Somerton Meadows to Belchers Bridge 189
A couple of boats were moving before we pushed off, one of which was ahead of us so by the time we reached Somerton Deep Lock it was very full. With only one paddle on the bottom gates working it took quite a long time to empty the 12ft of water. It then took a lot of patience to wait for everything to level out for me to be able to move the gate, Mick had just stepped off Oleanna to come and give an extra shove when it just started to move.
With the sun out the view from the lock was wonderful. The Grade 2 Lock cottage has no road access, just by boat or the towpath. Last sold in 2007 for £213,000 a dog watched as we worked our way through the lock. A pile of coal bags sat just on the other side of the fence (presumably dropped off by boat from the lock), a wind turbine span round in the garden and a generator whirred away in a garden shed. What a location, Granny Buttons wrote about it in a blog post when it was last for sale.
We had to pause at Chisnell Lift Bridge as it was chained down. I’m now a seasoned lift bridge lifter, unhooked it and crossed to pull it down. The obvious place to grab hold of it was the metal diagonal, but this has been done too many times before and gives way, now held on by a bit of twine. But I soon got the beams down to the ground and sat on for Oleanna to pass through. Here would have been a lovely place to moor for the day, but we wanted to get just that bit further. So we pootled on to Aynho.
As we passed the wharf the back end of NB White Swan was visible. Franki (an Instagram acquaintance) has been here waiting to get a new floor welded into her gas locker and her black water tank sorted for weeks. It looked like the boat was being worked on and once we were moored up a touch further along I could hear the sounds of metal being cut. Later in the evening Franki announced that her long wait was over and she’d made a bid for freedom back out onto the towpath in the dark. Sadly she’s facing southwards so our bows won’t be crossing.
Our mooring is where last years winter moorings were, this year they are closer to the wharf. Here we have armco, there they have a worn bank to moor to. We wonder why it seems to have moved, maybe moorers wanted to be nearer the road and pub, or did someone just put the signs in the wrong place!
Tilly went out to enjoy the last three hours of daylight before curfew. The Dreamies lasting quite well. She came and went, showing her face at the glazed hatch doors.
She was gone for some time and returned just as we were watching a Dr Blake Mystery. Was this really our boat cat? A boat cat for three years now. A cat who understands about living by water and it’s dangers. A small nibble cat who all of a sudden appeared at the hatch smaller than normal!
My calculation went slightly array and one misplaced paw saw me slip into the wet stuff. It wasn’t the canal. All I was bothered about was getting dry and all she wanted to do was keep me in the bathroom. I don’t need a room to have a bath in, just a nice absorbent surface will do, preferably by the stove! It’s been two years since Tilly was last this wet, then she’d forgotten that water lay between her and some ducks. This time we have no idea what happened or where. But at least it serves as a reminder and luckily one with a happy ending.