There are some rather nifty moorings, sans Shroppie Shelf, betwixt locks 3 and 2, so one has bunged oneself on them for a spot of a breather after nine locks in a row this morning.
The day dawned in a rather Dickensian mood, with smoke from early-morning stoves being encouraged back to life, and a good, thick mist sitting between the boats and the trees. Volunteers for the “the CaRT” took a work-boat up, not exactly at Sparrow-Fart O’Clock, but certainly well before office hours. A couple of other boats zoomed towards the locks afterwards. I indulged in coffee and in toast with lime marmalade. Caffeine, carbohydrates and sugars so that my liver might maintain a healthy steam-pressure throughout the flight.
The first couple of pounds were less than replete with water, and I had to – forgive my reference to the Continental habit here – I had to spit into them a couple of times to prevent the Cardinal from grounding. The lock landings, blessed with their own utterly silly version of the main Shroppie Shelf, were on the shallow side of use to neither man nor beast. The poor Cardinal’s bum got scraped a couple of times before his thicko-idiot pilot learnt his lessons.
There were a slack handful of other boats up and boats down, but I am as pleased as a pleased thing to report that those following behind me did not catch me up. I had the benefit of a couple of cross-overs with boats coming down, and for the rest, time and leisure to take my time and leisure. I began walking ahead to prepare the next lock, leaving the lower gates open so that I could just oik the Cardinal straight out of one lock and up into the next, only then going back to close the gates on the earlier lock. This allowed me to dispense with the SS-ledge and the several areas of “repair” blighting the lock landings.
When Mr Sunshine began to show his face, burning off the morning frost and mist, things began to look a tad autumnal in nature.
The moral of the tales of this morning’s travels? The Audlem flight is a damned sight easier and more pleasant if you forget the (theoretical) lock landings and work out some other modus. Hard work, certainly, moving home and hearth through a Victorian system, but also oddly, peculiarly, fun, in a weird sort of a way.
For the last couple of locks the sky turned bright blue and the sun, while not as warm as summer, was at least as bright and cheerful. The scenery from these moorings is, as usual, quite decidedly not Hackney.
It is very much England though.
I will confess to being pooped enough to have moored right under some damnable power lines, and to not giving a rodent’s rectum, just this once… I just wanted to stop.
My breakfast had worn off a few locks back, and I made good use of the memorial bench that some kind soul had seen fit to provide there… right alongside the first patch of decent moorings, a respectable distance away from the lock, and with possibly the best view – although tis the Cardinal that has the view now, all anyone on the bench will see at the moment is a ruddy great dark blue boat…
I sat. Boat floated. We eyeballed one another. We gave one another meaningful looks. The Cardinal looked at me, I looked at him. I was feeling chuffed for raising us some 30 metres up in altitude or thereabouts. The Cardinal just rubbed his bum where I’d scraped it on the flaming Shroppie Shelf lock landings when we first set off. How do you rub cream on a narrowboat’s bum?
Answers on a postcard, please.
So, almost through Audlem, just two more locks ahead, then a mile and there’s five more in a row, then a few miles and another five, and then a few miles after that we will, for the moment, be ahead of CaRT’s proposed winter stoppages schedule. This is which is what it is that I had had planned, so to spoke.
Now if you’ll please to excuse me, I need to murder some veggies (spuds, carrots, cabbage and broccoli), make a thick non-meaty gravy to lather them with, and sit in front of a nice, old, familiar, mindless DVD for an hour or two…
Ian H., and nb Cardinal Wolsey. 🙂