Monday, 27 June 2011

A lorra lot of locks

Fifteen of them this morning in scorching heat, even though we were started by nine a.m. Still, mustn't complain. By the time we did numbers 16 and 17 this afternoon it was wet and windy - and I know which I prefer.
The Audlem flight is as perfect as we'd come to expect from the immaculate canal. Locks working smoothly - and not leaking - grass around them trimmed, towpaths in good order and even seats to clump on at some.
Having just read the Canal Wolrd Forum post 'who wields the windlass?' I kept a check on the boats that passed us on the flight. All but one, crewed by an eager bunch of young hirers, relied on the woman crew member to work the locks while hubby manned the tiller. And usually stood motionless throughout while his missus sweated.
The variation in Body Mass Index was also apparent. The first crew set the trend: lean, fit locking wife and a husband whose physique answered another topical question, one raised on Radio 5 Live this morning, 'should men go around bare chested in the hot weather?' In this case most definitely NOT! The rolling layers of white flab made me glad I hadn't eaten a cooked breakfast.
The flight drops down steadily to reach Audlem village with two locks to go. The temptation of a convenient mooring for a pint in The Shroppie Fly (famous for its narrow boat fashioned bar) saw us moor up for a beer and an early lunch before finishing off the locks. Before you ask, lunch was a healthy salad including a fresh-this-morning lettuce on sale at a mid-flight lockside stall.
These local farmers have really embraced the canal as a source of business and good for them. So far we've passed at least four selling farm produced bacon, pork, salad, eggs, vegetables and so on.
After lunch as the weather worsened we tackled the last locks of the day at Hack Green. Nearby is a 'Secret Nuclear Bunker' - a regional centre of government in the early 1980s in which the civil servants and military leaders who had started the nuclear annihilation would have been able to survive it while the rest of us were vapourised. Today it's a tourist attraction but not for us. The cold war nuclear threat is too much part of our younger days to revisit.
Tonight we're moored up in Nantwich, ready for a wander round what is claimed to be an attractive and interesting town tomorrow.

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