23 May 2010

Toilet humour

I am writing this blog in the Ladies at Mumtaz. Yes, do read that again as it still won't make any sense. Let me explain. Mumtaz is a rather fab Indian (Kashmiri) restaurant in Clarence Dock. We went for dinner on Thursday night to celebrate our arrival in Leeds and the loos are so amazing that I've moved in. Never seen conveniences like them...there's even a bidet in here. I understand it's been blistering all weekend - wouldn't know, I've been chilling out surrounded by the finest porcelain and chowing down on a dustbin-sized peshwari naan I sneaked off a table. I wonder where A is? Are the dogs missing me? I wonder if I could nab some poppadums and a pickle tray?

Okay, okay, that's wishful thinking on my part. I've actually been melting all weekend at Apperley Bridge, where we stopped, hot, bothered and very tired on Friday evening. Mind, we had done our good deed for the day - cake rescue. Don't ask, because you'll only say I made it up. But where else other than the British canals could you be approached by a man on bike saying that he'd lobbed a bag of cream cakes at his friend's boat (moored on offside), they'd missed, landed in the cut and could we now please rescue them for him? Why would anyone want to throw cream cakes anywhere - they're quite delicate things aren't they? Now not only had they endured a lobbing, but they'd also had an unexpected immersion which probably wouldn't have done much good for them either, and now they were going to get speared by A as he hung off the side of the boat with the boat hook primed and ready. But by jove, he did it first go, and the cake bag was duly returned to its owner with his grateful thanks. Apparently, there was an apple inside the bag too. Don't you just love it? Cream cakes and an apple. That's like ordering half a dozen doughnuts and a diet Coke.

Now today, Monday, has been one of those little gems in the old cruising diary where everything has just plopped into place. After a weekend of total indolence and over patronisation of the wonderful Bridge Street CafĂ© (a classic Greek-run greasy spoon with a great line in lattes and bacon sandwiches), we finally set off this morning, still in bright sunshine, getting up the Dobson riser before stopping at the Apperley Bridge services for the always satisfying ‘empty, empty, full’ routine. I was even able to swap a duff BW credits card for a working one, and buy a spare – not sure the pump out machine there had the best suck as it was still going when we ran out of time but I think we’ve hoovered out enough to get us through the rest of the week. Then it was onward, ever onward, through the Field riser where a blueshirt helped us through, and then to Shipley. There we were helped out at swing bridge 209 by a lady from an adjacent snack wagon who was obviously used to lending a hand judging by the way she took charge – A just looked on like a spare part, eyeing up her menu (she was a pretty blond so it says a lot about A that he was fixed on the eats rather than the cook!) Whether it was a clever promotional gambit I don’t know as we’d been eyeing up her wares before she stepped in but her kindness sealed the deal, and we traded helping hands for bacon and sausage sandwiches. Then in Saltaire, we came upon the ice cream boat – ah, pudding! So another quick stop as I ordered two 99 cones and the race was on to eat them before a) they melted and b) we got to the next lock as there’s no windlass belt I know that can take a handle, a handcuff key and a cornet.

We decided to call it a day early and the final part of the jigsaw fell into place with some handy bollards and a decent depth under us for once just outside the Fisherman pub at Darley Gap. There’s no food on Monday evenings but a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor’s and a bag of crisps should hit the spot right enough. We’re pleased to get moored in a reasonably semi-rural spot to be honest – the VMs seem to be mostly in towns and the depth at the sides make casual mooring out in the country almost impossible. Despite some appealingly piled lengths and mown banks, there’s no way anything except the lightest plastic cruiser could get in – I’m assuming dredging has just been a casualty of the cash crisis but it makes you wonder what happens in busier times as there’s only so many VMs to go round and not everyone wants to be in a town. But that’s my only whinge about the L&L so far – everything else has been great. Plenty of facilities, plenty of blueshirts on the ground, fab scenery, hugely entertaining locks and swing bridges (entertaining for me watching A work up a sweat and humphing about this and that), it's been just swell.

The run out of Leeds city centre which we did on Friday was very surprising – attractively sylvan, the towpath well used by walkers, joggers and cyclists and no obvious reason why BW have an advisory on this stretch, to clear Leeds to Newlay in one go and not to moor overnight. I couldn’t resist asking and it seems that it’s no different to many urban stretches, so I’m curious as to why it’s picked out for special measures – apparently at weekends you get large congregations of youngsters and too often they cross the line, moving from plain old high spirits to something a little less savoury like harassing passing boaters. But during the week, especially in the morning, you shouldn’t have any problem at all so don’t let the rather dramatic BW advice put you off. There’s loads of BW help on the ground too – they’re in constant touch with one another, managing boats and water levels, and most of the risers will have seasonal blokes on to help you through so you won’t be wanting for assistance.

Right, I’m off for a pint and a packet of cheese & onion – Bingley tomorrow and A gets to be bossed around by Barry. Can’t wait.


Anonymous said...

The north sounds fab!

So good to know that they have decent loos up there - one never knows what one will find when one travels past Watford :-)

Sue, Indigo dream

jonali said...

It sounds like you're having fun. We went to Mumtaz when we were in Clarence dock and thought it was great. It's alcohol free and you get loads of Indian (and other) families in there without any local louts in for a beer and curry and chips.
The problem with mooring might be made worse by the lack of water on the L&L at the moment. there are now restrictions on all the locks from 1-91, with travelling through them apparently limited to between 9-4.30 according to BW.
best wishes
Ali (nbTormentil)

Dogsontour by Greygal said...

Yes, Ali, we're having a fab time - not too many problems caused by the water issues, thankfully, although as you say, mooring might be easier if the bottom wasn't so close to the top! Just think you need to persevere to find a spot. And we've been making careful notes of where others have successfully got in, in readiness for next time!!

All the best