Up Around the Bend

We hadn’t gone anywhere yesterday. I had made good progress with knitting and Shane had started another woodwork task for rearranging where the TV sits. The hinge couldn’t take the weight so the deliberation and planning goes on. Still we had some success with reducing a drip on the radiator – very domestic day.

The weather was to be much sunnier today so we set off promptly and had only gone a short distance when we saw a water point that we hadn’t realised was there, just beyond some moored boats. Shane quicky swerved in and I went up the front to get a rope on the bollard. As I was perched on the edge, a woman came to ask if we could pull in as far back as possible as this tap had two outlets and they wanted water too. This suited us anyway for the position of our water tank so we met bow to bow. He had a high bow and the opening to his tank was on the other side and he was lamenting that it was awkward for him to reach. The woman brought him a folding step and he climbed up on to his high bow. This seemed quite a palaver to get water, but she explained that he had fallen recently into the canal and scraped his leg so was in quite a bit of pain. If they had been getting water in from the other side it would not have needed the climb. We were just readying our hoses when another guy arrived to see if we were getting water as he wanted it too. He acknowledged he would have to wait. We were soon full enough but he still could not get in because again the position of his tank meant he needed to be exactly where they were. We all agreed there wasn’t ever a point in being on a desperate hurry on the canal.

The other topic of discussion was that it was a windy day and it was a bit of a worry passing moored boats. You are meant to slow down but then it is possible in high wind that you will be blown onto the other boat, which would not be welcomed by the occupants, but speeding up to give yourself better steering does not please the occupants either. It was quite a windy canal so oncoming boats could appear quite unexpectedly too. Still it was quite wide as it was built for double width boats and we did meet a few of those during the morning One was looking very formidable,  as it was passing moored boats, so looked like it was using all the available space, but at least that was on a straighter section and we met just as he cleared the moored boats. I was quite glad Shane was driving at that point. As we passed I noticed he had a wheel rather than a tiller. I don’t know if that makes steering any easier.

I am always interested in the variety of boats that there are. We saw one the other day with a big wooden area like a garden summer house, on the back and today there was another one with wooden cladding, but not a narrow boat this time. We also liked the boat we saw today with its name on an upturned bathtub on the roof, a bright and cheery craft.



Souped up or dressed down?
Not a Yellow Submarine but the Black Sheep

I took the helm later and was approaching a long bend when a boat appeared coming the other way. In order to pass on the correct side, I steered well across and wondered that he was not deviating much from the middle at all. He started waving his arm and shouting. I could hear something about steering or possibly not steering. I thought he was shouting can’t you steer at me and I had already swung well over and I gestured to his side of the canal where I had left a double width clear for him to go to, but he continued waving, so I moved even further across. When we drew level, we got his explanation. His boat’s tiller looked lashed on and he was saying “I can’t steer”. He just needed us to try to go round him. There was another boat behind us, now appearing round the bend and we could see the man flailing his arm again shouting “Slow down! I can’t steer!” He must be having some time of it on a twisting canal on a windy day and poor steering. Really there is no chance of the on coming driver having a clue that is what is coming their way and there is no standard hand signal. 

Later there was a bridge on a sharp bend. I had to be well out to pass moored boats then come in and it was quite tight. The bridge looked wide enough to take two boats but couldn’t see if there was another boat approaching due to the bend. Shane went off towards the front to see if he could give some guidance as I was calling I can’t see if there’s a boat coming, but a walker on the towpath helpfully looked round and called back to me “no it’s fine, you are alright”. Panic averted.

Shane has had an on-going concern about the lack of energy generated from the solar panels on the roof. Washing and cooling both help and as the sun came out it was getting warmer. As he had now taken back the tiller, I offered to wash the panels. I am a little less relaxed up high and even less so while the boat is moving so I was taking care of the order I washed them, so I wasn’t stepping back over wet parts of the roof. Shane was good enough to remind me if a bridge was coming so I stayed crouched in stead of standing up again. He didn’t try to take a photo as well. This is one he had taken earlier of the roof, while moored.

Many panels

We had a late lunch and found just round the next bend we had the biggest advertised feature of the day – the third longest tunnel in the UK and the longest that you can drive through unsupervised (3076 yards or 2813 metres) – ninth longest canal tunnel in the world. I stayed outside until I saw a lot of water pouring down so I ducked inside. I had a look at a new poem and poetry prompt but there is no connectivity in the tunnel so no adding extra poems or reading the link for the next theme. It is a very straight tunnel so despite its length the light at the other end was visible the whole way. It didn’t have a lot of interest in its brickwork, probably because it has had major renovation in the 1980s and was used to test out the materials later used in the building of the channel tunnel.



Coming out of Blisworth Tunnel. Nearly There! Some patchwork on the ceiling near the end.

We decided not to undertake the locks today but in stead moored up nearby. I thought our neighbour was looking at us a little oddly then one of them came over to inform us politely that we were opposite a winding hole. That explained the uncomfortably large gap between the mooring rings. He assured us there were plenty more moorings round the corner. How both of us had missed the several signs saying “winding hole” and “do not moor” and the large well-defined curve of the winding hole itself is a mystery. We thanked him and moved on round to moor and had a look around. The museum here was closed today and so was one of the old locks, now drained. There were a couple of pubs and we had a look at a menu, but in the end we picked a carry out. I can recommend the The Spice of Bruerne for a tasty extensive and interesting menu, lots of things on it I haven’t seen before. It also had a bit of canal history on its wall I noticed while awaiting the curry, an old photograph of a nurse in an impressive headdress, and a paragraph saying that the building was formerly the house of Sister Mary Ward who received the British Empire medal for her services, treating the workers and their families on the canals, as they came through the locks there.

The lock we won’t be using tomorrow