drove in everse for a mile and a half, I hung his trousers and socks up in the shower to drip and stuffed newspaper in his shoes. This was not a good day to slip in when our radiators were not working and the forecast was for rain. The grass was very wet from overnight rain too so some more wet socks were guaranteed by the end of the day. I had been this route before so I wasn’t missing much but it was all new for Bryn.

I was out before my help was needed for locks. We could manage faster with someone going ahead to the next one when they were close enough. Lucky Bryn likes locks as they were to fill pretty much the whole day. It is more warming than just sitting on the back for sure. He took a picture of something I had not seen on any other locks and was too busy driving to get it last time in the other direction. It must have been added by someone who loves locks as much as he does.

A wooden heart attached to the lock

At one Shane called out; the gates had reopened at the other end and then the rear fender had got caught in the gap. All was released by the time I went to see, but a chain was hanging loose. Shane took some time to try to re-bend the hook attachment for the chain. The hook had got straightened and so the fender would simply slip if reattached, unless it was reshaped.

Some locks, and one house, had notices to tell you to leave a paddle up. Bryn met a CRT worker who asked us to do so too. Despite the rain we had pounds that were shallow and the water needed to be shifted to the right places.

At one lock I noticed something I hadn’t seen in the other direction. The bridges are very narrow for boaters but it seems the cars had a problem. The bridge had sustained a serious blow, and definitely not from a boat.

Bryn alerted me when we were at lock three. I had been about to go ahead, but the next one was the staircase (locks 1 and 2) so I thought Bryn would be more interested in working it and let him go ahead. While we were at it the CRT man came again. He finished up the gates letting us on. It was a good morning’s work.

We stopped by the water point and had lunch. I connected up the water, finding the short hose almost reached and having to switch to the long one. It sprayed a bit but I didn’t get any wetter. It wasn’t as well appointed as the water point we had seen yesterday in Aylesbury. It wasn’t accessible to us though being in the other side of closed locks.

Aylesbury Water point with a robin standing on it

I could see Shane was glad to take a seat and start eating, perhaps just hungry, or cold or aching from his fall in the morning. After lunch it was double locks all the way. We met a few moving boats back on the Grand Union, including some cheerful waterways workers. I had seen them approach when I was about to work the lock ahead, so in stead opened the gates for them as it was more set their way. After they had left, Bryn and I worked it and as I was leaning on the gate to push it open, I saw there were no raised blocks to push against. I pushed backwards anyway and both feet slipped and I landed on the ground just at the lock arm, where there was a raised brick. Bryn asked if I was okay. Bruised but unharmed, I was happy to take over driving from then on.

Once moored we were well ahead of schedule so we already have time in hand. This was not a day for sightseeing, but good progress and Shane had managed to bend the hook to reattach the fender.