Well the planned weekend didn’t get off to a good start. Kathy took one of our cats to the vet because she’s been loosing weight (more than she should have been doing). She came out from the vets and the car wouldn’t start. Called the break down people who said it would be an hour before they got there : it was actually more as their driver didn’t seem to be able to find the Park and Ride Car Park at Cheltenham Race Course, and when he did he drove right past Kathy who was standing there by the car with the bonnet up – the car had its bonnet up, not Kathy! Whilst she was wasting here time the vets came out and said the blood test showed that Smokey had Kidney Disease. When we were telling mum about this later she expressed amazement that a vets can do its own blood tests on site and get the results in less than 2 hours when it takes the NHS weeks to do a blood test.
So with all the delays Kathy didn’t get stuff done in the morning that she should have done so packing and loading the car went a bit wonky and some stuff got left behind – but we did have the major items (clothes, food, booze etc.) so that was OK.
The roads were lousy – it took over 1 hour from just south of Kidderminster to Bridgenorth so we got to the boat a bit later than planned, however we soon loaded up and headed off.
I’m almost starting to dread Tyrley locks as they just seem to make boaters do silly things – and this time it started before we even got into the bottom lock. The lock was empty as a boat had left it only a couple of minutes earlier but that didn’t stop someone coming down from the lock above and start filling it without even checking to see if there was a boat coming – I was about 20 feet from the gates and Kathy and Mum and Dad were just about at the bottom gates! The man did drop the paddles and let us through and apologised saying that he just hadn’t seen us.
Now anyone who has done Tyrley will know that the by-wash channels are vicious and cause some nasty side currents so if you are going up stream you need to take the locks at a bit of a dash to get the nose in cleanly. Of course going in like this means you need more reverse and tend to end further up the lock than planned. We’ve found Mintball likes sitting about a foot clear of the bottom gates which avoids any nasty backwards or forwards pulls and surges. So after a completly event free second lock we entered the middle lock of the flight. There was a man on the bank – it turns out he was on Ivy (from Longport) and was coming down. Before we had the gates even half closed and I was actually moving forward he slammed up the top paddles. Voices were raised – it was pointed out that we weren’t actually ready. He said that we “nearly were” and “If you are going to be like that then you can do all the paddles yourself”. He then went off in a sulk – its nice to know that private boaters can be worse than hireboaters.
I’ve previously said things on here about Challenger Stealth Hire boats – well we met one that wasn’t. Ivy had closed the gates on the lock when they were coming down and the people behind them (on a Challenger boat) saw us and actually opened up the gates. We got chatting – it seemed that Ivy had forced them, and another boat going in the oppposite direction, to take evasive action when he pulled out of a mooring (off line marina or arm?) right between them. Hopefully the crew on that Challenger boat will become the norm rather than the exception.
After the madness of Tyrley I was dreading going through Woodseves cutting. In fact we had it to ourselves so we chugged through the green tunnel of trees and ferns and lillies before mooring up for the night on the 48 hour moorings near The Wharf at Goldstone.