Friday, 6 September 2013

Full waterproofs

As promised, it rained. On the basis of the pictures on the BBC weather website we waited until a lull around midday before starting out. Time for a nice, fortifying cup of coffee. Didn't really want to move, but it wasn't too bad once we got going. Largely to do with wearing the complete set of sailing waterproofs my friend Christian had lent me, over a pair of wellies, and topped with the waterproof hat I bought a couple of years ago in, of all places, W H Smith at a service station on the M40. No photos today – no surprise.

I'd forgotten how deep the Stoke locks are. Last year we came through them southwards. It's quite a different matter to go up them – feels a bit like pot-holing as you enter each cavern with (excuse the poetic licence) the sky just visible at the top. At the last one my best beloved just could not shift one of the bottom gates, so I climbed up the ladder to help. Was it 20 steps? Seemed like it, and Erin Mae was an awful long way down once I reached the top. So I closed the bottom gate and we went to open the paddles on the top gate. That was when we found that, on this lock, they have an anti-vandal device fitted. For which you need a special key. Guess where ours was – in a box at the front of Erin Mae. So it was carefully back down the ladder – felt a bit like something out of Hornblower when the poor lad in the crow's nest is required to report to the captain in person. Or the barrel of bricks story told by Gerard Hoffnung (and others). Up I went again with the key – far more exercise, I should say, than I am accustomed to since my best beloved assumed lock-working duties.

Anyway, we survived, which is more than tonight's fire looks like doing – perhaps the Taybrite doesn't like being left all summer in the front locker. Should have wrapped it in something waterproof.


  1. Don't feel bad ,we did exactly the same thing when we were on our way up last month. We had never encountered it locked before either!

    1. You'd think they'd put a waterproof notice at the bottom of the ladder – "Don't forget your water conservation key"!