Carrying On Down. 14th September

Lower Foxhangers Lock to Semington Aquaduct

No day off today, onwards and more locks and swing bridges.

The hire base woke up early. Holiday makers returning the boats and emptying their possessions back into their cars. I wonder how many of them got hooked like we did to end up moving aboard? The staff started to shunt the boats round so that they’d all face Bath and the cleaners moved in getting everything spic and span for today’s holiday makers.

Being followed

Once the way ahead was clear we pushed off and rounded the bend. A hire boat was moored up a little further on and the American chap out the back enquired if we were doing 4mph. ‘No we’re in tick over because we’re passing moored boats.’ Yesterday he’d been more interested in the position of the centre rope than listening to the instructions he was being given having just picked the boat up. A short distance on and we could see we were being followed, was it that hire boat and would I be giving locking lessons today?

Scott’s Wharf Bridge

We paused for water at Scotts Wharf Bridge. As the tank filled I walked to the campsite next door to see if their shop had Saturday newspapers. The cupboard that was the shop and office had some papers on the desk. I enquired if they were the only ones they had. To which the lady became overly protective about them ‘They’ve been ordered for people!’, almost snatching them away. No problem there the top paper would have no news in it anyway!

Swing bridge held together with a ratchet strap
one of those stirrups

Swing Bridges again followed by the five Seend Locks. We were following what turned out to be a couple of boats and passed several coming up. There seemed to be an equal mix of hireboaters and owners, at least I didn’t have to clamber over top gates again.

Plenty of crew to work the bridge

We arrived at a swing bridge just after a day boat had pulled in on the other side, nobody seemed to be interested in opening the bridge so I hopped off, unlocked it and pushed it open. All the passengers were alighting the day boat each with a drink in their hands, one chap came over to help, suggesting I should jump back on. I enquired if they were coming through, already knowing what the answer was, no he’d shut up. How helpful of him!

No intention of moving from the bridge landing

Shifting their boat off the landing would have been far more helpful! Mick informed the Captain (identified by his hat) that they shouldn’t moor there, they were in the way. But nobody took any notice.

Keep right

Approaching Semington Top Lock there is an aquaduct over the A350, here a traffic island splits the canal in two. Two boats were just vacating the lock one being NB Dover.

Concrete blocks and broken away bricks

We worked our way down the top lock. Here the walls below the lock have been bulging and only one boat can enter or leave the lock at one time. We encountered several of these today, but this one must have had it really bad. The walls had their bricks removed and large concrete blocks had been revealed. Was this the solution? If so the numerous notices on the lock gates were no longer needed. There is still quite a bit of work to do no matter.

Oleanna entered Semington Bottom Lock, the last for today, and I started to lift a bottom paddle. This was a low geared one, so I stood winding and winding it up. I’m not sure what happened but my windlass came off the spindle. No spinning through the air luckily, but my hands continued in the direction they expected to be going in bringing the handle of my windlass down with force onto my right hand against the lock beam. To be precise it came down on the end of my shortened little finger, stumpy.

We won’t go that way then

This to say the least HURT! Expletives, tears as the stumpy end of my little finger shouted out for all to hear. Mick however thought I was just turning away from the low geared paddle, making a joke of it. I could wiggle the last joint on my finger so as far as I could tell nothing was broken, but then when I lost the end of my finger I could wiggle stumpy. After several deep breaths I wound the paddles up to their full extent emptying the lock.

The visitor moorings were full, but luckily the bank was reasonable and we managed to pull in and moor up. Tilly was allowed out for five hours.

Another sunny day

Stumpy continued to hurt. No sanding back the primer for another coat, no starting bits of model, no knitting, no nothing, just listening to cricket, the loud music from a boat up the way and taking pain killers. I changed the computer mouse to be left handed and pottered on the laptop for a while then managed to cook dinner whilst Oleanna kept listing due to a ledge! Hopefully by morning things will have improved and the music will have stopped! Fingers, what I have left of them, crossed.

7 locks, 4.41 miles, 5 swing bridges, 0 newspaper, 1 full water tank, 1 annoying day boat, 1 traffic island, 1 blocked off canal, 1 slip, 0.75 of bruised little finger, 5 repetitions of Hotel California, 313-8.

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