Sunday, 8 August 2010

Queues and crowds

"All quiet on the Fazeley front" I said in the last entry. Hah! We'd only been reflecting on the fact that we had only had to queue once for a lock in our whole trip than we found ourselves on a day of constant queues and a succession of moored boats - each one having to be patiently slowed down for.
The day began badly when we ground to a halt on the third of the eleven Curdworth locks. Three boats ahead of us was a working boat which was struggling to get through the lock because there wasn't the depth of water. We patiently sat and waited while he flushed down more and more water until he could get through. It was a process that was repeated at almost every lock - and which left us, being pretty deep draughted ourselves, several times pretty much grounded in the pound. Fortunately once was outside the Dog & Doublet pub so I could enjoy a decent pint of brown beer - at last - while waiting.
I know working boats have problems like this; I know they need to keep in the middle of the channel on the cut etc etc but I have to say that some do take it as an inalienable right to do so. A small acknowledgement from this chap that he was causing a bit of a snarl up would have been nice.Or even opening a top paddle behind him so that the lock started to re-fill for the next boat. (Didn't help my mood that he left one bottom paddle partly open on leaving - something I only spotted after waiting interminably for the lock to completely fill so I could open the gate!)
Fortunately he was heading the other way at Fazeley and we turned north on the Coventry Canal.
And we couldn't believe the number of boats. We've been on some popular canals this summer but never seen so many. Coming towards us - inevitably at blind bridge holes or in narrow sections made narrower by moored boats. And there were plenty of those too - no sooner had we speeded up again after politely slowing down than another few came into view.
I know it's not a race and we only potter at the best of times but the constant speed changing and squeezing through gaps did make for a long, long day.
But finally we were at Streethay to take a look at project tug Harry. And after a 'two for a tenner' dinner at The Anchor just across the road we were feeling a whole lot better too.

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