Monday, 3 May 2010

Cruise One - The Beginning

My hands are sore and red: the outsides from sunburn, and the insides from rope burn. My head is still not used to waking up and starting work at 7am, although my body seems to be coping fine, and I’ve never eaten better in my life. Less than three weeks into my six months here, and things are going well so far…

I started taking pictures of boats and pretty canal scenery, but quickly realised it might get a bit boring - water does mostly look the same, as do boats when you see them enough. So above are some pics of random things, and I’ll add anything else that interests me (along with maybe a few canal boats - just the ones with funny names, obviously). Does anyone think Bertie the dog looks like Rude Dawg? As for the non picture portion of this, here we go.

Corinne and Neil are probably the most fun employers I’ve ever had. The four of us get along very well and I find that we’re giggling away at least half of every day, whether it’s at Neil’s mumblings about cake and tea, Sara’s attempts at translating (pazzi Italiani!) or Bertie the dog’s incessant hand-chewing. Our day consists of baking and cooking - for up to nine guests at a time as well as four crew - in addition to lock work and steering the butty (we use twin boats, one with the engine and one that tags along behind). Neil operates the motor and gives direction from up ahead while either Sara or I use the tiller to shift the second boat about. It’s a lot of hard work, especially for beginners; swing bridges and lock paddles are heavy and sometimes stiff too, though the hardest part is tying back the elum (the rudder bit where the tiller goes) on the back of the butty when we enter a lock, as our boats are too long to fit into some of them if we leave it as it is.

The weather has been utterly glorious. Very lucky for our first week considering it was mid-April! I have a tan on my face now, and the backs of my hands, but am still a pale Scot everywhere else - I’ll start wearing shorts once the bruising on my legs calms down a bit. Must remember to look where I’m going when I get in and out of the boats… our first guests have also been fantastic, as they’re all old hands at this so have been providing guidance and help in abundance. We seem to see the same boats along the canals at various points, as if we’re in some unwitting tag team - sister boats “Cat” and “Steben” providing some amusement, at least for me.

Sara and I, when not working, have been out and about the little villages and towns exploring a bit and tasting the local ales - some nice (I tried a pint of Croppie in Honey Street, a village famed for being the international crop circle centre) and some not so nice (Funky Monkey in Bradford-on-Avon, beautiful town, ale too fizzy and pale for me). I’m assuming this will continue and by the end I’ll either be an expert, or a drunk. Three guesses…?

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