Mondays for us are the odd day of the week. Karen and I go to Stratford on Avon for bridge lessons in the evening so it makes logistics completely different. For one thing, I have the car on Mondays and take Karen to work, this saves her coming home in the evening to get me and then driving back past where she works to get to Stratford. Having the car means I can drop her off at work early in the morning, get the weekly shopping done at a supermarket in Leam and dispose of the recycling. I am usually back on the boat before 7.30 and Buddy is still fast asleep.
It does mean that if Buddy and I have a cruise then we have to think about retrieving the car so our cruises don’t tend to be for too far on a Monday. It was raining anyway so I didn’t want to stay out in it too long so we headed off down the last two locks of the Stockton flight to find a good mooring spot at Bascote – one of Karen and my favourites between Napton and Warwick.
I knew it had rained a lot over the last few days because of the state of the towpaths but when we crossed the aqueduct over the River Itchen at Long Itchington I saw that the little stream was at its highest I had ever seen.
The swollen Itchen
When single handing down locks it is not so easy to keep an eye on (or control of) Buddy. Once the lock is empty and I have opened one of the bottom gates I need to climb down the vertical ladder inside the lock to get on the boat and bring her out. Clearly Buddy cannot do this and I don’t like leaving him on his own on the side of the lock unless there is no one around. When there are other dogs or people around I just make him stay on the back deck for the whole operation when going down locks.
When it is quiet, like yesterday, then I leave him on the side and he watches me from the top of the lockside whilst I take the boat out. Once I have brought the boat out he walks down the steps at the end and gets on the boat whilst I secure the boat and trot back up and close the gate.
Buddy waiting for me to close the bottom gate
Notice the centre line round the bollard in the picture above: this enables me to pull the boat back to the side if the wind takes the boat away. This is only usually a problem on double locks, as on single width locks the boat has nowhere to go unless the wind takes it forwards of course!
I am always especially careful when it is wet as the lock landings can be extremely slippery.
I lost my footing here a month ago and slipped in as far as my thighs – fortunately I had just brought the boat out of the lock so I grabbed hold of the side of it to stop me going further. It showed me how easily people get crushed between the boat and the side when they slip in.
Normally such a peaceful view when we moor at Bascote
There are seven other boats moored in front of us and they all seemed to be liveaboard continuous crusiers like us. I recognised all the boats but have only met the people on a couple of them. If the boaters go to work then they tend to leave in the dark and come home in the dark when it's winter time so it's not so easy to soialise. Of course, the summer is different when the days are longer and warmer and people spend their evenings outside.
Like us, some of them have cars, so the layby by the bridge was really packed. I sometimes wonder what local residents think when they come along the country lanes and then find there are lots of boaters' cars parked by a canal bridge.