We woke to find a light on in one of the bathrooms. It had been on all night. This isn’t usually a cause for a concern, but when you’re on a narrow boat, draining the battery can mean ending all holiday plans rather abruptly whilst you wait for the canal equivalent of the AA to turn up and spend who knows how long charging you up again.
The light had been left on “for Jerry”, according to the culprit who left it on – I will leave you to guess who it was…
So, you can imagine that there was a small degree of nervousness when starting up the boat this morning. Trevor turned the key, the boat bleeped in its usual way and then… nothing. It did not start. The Captain was not pleased. So much so that she decided to take charge. Magically, as if a Trevor had been messing around the whole time, the boat started up.
We have all agreed not to leave a light tonight.
By 0630 we were underway, with a plan to motor for at least 12 hours. We had 53 locks to get through (with a fair wind and not too many distractions).
We ate breakfast on the move (bacon rolls).
The first event, in what turned out to be an eventful day, came when we nearly had a head on collision with another hire boat. I know I’m bound to say it, but it really was entirely their fault for weaving all over the canal. For the record we didn’t actually touch their boat, thanks to some quick thinking and skilful manoeuvring by Trevor.
After a couple of lift bridges, we arrived at Lapworth Locks, a somewhat protracted staircase covering 26 locks. We adopted our tried and tested method of sending on a scout to the next lock, to prepare it ahead of the boat’s arrival. By doing this we turned a 5 hour journey into a 2.5 hour journey. All thanks to teamwork.
The sun was shining, and it was getting hot. Elaine even brought out her shorts!
We made friends with several other canal dwellers, most of whom were encouraging, one even invited us around for tea if ever we passed her home town. Some were slightly concerned that we were attempting something that isn’t usually done: the Avon Ring in 7 days. That somehow, by rushing it we were kind of missing the point of the narrowboat lifestyle. Slow and steady wins the race in this society, that’s for sure.
What they hadn’t counted on is that telling the Captain and Elaine that something can’t be done only inspires them to get out there and do it, no matter how impossible it seems, such as “you’ll never get to Stratford today”…
The route took us through some unique and interesting locations, such as the Edstone Aqueduct which is the longest of its kind in England, and Wooten Wawen.
The Captain had been given an instruction before we set off on this trip – “throw some water over the little aqueduct at Wooten Wawen”, as a way of marking respect for our local expert (who had done that very thing whilst canoeing here around 60 years ago). The Captain was a little unsure as to how she could fulfil this instruction, after all a narrowboat is a lot taller than a canoe, so reaching into the water isn’t easy (or advisable). However, Jerry took up the challenge by going for a splash in the canal.
He’s not one of life’s natural swimmers, and thankfully he was both wearing his life jacket and tied to the boat. The Captain and I quickly fished him out and wrapped him in towels to dry him off. He spent the next half an hour thinking about his (mis)adventure whilst curled up in his bed.
Our local expert, who you will remember informed us in no uncertain terms that we will not get stuck on the bottom was proven wrong again today – when we came to a grinding stop whilst travelling along the centre of the canal. Someone needs to do some more dredging around here.
Having been spurred on to get to Stratford, we dashed on through the Wilmcote staircase and all the way into Stratford itself. Passing the final lock for the day and ending up mooring in Stratford basin.
We even had a chance to play a couple of games of Uno before it was time for bed. A long, but very successful day done.