Grumpy Old Me!

Wide awake at 7:00 a.m. this morning, and pondering over a coffee, we wondered what’s the best thing to do travel wise. Outside the heavens had opened, and the rain was once again lashing down.

We double checked both the BBC’s weather website, and Accuweather to see if their weather forecasts had a general ‘theme’ to what today’s weather’s likely to be.  We were disappointed that both were rather negative. Though there looked to be a positive slot at 11:00 a.m. which made us optimistic.

For breakfast we had what John calls a ‘Scania Hubcap’, commonly called a full English breakfast – for the main purpose of cheering us up, and knowing we’ve got six locks to do in the dreariest of weather!

At 11:00 a.m as predicted, the sun came out, though the clouds still looked ominous, and were not to be trusted. Cyan was cast off for our 3 mile cruise to the 6 Blackburn locks. The cruise through Blackburn was not one of the best journeys, the canal was filthy with strewn office chairs, bottles, beer cans, the usual detritus. The scenery was of derelict factories, and office premises. We couldn’t wait to get through Blackburn (sorry if I’ve offended anyone – I don’t mean to offend).

We did pass a lovely swan family, mum and dad taking great care of their sleepy ‘big’ babies.

Eventually we arrived at Blackburn Top Lock, I was on locking duty as I’m craftily ‘saving’ John’s arthritic knee for lock duties when we go down the Wigan flight of 20 odd locks!

The wind at Blackburn top lock was vicious, and it was a taster for what was to come!

Just as Cyan was almost lowered to the bottom of the ‘top lock’, another boat appeared behind us. It was a hire boat, the crew consisted of Dad, Mum, an 11 year old boy, and (to the boy) his ‘annoying’ 6 year old sister. Both kiddies were lovely. As soon as Mum was within hearing distance, I told her we’d wait in the next lock for them, so we could go down the locks together. I did wonder at the time if I’d done the right thing, as the six year old was the sort who had bags of confidence, she was a lightweight, and the wind was fierce! Kids scare me at locks.

At lock 2, and just before the Mum and I opened the gates to let both of our boats out of the lock, two ladies appeared with windlasses in their hands. The gist of the conversation was, we leave the gates open for their boats, and they will leave the gates open for us at lock 3. Great! Except when I got to lock 3, the ladies’ boats were only just about entering the lock.

My thought at the time was for John steering Cyan, and the ‘Dad’ steering the hire boat; having to moor up, or tread water in the pound, between the locks in the wind. Mooring wasn’t possible as there weren’t any convenient bollards, and to hold onto the centre line was fraught with a battle with the high wind.

It appeared there was one man and a child helping to raise the two boats in Lock 3. When I got there I went over the bridge to shut the bottom gate, and then I opened the two sluices to let the water into the locks. Then it dawned on me, why were those two women waiting at Lock 2, when they should be helping lock their own boats out of the lock? I was now getting miffed. Hands on hips (typical stance when upset) I watched both boats sail out of the lock without a backward glance, I waited for a thank you! None came! Grrr so I shouted after them… I can’t remember what I said, but they knew I was angry.

John by this time had let Cyan settle on the off-side of the canal alongside a high stone wall, where the wind had pushed them. As one of the boaters passed John, the man said that they’d upset his ‘partner’ at the lock, and he didn’t know what he’d done wrong. But that he was very sorry!

The swell of water as the two boats passed Cyan, apparently pushed Cyan further into the bank by the high wall – lifting her onto a ledge! Disaster!

Cutting a long story short, after lots of rocking the boat, and attempts pushing Cyan ‘off’ with a pole, the situation seemed dire! In the end I jumped onto the bow of the hire boat at the bank, after which the ‘Dad’ reversed the hire boat until the bow was level with Cyan’s stern. At this point I caught Cyan’s stern rope, and tied it to the hire boat’s bow. Following a few ‘urgent’ revs of the engine which was in reverse, Cyan was freed!

At the next 3 locks, the sluices had been accidentally (or ignorantly) left open by the ‘troublesome’ boaters.

Not to worry, we’ve put this down to experience! Especially now that we’ve settled on our mooring in a rather nice area just before Riley Green.

Today we’ve travelled 6.5 miles, and ‘endured’ 6 locks. Wifi is around 14Mg, and TV is OK.

Tomorrow we’re going down 7 Johnson’s Hillock locks – ‘please kindly pray for us’ 🙂

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