Our original idea for the winter had been to leave the boat at Saltisford for December and then resume cruising in January. Work on one of the locks in the Hatton Flight was announced after we left the boat, effectively hemming us in to a stretch of water only half a mile long. The new work was scheduled to finish at the end of January, which knitted neatly with my treatment schedule, so here we are.
As soon as we got back to the boat, I noticed the problem with the shower valve. It must have dropped below zero for a while at some point, and the expansion had cracked the case. I realised we couldn’t turn the water pump back on until that valve was replaced, so we couldn’t use the sink or basin taps either. That’s why I decided to go straight out in search of a replacement. It only took a minute to get the original off the wall, so I had something to compare against in the shop. I can now report that the replacement valve works perfectly, and is even marginally easier to operate with wet hands.
Yesterday we had a few housekeeping tasks to do. As lunchtime approached, we decided we wouldn’t set off that day. We went in to town for lunch, revisiting the Warwick Street Kitchen which had been due to start a new menu just after our last visit. The menu was as interesting as before and we both enjoyed our meals.
We explored a park I had hurried through in the the gloaming the night before. It connected to the river which we followed back towards town and a huge bank of snowdrops.
After we’d got back, I checked in at the office. I asked Ian if the works on the locks were finished. He said he didn’t know, but that there had been a lot of sickness in the Canal and River Trust (CRT) Office. I decided it would be prudent to check, so we headed off along the canal. In the last of the daylight we reached the lock in question.
There was a lot of fencing around it, and both head and tail gates were sitting open. A coffer dam was in place at each end. Clearly no boats were going through. When we got back, I sent an email to CRT asking for an update. This morning they replied to apologise for the inconvenience, and tell us that the lock is now scheduled to stay closed until the end of next week.
That doesn’t leave us many options. While we are on board, we are using diesel to keep warm. There is every chance we could run out of diesel before we are able to set off in search of more. So with our cruising plans thwarted, we’ve decided to head back to Edinburgh again tomorrow. There appears to be a suitable train on the day between the strikes. Tomorrow we will need to frost-proof the boat again, this time making sure to drain the shower valve.
We walked up the lock flight again this afternoon. We were a little earlier than yesterday and could see that work was in progress.
We pressed on to the cafe at the top of the locks. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived they were closing, and would only offer us take away drinks. So our afternoon tea plan was thwarted too.
Once we got back to the boat I glanced a welcome sight through the window.
A kingfisher landed on a branch opposite the kitchen window. It moved to a different perch before diving for a fish and bringing it back to its first spot. We watched for several minutes as it moved from branch to branch along the length of the boat. A fine end to a day with disappointing news.