|He's trying not to laugh while practising his pouting ...|
|Champion steerer and TiT (teenager in training)|
|It'll be his turn before too long. In the meantime, he watches pensively.|
|I'll have that house please|
|Lovely clear blue sky|
After the tunnel we let the boys and their bikes off to head for Hanbury with instructions to stay in sight all the time. Sensible as he is, Olek noticed we had not moved and so they came back to check on us - we had got severely grounded, had a couple of mutual tantrums and then sorted it...
The instruction to stay in sight was useless as there was a solid line of really tall reeds pretty much all the way except at bridges ... But again, being sensible, they waited for us to appear at each bridge. You've gotta love that!
We had a bit of a venture down the first five locks on the Droitwich Arm, then winded. That was only accomplished with much faffing and plenty of cursing, as there was a boat permanently moored on the lock landing which is part of the winding hole. In the end, we had to move that boat to be able to get round. Ignorant idiot! However to be fair, the volunteer lockie had told us we could moor down there. So he was also a sandwich short of a picnic to be suggesting mooring in either place, let alone both!
There was also no mooring available on the canal back towards Hanbury, and as we were tired, wanted to have a BBQ at the park opposite, we moored overnight in Droitwich Spa Marina. £15 included power and water, and against the rules, I put my washing line on the tiller and dried the laundry. I didn't realise it was against the rules till a resident told me to make sure the manager didn't see - fortunately he had gone home after taking our money, so the washing dried undisturbed. Not sure I approve of marinas wanting to look so pristine that washing isn't allowed to be viewed, esp when it means it gets dried using electricity. I don't think that fits with the ethics of minimal ecological footprint, somehow!
Tim is an ace BBQer, so the food was lovely. He then took Karol back with him and we had Olek stay on with us.
The following day we met up again with Mick, Julia and John, who had made their way from Worcester to Hanbury. It was lovely to have the group back together and Olek fitted in well. That may be a function of either his being particularly mature, or the rest of us having a mental age of 12-ish. I am plumping for the latter myself. And I think I am probably right given the tone of the conversation when we were sat out on the towpath that evening...
|We all thought David looked like he was holding on to his zimmer frame ...|
We agreed on a very early start the next day - at 5am, which is not even a real time in some people's view. However it was lovely to be out and moving in the quiet of the morning.
|Working, boss, even though I'd rather be asleep!|
|A peaceful view back the way we had come, with the sun low in the sky for sure.|
|I'd recognise the silhouette of that hat and nose anywhere!|
Well, that lasted until we had done the first 6 locks (the Astwood flight - in the first lock by 5.30 and out of the last one by 6.55, I think) when David came back on board and declared that he needed Olek's help if he was going to survive the Stoke six and the Tardebigge 28 (we weren't doing the top Tardebigge Lock that day). Good old Olek got up (I don't know how he'd stayed asleep with all the banging and crashing even though I was trying hard to get smoothly in the gates without touching the sides) and had the brekkie I'd left out for him and then leapt into action with David by 7.30 when we got to the Stoke locks. He is a champion, and some of those paddles on the Tardebigge flight were very hard indeed.
We were making excellent time until Mick and Julia caught up with a single hander. Julia helped him but his rate was still slower than we had been doing. Even so we were still reasonably fast and not wasting time or hanging about. The fact that I took very few photos of the ascent testifies to that!
But we were not quick enough for the bunch of guys behind us who were trying for the land speed record, I think. Although we needed no help, their crew were hovering around our lock, getting in the way, opening the gate before Olek had got across and generally being a pain. They were unimpressed when I refused to exit the lock so they could turn it before a boat coming into the lock above us could come down. The pounds were already getting low and I wasn't about to waste water for them to then have to crowd into a short pound with us while a boat coming the other way had to negotiate its way past both boats. I think, in terms of brainpower, those guys had left the whole picnic basket at home ...
In spite of all that faffing, we were moored up by just after 1pm and sat out in the sun. I'd have to say the cold chardonnay went down a treat ...