AND THE SUMMER HAS RETURNED
Well at least for a few days, and for those working it came at the bank holiday for a change.
After our enforced stay at Naburn overnight, the news was better the next morning and the lock keeper informed us we could leave about 2pm and head for Selby. There were now 8 boats waiting to go, and as the lock at Selby can only accommodate 2 at a time we strung ourselves out, with the good ship Avalon taking the lead, with Ceiriog following, then the group from Strawberry Island and Sowena and 2 other boats, whose name I did not get, bringing up the rear. The weather was fabulous and other people were enjoying the river. The first we met was a water skier, and as he thundered towards us we tried to warn him of the boats following us, but I got the feeling he thought we were telling him to slow down, we were just thinking about his safety to be honest. He flew by us one direction, then the other, making our boat rock in the huge swell he created. Fishermen waved as we passed by, and canoeists in their tiny craft paddled by. It was a lovely day to be messing about on the river.
The turn into Selby lock was a bit hairy, we had to pass the entrance to the lock and then turn into the flow of the water, which was stronger than either the Captain or myself originally thought. But we managed it without hitting the lock wall, and were soon joined by Chris and Andy. We were saying goodbye to them at Selby, as we planned to cruise on a little longer, and they were staying at the top of the lock. But it was not to be. As much as we were enjoying the lovely sunshine and the heat, it did not suit everything. The ‘everything’ being the swing bridge out of the basin. Off I went to open it, it is an all electric one so I just have to press the button, the barriers come down and the bridge opens. Well that’s what’s meant to happen, the barriers came down, the bridge glided not so quietly open, and then stopped in the middle, and nothing I could do would get it to move backwards or forwards. Oh dear, a queue of cars began to build at each side of the now completely stuck bridge, and all I could do was get my phone and ring CRT. I spoke to very nice lady, also called Helen, and she tried to put me through to the local team without success. She then said she would get them to phone me back (which never happened). I went to talk to the lock keeper who was busy at the lock, whilst the Captain kept telling drivers and pedestrians that the bridge was knackered, all took it in good faith. I think it must fail quite often.
The lock keeper wasn’t able to leave his post at the lock, so I wandered back, and since it had been over half an hour since I had spoken to CRT I tried to phone them again, but they had gone home. I was just about to try the emergency number, when a very nice gentleman turned up from CRT, and after extracting a very large crowbar from his vehicle we went back to the bridge. I inserted my key and pressed the button, and the gentleman inserted his crowbar under the bridge to lift it slightly, and it began to move. The heat had expanded the metal runner and stopped the bridge from opening. We opened and closed it a couple of times just to be sure, and the last 3 boats coming up the lock decided to go through whilst it was open, we however decided to call it a day and stayed at the top of the lock for the night. We were even to knackered to go to the pub, the heat does take it out of you.
Sunday, and another very hot day. We cruised down the River Aire and joined the Aire and Calder Navigation, whilst cruising we saw a lovely pure white little egret, a bird we haven’t spotted for a while. We also passed Pam and Mick Bowley on Drunken Duck, we had first met them in Langley Mill a couple of years ago, we said a fleeting hello. That evening we spent the night in the middle of nowhere, and next day joined New Junction Canal, there are quite a few lift and swing bridges on this stretch of canal, and we were soon joined by a number of other boats. Firstly a small narrowboat called Rosebud, and then just as we approached the next bridge a group of 3 pulled out, Trent Weaver, who we had met before in front of us, and Moon Dance and Lady Mercy behind, again they were a group from Strawberry Island. We parted company when we turned left onto the Stainforth and Keaby canal, and they went straight on towards their home town of Doncaster.
On the Stainsforth and Keaby canal is a pub (surprise surprise) The New Inn, and it holds happy memories for us and our beloved ginger tom cat Bubbles, who as you know is no longer with us. On our first visit to this establishment, Bubbles leapt off the boat and went to say hello to everyone sat in the beer garden, this came to be a favourite activity of his, and he became a right diva demanding attention from his public. The barmaid had to come out to say hello too, as did the landlord and lady. He just loved to be centre of attention. Sam, (our old lady cat) just watched from the safety of the boat roof, she was never as friendly as Bubs but got better over time, I do miss them.
We also ate at the pub on that occasion, and the food was very good.
As it was a bank holiday they were doing a roaring trade, and we managed to find a table outside but in the shade. The Captain spotted an older gentleman looking for a seat and invited him to join us, we had a lovely conversation covering many topics before we headed back and had our tea.
We actually travelled further on the Monday than we had intended, so it was only a short cruise to Thorne on Tuesday, we needed a pump out and water so stopped at Stanilands marina just before the town, and then went on and moored up for the night. It’s only a short walk into the centre, and the Captain treated me to a very welcome ice cream before we headed to The Vaults and a pint. Shock horror, it was closed for refurbishment. So we had to try next door, The White Hart, no real ales on but the Captain was happy with a cold pint of John Smiths. A walk back to the boat, and a pint in the Canal Tavern to finish off the day.
We are now heading on to the tidal Trent at Keaby, and then on to Lincoln, but that’s for next time.