Tuesday 20 September 2011


My best beloved was practising her tiller skills. Morning rain meant there was little traffic and a large margin for the occasional error as she taught her brain and arm to respond correctly to a required change of direction. We were coming sweetly round a corner between bridges 1 and 2 on the Leek branch of the Caldon when there was a lurch and a crunch and the boat tilted over to the right as it ground to a halt. The water level was fine, especially with the rain – it was the bottom that was the problem, and the boat seemed to be caught half way along its length, responding to our initial attempts for freedom by simply pivoting about that point. So we rocked and thrashed the engine in reverse and got out the long pole to push away from the bank. Eventually we floated free and continued on our way.

We're steadily getting used to not being grounded at all. We don't have to be anywhere in particular until my next physio appointment a week today, and that can be postponed if we feel like it. Yet my retirement is not yet complete – I'm in daily contact with the IT department at the college to help with all the database work that has to be done at the start of the academic year. Retired or not? It's a bit like those sub-atomic particles which don't decide where they are or what they're doing until you look at them and ask.

So here we are, moored at Leek, enjoying a coffee after lunch. In a minute we'll wander along the towpath into town. The rain has stopped and it's warming up. We're well chilled.


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