Saturday 20th July
Whilst we were sitting in the bows last evening a 70’ narrowboat slowly chugged past and started to turn in the winding hole. At the stern, in sole charge, was a lad of about 14. With a great degree of skill and no little amount of technique he made the turn with only a couple of feet to spare. As they passed us again we told his grand/parents, who were sat in the bows of their boat, that they should be proud. They are. We then made the same complimentary remarks to the lad as he passed. “Oh No” says he “I’ve been doing that since I was little!” We pointed out that he should be even more proud in that case as he has a great skill. He looked quite bemused, said he supposed so, thanked us for our kind words and chugged off.
Now, if he had sort of skill for, say, keepy uppies or computer games I’m sure he would not have been so reticent. I wonder if it will appear as a personal achievement on any of his school records. Kids, be proud even if no-one much cares about what it is that you do well. A short while later the Norbury Wharf Party boat appeared and winded in the same place. That manoeuvre involve a lot more engine revving and propeller thrashing than the lads turn did.
Our first sighting of a Kingfisher in 2013 occurred near the aquaduct above Wheaton Aston. We stopped for diesel at Wheaton Aston. When one refuels at motorway services there are a myriad of shoppertunities – check out Rod Giberts views on the subject. What I have never seen for sale at other refuelling stops are a set of drain rods or a chimney sweeps brush. So, should you find that your life lacks either, get along to Wheaton Aston. It’s on the way to Audlum transport rally next weekend. We passed the working boat ‘Scopio’ en-route to Audlum – with the heat we’ve had recently we decided it should be re-named ‘Scorchio’
Down to Autherly Junction with very little to report apart from meeting numerous working boats heading North, not too dissimilar to our trip back down the Ashby the week before the rally up there a couple of years ago. Brenda turned Jannock north onto the Staffs and Worcs with a little help from the centre rope used as a pivot point.
Today we found that Gailey is mis-named. Between us, Brenda and I managed to upset about four people without really trying. As we approached Gailey lock a Viking Afloat boat crew were being instructed on boat handling by moving the craft in and out of the wharf adjacent to the lock. Brenda held Jannock back to give them room while I walked up to prepare the lock. I spotted a working boat approaching the empty lock so I started opening the bottom gates for them. Having opened the first I was just about to step across to get the other when it was rammed open by the boat. The female steerer took offence when I pointed out that she could not see if any-one was stood by the balance beam and so her action was very dangerous. As they ascended, the Viking Afloat boat with tutor, emerged once again and lined up ready to enter the lock. Tutor was not happy when I pointed out that Jannock had been waiting and was to be next through.
Once we were through Gailey lock, he turned it against a boat approaching from below even though we had told him that they were there. At Brick Kiln lock the top gate was wide open and the lock full as we approached. A lass appeared from below and was about to lift the paddles to empty it when she noticed that the top gate was wide open. As she walked towards that end I called to let her know that we were about to enter. She said that they were there first but I explained that the lock was ready and in our favour so she should not turn it. She strode off back to her boat swearing about having to wait another 30 minutes. Excuse me, we are not that slow locking down!
Onward through four more locks to Penkridge where we moored for the night just below Filance lock. During our walk around the pretty village of Penkridge I noticed that a Chip shop in the centre sold not just chips but also "’battered chips!’ Against all of Brenda’s protestations I had to try some but they had run out of the special coating that they use. The proprietor explained that it is a very light batter that is similar to tempura.