So we are finally underway on what feels like our first journey of real purpose on Enceladus. Up to now, it’s been all little out and back bimbles which, while always very pleasant, lack the intent and interest of an A to B. We’re en route to the HNBC’s historic boat gathering at Brownhills on the Wyrley and Essington, going via Brum central to catch a concert. The first mate and I have been joined by canine crew Rosie and Buzz, who are already feeling the pace and it’s only day three.
Thus far, it’s been a super couple of days, helped in no small part by the stunning weather. We dropped down Stockton on our own and then picked up a couple of Kate Boats hirers to accompany us down through the rest, including a delightful family from Frankfurt who never stopped smiling and who had obviously fallen completely head over heels in love with the canals. That they will be back I have no doubt. Indeed, judging from both the emptiness of the UCC, Calcutt and Kate bases, the hiring season is obviously off to a cracking start, buoyed no doubt by all the recent telly PR. This is another very good thing…how many of us started by hiring? How vital is it for our collective future to have a successful – and influential – hire boat industry? And yet some people can be very funny about hirers. Now I’m not a sanctimonious cow, I’ve been known to have a tut and a tsk when a hirer does a silly, but I am quick to chide myself. I still cock up even now so most of the time I try to help, to smile and encourage and get a quick discourse in on why the Llangollen isn’t the only game in town.
Yesterday was a game of two halves, a decent ascent up Hatton with the assistance of the lovely Lesley off Yarwood. She undertook the chief baby minding role and in her company Andy was quite transformed from the begrudging lockwheeler into a happy little camper – she can come again. Indeed, it sounds as if during their little lock beam tete a tetes he had lined her up for any flight with more than 10 locks. After a quick pit stop for bacon rolls Lesley headed off on her trusty Brampton while we headed on to the Tom o the Wood moorings. It reminded me yet again of how beautiful, but how unheralded, this stretch of the GU is. Okay, the weather was a bonus especially as the blossom is just coming into bloom, but it is scintillating. Maybe people are just too focused on the big descent/ascents coming up to savour the in-between stretch but savour it I did yesterday. Along with more cake.
The only other thing of note is a running battle with the Lister, which wants to chuck its oil out while we’d much prefer that it kept it in. The finger of suspicion is on one of the copper washes on the oil filter but no amount of nipping up is helping and it’s simply ruining my engine room housekeeping! It has rather caught us on the hop as Andy prefers to stick to his areas of expertise and not fiddle as an enthusiastic amateur (he’s seen the damage that can do in his day job) so we may seek some professional assistance in the week. Failing that, I’ll be doing the rounds of owners at Brownhills!