I don’t give my blogs titles any more but if I did today’s would be “There’s nowt so queer as folk”!!
We left Ham Manor at 9.15am. It was a little chilly but the sun was shining. Down through the first lock and everything was fine. Could I uncross my fingers yet?? Yes of course :-) Everything went well until we reached Woolhampton Lock. As we arrived there were two boats in there with the bottom gates open. We assumed that the crew had gone to open the swing bridge but, instead of going onto the locktail to wait, the men (typical!!!) were sitting in the lock. For those of you who don’t know Woolhampton Lock, as you come out at the bottom there is a nasty little river coming in from the right which pushes you over pretty easily. There is then a short stretch of “white water rafting” before coming to an electric swing bridge. The bridge needs to be open before attempting the river but the lock tail is very long and people usually wait out there. Even when the crew called the boats the men still stood there!! Richard decided to call them the Geriatrics! They made no effort to close the bottom gates. Then it was our turn but when I went to open the bridge a boat had moored up just before it causing Richard to be swept into it and hitting it!
Just after Frouds Bridge we caught up with the Geriatrics dawdling along with all the time in the world. They then took their time at Aldermaston Lock and it took so long for them to both go through the Aldermaston lift bridge that the traffic must have been backed up for a long way. We decided to give them plenty of time to clear the next lock and had an ice-cream from the little café on Aldermaston Wharf.
They had left Padworth Lock thank goodness but both bottom gates were open again! We turned the lock and went through but there were two boats moored on the lock waiting. One of them had broken down and to give them their due they had moved up as far as they could but it did mean that I couldn’t get near to pick Richard up. The people on the unbroken boat just sat and watched me trying to get to the lock waiting and never once asked me if I would like to go alongside to pick him up.
But the strangest person today was one I saw at the swing bridge below Padworth Lock. He had pulled his car over onto the pavement. It had the boot open. He was in full cycling gear. He had a bike which appeared to be in some sort of a stand and he was pedalling it furiously!!
We pulled over just after Ufton swing bridge near to where we got stuck last year. The towpath runs through a field and these are our neighbours for the night.
I must try and remember to take more photos tomorrow – it’s like this every year trying to get into the swing of it again.
8 swing bridges