I'm currently sitting on the back end of Chertsey with my wonderful girlfriend IzzI sorrounded by working boats and looking at a rather impressive chimney. We, IzzI; mum; Jim; and me, are here for the Black Country Museum boat gathering. We have our costumes all ready for tomorrow and mum is cooking us lying around curry (curry made from what whatever's lying around... Chick pea korma with broccoli and cous cous) and I thought i would take you through our journey so far.
After a night of mod cons (read: running water) on Bakewell we set off early with the promise of bacon rolls for breakfast. Huzzah. We made good time on our way to the Wolverhampton 21 and happily munched on our rolls* and it wasn't long before we came across the first set of paddles. With Jim cycling on ahead to empty the locks and mum at the tiller IzzI and I worked the paddles and we completed the flight in two hours and six minutes. That was over the 1:45 that mum was aiming for but with two paddles out of comission, 1 paddle mishap (nobody injured!) and my refusal to run between gates, I don't think that's too terrible.
After the 21 I steered the rest of the way to the museum. I did bang the boat twice (sorry mum) but it weighs a few tons and is made of steel so I don't think I damaged it. I did do a couple of good turns and backed into the museum to make up for it. I'm a little bit proud. A bit of exploring, and a bit of a nap later, and I started this blog.
I'm not entirely sure what's going on tomorrow but I have my neckerchief ready.
* Recipe for boat bacon rolls. Feeds 4.
You will need: 1 frying pan 1 enamel tray 1 Beatrice stove 4 buttered rolls 14(?) bacon rashers 1 boat
1. Forget the frying pan 2. Start the boats engine and begin travelling 3. Balance enamel tray on Beatrice stove 4. Cook bacon on enamel tray 5. Allow engine to rattle tray off stove and deposit bacon under the floor 6. Find 13 rashers of bacon 7. Assume thats how many rashers you started with 8. Brush off the dirt 9. Cook bacon a bit more 10. Place on buttered rolls 11. Eat.
The shortlist has just been announced for the National Historic Ships photo competition. There are some fabulous photos as always (here) but I'm a little disappointed that my shot of Walton's launch hasn't made the cut in the 'traditional maritime skills in action' category, particularly as three of the five photos that have done feature caulking, rather than reflecting a variety of traditional techniques like the rather dramatic and rare art of side slipping.
The subject of Halfies latest 'mystery location' reminds me. Our journey back from Watford began, in high hopes of getting back to Stretton within the week, with thirty one locks on what may well have been the hottest day of the year.
Inspiration struck as we ascended in Rising Sun lock, and I grabbed my tankard from its hook behind the stove, some cash from the ticket drawer, and clambered out to take my place at the bar. By the time the top gate was open I was back at the tiller and a fair way down a very welcome pint.
(And yes, I did offer to get Jim one, but he's very abstemious when on duty. I did keep him well watered.)
Once upon a time there was a new poster on CanalWorld. Her name was Phylis and she quickly became notorious for being opinionated, provocative and just generally annoying. Her biggest crime of course was to have a big shiny yogurt pot for a boat and not to be ashamed of it.
But I found that over the years, Phylis grew on me. Without wanting to sound patronising, she matured and mellowed - and I was won over by her enthusiasm and love for a boat that couldn't be more different from my passion. I like to think also that when Naughty-Cal encountered Chertsey patiently awaiting a spare part at Torksey, a mutual understanding and respect began to be forged. What's more, Rachel (for she is Phylis no more) writes a damn good blog. So I have at long last added it to the blogroll - great recipes and an insight into a very different kind of boating.
I've added two more blogs to the blogroll - I think both of these interesting writers dropped off accidentally when they changed boats, and I was reminded by meeting Nev, ex-Waterlily and now on Percy, last week, and by passing Star - formerly owned by Kevin and Vicky who have been restoring Harry for the past couple of years - at Streethay. Seeing that Harry wasn't there, I thought, ooh, they must have finished it and gone off boating... I wonder if they have a new blog. So I looked around and found it, and it's very good.