Sunday, 4 March 2018

Hatton bottom lock (why does the gas always run out at the worst possible time?)

Most of the leaky lock gates on the Hatton flight look like this at the moment

We had planned on going down to Cropredy to see Mike and Lesley on Saturday and having a pub lunch with them.  Their new boat was delivered just over a week ago so we would have had a nose around Charlie Mo too.  Mind you, the ice on the Oxford canal would have prevented us going for a cruise

Instead, Karen and I went for a walk up the Hatton flight and had a quick visit to Sainsburys in Warwick on the way back.  Before we set off I cleared Friday night’s snow off the solar panels.  Last time Mike and Lesley visited us they bought us a new mop as they couldn’t believe we were still using a decrepit one for washing down the boat.  I’m now glad I didn’t get rid of the old one as it’s perfect for snow clearing and been used quite a few times this winter 😊

Clearing the solar panels with our old mop

As is often said, the gas will run out at the worst possible time.  It always seems to be the case with us, either when it’s pouring with rain or when we’ve gone out and left a roast in the oven.  This week, it went in the evening when it was snowing and windy.  So, it was a treacherous job climbing onto the icy front of the boat and getting into the gas locker in the dark with the wind blowing snow all over the place.

Back to our walk: when we got to the first lock being worked on we saw the new lock ladders had been delivered.  They are being replaced because the current ones aren’t up to standard.  I really don’t understand what that means because, if locks were built today they would have to have railings all round and I would imagine the ladders would have to be enclosed.  The more I think about it, the chance of Health and Safety allowing self-operated locks to be built anything like those we use today would be most unlikely.

Lock ladders waiting to be installed

Even though it was a Saturday, and no one was working, the generator was still running.  The generator is used to pump the water out of the bottom of the lock whilst work continues. 

Suction pump seems to have its own place cut into the lock floor

The current locks on this flight were built in the late 1920s so that’s probably why they were made with the cut out for the pump.   The locks, which are double width, were built alongside the original single width locks.  The idea being to get more freight through and also wider barges in the face of competition from the railways – all too late as we now know

With the lock drained you can see the size of the ground paddles – much larger than those built at earlier times

Buddy really enjoyed running around in the snow, especially at the deeper parts where the snow had drifted across the open fields.

Buddy on one of his mad runs

Karen taking the picture at the top of this blog entry…

…and to balance things up, one of me watching her

After coming back down the flight, we walked into Warwick to get a few things from Sainsburys and then popped into Saltisford to check on the car; it hadn’t been used since Sunday, but all was OK. We had been a little concerned that someone may have skidded into it.

Looking down on the Saltisford arm on our way back from checking the car

When we were nearly home we saw the local mallards, who seem to have adopted a female mandarin duck.  She’s been with them since we arrived here a few weeks ago and has become quite tame in the way mallards do.

When we got home it really started feeling like the thaw had set in; there were icicles hanging on the fender lines and ice patches on the sides of the boat.

Hopefully, there’ll be no reason why we can’t get to Cropredy on Sunday to see Mike and Lesley (and Charlie Mo).

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