Three Or Thirty? 1st October

Allen’s Lock to below Dashwood’s Lock

P1410788smThe first of October means one thing. More mice for me!

They said that there was one for every year of my life, but they really are no good at maths. There should have been 30 mice not 3!

P1410795smP1410796smP1410810smOnce the three of them had been released from their card backing I got on with my birthday job of giving them all a jolly good lick (their feathers are rather lickable). Followed by tossing them in turn up in the air and thoroughly murdering them. For some reason these friends are allowed on the boat, but the ones I find outside have to be left there. Maybe brown doesn’t go with the boat as much as blue.

A little exhausted from playing with my new friends I had a good snooze until they finally tied the outside up for the day. Plenty of trees and places to find brown friends which kept me very busy until it was ding ding time. Nothing special for ding ding today, but that’s apparently because I had something called mackerel at lunchtime. It just appeared on the floor in front of me, smelt good so I tidied it up. I wonder if this is what happens when you turn three/thirty, mackerel for lunch everyday. I’d quite like that.

P1410812smAfter the excitement of presents I settled down to do a bit of work. We knew NB Free Spirit was heading our way, gradually catching us up, so it was no surprise to see a green cabin side slowing down for the lock this morning. We popped our heads out of the side hatch to say hello, Mick then went to help them with the lock and have a bit more of a natter. Good to see you both again, maybe our paths will cross for longer next year.

Our mooring was possibly the best we’ll be able to find for a visit from Finesse, but the lack of internet would not be good for much of my work. Also having the port side to the towpath is likely to be advantageous, so we decided to move further down the canal to hopefully find a patch of internet and a winding hole. When we know when the chaps are coming we will wind and return to the internetless mooring.

We pushed off just before 11am and made our way down the lock, constantly checking on internet signal. Bits and bobs had been coming through on our phones, but not to the router on the boat. The area seemed to be surviving with 2G, but nothing higher.

P1410820smA short distance on was Mill Lift Bridge. When we came up the canal a couple of years ago this was the only bridge that beat me. Pulling it down I just couldn’t get it past the point of equilibrium to then put my weight on it to hold it open, we had to swap roles that day. But we’d heard through blogs that it had been electrified. The shiny structure still there, the arms now cut short and a key operated plinth on the towpath side. A turn clockwise and then buttons to press and hold, so simple and so much easier than before.

P1410839smAt Heyford Wharf Bridge we timed our arrival well, pulling in shortly before two other boats. This water point could rival the one at Hillmorton for it’s poor pressure! One man kept walking up to the tap to check it was actually working and that we weren’t just faking filling. In the end Mick went and sat outside so that we couldn’t be accused of hogging the tap.

P1410835smRight by the station we at last had internet signal. I could print off postage to send the socks I’d finished yesterday to their new owners. Once the water tank was full we pulled along and moored for lunch, socks were packed up and I walked into the village to post them. The post box took a little bit of finding, but then I filled it with parcels of socks.

P1410850smAt the water point we’d had internet, it was now a bit patchy and the mooring wasn’t one we’d want to stay at overnight due to the proximity of the railway! So we pushed off again hoping to find somewhere where the trains were at a distance and we would have internet. Approaching Dashwood Lock a boat was pulling in, another at the end of the lock landing and a third moored on the off side. There were a lot of people stood around at the lock, including one blue C&RT t-shirt. There seemed to be a problem with the bottom gate we pulled in and I walked up to the lock to see what was happening.

P1410856smTwo C&RT ladies had a very long keb and were fishing behind the lock gate. It was only opening part way then sticking. Twigs were pulled out, but still it wouldn’t shift. Eventually to a round of applause a rubber pipe fender was pulled up from the depths of the lock, the gate now moved freely. One of the ladies said she’d lost count of how many they’d pulled out of Somerton Deep Lock earlier in the day. The chap who’d found the problem was really happy “A win win situation” The lock was now clear and he’d gained a spare fender.

I walked back to get a windlass and to inform Mick, then returned to the lock. Everyone else was busy talking and nobody had noticed the poor lady fighting to close the lock gate. I signalled to her to wait and then helped her with the lock. The single bottom gates are heavy to get moving so extra body weight was needed. The boat ahead of us then went down, followed by us. A length of Armco ahead, internet signal and the railway a distance away, we had a mooring at last.

P1410845smDSCF7114sm2 locks, 2.97 miles, 1 blogging boat, 1 key of power lift bridge, 0 held up, 1 handy train station, 2 pairs of socks, 1 full post box, 1 pretty village, 1 full water tank, 1 more fender in a lock, 3 mice with eyes, 2 brown friends, 1 tree, 6 cows, 1 good birthday, 3 year old 2nd mate little thug.

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