Monday, 25 April 2011

Down the Bratch and on to Hinksford

Hil joined me at Compton, leaving the car on the up-market housing estate we usually use for parking in such circumstances (although to think about it, our car probably stands out a mile there). We found ourselves following a very slow boat being steered rather erratically and resigned ourselves to a slow journey south. It just goes to show that one shouldn't be judgemental on the cut (although I often am). A conversation at the first lock with her crew member revealed that the lady steerer had lost her husband ten days ago and was now having to come to terms with handling the boat on her own.
With so many boats about and it being a hot and sunny bank holiday weekend I was beginning to get concerned about potential hold-ups at The Bratch. For those that don't know, there are three locks here so close together that they have to be worked as if they were a staircase. At busy times, the lock-keepers use a "three up, three down" system to control the queues. Oncoming boats at locks were telling tales of a three hour wait yesterday so I was surprised to find no waiting boats at the top and amazed when the locky said we could just go straight on down.
I usually take all the photos for this blog which means, of course, that I don't appear in any of them. However, as Hil was steering she was able to take this very rare blog shot of yours truly in action!
Bratch locks
Bratch locks are soon followed by the conventional two-rise staircase at Botterham. Here we came across "Hope", which not only has a very similar livery to Starcross but which from the cabin side we saw was owned by "Smith, Davies". This amused us as Hil is a "Smith" whilst I, am "Davies" although she has contrived to keep her name off the side of our boat "so I don't get the blame when things go wrong!"
After all this excitement we were happy to tie up at Hinksford, cycle back to Compton, take the car on to Greensforge and, finally, cycle back to Hinksford for a quiet evening in!
Overnight mooring near Hinksford

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