Sunday 5 February 2012

Grand Union Canal. Hatton.

Last Sunday was an exciting affair. Showing impressive loyalty and after two weeks on “Operation - Hatton 21” standby, including two aborted attempts, a baker’s dozen of our friends and family turned out to help us work Legend up the hill. Many, many thanks to all of you. We trust you all enjoyed it, we know we did.
In the style of the best laid plans it nearly didn’t happen. On Saturday, Dave walked up to the locks to make sure that the work was indeed finished, and that there would be nothing preventing us from proceeding. He came back to report that not only had the Day-Glow gang removed all their gear and vacated the site, but that he had watched a boat entering the bottom lock on its way up. We were all systems go for Sunday; what could possibly go wrong?

The crew from the boat he saw (and yes, we know who you are!) had left a top paddle open on the second lock of the flight. By the time we got there in the morning all the water had drained out of the pound above it. Now, to be fair leaving one paddle open shouldn’t have resulted in a drained pound; the gates at the other end of the lock should have kept the water in. Sadly, the gates at the other end were the ones that BW had just installed in a bit of a hurry and, without the luxury of a spare day to fill and test for water-tightness, had left them with a bit of a leak, to put it mildly.

After a prolonged and tea induced period of chin scratching, we drained some of the water out of the pound above the next lock. Enough to float our boat, we hoped, but not so much that we’d just move problem along. Dave gently steered up the shallows, trying to remember where the deepest channel was and where all the submerged bikes, shopping trollies and other clichés were. He ran aground once, necessitating a bit more water being drained down, but all in all we got it about right. We had to go steady through the pound we’d depleted as well, but after that it was plain sailing!

We stopped for a lunch break after the first 7 nicely spaced out locks, then got into the flight proper.
By the time we got to middle lock everyone knew what they were doing; James was proving to be a steady hand on the tiller, and as we got into the top 6 with the general public at their thickest, we looked like a well-oiled machine in action. It felt great, and at about 3pm Legend was moored up outside the Top Lock Café, where we all had more chocolate cake, carrot cake, stollen, sausage rolls and felt even greater.

Around this happy event our whole weekend was joyful; part of our lock crew - Andrew, Karen, Emily and James - stayed over on the boat on Saturday night and we all went to Rugby to see a concert. ColvinQuarmby were on top form, acoustically the best we’ve ever heard them, as talented and funny as always, and still promising that the new album will be finished soon. Then after the locks and after everyone else had gone home, we went into Warwick for a meal with 8 other members of our lovely family.

A week later and we’re in the cutting at the top of the locks. As we can’t go down the Stratford-on –Avon canal till after the 9th of March, we’ve chosen to stay here for a bit while we re-fit the bathroom. Actually the decision to stay put is out of our hands, for the last 3 days we’ve been iced in. We’re lovely and snug in here though, our little Squirrel stove has been constantly alight all winter. At night we give it a shovel full of coal for supper, then in the morning, open it up and give it a breakfast of free wood.

Here’s a DIY tip. If you never, ever want your bathroom tiles to come off a plywood wall, stick them on with solvent-based No More Nails. For the last 3 days we’ve been sending ceramic splinters flying around the boat as we chisel away at the old tiles.
Apart from wanting it to look nicer, our main reason for attacking our bathroom in the depths of winter is so that we can lower the bath to give us enough room to stand up and have a shower in it. This has not been easy, and has involved removing the legs and the flooring under them, but now the bottom of the bath is at the same level as the surrounding floor; a good 6” lower than it used to be. We will now be able to emerge from the shower refreshed and without a crick in our necks or lower back pain.

(Sorry, we have to put this in – two people have just skied past our window!)

This is the latest addition to the things we have to remember to take with us each time we move on.
From our window, in the last week, we’ve seen bullfinches, jays, blackbirds, pheasants and all manner of other birds. There are 2 fearless robins who discovered the bird table as soon as we put it up and in the opposite bank there is a rabbit burrow and a fox’s den within 10’ of each other. Who needs a television?


Sarah said...

wonderful. no, no television necessary.

Dave and Ann-Marie. said...

Quite right Elizabeth. We didn't have a telly for a few years before we sold the house. Only trouble is, now when we go to a somewhere where it's on 24/7 we get instantly hypnotized.

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