Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Crick prep day

I was awake quite early, in spite of being tired.  I think the night shifts followed by an early shift mean that my body clock is a bit confused.  Anyway, it was sunny so I got up as I had a list of jobs to do before setting off for Crick tomorrow.  Just after 8 I was on the roof trying to wash off the accumulated dust and the blossom which had joined it overnight.  Then I washed the towpath side of the boat and cleaned the windows.

At about 9, I set off towards the lock, bound for Tesco at Wolverton.  It would have been quicker to take the boat back to the marina and go by car, but the boat option seemed like more fun.  Cosgrove Lock was empty, so I checked to see whether anything was approaching the come up -- you can see for the best part of a mile from here.  There was nothing coming, so I filled the lock and took the boat in.  I think this is the first lock I've done single-handed, and while it's a wide one it's also fairly shallow.  As I emptied the lock, I was surprised to see a boat approaching.  It turned out to be Mick the fender man and his wife, Hazel, who moor along here, coming to get water.  Mick realised I was on my own, so kindly came and closed the gate after I left.  I noticed as I passed their mooring that their little dog was home alone, sitting serenely in its bed, just waiting.

There were no boats at Wolverton, so I picked my spot and moored up.  On one side of the canal is a beautiful old railway shed, converted to apartments and offices.  On the other is a new block of flats.  I always think it's slightly ironic that if you live in the better building, you get the worse view, but if you live in the worse building, you get a better view.

Either side of the bridge over the canal are sculptures of figures.  One is made of bands of metal and is carrying cyclists; the other is made from railway tracks and carries a train.

I made the two minute walk to Tesco and did a big shop.  Back at the boat, I made a batch of pastry and left it to rest in the fridge while I set off again.  The sun had come out again, and the temperature was rising.  I went to the winding hole at New Bradwell to turn around.  On the way back, I got to the bridge by The Galleon pub, which is at a strange angle and is completely impossible to see whether anything is coming.  I gave a blast of the horn, and was surprised to hear a blast in return.  It meant I was able to stop while an ex-OwnerShips boat came through.  It was the first moving boat I'd passed.

I moored up on the Cosgrove moorings just beyond the Iron Trunk aqueduct.  I rolled out my pastry and lined a flan tin, which I put in the freezer to chill while I had lunch.  Later I put the pastry in the oven, and while that cooked I made some cake batter; when the pastry came out, the cake went in; while that cooked, I made the filling for my flan, which went in when the cake came out.

In between all of this, I got the Brasso out and had a go at the mushroom vents and the portholes.  Also, having heard the distictive thump of an old engine, I poped outside to say hello to Alan Fincher, one of the stalwarts of the Canal World Forum, as he passed on his boat, Sickle.

I could quite happily have stayed here, but I need to be back at the marina for access to the car tomorrow, as I'll be going to pick up my crew for the trip to Crick.  But I decided to leave it late; I had dinner, and set off  at 7 on another beautiful evening, once Cabin Pressure had finished (one of Radio 4's 6.30 comedies that's actually funny).

The lock was against me, so I had to empty it.  Then I drove the boat in very slowly, and got off with the centre line at the tail of the lock.  When it came to opening the paddles, I took things very slowly.  Like most Grand Union locks, though, opening the ground paddle on the same side as the boat keeps the boat to the side.  Then I opened the gate paddle on the oppsite side, which has the same effect.  I bow hauled the boat out of the lock, because I thought that would be less trouble.  Back at the marina I did a perfect spin to reverse onto the pontoon, and was all moored up by 8.

Tomorrow, the journey to Crick begins.

6 miles, 2 locks.  (7 miles, 2 locks)


Alan Fincher said...


Of course, only by going to someone else's blog will there be any "action" shots of me on "Sickle" today!

One of the perils of single-handing - all the pictures either end up being of "boat in lock" or "boat moored up", or (of course) inevitable shots taken from the steering position looking along the length of the boat.

Good to meet you, briefly, anyway!


Anonymous said...

Good luck at Crick Adam. At least you will have a good base for the show should the 'summer' vanish! Also glad that you managed your priorities and got your Tesco run organised. have fun and I do hope the weather holds for the show.