29 June 2008

Day two

Well it’s just one excitement after another on this trip...the Northgate staircase with none too surreptitious drug dealing on the side was today’s highlight. Let’s deal with the staircase first – what a simply magnificent structure! It looked as though it had been roughly hewn out of the very city walls such was its rugged intensity. The cavernous chambers echoed about you before starting to press in as you dropped ever lower, eventually escaping back into the light, like a diver coming up for air. Actually I just wanted to get away from the drug peddling local youth who were so stoned that they risked falling into the lock and making a mess of my boat. As soon as I was tapped up for change, I felt a little frisson of uncertainty that had me reaching for the garden implement that is actually a small scythe (for trimming back vegetation) and doesn’t really look like a machete. No, honestly, officer, it doesn’t. Anyway, at that point A and A came back up from setting the staircase and with their windlasses in hand and in my A’s case, a generous girth, they didn’t look as though they should be tangled with. As it happened, the two lads were quite disinterested, merely waiting for a ‘customer’ and they went off with him but not before merrily getting their drugs out of their pockets for everyone to see. It wasn’t exactly covert.... I think Her Majesty may have the pleasure of those two before too long.

But that was about the only excitement we had today. The run up to Chester was very smooth, sharing the locks with a couple on Helena Jean. We got a good locking rhythm going, with one of us walking ahead to set the next look and at just after midday we were both tying up on the moorings before bridge 123E. There’s a Tesco just a one minute walk away and the town centre is about a two minute walk away so it’s the height of convenience. None of us had been to Chester before but A attested to its similarity to Canterbury, so I’ll take his word for it. Feeling a bit hungry after the morning’s run, we looked out for somewhere to eat and settled on Fiesta Havana. Mountainous plates of tortillas and fajitas rendered us somewhat somnolent, a state not helped by the beers and smoothies that were also consumed. Thus the afternoon’s chug round to the visitor moorings at bridge 134 was a bit of a struggle, with personal pleas for a belly hoist going unanswered. It’s quite possible that we will never eat again...Sadly the weather deteriorated and the louring skies finally dumped their load all over us. Or should I say, on those who remained stoically on deck despite the downpour and despite a gastric distension that ill became a trad stern. To think I married a wimp who has to go and have a lie down after too much guacamole...

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