Kamikaze Canoeists. 20th October

Below Slat Mill Lock to Cropredy to Keen’s Bridge 155

One of our neighbours

A beautiful autumnal morning, just the right sort of day to go for a cruise to get our Saturday newspaper. The boats that had moored in Cropredy last night soon started to show themselves at the lock to come down. We readied ourselves and managed to time pushing off with a boat exiting the lock, another just pulling in above. I gave the bow a push and walked up to the lock windlass in hand showing our intention. Oleanna came into the lock and a lady from the waiting boat came to help.

The couple on the boat above have recently bought their own boat but are original owners of NB Jenny Wren a Carefree Cruising shareboat. Jenny Wren was one of the unfortunate boats to have been caught up in the Middlewich breach earlier this year and sat in the mud above Wardle Lock for sometime until dams were put in place to help float the stranded boats.

Death wish canoeists

We were now in the pound below Cropredy Lock. We’ve moored here before and were aware of the canoe club. Today being a sunny day the canoeists were out in force. They speed along at such a lick leaving their wash to bob moored boats about. I can understand that it must be a touch frustrating to them all that narrowboats get in their way when all they want to do is go for it. But there is ‘going for it’ and ‘GOING for it’! We came through a bridge hole slowly as there were moored boats, another boat coming towards us, so not much space to manoeuvre our two boats. A canoe with two ladies was in the process of overtaking the on coming boat. We are big and they must have seen us before they kicked up a gear. There was about to be three boats side by side, one a canoe and two squashed ladies in the mix. We and the other narrowboat, being aware of our tonnage, went into reverse quickly as the ladies certainly weren’t stopping for anything! They most probably would say they had everything under control, they actually said nothing. We felt they’d left it a touch too late, zigzagging their way. Narrowboats don’t always do what you want of them, but luckily for the ladies both boats behaved and were in the hands of competent helms people.

This toy doesn't come out often

Today I had some work to do, so once my lock duties were complete I descended down below where my drawing board was waiting. Tilly sat and watched me work, I was very interested in the cables going up and down.

Template and original model

I had templates to cut for the decoration on the pantomime portals. Scaling everything up 25 times from the model I cut three lots of templates. A repetitive pattern can take time to draw up so being able to lay my templates onto the flats in the right place they can be drawn round quickly. As I got part way through cutting out the thick card (my index finger no longer wanting to bend) I wondered if a paper pounce pattern would have been a better idea. This is where you draw out the pattern on brown paper and use a pin to prick holes in it. You then lay this onto where you want the pattern and rub a cloth bag filled with charcoal over the top. The black dust goes through the holes and your pattern awaits painting. However this can be a touch messy if you don’t know what you are doing and with my templates if I’m needed elsewhere I can leave someone else to draw round them.

We'll be a work boat for a bit thenThe signMick brought us to the water point and had to hold back for the next group of canoeists to get past so that he could wind. We’d really chosen the wrong time and day to be doing this. He winded and then brought us into the side to moor. As there was a dredger on the 48 hour visitor mooring we didn’t think it would be a problem mooring up on the C&RT work boat mooring whilst we got a newspaper. There were plenty of papers and Mick was soon back and we pushed off again. This time we’d timed it just right, to meet all the canoeists coming back! However this time they all pulled into the side and clung on.

Sensible canoeistA stretch of arnco in the sun and we were sorted for the rest of the day. Tilly was allowed to come and go, coming for Dreamies and going to find friends, two of which she brought back for introductions!

There's a man over thereIt's that funny man I live with!

As I got on with cutting templates and finding receipts, Mick went to find the railway crossing where all the trains hoot their horns. He walked back towards the village along a path visible from the canal.

1 lock, 1.92 miles, 1 wind, 1 very close shave, 1 newspaper, 1 new toy, 1 drawing board, 3 templates, 19 receipts, 6 hours, 1 short tree conquered, 2 friends, 6 googly eyes, 3 snakes packed away out of harm from Tilly.