Off again

We’re off boating again Brum-wards at the weekend. Good planning or bad planning to be back to it so soon after our Easter outing? Well I’m in the ‘good’ corner, Andy is chuntering in the ‘bad’, but it’s actually neither, more down to necessity. This is a change boat week, the mission to relocate Henry from Cheshire to the South West in the only window available, and to be strictly accurate we’ll be swerving Brum, hanging a right at Autherley and hey ho for Stourport and the Severn. It’s an easy trip in the timeframe even given my need to weave in work, and Henry has the distinct advantage over Enceladus of allowing one to have a phone conversation while you’re ambling along and having a better than evens chance of hearing what the other person is saying.

If we could only bottle moments like this

The road is also familiar to us, with both the Shroppie and Staffs and Worcester travelled in the last 18 months so we know where we fit and where we don’t, which should spare us the ‘mooring up maritals’ that seem to afflict us on occasion. We’re heading back to the region for the summer and maybe beyond because, quite frankly, it’s fab with a capital, Thunderbirds-esque FAB. I had been on the Worcester & Birmingham with dad many years before, one of those sunny, dreamy afternoon descents of Tardebigge that gets etched into your soul – I was lucky to see it at all to be honest as I’d lost my left contact lens the day before and by magic found it on the back deck glinting in the sun 24 hours later. A couple of hours’ rehydration and I was squinting happily across field and orchard…

Doric, not Ionic, in Gloucester

Strange that as of 2014 I had not yet returned, given my happy recollections and given that there was new ground to be broken too, always an extra incentive for us. So come July that year we finally pointed our bows westwards and enjoyed an excellent time on the Gloucester & Sharpness, W&B, Severn, Avon and southern Stratford. It didn’t disappoint, not a jot of it. Indeed it pleased and delighted at that very visceral level, where it just feels ‘right’ and you form that comfortable connection, inexplicable as it is, that just pings you back like an umbilical chord.

We enjoyed a veritable cornucopia of highlights and it would be invidious to pick out one, although Andy’s serendipitous finding of the Handmade Scotch Egg shop (Egg’cetera) in Worcester and our so-beautiful-it-hurts mooring at Splat would certainly make it onto a shortlist (never underestimate the importance of a good Scotch egg to a man “who hath an excellent stomach” – thanks Will S). It was also the location for another corker of a domestic, and let’s face it, no trip is complete without a good old-fashioned ruck and petulant after-sulk. We can’t be the only couple who remember a certain lock or VM by the MOAB-style domestic that ensues? We are? Oh…

Splatt Bridge…I coveted that fat boat for a bit

It was all Wyre Lock’s fault, that and it’s daft diamond shape. Even if we had been minded to tie up (and yes, I know it’s an ANT diktat to tie off fore and aft but we rarely deploy ropes in locks and it hadn’t caused an issue up to now) it wasn’t exactly clear how best to do so, so I just sat in the middle and waited for Andy to raise the paddles. It’s only got a 3 ½ foot rise so I wasn’t expecting any issues at all…except that the pesky flows and eddies of the filling lock took the bow of my short boat and span it all the way until I was broadside in the chamber, wedged firmly by rear and front fenders. Andy thought I was a total div for losing control, I returned the compliment by denigrating his paddle raising technique. It was all low level taunts, with a bit of sweary abuse for colour and texture, but it hadn’t gone nuclear. Then I realised that wedged actually meant stuck and the water level was still rising. Now in the moment – given that I am permanently on the edge of neurosis and disaster is always just seconds away from paying us a social call – I declared DefCon 1. We would be engulfed by a rising tide, not, as most likely would happen and most sane, normal people would realise, just eventually bob up and come free – but where’s the drama in that? Now, reader, I would so like, in developing situations like these, to adopt the calm assurance and measured tones of the commercial airline pilot, but truth is, I turn into a panicky, screaming harpie of a fishwife. What can I say?

My angry bellowed shout to Andy, whose insouciance and ignorance of the impending calamity only dialed up the gob factor, to drop the ‘beep’ ‘beep’ ‘beepity beep’ paddles was met with a stare and a truculent slowness to react. I explained the scenario, relying on simple four-letter words for clarity. Agonisingly he finally wound them down, his body language signifying that he thought that I could just sod off, which I would have done if I’d not still been inconveniently wedged across the lock. Take the rope, I shouted, thinking that he could pull me free and have me facing more or less straight before finding somewhere to tie off to. So he takes the rope and then proceeds to pull me round – the other way, so I’m about to face the way that we’ve just come! Well, you can imagine the polite discourse that followed what I deemed to be an act of either wilful disobedience or crass idiocy…merchant bankers came into it somewhere, I forget where, possibly the same place where the sun doesn’t shine. Eventually, after much huffing and puffing and questioning of parentage we were facing forward, tied off and going up. Gates opened, first mate hopped on and then we had about two hours of concentrated, venomous silence that was only broken by me, in the spirit of penitence and because I was bloody hungry, offering him a conciliatory Scotch egg to share. After twenty years, I know all his weak spots…



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1 Response to Off again

  1. Lisa says:

    Yes I agree this does sound scary. I certainly would have been screaming, maybe running away too.
    Glad you two were both friends after only two hours.


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