You’ve Got A Friend In Me

We set off after a quick lunch of pasties from the farm shop. I have tried three of their repertoire but they do keep adding new ones and what I had the previous time isn’t available the next. Shane has stuck with the Yorkshire pasty every time.

Shane had been along this stretch alone last month, while I was still in Edinburgh and commented then on having to steer round a semi sunk boat. Then we came back through on our way to Gary’s before this more recent trip to Edinburgh and saw it was still there.

Before we set off a work boat had passed us and we could now see where it was headed. A small team of three were working to dismantle the boat and secure it to the edge to minimise obstruction. We could see that it was being dealt with gradually. Two were on the towpath or salvage boat and one man was in the water.

Skip, tug and semi demolished boat and Bartimaeus passing. Man in yellow pulling bits off the hull.

We passed very slowly with a man in the water. We don’t know what happened to the owner, but it was sad to see it ripped apart and to see bits of what was left, a packet of crisps, a box of celebrations floating in the water. We pointed them out and the man in the water said he was having all the coconut ones. He didn’t mind being photographed and said he would do the same if it was us in the water.

Crew securing parts of the hull to the side and man in the water collecting parts that were floating away.

Despite the tricky job he was obviously of good humour. The boat, having been sinking for some time, was in a poor state and many people would probably have reported it as an obstruction, which would be even worse if sunk and invisible. As we went away we saw a lady moored nearby was very pleased to see the workers had turned up to deal with it. She was walking along the towpath bearing a tray with 3 mugs on it and a jug of milk. They were pleased to see her arriving.

Our plan was to visit the refillery in Flore. We collected up jars and set off. Even better the refillery serves delicious cake and coffee. The lady was very chatty. They had most of what we wanted and we got extra. I wanted a toothbrush and they only had one boxed one left. She gave me the display one free with it. As we were paying up she gave us two pastel de nata to take away. We needed a few hours to let the cake and tiffin go down, but we managed. Felt a bit guilty we weren’t able to be regulars.

Our first aim of the next day was to get a pump out. As we approached the canal got very busy. Shane wisely moved back out of the way of an oncoming boat rather than trying to nip across to the jetty in front. It turned out to be two old workboats roped one behind the other. The unpowered butty had a woman steering at the back but the man at the powered boat was steering his boat and adjusting the ropes behind that tied the boats together and were wrapped each side of the prow, to assist it following smoothly behind and turning the bow round. He thanked Shane for getting out of the way. They are a long articulated vehicle -150 feet the woman said.

Then Shane manoeuvred over to the service jetty. The man there had been very polite and genial last time offering to take the rope for me. Today was no different. He asked me to throw him the rope and when I did he thanked me for a considerate throwing and that most people throw a rope in his face, this is even worse if it is a wet one. I told him Shane had drilled me in throwing to the side not at the person catching to avoid the wet rope in the face. Shane had to deal with the pump out hose as the tank was on the other side. The man kept up friendly conversation throughout and Shane managed to look casual perched on the gunwale.

Further on we stopped for water. The next town was Weedon Bec and Shane was going to move on through but I remembered that I wanted the wool that had been getting dyed last time I was here. I also parcelled up Nye’s birthday present. Shane thought he knew where the Post Office was but I wasn’t sure what shop he meant, so I asked a woman which way it was to the post office. She said unfortunately they didn’t have one and the nearest was in Flore. This was a surprise as Flore looks far smaller than Weedon Bec, with hardly any shops at all. I took the parcel back and went to find the wool shop, which was a pleasant walk. I found the little lane but hadn’t realised how many offshoots it had so that when I emerged I was not in a familiar place. A nearby woman seeing me studying a map and backtracking asked if she could help I told her where I wanted to go and she directed me. I could see on my map which fork I had ended at now and it all made sense. When I reached the wool shop it was to see a barred and padlocked door. I was looking to see if I could find the opening hours, but the website shop was for online purchases and didn’t have opening hours.

Another woman arrived and we fell into conversation about the shop. She found out that it was closed for the next three days, which meant there really was no point in waiting. Since we were stopped we ate lunch then headed on in the sunshine. We saw that a tree that looked like it had been leaning dangerously, still was. I got under safely. One day I feel it must surely fall.

Safely under the leaning tree.

The next objective was going through at least some of the locks. As we reached we saw that the lock was occupied but Shane could see the water seemed to be leaking badly. The people in the lock were unaware of this as it only showed behind them and they were waiting for other boats to clear ahead of them, with the other gates open which meant the lock and the pound were slowly emptying. Shane suggested to the people that they move out.

Water pouring out the back of the lock and bubbling up from below too

The lock still worked but was losing water. The pound ahead was very shallow and I was grounded even staying in the middle. I managed to get afloat again and Shane worked at getting more water through from the lock above to add a little more into the system. Two boats were coming out of the lock ahead so I warned them, it was very shallow. Another boat behind had emptied the lock they were heading to and they had to wait. I headed into the lock and could see behind me one man was making use of his bargepole from time to time.

The pound behind several feet lower than it should be.

We waited, letting water through until the boat in the previous lock had caught up and then we completed the locks together without further mishap. There were children and teenagers aboard who emerged to help locking just before the ice cream stall (I don’t think that was a deliberate policy). We were ready for our ice cream after an afternoon in the sun.

We saw them today just as we were coming back from lunch. They all seemed keen to help this time. They were just doing a three day trip and rain or shine needed to get the boat back to base. We had sat out the showers but nipped out in a sunny break for lunch and met on the way Bill and Dawn, who had crossed the Ribble with us twice on Cousin Hebe. We stopped to chat while they worked through the lock and, returning from lunch, caught up with them further up the flight. They asked where we were moored and came up to moor behind us. He tried to throw us a rope but it caught on some thing on the roof and didn’t go where it should but landed in the water which meant he had to fling us a wet rope in stead. I avoided getting in its way and just put my foot on it when it landed then picked it up to pull them in. We had a laugh and chat about rope technique as they tied up.