This is a leisurely, relaxing holiday. THIS is a leisurely, relaxing holiday. THIS IS A LEISURELY, RELAXING HOLIDAY!
That was my mantra this morning, as we cleared through the first two locks of the day before 09:30.
Actually, compared to our usual pace this is a leisurely, relaxing holiday. I mean we even sat and ate breakfast before unmooring the boat. How slovenly is that?
However, it wasn’t long after this that we found ourselves having to travel at snail speed. We were caught behind a slow narrowboat with no way of passing them, and a pair of canoeists trailing behind us.
It meant we had time to appreciate the natural scenery, and the incredibly bright trousers worn by one of the people on the boat in front. They were a fantastic orangey-purple.
We eventually caught up with Lady Bright-Trouser and her endless crew (honestly there were about 10 adults on a less than 50 foot boat), at Shipton Lock.
Shipton is a diamond shaped lock, designed to allow extra river water to flow into the canal (or so the internet tells me) and it gave us a chance to share the lock with Lady Bright-Trouser who actually turned out to be a very friendly and welcoming woman, who was giving a member of her family a birthday treat as they’d never been on the canal before.
They let us leave the lock ahead of them, so we said thank you and politely put the throttle down to give us chance to break away from them.
The canoeists, for their part, dragged their vessels out of the water, bypassed the lock, and carried on about their business.
As we’ve said many times before, you find all sorts of people on the canal, but no matter what we always seem to find something new. Today was no exception.
We came across a barge with a surfboard as a butty (an unpowered companion boat, sort of like a trailer behind a car). There’s generally not a lot of surfing to be had on the canal, but each to their own.
Next we came across a pair of women performing on the side of the canal. One was standing on the roof of her narrowboat practicing some very complex looking yoga. The other was on the towpath spinning ropes with balls on the end, at quite some speed! It was a very nautical circus act.
The third in our trio of interesting boats was packed full of children, dozens of them, all in luminous orange high-viz life jackets. Plus a couple of rather stressed looking adults.
The Captain especially liked this boat, as she received a hearty “Morning Captain!” from a very small girl, who did everything but salute.
Now, it’s confession time (everyone’s favourite part of these stories!)… I must confess to getting a little bit of brick dust on the roof of the boat. How? By smashing into a very low bridge whilst attempting to manoeuvre into a very narrow lock entrance just beyond. We didn’t capture the moment on camera, I’m sure some of you will be disappointed to hear that, but trust me, it made quite a noise!
We passed through several more locks (not bashing this time, not even close) including Somerton Deep Lock which has a rise / fall of just over 12 feet.
After this the Security Officer and I left the Captain and the Sea Cadet (in waiting) on the boat and undertook a lengthy piece of shore-based reconnaissance. After making sure there were no untoward intruders (secret squirrels, rebellious rabbits, and the like) we had to get back on the boat.
Before we left the boat the whole crew had pre-selected an old, long departed bridge as our jumping on point, without realising that it would be so high over the canal that it would literally be a jumping on point.
Jerry leapt / was dragged into the Captain’s arms and I sprang cat-like onto the roof, before scrabbling down onto the stern.
After a further couple of hours of event free journeying, including a smooth and straight forward top up of water, we found ourselves running out of daylight and looking for a mooring spot.
Fortune favours the brave, they say, and we braved two more locks before calling it a day. We were rewarded with a superb mooring spot next to a pig farm.
There’s a man just over there, amongst the pigs, sitting in a hot tub whilst sipping beer.
It’s just been that kind of day.