Friday 24 July 2009

BOOM! Rattle rattle

I am writing this in the midst of a mahousive thunder storm, which is banging and rattling around, quite alarming. Aside from the wisdom of using a computer in such electrical mayhem, it is also difficult to type because at every bang, the H has to rush downstairs shouting his indignation, and naturally, I have to charge down too to support him. This makes for some distracted typing, but bear with me.... I'll do my best.
It is time to describe the run back over the Summit into God's Own County. This is, as we have said, all carefully controlled and restricted by "Dave" from British Waterways (Westie owner who has a pic of the three of us posing on the aft deck). The runs over and back are carefully controlled and timed to ensure that the boats all meet at the most troublesome pound (below which are two very subsiding locks with very leaky doors. This makes sure that the water "brought down" by the descending boats is used to fill the pounds needed by the ascending boat.
It kinda works - west bound you arrive at lock 33 at 09:00 which gives you time to climb and bimble across the summit, descending to 41/42/43 to meet the Eastbound boat(s) which has been allowed into the sequence at 44 at 11:00. Even so you park in one lock to allow 2 boats down, and move only when the 2nd of the pair is in the pound. You chug forward very tentatively, inching towards the cill (sill?) with your vulnerable prop and rudder, ready to call for more water if you ground.
Once through that bit the rest of the climb is fairly easy, and we dogs help out, as you can see from the pics, by leppin' off the boat at every lock, running around, crossing the bridges and peering down at Dad in the lock chamber from 3 or 4 feet above his head. This also gives the lock wranglers useful exercise rounding us all up before they can leave the lock and carry on. Keeps 'em fit (especially when Meg gets a bit tired of this and Mr S has to carry her back to the boat below the lock.)
It's a full day - it's 9 locks up to the summit, and 9 down again to Walsden, and Grandma Pollard's chippy. As I said, we couldn't start till 11:00 which meant that although we had a nice lie-in and a leisurely breakfast, there was a serious risk we might not make Grandma's by 15:00, and a mutinous rumour had gone round the ship that that was when she closed. Crew members were getting an evil gleam in their eyes, and the Skipper (Dad.... ahhh my Hero) was starting to get a bit edgy.
It seemed that all was lost, and the best he could hope for was a good keel-hauling. 15:00 came and went with us still 3 or 4 locks from Walsden. We moored up at 16:00 in despair, and Mrs S was despatched to try to blag a late extension to the opening times (We've travelled Miles! 4 hungry children (and a crop in the fields?) etc etc. We were starving, so imagine our (and Dad's relief) when Mrs S returned saying "No Problem! The 15:00 only applies to Monday and Tuesday! This is Wednesday - it's open till 20:00! Result! )
Food was taken and good humour restored. We bimble on down some more, to moor up for the night just above lock 21, in the pound that runs under the Gauxholme viaduct. Tomorrow would be another day - Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and the start of heavy rain, but for now we are warm, dry, well fed and enjoying an evening of silly quiz games with the girls, playing holiday-related "Hangman" (Halifax, Staircase Flight, Laugh, etc).
We are exhausted bodies as we take to our bunks, and the humans at least, are with wine taken.
A brilliant day

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