After exhausting ourselves on the first day, we went to bed early. And as someone smart once said “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” – this means that Trevor must be the wisest of us all, as he was up at 4AM exploring the local area and watering the flowers.
After that the rest of us woke at the still quite unreasonable-when-on-holiday time of 6AM. However, the early start was worth it, as we were able to have a superb breakfast (Eggs Benedict) and set off for the day before 8AM.
The first set of challenges for the day came in the form of several “lift” bridges, to work these bridges you need to wind a crank as fast as you can to lift up one side of the bridge to allow the boat to get through (imagine a small, one-sided, and run down version of Tower Bridge in London and you’re probably half way there).
Elaine and I, as chief lock workers and general dogsbodies, hopped out at each opportunity and winched up the bridges with lightning speed (slow lightning, perhaps). We got quite good at it in the end, and it certainly allowed us to work off breakfast!
There was one minor incident with a fellow narrowboat at this stage, when a privately owned boat came speeding through the water and almost drove into our boat, before barging their way to the front of the queue and passing through the gate ahead of us, disobeying many of the laws of the canal in the process. However, it ultimately worked in our favour as several minutes later we got our revenge by passing them at another lift bridge, so I suppose it all evens out in the end.
Today we have spotted herons, ducks (lots of these – including huge families full of ducklings), and even a kingfisher.
I almost missed the kingfisher as I was in the shower at the time, but having been called urgently, I threw on some clothes (though not enough to be considered appropriately dressed) and dashed up to the stern deck just in time to see the legendary dash of blue feathers. I then apologised to the rest of my crew-mates for standing there in nothing more than a t-shirt and boxer shorts. Still, I saw the kingfisher. So it was worth it.
We travelled under (or through) more than 30 bridges today, taking it in turn to drive the boat. We occasionally attempted to get through some of the bridges sideways, but generally we were quite good, which is more than can be said for some of the boat handling we’ve witnessed today: there have been plenty of bangs and scrapes to watch and enjoy, although the one or two that involved hitting our boat weren’t quite so much fun.
We stopped for water this morning, which confused us to start with, as the “magic” key we were given when we picked up the boat, which was supposed to unlock everything we needed along the journey didn’t unlock the tap we wanted to use.
After a lot of deliberation and discussion it turned out that the lock over the tap was already unlocked and so we didn’t need the key in the end.
Today was something of a learning day for everyone, from “what can you feed a duck?” to “how do you fill a canal” (the Captain, rather quickly even if she says so herself, decided that the answer was “by bucket”… as for the ducks question, Elaine and I conducted a scientific study at the end of the day, and I’ll reveal the answer in a moment).
At ice cream o’clock, I hopped out at a local marina with Trevor and Elaine, leaving the Captain to man (or woman) the boat. As per usual we tied her up (the boat not the Captain!) and went on our way.
When I got back I discovered the Captain on shore with rope in hand, looking out of sorts. It turns out the bow line (the rope that holds the front of the boat steady) had pinged off and the mooring pin had sunk into the water. Fortunately she was able to rescue both the pin and the boat, and still eat her Feast lolly.
To round off a long day of full-steam-ahead travel, we settled in for a fantastic barbecue and a beautiful golden sunset.
As for that in-depth and highly scientific study of what to feed a duck. Our research has conclusively proven that small bits of potato and apple are best, whilst beetroot, cucumber, and lettuce (google’s suggestion) are not popular. Also that tomatoes sink like stones.