11 May 2010

Hebble heaven

We have something severely hampering our choice of moorings. It’s called Arthur. I’m afraid the old boy is so aged and wonky these days that we’re having to find spots that have ‘doggy disabled access’ ie where the bank is preferably level with the gunwale of the boat. Like tonight. He’s in his element, just stepping on and off. Not like Wakefield, where he faffed about putting his paw up and down, up and down, deciding whether the leap up was manageable or presented a high risk of a ‘missed footing, wet bum’ incident. At one point we did consider putting the life jacket on him so we could lift him in by the handle – this extra disabled facility has been noted for future reference, mind.

So where are we then? Not sure, don’t care. Well, okay then, King’s Road Lock on the Aire & Calder, a nice open spot marred only by the thrum of the traffic on the M62.But I don’t care because it’s all so fab – more new territory, more new experiences, like exposing myself to the demon lock-keeper of old London town. As soon as we were in the first mechanized lock on the A&C, Birkwoods, I saw that glint in A’s eye. Then there was no mistaking his malevolent grin as he slipped the BW key into the control box….and bugger me if he didn’t try and close the gates before I’d even got through them. I was right, give him electricity and the boy becomes power mad! I suppose I should be thankful that I’m not still in there, going down for the 83rd time.

We bade a tearful farewell to the C&H at lunchtime, giving our trusty handspike one last loving caress before we tossed it carelessly in the back of the Narnia wardrobe aka the bedroom cupboard that swallows up seemingly endless tat. It certainly saved the best till last, the morning’s run from Dewsbury down to Wakefield most definitely ranking as one of our most pleasant pootles in a long, long time. Think Middlewich arm on a slightly larger scale and you’ll get the idea – amazing really when you think that we’re more or less skirting urban sprawl the whole time. But you’d never know and don't go telling everyone as it's secret....

Some idiot had set the alarm for six (oh, hang on, that would be me…) in a concerted effort to get some early morning cruising in. This is such a rare occurrence for us as a) we are genetically programmed to ignore all annoying beeping sounds and b) there’s too much of a to-do what with tea, ablutions, dogs and coffee to be away anytime before ten most days. But thanks to Miffy and her squeaky dance (her equivalent of the 4 minute warning and something that is simply too infuriating to ignore) I had to get up just ahead of the alarm unless I wanted the new sheepskin rugs baptized. And by the time she’d finished her crucial daily business and had a quick scamper back and forth, I was well awake and putting the kettle on. I took a cuppa to the creature from 50,000 fathoms who bore a passing resemblance to my husband and then managed to get everything squared away in time for a 7.30am departure. Now forget feeding the 5000, this was a genuine miracle. But we were rewarded for our superhuman efforts by one of those mornings that you just fantasize about when you’re stuck back at home – clear blue skies, sunshine, lush countryside, just you and your boat chugging quietly along in total solitude. Bliss, absolute perfect bliss.

Excited as we were to drop down onto the A&C, it was not without regret that we took our leave of a canal that should surely be better known and used – and invested in. A little TLC and a pot of money wouldn’t go amiss here, that’s for sure. The locks have got more holes in than my socks, which is saying something. You know the state of my pants, so the parlous state of my socks can easily be guessed at. Let’s hope there’s a decent programme of winter works coming its way…it may not be a fashionable canal, but it’s a pretty fantastic one in my book and we will certainly be back. And did I learn to use a handspike before we left? Yes, indeedy. I know exactly where to stick it now.


Jill and Graham said...

Boys just luvvvvv gadgets

Anonymous said...

Great to hear from you today - Oop north sounds fab.

Blue and Lou will need at least a year to recover from rummaging on the Nene before we visit the rummaging sites on the Calder and Hebble.

Enjoy the rest of your cruise - we'll be watching the blog with interest!

Sue, Indiugo Dream