Thursday, 14 April 2011

South with the Wests

(posted by Cath)

Sharing the oddly shaped Aynho Weir Lock
We seem to be finding it harder to get started early in the day, and finally got going at after 9:00 am, by which time several boats had passed  us.

We got to Somerton Deep lock to find a couple of boats ahead of us going down.  The people immediately in front of use were an elderly couple, by the time that we walked down to the lock they were using two windlasses at 180 degrees to each other, to try to start  moving the extremely stiff paddle gear.  

Chalice waits while Timothy West and Prunella Scales work through.
Alan crossed the lock, and raised the paddle on the other side, then walked back to me and said, "Don't make it obvious, but I think you might recognise these people". 

I looked, thinking Alan meant that I might have met them at a banter, but as the man raised his head from turning the paddles it became clear that I had seen him on television, as it was the actor, and canal campaigner, Timothy West.  His even more recognisable wife, Prunella Scales, was by now on the other side of the lock.  They turned out to be a charming couple, just people out boating, and enjoying the spring sunshine.  We followed them down through several locks, chatting as we went.  The reaction they provoked in people coming the other way was interesting, cameras came out, and nothing beyond the usual canal talk was said to them, but the passing boaters took the chance to say to me, that it was good to see people who publicly support the canals, actually using them.  I was surprised by Prunella Scales' very posh accent, as I'm used to seeing her playing a role, but even more surprised when she told me a somewhat saucy story!
Another attempt not to look like a paparazzi photographer!
The West's moored up, and we carried on South.  At one lock there was a BW flat coming up.  While I helped to work the flat through the lock, one of the workmen began to express his concerns about what would happen to the BW jobs when it becomes a charity. 
And sharing the other diamond lock at Shipton
In the few minutes that the boat was passing through the lock, I had virtually his whole life story, including how many year's he'd been working for BW - since he left school - and his concerns for what he would do if he lost his job, as he can neither read, write, or drive.  An interesting point, physical work, such as traditional BW jobs, probably didn't need those skills, where would those jobs be now?  And would they be legal?

Essential water filling and toilet emptying at Thrupp
It was a long day, with the locks fairly widely spaced apart, but we finally got to Thrupp wharf, and tied up at the services.  I went to empty the cassette, and the next person up was Maffi, from the Canal World Forum.  He said that there were quite a few forum people passing through.

We ate, then leaving David in the boat, we went to meet Maffi in "The Boat".  A very interesting evening, with Charlie somewhat wary of Maffi's dog, Molly, who was very happy to be given one of Charlie's hide chews.  When we got back to Chalice, it was in darkness, and David had gone to bed (not a common occurrence, he's often up until 5:00 am at home), we crept in, somewhat chastened.

King's Sutton to Thrupp
Miles: 17.1, Locks:11

Total Miles: 102.2, Total Locks:69

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