Sunday, 15 May 2016
What is good and what is bad?
There is a Taoist saying "Who knows what is good and what is bad". We assume we know, but can be proved wrong sometimes.
I set off early this morning, hoping to tackle two difficult locks before it got busy. The first was Somerton Deep Lock, (no prizes for guessing why it's called that!) The difficulty is not it's great depth but that the paddles are almost impossible to shift, they are so stiff.
As I arrived at the lock I sàw someone had beat me to it and was just trying up at the lock bollards. My heart sank because, if nothing was coming down, it effectively meant working this hard lock twice. The boat in front looked single handed and he took ages to manouver it into the lock. I told myself that this was going to be a long day! I wandered up to do my duty to find the man had climbed up the ladder but had forgotten his windlass and was looking a bit lost. So, with a bit of a sigh, I lent him mine and helped him work the lock. We started chatting and it turned out he was waiting for a friend to join him, so he tied up just after the lock and came back to help me through. I was very grateful. It meant that I actually got through several minutes quicker than if I had had it to myself.
Then, about half an hour further on I reached a lift bridge that is normally left open. Two men were standing by it, obviously about to drop it but they saw me and waited until I got through. It was only then I realised that the reason they were dropping it was to shepherd a huge flock of sheep across to the opposite field. Had I been even a minute later, I would have had to wait while they rounded up the sheep and funnelled them over the bridge, which would have taken quite a while.
The next difficult lock was OK because I met a boat coming the other way so didn't have to close the impossibly heavy iron gate (it's a weir lock). The next two weren't that challenging and there was no queue. My biggest anxiety was to find somewhere to pump out my poo tank as it was very full and I hadn't realised what a long stretch on this canal there is without such facilities. I had heard that Twyford Wharf might do it. This is basically a private house with a small jetty where they hire out the grand total of 2 boats. I didn't even know if they would be open on a Sunday. As I came round the corner to the Wharf I saw a man picking up a sign that said 'Pump out £15', obviously just putting it away. I called out 'Oh please don't put it away yet, I'm desperate!' The lovely man said that he was just about to close up, but since he hadn't yet put the machine away, he could squeeze me in. Another minute and I would have been too late.
Oh the relief of being able to go to the loo without anxiety, I can't tell you! I found somewhere to moor up just past the Wharf, the last space on Armco for a while.
I had thought it was bad news when I saw the scruffy wee boat in front of me at Somerton Deep lock, but had they not been there, I would have been just a few minutes later and that would have changed my whole day! So my lesson for today is to accept whatever happens without judging it to be good or bad, because who knows?