A Right Soaking. 5th July

Below Black Jack’s Lock 85 to above Iron Bridge Lock 77

Waking up on the hour just about every hour last night, phone checked, seats racking up for Labour all the time. So it was a slow start this morning. The first boat to pass us was NB Tyseley, the Mikron boat heading for the Thames with volunteer crew whilst the actors have a few days touring further north in the van. I’m not sure we’ll be able to catch one of their shows this year, depends how quickly we move.

Before setting off today Mick turned the TV so that we could watch Rishi Sunak heading to Buckingham Palace to resign as PM. Last night Mick had managed to sort the TV to work via the internet, today it was being obstinate, so we got broken up signal. I did find that Akshata Murty’s dress reminded me of Razzle Dazzle camouflage that boats were painted in WW1, only her head was really visible.

Black Jack’s Lock not as pretty as it used to be

A light spattering of rain meant we had our waterproofs close when we set off. No crocodile on the bank below Black Jack’s anymore, lots of walkers setting off up the canal and a big wooden fence around what used to be the café alongside the lock, I wonder when it closed?

As we progressed, new things caught the eye. A pair of underpants, a lotus sitting frog and NB Watt Way whom we’d met on the Great Ouse two years ago and saw at Cropredy last year. Mick logged onto the BBC with the tablet at the stern so that we could keep up with the days goings on back in London. Watching wasn’t really an option as the sun glinted on the fingerprinted screen, but at least we could listen.

Springwell Lock over flowing

Two years ago we were heading towards London on this stretch of the GU, on the day of the Queens Funeral. Today we were watching Keir Starmer heading to the palace, then to Downing Street. What will we watch next time we cruise between Uxbridge and Watford?

Rubbish was added to the C&RT bins below Copper Mill Lock. The monkey hanging high above the canal seems to have had a brain explosion, maybe it’s days are now numbered, good job there’s a bear in a canoe to keep boaters looking upwards.

Stockers Lock

We paused for lunch above Stockers Lock and with the towpath on the port side emptied the yellow water tank ready for disposal at the elsan at Batchworth Lock.

That doesn’t look so good!

Whilst Mick did the necessary I headed to open the lock. The steps up to the lock on the services side were closed, so I walked over the road bridge to reach the other side. I could already see why as the steps up to the lock were buckling and subsiding. From the other side you could see that the arc where you push the gate open and closed had dropped by quite a few inches. I avoided that side of the lock as much as I could. Then one of the top ground paddles had nothing to lift on the end of it, so I had to swap sides.

Batchworth Lock

Coming out of Lot Mead was a wide beam so the gates were left for us. I take extra care to lower paddles on this lock, we know how far away Watford A&E is by cab! It started to rain as we approached Common Moor Lock, this was to continue for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

The car/boat has settled onto a mooring. NB Bargus was spotted now a Jules Fuel boat. A. Evans’ boat glowed bright red in the rain. Should we pull up now or carry on as we were already quite wet? We opted to carry on.

Cassio Bridge Lock was taking a while to fill. We were just starting to wonder why when a lady appeared at the bottom gates peering over the gates. I went to see what she was looking at, Oh blimey! Water boiling up majorly from under the bottom gates. Was something on the cill? Or had the cill blown? The lock was nearly full, but just wouldn’t go any further, the lady offered to lend her bum to the beam. Thankfully the three of us managed to nudge the gate open just that little bit, bringing the level up to meet the pound above. We wouldn’t have to drop back down and find somewhere to moor.

That should not look like that!

Dripping wet now we carried on to Iron Bridge Lock, the aim to get off a pound that could drop should the lock be used again. I lifted a ground paddle, it was quite easy, it did nothing. I crossed the gates and did the same on the other side, only to have the same result. Gate paddles were lifted and very slowly the level rose. Something wasn’t right below the lock, a gentle boiling. It took forever for the lock to get near to full and then took a big umph from the two of us to open the top gate. At least this next pound gets topped up from the River Gade and it wouldn’t be running out of water with the amount of rain today!

Wet at Iron Bridge Lock

We pulled in as soon as we could, suggested Tilly could have a quarter of an hour, knowing she wouldn’t be keen. Then we peeled off our wet layers and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening listening to the rain hammering down on Oleanna.

9 locks, 6.5 miles, 1 new PM, 1 brain explosion, 1 cat in charge for an hour, 1 cat asleep on the job, 1 collapsing lock surround, 2 stubbornly filling locks, 2 very wet boaters, 1 dry second mate.

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