Monday 26th May
If it hadn’t got dark last night we’d have gone to our beds in glorious sunshine – if you see what I mean. This morning we are back to fifty shades of very wet grey, with added drizzle. We left our wonderfully peaceful mooring and cruised down through Whitchurch, Mapledurham and Caversham locks before making an emergency stop at Tescos in Reading – we’d run out of tea bags.
And so it was, after two failed attempts, we finally made it onto the K&A using plan D(a) only a month later than plan A should have happened. There was a procession of boats belonging to Burghfield Island Cruising Club, who’d had a weekend out at Beale Park, so we knew we would be following a few boats up through Blakes lock and the Oracle narrows. There were two boats going up through Blakes when we arrived and they said that we could go through County lock with them. They had an advance party who were going to turn the lock after they’d passed through and then ring to tell us to set off. We were assured that all three boats would fit into County lock and so we should all travel up together. While they waited on the upstream lock landing we managed to get through Blakes, sharing with a live aboard boater who owned “Dog of the day”
Brenda was busy taking pictures of a Grebe on her nest when the man and dog arrived behind us. The young chap observed what she was doing and addressed his large, stocky dog – the sort that swallows cats whole given half the chance (in Brenda’s mind). It was told to sit, stay and no woofing or he’d disturb the resting mum. The dog looked and did exactly that. Owner and dog had luvverly manners.
When the phone call arrived, we were informed that there was a boat coming down and once we’d passed that we could come on up through the Oracle and into the prepared lock. Now County lock ate a boat last month (one of the reasons we failed to get access to the K&A after Easter) and isn’t calm waters at the best of times.
Thought for the day :- listen to experts but just consider that they may not be expert nor be right.
One we had joined the procession, fighting it’s way up through the Oracle, the plan was for all three boats to share County lock. Brenda enquired whether we would all fit and was assured that we could. After two hefty whacks, a mild panic and disobeying orders to avoid being sucked into the weir stream, she managed to get all but the last 6 feet of Jannock into the lock. Clearly we would not all fit. Out she came onto the lock landing. Once through, off they went wondering if we’d manage, be safe, get out alive. It was easy, not that anyone hung back to make sure we were OK.
Onto Fobney lock, renowned for it’s bypass stream entering at 90 degrees to the lock mouth, which after all this rain was also fierce. But we stuck to our own plan and it too was fine. Time for a cuppa now that we had replenished the tea caddy. As we were leaving the lock another boat had arrived below to ascend behind us. We offered to wait at Southcot for them to share. After about 15 minutes they eventually arrived and didn’t notice we were sat there with one gate open waiting for them. They pulled onto the lock landing and then we surprised to see me waiting by the open gate for them to enter.
As Brenda struggled to get a wet rope off of the lockside bollard, the woman on the other boat put hers onto the bollard on her side. Having seen that Brenda had taken her rope in she asked if Brenda was happy to just bang about in the lock. Brenda replied that she tended not to, just moving back and forward as necessary. She huffed and said that she’d only put her rope onto the bollard as Brenda had hers there so Brenda explained that it had been to hold Jannock into the side of the lock awaiting their arrival. She then tried to recover her rope but got it tangled in a bicycle, some wood, plant pots and assorted clutter.
I suggested that both boats should pull out of the lock together so that the crew could be picked up easily after closing the top gates. She assured us that there was no point in closing gates behind you on the K&A as they only swing open again. So Jannock edged out and she didn’t. Much to their annoyance, I closed my top gate and they had to hang back whilst Brenda found a place to pick me up from. At that point it was obvious that the gate I had closed did not swing back open again. We’d had enough of the rain so decided to stop at the Cunning Man moorings for the night so that we didn’t have to share another lock.