19 May 2010

Don't mention the C word

My life flashed in front of my eyes this evening: we had a C-A-T incident. At this point Sue and Richard of Indigo Dream are doing that ‘sharp intake of breath’ thing, knowing exactly what we’ve experienced and now wondering whether the C-A-T in question made it. Well, I’m pleased to see that my lot, who are increasingly like the cast of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, couldn’t catch a bloody cold let alone a cat and all they got for their troubles was a load of scratches in intimate places as they ran around like lunatics in search of some feline fun. Serves them right, picking on a one-eyed moggy. But as I saw what was unfolding my heart missed several beats as it jumped into my mouth – I had stupidly (yes, this was my fault undoubtedly) let the dogs off once we’d moored up and I honestly thought that they’d be dying for a wee and I could just do my usual and clip their leads on as they cocked or crouched. Oh no. Tiddles decided to show himself and all hell broke loose but as I said, my lot are getting a bit past it now and simply couldn’t cope with the superior intelligence and agility of puss. The cat went to ground in some very thick bushes and my lot gave up the hunt as we all grabbed for their collars, me profusely apologizing to the cat owner (from the boat next door) who was, thankfully, pretty relaxed about the whole thing. It took a while for her to tempt the cat out again with some food, but we stayed as we were anxious to know whether the dogs had inflicted any damage; during this time, the husband appeared and rather than the 6’ 6” Graeco-Roman wrestler I was fearing (because that’s the sort of luck we have normally) he turned out to be a dead ringer for Ashley out of Coronation Street. Was our luck turning? A totally intact cat that was brought out of its hiding place minutes later would seem to suggest so. More than can be said for poor Arthur…somehow, despite the fact that he was last to the cat hunting party due to a five minute whizathon, he was the only one who sustained an injury with a little cut to his head. Bless.

Anyway, a quick glass of red soon steadied the nerves and I berated myself for being so foolish as not to have had them on their leads from the off. I can’t blame the dogs for following their instincts so it really is a case of bad mummy. We’ve had quite a day of it really…no-one stirred till 9am this morning, and when we finally decided to set off, we hit mechanical trouble. Something to do with the battery isolator switch which went on the wonk and isolated everything whether we wanted it to or not. A soon settled its hash by bypassing it and we’ll aim to fit a replacement as soon as we get to a decent chandlery. However, this unexpected delay in setting off meant we avoided bumping into the massive Fusedale H on a bend; we were still safely tied up on our mooring as it nosed its way out of the lock and carefully past us. We’d been passed earlier by Ferndale H loaded for Whitwood and so it seemed that meeting a really big bugger in a really awkward location wasn’t written in the stars for us. No….instead, I got to play chicken with the returning Ferndale H as it came down to Bulholme Lock unloaded. I was leaving the lock, he was coming towards it and I took the decision to keep left and head for the protection of the visitor moorings. Now we don’t have VHF radio (that’s the first purchase when we get back) and the BW man wasn’t there to tell so he could pass it on, so we had me giving it full wellie and heading left, trying to be as clear in my intentions as possible, and Ferndale H lining up for the lock and not really seeming to care if I was in the way. He kept coming, I gave it more throttle, the lee of the visitor moorings was getting closer, so was his huge bow, I was now at full chat and just in time slipped into the space behind a wide beam….before having to hit full reverse lest I bump him right up the bum. Well, it didn’t happen exactly like that but it had you going didn’t it? Seriously, there was never a moment’s concern, these barge guys really are the pros out there and very friendly with it. But I did have to move my ass out of that lock though…

The day had one last challenge for us – Lemonroyd Lock. I’m not sure why I found it so much more disconcerting than the others but…oh hang on, maybe it’s because it’s 10 miles long and 100 feet deep and has all the appeal of a wet crypt. I think it’s 13’ 6” if truth be told but it still makes for a really cavernous chamber and the modern brick construction makes it feel very clinical and oppressive. I stuck the centre line round one of the poles that run the length of the lock and clung on for grim death as A pressed his button but I needn’t have worried. BW have set these locks up perfectly for boater operation, the paddles going up very slowly to ensure you don’t get tossed about. In several we haven’t even bothered with any ropes going up, and we’ve been fine – can’t believe that I was a bit anxious about all these mechanized locks at the beginning of the hols.

The run up to Lemonroyd was interesting – it felt less like the environs of Leeds and more like the Mekong Delta with the river stretching smoothly and silently ahead, trees kissing the water and a preternatural quietness that had me looking out for the Viet Cong on one side and Rambo on the other. In the event, it was not Mr Stallone but Mr Swan who got me, hissing at my heels as he chased me off his territory. I was relieved to get moored up just past Woodlesford Lock…and then wished we hadn’t as the C-A-T incident kicked off. Tomorrow it’s Leeds – and leads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My heart was in my mouth - both for the cat and for the dogs, as cat bites can be lethal! So glad that everyone got out unscathed (apart from poor old arthur - it had to be him - hope his scratch heals well).

As they say in the Harry Potter books - "Constant Vigilance" - not for dark wizards but for cats!!

The locks sounded very hairy as well - I thought boating was meant to be relaxing!

Sue, Indigo Dream

ps. had my blood pressure checked yesterday - after a week on the boat it was so low they almost called the undertaker!!!!