Last Boat Left. 22nd June

Brookwood Country Park to Batter and Bowler Bridge

Kath joined us again this morning and once we were untied the two of us stood in the bow and we crept past NB Olive. A slight twitch of a curtain, we were maybe a touch early leaving, but the pound had been quite shallow on our way up. We suspect the depth today was up after the Authority had lowered the pound to check on the troubled lock a few days ago.

We had a nosy at peoples gardens. The buttresses that hold the railway embankment. The long blue house boat, was it built here? was it too long to fit in the locks? The old Bantam, paint peeling off.

Approaching the top of the locks I could see the two boats that we’d been following yesterday, NB Rum a Gin and NB Four Some. We compared notes of the flight yesterday, chatted about the campaign cruise on the Thames last month and watched big sausage butties be passed out from the galley, they smelt good!

NB Rum A Gin also from Yorkshire

There was no sign of NB Olive at 9am, Mike the Lock Keeper gave them a call, they’d be with us at 9:30. Mick popped to the shops for a newspaper whilst we waited for the first two boats to go down the top lock. Olive arrived. Mum had waited at the top of the locks yesterday until 5pm, she’d seen Liquorice a few times, but every time she tried to entice her she just walked further away. There was a phone call from the chap in the dry dock, he’d keep an eye out for her and be around to open a gate for them later on.

Waiting for a lock to fill

Our turn at the locks. With three on the ground this meant we could send someone ahead to fill the lock once the boats in front had left. They also sent someone on ahead. We all leapfrogged our way down the locks, catching the boats ahead up and lending them a hand.

As we came down I suddenly thought would a cat trap help to get Liquorice back. I sent a message to Tilly’s number one fan Joa who fosters kittens for Cats Protection. She found the contact details for the local branch and gave some handy tips which I passed on to the Olive crew, Josh had been thinking something similar, maybe a tranquiliser dart!

Kath huffing and puffing opening a stiff paddle

At the last lock of the Brookwood flight we waved NB Olive and their crew goodbye, wishing them luck. They would be continuing on down to the River Wey today, we’d be having a pause in Woking. We pootled on past the mooring by the Beefeater and headed for the footbridge in the centre of town.

Last lock today, Mike ashing up behind

Sadly not a cat suitable mooring, much to Tilly’s dismay, the car park just behind the friendly cover wasn’t good on a busy Saturday. Lunch with Kath and then it was time for us to say our goodbyes to her too.

In the afternoon we wandered over to Jubilee Square where there was a celebration of 30 years of dance in Woking taking place. We had a walk around whilst waiting for things to kick off. Around the centre are several painted bronze sculptures. A couple of big thick set chaps stand watching people pass by. From behind they reminded me of Jack Brady the actor who sadly passed away a few weeks ago.

Woking Station isn’t anything to look at from outside. But I spied something on the walls at the far end. A mural depicting shops and the station in Edwardian times. Soldiers waiting for trains, ladies in the fabric shop, a suffragette campaigning on the steps. On the gentleman’s outfitters section the faces looked far too modern, they were 21st Century people surely. When we found a board about the mural, sure enough the outfitters still exists in town, under a different name, but the faces on the mural were those of the staff in recent times.

We headed back to the square the performance we were waiting for was about to start. We sat down and waited, and waited. Then a loud hailer from behind us brought with it Free Palestine protestors who congregated in the square. We didn’t have a problem with their protest, but wanted them to hurry up. What would have happened if the dance display had already been underway? Would they have carried on with their protest whilst the Belly Dancers danced and coloured ribbons were wrapped around the Maypole? After a good three quarters of an hour they dissipated.

Maypole dancing

Local dance groups showed off their latest choreography. Then the maypole was positioned in the middle of the square. At first kids were keen to join in, but there were just so many ribbons people began to loose interest before they’d even started to do any dancing. But the lady was pretty good at keeping them going once they’d started. I suspect if you had dancers all of the same sort of height it would help.

High Tea (with a twist)

Then eventually after waiting for a good hour and a half Levantes Dance Theatre started their performance of High Tea (with a twist). A couple of years ago I was approached by an old work colleague to see if I’d be interested in working on Levantes next show. I seem to remember the dates not being so good with panto that year. Of course I’d looked them up so was very aware that the show would include more than just dance. The thick base that their table and parasol stood on also suggested this.

Their costumes were strongly influenced by Frida Kahlo. They danced around the audience. The high tea laid out on the circular table, one dancer leading the other who had their eyes closed. A volunteer from the audience poured out drinks from the tea pot. A proposal with a ring hidden in a French Fancy. A wedding. A child being born. The parasol was removed and replaced with a big hoop, now the two of them span round doing acrobatics round the hoop. A very entertaining half hour that had been worth waiting for.

Quite tired from yesterday we decided not to visit the Lightbox, a Grayson Perry exhibition on there. Instead we returned to Oleanna for a lazy few hours recuperating and listening to Tilly complain about the lack of shore leave, I reminded her that one cat was getting a lot more shore leave than she’d bargained for!

5 locks, 3 miles, 4 boats in convoy, 1 extra crew member, 1 Saturday paper, 3 sausage butties, not ours, 3 boats heading onwards, 1 lovely Joa, 1 early lunch, 4 birthday cards, 1 protest, 8 belly dancers, 2 many ribbons, 1 fancy, 2 dancers, 1 lazy afternoon, 0 news, 1 noisy road.

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