Well, after Wednesday’s rain and wind, Thursday couldn’t have dawned any more dissimilar.
Waiting for the kettle to boil on Thursday morning
Karen had gone into the office for the last time and I decided to cruise on up to Bascote. It’s only a couple of miles through four locks so I could take it easy. It would mean that all Karen and I would have to do on Friday, to get to the top of Stockton for our course over the weekend, would be a mile or so up the ten locks on the Stockton flight.
Before leaving, I took Buddy for a short walk and saw some men working by the lock behind us.
They had received an alert that the pump had stopped working so they had hoisted it out to see what the trouble was. Amazingly, a sock, had caused it to stop functioning; I had imagined it would have been something more robust to stop it working. They said they couldn’t believe it either.
Most of the locks along the northern Grand Union have pumps attached. They are used to pump water back up to the next pound when a lock has been used. They are placed at the end of the original single locks which were replaced by the wider ones in 1929. Each one has a control box in a little brick building near the lock. The control box is linked to the local office so that an alert can be raised when something goes wrong.
Control box shed at Welsh Road lock
I set off mid-morning, so I could get moored up at Bascote by lunchtime and it was blue skies all the way:
I soon reached the bottom lock of the four locks at Bascote. This area is a great place to moor as it is about ½ mile from the nearest road and that’s just a country lane leading to the main Southam/Leamington road.
Waiting for Bascote bottom lock to empty
The top two locks form a staircase and I shared these with a Welsh couple who had been on their hire boat for nearly a week. As is often the case, they were full of questions about owning and living on a narrowboat and the rotten weather of the last week hadn’t put them off having the dream.
Following the hire boat into the staircase lock – the top gates are much higher as they are also the bottom gates of the next lock in the staircase
I had had the washing machine on whilst we were cruising so I stopped at the water point at Bascote to top up with water. I usually tie the boat up at the front and back, so it doesn’t move about when boats pass, but this time I was lazy and tied the boat on its centre line only.
I keep the hose in the gas locker at the front and never have a problem getting it out or putting it back in. Of course, as the boat was tied in the centre only, I had to be careful not to push the boat out at the front when getting the hose out. All was fine (I have done it hundreds of times before) but for some reason I didn’t notice the boat moving out when I was putting one of the plant pots back. I had one leg on the boat and one on the bank and the next thing I knew I was in the water!
I thought it would only be a few feet deep as I was by the bank and I would just go in to my waist. But no, it must have been over six feet deep as I went right under and took a while to feel the bottom. Even though it was a warm sunny day the water was freezing, and I managed to scramble out by holding the bank and the boat and pulling myself up. Amazingly I had managed to let go of the plant pot as I fell leaving it on the front of the boat.
Checking my phone still worked after the dunking
That meant another load of washing which rather defeated the object of filling up in the first place as I also used up more water by having a shower to warm up, oh, and to get clean too I suppose 😉
The best moorings at Bascote are the other side of the bridge beyond the water point and, for the first time we have ever seen, there were no boats there, so I had the place to myself.
Moored at Bascote
After lunch Buddy and I went for a walk along the railway cutting as I hoped to see a few butterflies on the wing.
The railway cutting maintained for the landowner by the Warwickshire branch of Butterfly Conservation
I didn’t see as many butterflies as I had hoped, considering the warm weather, but found six Brimstones and also a Comma with part of its right hind wing missing. All of these would have spent the winter hibernating as adults.
The Comma (my first butterfly picture of 2018)
Looking across to our boat from the disused railway viaduct above the River Itchen
Before I go I must include a picture sent to me by Aileen. She and Mike have just set out on their second year travelling the French waterways on their narrowboat; the system shuts down in winter, so they are glad to be on the move again. Aileen sent me this as she was excited to see their first stanking plank store of 2018 😊
|They must have met up with Brits in the lock as the narrowboat is definitely not theirs (unless they got bored over winter and repainted it)|