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Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Return journey

The plan came together and I had the best cruising weather so far for my journey from Hawkesbury to Mancetter. I managed to get the same spot and was untroubled by any neighbours for my entire stay, just the way I like it! Here is a picture I took from the top of the hill opposite my boat.

1 small footprint

It reminded me again what a small footprint I have, and am. My wee 50 foot living space looks so small in the large landscape, but it is more than enough for me. I may have a small home, but what a garden!! It made me think how insignificant I am in the world as well. No one in that town behind my boat knew of my existence. I shall move on leaving no trace that I was ever there. Having had two careers where being significant to a lot of other people was par for the course, I can honestly say that anonymity suits me better now.

Mancetter, a suburb of Atherstone has some of the best signed footpaths I have ever seen. Lovely circular walks and good posts so there is little risk of getting lost. I wish more parishes followed suit. Here is Bonny panting to get started on an excellent woodland walk…

2 entrance to brill mancetter walk

The plan to stay through Tuesday was a good one as it rained without pause from when I first woke up at 7am until we went to bed at 10pm! I did walk the hour round trip into Atherstone to buy supplies and of course walk Bonny – three times! But not cruising was a good option and meant that we could explore more of this hidden gem. The Midlands keep surprising me. When I first came here, I expected cities and dark satanic mills, but even close to places like Nuneaton or Tamworth are the most beautiful areas of countryside.

Today (Wednesday) I started off at 8am to tackle the Atherstone flight while it was quiet. I felt I had cheated a bit on the way up by accepting lots of help, so this time I faced the 11 locks alone. And I really was alone. I only met one boat, a working boat at lock two and then no one else until lock 9. It meant that most of the locks were in my favour which really helped, but because there were no other boats coming towards ,me, it meant I had to balance my boat at the tail of each lock and then climb back up to close the gates. I worked out that at each lock I opened or closed a gate 5 times and there were 11 locks, so that makes… my arms very tired!

I stopped at the bottom of the flight to water up and get rid of rubbish and then went on to Meadow bridge (is what it sounds like) to moor.

5 meadow bridge mooring

After a shower my arms still felt like limp spaghetti but I am happy that I can do 11 locks and 4 miles in less than 3.5 hours! It has hailed and rained this afternoon (after I was safely moored) but I am hoping it will dry up for our return to Hopwas tomorrow. My plan is to veg there till Sunday when I will very reluctantly return to Fradley to put my boat into dry dock for blacking and then return to work.

1 comment:

Marian and Roger said...

We have an interesting memory of Atherstone Locks. We moored Don't Panic below the bottom lock just before dusk on 31 August 2004. After dark another boat arrived and moored ahead of us (several had moored behind but none ahead). The next morning we got up at 5am in the dark. There was no sign of life on any of the boats. Marian didn't fancy taking the boat into the lock in the dark so put on a head-torch and went up to prepare the lock. I untied, started the engine and with as little noise as possible moved out and then forward at tick-over giving the boat moored ahead as wide a berth as possible. As I did so a man aboard slid back his hatch and loudly demanded what the bleep I thought I was doing!

This man was very angry with me. He said he was entitled to go up the locks first and that his wife had gone up to prepare the lock! I imagine my wife discovered this at about the same moment! I was contrite. I apologised and admitted I should have checked the lock before starting. I said I was very sorry and of course the lock was "his". But nothing I said would calm him down - he continued to berate me as if I was the devil incarnate. Meanwhile the two ladies at the lock were having a perfectly friendly chat while getting the lock ready together.

I waited for my apparent enemy to become calmer and then repeated my act of contrition, explaining that I had thought everyone to be asleep at 5am; I had made an honest mistake in not checking the lock for which I was very sorry and I repeated that, of course, he should use the lock ahead of me. This time he listened and understood. He became so nice that he said no, on the contrary, I should go ahead and use the lock as he wasn't quite ready to move (his boat was still firmly moored). Across the few metres of darkness between our boats he uttered the memorable words: "It's not worth an argument anyway - we're a long time dead!". The last part of which is indisputable.

In our passage up the locks as the sun rose and a beautiful morning slowly dawned, we led and prepared each lock for him to follow as we went. After just a few locks we were all friends and we parted so at the top of the flight.