Tuesday, 25 July 2017
I shall be grinning like a loon all afternoon and I can't resist telling you why!
I tackled the 11 Atherstone Locks this morning. Being the time of year it is and with the Atherstone locks notoriously slow to fill, I decided on an early start. So after a woodland walk with Bonny, I cruised to the top of the flight, reaching it at about 7.40am. On the way I had passed a working boat and butty moored with the crew of five having breakfast.
As I was waiting for the top lock to fill a man came hurrying up to me and with no introduction said "Are you going down the flight?" I bit back any comment about it being bleeding obvious as my boat was here and I was working the lock! I just smiled and said yes. "And are you single handed?" Again I said yes. "Oh for heaven sake. Well I suppose we will have to help you then", he huffed. Since he didn't even have a boat with him and he was cross examining me with no explanation, my patience was starting to wear a little thin but I just said, "Well, you will have to catch me first!"
"That's not funny, we are in a hurry, we have to get a boat and butty down the flight".
I worked out from the last comment that he was from the working boat I had passed. Had he approached me in a different way I may well have offered to let them go first. But since he was huffing and puffing and assuming that I was going to hold them up, I merely said "Probably should have got up earlier then" and steered my boat into the lock.
He went ahead and opened a paddle at the next lock so it would be full when I arrived. I thanked him but he was still irritable and said that 'as Captain, he will have to see me through as quickly as possible before getting his boats through.' I was very tempted to tell him he wasn't my captain! Anyway, I got down the first 2 locks and he had said he would be back to 'sort me out' for the next 2, but there was no sign of him so I carried on and set the locks (they were all against me and nothing coming up). When I got through I climbed back up, closed the gates and raised a paddle on the top gate so the lock would fill for them.
Captain Irritable caught me up on his bike and thanked me for setting the lock for them but told me not to bother as it will make me slower. So I carried on working down the flight and much to my relief I saw no more of the working boat crew. After lock 5 I decided to stop and visit the supermarket and then I wouldn't be in Captain Irritable's way any more. I was surprised that by the time I had moored, got my shopping list done and locked the boat up, they still hadn't passed me.
When I started again I met a boat coming up lock 7. We chatted about the flight and I mentioned my experience with the working boat. "Oh, it's you", said the other boater. He then told me that he had met the working boat with its butty and got chatting as you do. Captain Irritable (who wasn't any more) said that his heart had sunk when he found a single handed woman in front of him at the top of the flight. He thought he would be seeing 3 boats down the whole flight instead of 2. "But," he said, "She went like lightning and we never saw her again after lock 2. She even had time to set a couple of locks for us".
Ha, ha!! It just shows how dangerous it is to make assumptions when you know nothing! He just assumed that I couldn't possibly work a lock as fast as his crew, let alone faster. Well Captain Irritable, you met your match this morning!