09 April 2009

Emergency ward quay

Well I’m sitting at the dinette and things are back to normal. A is scowling at his laptop, threatening it with violence and the dogs are vying for ‘nearest the Squirrel’ supremacy, with Miffy close to opening the door and hopping in. I, meanwhile, am basking in the afterglow of being a good citizen, having come to the rescue of an epileptic on the quay at Northwich. Lots of flashing lights and flagging down of ambulances, much hand-holding and sympathetic words and at last Tony was taken off to hospital, the paramedics perhaps more concerned with his cider consumption that morning than the small fit he’d had. Unfortunately that left Tony’s friend Alan all alone with his cider bottle but actually he was more in need of someone to talk to – cue a fascinating life story (or possible Walter Mitty complex) that involved being recently diagnosed with stomach cancer, getting home one day with Tony to the house they shared with Tony’s girlfriend to find her dead and being subsequently charged with murder, although she was declared to have died of natural causes. And for good measure, there was the confession that, despite denials to his friend Tony that he was not having an affair with the girlfriend, the girlfriend had in fact thrown herself onto him as he kipped innocently on the sofa in his jimjams. He relayed verbatim what the girlfriend asked him to do next, at which point I coughed and made my excuses, citing limited passage times at Vale Royal Locks for my impromptu haste to get away. I mean, you couldn’t make it up could you?

After all that drama, the afternoon’s cruise down towards Winsford could have been a huge anti-climax but was saved by the wonderful workings of the two locks we went through. Unlike the automated locks at Saltersford and Dutton, Hunts and Vale Royal need manual working – not so bad on the diddy Hunts Lock but a real physical effort at the big Vale Royal one. They have to wind up these massive paddles which have steroidal gear and handles and then, to open the gates, they have to walk round and round and round with what looks like a butty ‘ellum stuck in a slot. Then they have to reverse the procedure, open the paddles at the other end and before they can let you go, they need to wind open – by hand – a bridge that rather inconveniently spans the chamber. They earn their money do those boys!

At Hunts I was reunited with lovely lockie Chris who had seen me on my way through Saltersford on Saturday and when I rang to alert them to our approach, he remembered me and asked me whether I was still on my own. He had a colleague with him as both these locks are two-man working and he was just as friendly, as were the two at Vale Royal. In fact, the Weaver lockies are some of the very best BW employees I’ve ever come across and it’s such a shame they don’t get to work more boats through…although the Vale Royal chaps may be pleased about that…

We moored up in a strengthening wind and immediately released the hounds who had a mad gallop about the place – we can see along the towpath either way which is a real boon – and that small amount of exercise seems to have done for them. Which makes for a peaceful boat, well at least for another 30 minutes or so until Ranger’s dinner alarm goes off…

Also enjoyed some retail therapy in Northwich prior to Casualty, flexing the plastic in the marvellous Bratts cookware shop. I didn’t think it would be long post-inverter project before we succumbed to a toaster because our grill is absolutely hopeless, you may as well ask Monty to breathe on the bread…and a girl has to have a decent grill pan…and a big sauté pan for home…and a sharp grater….and, okay, a lemon zester too, but honestly, I haven’t done any serious shopping for weeks!

Tomorrow will probably be a stay put and mooch day, although we'll definitely walk back up the cut and see the work going on at Vale Royal small lock, and I'm in a foraging for firewood mode too - the adjacent embankment looks as though it could contain untold riches. Now all I need is for A's laptop to work properly and I'm all set for a heavenly Easter. Have a happy and safe one wherever you are.


indigodream said...

Have a lovely bank holiday - it sounds as if you're in the perfect spot for it. Moorings where you can just let the dogs have a run are priceless.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Chuck
Sue's right, if you're where I think you are, it's a lovely spot. And I agree about the Weaver lockies; some of the nicest guys we've met.