After a madly busy week, I dashed down from Sheffield on Saturday to make the final preparations for setting off to Ellesmere Port. The original plan had been to leave on Sunday, but we decided that Monday would be ok, and would give us time to gather our wits and shop for provisions for the (ahem) four or five day journey. Jim has spent weeks getting Chertsey ready, cleaning, painting and polishing, servicing the engine (and painting that too) and after a busy half-semester at work I was itching to be boating.
Over the last few days though it gradually dawned on me, as the snow fell in ever increasing quantities, the temperature plummetted, and worst of all, the wind whipped itself into gale force gusts, that the weather might be about to put a spanner in the works - not for the first time of course.
I have had lovely times in the past boating in the cold and snow, well wrapped up. The time we moved Chertsey from Kings Bromley was one such, with the sun twinkling on the snow. Of course, on that trip we did only get as fat as Great Hayward before becoming trapped by the ice and having to abandon Chertsey there for seven weeks.
There have been many times we have boated in pouring rain, and while not pleasant, it is certainly doable.
But one lesson I have learned, and learned well, is that trying to boat in the wind, on a boat like this, is a recipe for misery and quite possibly disaster as well. Getting constantly blown onto the bank and stuck on the bottom is frustrating enough when the weather is relatively warm; when the ground is frozen and the wind Siberian, it hardly bears thinking about. Constant wind makes communication hard, dries out your throat and skin... In my book it is the very worst weather for boating, and I won't set off in wind now unless I absolutely have to.
So, with the forecast for more of the same, and possibly even colder, until the weekend, and possible rain next week, we have very sadly decided not to set off for the Port after all. A small part of me (and a big part of Jim) feels that this is a bit wimpy, and we should battle through and savour the sense of achievement that would eventually accrue. But... let's not forget we are meant to be doing this for enjoyment; our livelihood doesn't depend on it and if it's more suffering than fun, there really isn't any point.
So instead we are battening down the hatches, stuffing the cleverly shaped pieces of Celotex left by the previous owner into the window recesses, and hunkering down under multiple layers of bedclothes by night, and sitting by the fire watching a hotpot cooking away on the stove by day.
The cancellation of spring has, I'm afraid, caused great inconvenience to our journey. Let's just hope that summer is not delayed as well.