Thursday, 24 June 2010

CRUISE SIX/SEVEN/EIGHT/NINE/Where are we again? - Respite, Reflect, Recycle, Reduce, Re-energise

OK, I’ve been a bit slack for the past few weeks - a weekend off is not a good way to remain motivated! It was Corinne’s birthday celebration over the last bank holiday so I took the opportunity to head back to Scotland for a few days to catch up with old friends and neighbours (neighbours being, er, a pub), restart my contact lens wearing, and get a beautiful beige wrist support for my newly detected carpal tunnel syndrome.

I’ll be honest - the days off and blurry heat of late has made me forget things which have happened, the order in which other things came and what I kept reminding myself to write down and never did. So I’m going to jot a few notes and hope that my memory will be good enough to convert them into eloquent prose (everyone has a dream).

Tardebigge is a flight of locks totalling 36, ish. We did it in around three hours, which is great going considering we have two boats which have to go through completely separately! It has beautiful scenery and a great reservoir halfway down which is hidden until you go up a few steps on a seemingly plain grassy hill…then over the top is a glittering sea of cold, clean water. I was tempted to jump in as it was such a hot day - sadly there was plenty more work to keep me from cooling off.

Since then it’s really felt like summer. Hard work, long days, lots of sun (and a bit of rain), lots of food and wine and nights that end far too late for anybody’s good. Birmingham was fun, as I met up with an old bandmate and her partner for some cocktails and stumbling about the city, and she proceeded to tell me that her new band was covering one of our most ridiculous songs from times past. Hopefully I’ll get to see it performed live one day, as it always felt fun to play…

Conversations amongst the crew have been slowly descending into the stupid, to the point where now they literally make no sense. Here’s an example:

“Can you pass the colander?”
“Scolapasta.”
“Your face is a scolapasta.”
“Your mother’s face is a scolapasta.”
“What’s for breakfast tomorrow?”
“Jam sandwiches.”
“How do you say jam in Italian?”
“Your face is jam in Italian.”

And so forth. Needless to say, days are tiring… the worst day of the season is now behind us, though - the bottom lock at Hurleston has changed shape to the point where the butty can’t exactly fit in, so the day started with greasing the sides (with biodegradable grease, don’t worry) and then an agonising wait through breakfast until we arrived at the lock. We liberally applied (biodegradable) washing up liquid around the sides of the boat as she was slowly inching in, and had to use a winch for the last third. Once she was in and the gates shut behind, then began the process of filling the lock, bit by bit, and emptying, bit by bit, until forty five minutes later, the back end had been nearly sunk a few times (on purpose) and she finally gasped her way up the last couple of feet. Relief all round - it’s taken up to three hours in previous years, and there’s no guarantee that it would work at all - it could easily have ended up with the boat at the bottom of a lock full of water. It didn’t feel like a normal day at work; I was genuinely feeling quite emotional at the thought of what could go wrong. Now all we have to do is go back the other way next week!

So clearly this update hasn’t exactly been all-examining, but I’m planning to get back to regular writing now. In short - I’ve been enjoying myself, have muscles I can actually feel in my arms and legs, and am sunkissed if not tanned. Hopefully the July weather will be as generous as June’s!