Above Lock 6 to Earlswood Motor Yacht Club.
The fridge is getting depleted, but there were three sausages that should have been eaten by yesterday, so we risked it and accompanied them with an egg, toast, beans and a few hash browns for our last breakfast of the year.
Boats were moving in both directions earlier than ourselves, so we hoped that the last locks of this year would be in our favour. The first one wasn’t, the last two boats must have passed each other below the lock. Oh well, we’d had most of Hatton and Lapworth in our favour.
Mick brought Oleanna into Lock 5, I closed the gates and lifted both paddles to fill the chamber. The short pound above seemed a little low already, we were making it lower still. As normal I walked up to the next lock to set it, emptying water down. Now it is just the two of us Mick is left to close the gates behind him and drop the paddles.
He dropped the paddle one side, crossed the gate, opened it, dropped the paddle that side. Brought Oleanna out of the lock, stopped in the throat of the lock, stepped off to close the gate behind. The stepping off usually is done with the centre line in hand, so I was surprised when he stepped off without it.
The one time he does this and Oleanna decides she’d like to carry on on her own! Mick spotted this just a touch too late the gap far too wide to jump never mind step! I’d already started to walk down, nothing much we could do, the gap was too wide from the other side of the lock. We just had to wait and wait to see where she was headed, very slowly.
Her chosen course luckily for us was to aim for the towpath. Some careful footing was needed to get down a slippy bank before Oleanna’s gunnel could be reached. Fortunately she continued her course towards us and Mick could climb back on. Phew! Tilly not only needs to learn how to make tea, but also to steer Oleanna.
Once up Lock 4, Mick told me that he loved me. ‘Because I didn’t shout at you and call you a stupid b*gger!’ ‘Yes’. Well that wouldn’t have got us anywhere and just been a lot of hot air.
Lapworth Top Lock was also full despite emptying itself. This lock will always be remembered as being covered in snow, Narnia Lock. When we moved our old share boat NB Winding Down south we did this stretch with about four inches of snow on the ground, the top lock had looked magical. Today it would be our last for 2019.
We pootled along to the first lift bridge. This used to be exceptionally hard work. It certainly was when it had four inches of snow on it! The hydraulics were changed a few years ago which means at least you can turn your windlass to get it moving. You just have to do it 60 plus times to be able to get your boat through!
A chap by his boat thought there might be someone who’d sell us some gas, but the closed sign was up at Swallow Cruisers.
On a bit further to the next lift bridge. Here the grey boat we’d obviously been following was pulled in on the bridge landing. No sign of the chap. Mick tried pulling in infront but we were too long. This had the effect of blinds being twitched and two people came out, a lady ran to open the bridge for us and presumably themselves. At least it saved me 24 turns of my windlass.
Now to find somewhere to see the new year in, preferably with a view and suitable for Tilly. The cutting we were in opened out after a few miles. Should we pull in here, or go round the corner where we’ve moored before? Debates went on, but with a view one side, a field and trees we pulled in. This would do us.
It already felt like it was about 3:45pm, the day had been exceptionally grey, but Tilly was given an hour and a half to explore. This she made use off and vanished into the thickly treed embankment, requiring encouragement to return before it got too dark!
The fish pie mix we’d bought in Oxford was made into a crumble for our dinner, accompanied by a bottle of wine. The second episode of Vienna Blood was watched as I finished off knitting the pockets on my new treat cardigan. The button band and pockets just need sewing together now and it will be finished.
As we watched the fireworks in London we urged the helicopter to head southwards as the smoke masked the view to the north of the Thames. Plenty of fireworks went off around us, at some distance, clearer than those on the TV. Thank goodness Tilly is fine with all the bangs, she slept through midnight chasing mice in her sleep.
4 locks, 4.74 miles, 2 lift bridges, 3 sausages, 2 eggs, 1 abandoned boat, 1 bow just close enough, 1 silly sausage, 0 visits to Wedges still, 0 Ferraris, 7635 Christmas trees, 1.5 hours, 1 cardie knitted, 1 Happy New Year to all.