Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Kipping at Kilby Bridge

This post was written on Sunday evening and is finally being published on Tuesday. I am not sure how it occurs that life gets in the way of art ...

We are settled in at the Kilby Bridge 14 day moorings and will be here for a few days. It is quite full at the moment, given the upcoming extended closure of the section of the canal between Kilby Lock and Kings Lock. A lot of boats are waiting here and lots are coming up through the about to be closed area, just as we did.

CRT's website says the closure is because of lack of water from the reservoirs for Gee's and Whetstone Lane locks, but there is plenty of water above them. It looks to us like there is a problem of leakage in the pounds back to King's Lock. And if it's just winter rain that CRT are waiting for, why are there several large barges with cranes and diggers moored up waiting, and why has the mobile staffroom been delivered to the yard at Kilby Bridge? The plit thockens ...

We are staying on here as Laughing John is due either today (if the rain stops) or possibly tomorrow, and we are overdue a catch up with him. We have already planned that he can breast up with us and when we go, he can have our place. It'll be most convenient, as he can keep the spot while we go over to the services for water and possibly a pumpout.

While it is raining today, it was beautifully sunny and warm yesterday after a bit of a chilly autumnal start at 7am. Somehow I have lost 4 gloves onboard - I know they are here somewhere but I couldn't find them yesterday morning. I have six on board somewhere, two (not a pair but both black) were fetched from their rightful place on the wardrobe shelf, and did quite a good job keeping my fingers from numbing - at least until I had to hold a wet rope. Wet ropes are the kiss of death to gloves' warming capacity. Still and all, I have pockets, and if I steer with the tiller under my arm, I can stand with hands in pockets to at least thaw out a bit. And I kept warm with my silk scarf (standards have to be kept up, you know) and my hat.
I bought this hat at the market in Stratford upon Avon and this morning was my first opportunity to wear it - no wind, no rain. I have trouble finding hats that suit me, and I think the trilby is my style! So I am going to take a leaf out of our lovely daughter Kirsty's book and buy one in every colour ...

But the sunshine was lovely and it got warmer quite quickly. David, who walked the first couple of miles to and between locks, was quite warm. It's only me standing on the deck almost still, who gets a bit chilled. But I get to look around and see the beautiful countryside - some of it here is built up on the left of the canal, but to the right it seems to be mostly horse country with some cows.

At Bush Lock moorings near South Wigston, we passed Mole, the boat that Mark and Will were on. I did toot the horn (more of a series of blasts given its noise) in a cheery greeting, but there was no response - I think they may have been sleeping off the after effects of the beer tray contents Will had arrived with the previous day ...

Then at Ervin's Lock David did not notice the fisherman's zipped up tent at the offside base of the lock. Nor did he see the three fishing poles with lines out into the cut ... And up he raises the paddles on each gate and out rushes the water in a huge (I say HUGE) torrent. And somehow, over the water he hears a persistent beeping - he may not be able to see well, but at times (when not indulging in domestic deafness) his hearing is acute ...

The fisherman heard the beeping too and lurched sleepily out of his tent to attempt rescue of the rods.  Quite an effort as the lines had snagged on something in the water and were trying to race off down the cut. He did get them out and was quite fine about the whole drama - David had apologised for not seeing him/tent/poles and he was perfectly friendly about it all.

Then at Double Rail Lock we had the loveliest experience yet in all our years of locking - we are renaming the lock as Three Horses Lock.
This one arrived first and was munching away on the reeds and weed that boaters had removed from the lock
Then the other two arrived, started munching too as David wound paddles

and checked if the gate was ready to open

then they waited for him to come back across - I should have given him carrots or biscuits to feed them but was too busy off the boat with the camera, dammit.

Then this one was scratching herself on the beam. She did let David across to close the paddles. (I noticed that she needed a good hoof trimming.)
Lovely, eh?

After Kilby Lock, it was mooring time and we were a bit anxious about whether there would be a space, and decided we would take the first one we came to. And there it was, just one boat in - a gap about 75 feet long. But wait, there was a fisherman setting up towards the rear of the space. I asked if he'd mind if I pulled up as far forward as possible to make sure I got Waka Huia in and he had room to fish. No problem, he said. He said he couldn't walk any further so was pleased to be able to stop here. Turns out he (John) has had CIPD for 15 years (I discovered this after a few conversations and cups of tea with gingernuts throughout the day) and a variety of his leg muscles don't work and he loses his balance. So he has leg braces and uses crutches. He works out in the gym to keep his legs functioning and to keep his upper body strength up. He still works fulltime as a decorator, doing wallpapering and painting and says that at 61 he cannot retire as he is too much in demand! An amazing man, with a great attitude. He said he will eventually end up in a wheelchair but is working hard on his physical fitness and keeping moving to ward that day off.

Anyway, fast forward to about 3pm. And the boat behind us had moved off. I was lying down - attempting a nana nap but not succeeding as Mick had phoned and he and David had had a bit of a raucous chat (well, David's side of it was raucous, so I assume Mick's side was too - no doubt Julia had added to the hilarity, as is her way...)  Anyway, back to the story: So then around the corner from Kilby Lock come the sound of boats. And then the sound of a woman saying "I really do apologise" - you know that apology: the one that means I am nothing like sorry but I'll say I am so you can't accuse me of being arrogant. And then her voice saying "Well, boaters do have the right of way on the canal." (See what I mean about an apology that's not an apology?) John's voice quietly saying something, and her voice again, then John's. She seemed to be getting heated and John was sounding resigned, so I thought it was time I put in a calming appearance - yes, folks, I can and do have that effect at particular times. I think part of what motivated me was her wrong assertion that as boaters we have right of way/access - we don't really. We do pay hefty licence fees to pay for the upkeep of the canals, but they are a public resource and fishermen pay for fishing licences.

So I went up to ask John what was happening. He said he was going to have to pack up as these people (two boats ready to breast up) wanted the space and couldn't stay back from him as one of their number wanted to be able to step off straight on to level ground. I said I'd make him a cup of tea while he packed noting to the boaters that it would be a while as John cannot walk. The guy holding the rope did ask if he could help pack up. John said no as he knew where everything went and it would take him a fair old while. I suggested that the boaters tie up temporarily a bit further back to give John room to move. I disappeared inside to put the kettle on and next thing the two boats departed - someone of their crew had found a space further along... So John continued fishing, we had an extensive chat as he packed up later, and I was filled with admiration - an inspirational person.

What struck me was that the boaters didn't consider saying they'd tie up temporarily until he'd gone. Yes, the person wanted to step off on to solid ground, but a walk down the gunwale would have achieved that. And yes, space was at a premium, but I see that they managed a space each on the 48 hour mooring further down with bollards and paving stones ...

Inconsiderate boaters drive me nuts! Actually inconsiderate behaviour and selfishness of all kinds drive me nuts, OK?

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