Saturday, 18 June 2011

Life on the 'Chesterfield'

Much has happened since I made my last posting of almost a week ago. The duration is not that long though it seems for ages and the continued weakness of my internet signal in this area of the country is not helping.
When I can go away and make myself a cup of tea whilst the text that I have just written is uploading indicates how much time can be wasted during a day simply by waiting for something to happen on the computer. And as for thinking of adding pictures on these occasions I might as well consider giving up the whole day to load one only and then be told that I have been timed out before the end of that day with the photograph still not loaded!
So you can understand what excitement it means for me when I spy the little blue light appearing on my dongle indicating a 3G signal, the strongest, rather than the diminutive despondent green as an alternative. However the latter is better than nothing since I can at least send and receive emails then .... without attachments. Unfortunately there is a third alternative, which happens frequently when I cannot even access the internet at all. Then I have to read a book for my literary fix that day.
But I mustn’t fret now while I am with the ‘green’ light, as on the Chesterfield Canal, so rural, quiet and tranquil without a human in sight for miles anywhere, I wouldn’t expect anything else; and I am content with that. The privilege of observing the rolling wooded hills of this part of Nottinghamshire, the multicoloured meadows of hay grass and the wild flowers of early summer, together with green pastures of excited bleating Lambs and disinterested Ewes, is enough to make me abundantly happy enough to forget all computer irritations as being totally irrelevant.
Today we are at a comfortable mooring, adjacent to the south portal of the short Drakeholes Tunnel. The Sun is shining brilliantly in between heavy showers that frequently pepper the otherwise still waters around. We are having a quiet day and ‘Futurest’ seems quite content with this too after a lot of hard work that I put her through yesterday. We are well into the country and I am happy with that.
On Wednesday last at Saxilby, my friends from Australia Robin and his wife Jan, came to visit me. They were unable to arrive early enough for us to enjoy a cruise but this didn’t deter us from enjoying each other’s company.
As I’ve mentioned earlier Robin and I as young men were shipmates together fifty years ago but at the end of that voyage we parted company never imagining that it would be so long before we met again. On Wednesday he was still very recognisable even though on the last occasion we had met he sported a fine head of blonde curls. Now like mine his hair is thinning a bit and grey and he maintains also a matching moustache, which gives him a distinguished look. But the old vital Robin is still there, easily noticeable behind the camouflage of ‘middle’ age. On the voyage he always had the reputation of being able to fancy the prettiest of the girls around and I noticed in Jan that he obviously hadn’t lost his touch in choosing his wife. I thought she was lovely.
We had a great day, though it must have been incredibly boring for Jan, listening to us rolling back the years and raking up the old ashes. But it was fun. I think they enjoyed it as much as I did.
‘Futurest’ and I arrived at West Stockwith at the beginning of the ‘Chesterfield’ early yesterday afternoon, topped up with water at the tap and set off to find a suitable mooring nearby. We had endured a busy few hours together having left Torksey at 1015. So I was ardently looking and I’m sure she was as well for somewhere to moor for the rest of the day.
Little did we realise that the tall green reeds in which I often spied little brown birds with an unusual song, which could only have been Reed Warblers, flitting in and out in front of us, together with the white blossom of Blackberry brambles and green pads of yellow water-lilies, all crowded in to make the waterway little wider than a ditch and certainly no place to knock in our mooring pins. By the time we had passed through four double locks I was becoming more tempted to moor at one of the landings. But we pressed on ever hoping to spy a length of the interlocking steel plates that British Waterways use to shore up the sides of their canals, which make ideal mooring points.
But it wasn’t till half past six and six miles along from the entrance of the canal that we came upon, out of the darkness of the Drakeholes Tunnel, this beautiful mooring where we are now. The gods were on our side too as there were moorings for five narrowboats and one of them was unoccupied and just begging for us to go there. We have thankfully been here ever since.

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