We left Stratford at midday on Saturday, and trying to get down to the first lock was like playing water skittles and chicken with visitors in rowing boats.
It was ridiculous that no-one seemed to see us coming (41 feet of bright blue boat weighing in at 6 tons plus was hardly invisible!) and merrily continued across our path.
Hubby blew our horn and scared the living daylights out of one rower, who panicked, so we reduced power to almost a standstill to give them a chance to decide which way they were going to go to get out of our way.
At the first lock, (Colin Witter: photo 2015), we always seem to attract an audience, and this time we had a party of students who wanted to help. Hubby gave one a mental sum to do, and when he explained to him that he had just calculated filling the lock with 42,044 gallons of water, the group was stunned.
As they left, a group of Americans took their place, and were fascinated how the locks worked. No offers of help here, but I wasn’t too worried as this is one of the easier locks to operate.
As we were exiting, a commercial widebeam restaurant boat arrived to come down river, so we were hoping we would be able to get through the next lock before they caught up. Sadly it was not to be as the gates were against us, so by the time we’d filled it to enter, they chugged up behind us, so we let them go ahead. They had a schedule to keep, but the lads helped with the gates and paddles as they exited for us.
We arrived in Luddington at 2pm, and there was no-one else there, so we were looking forward to a peaceful night.
Last year on both visits, we had a family of swans come calling, but there wasn’t a single one here this year. We did have a mother duck with 2 ducklings who were far from timid and practically rushed to meet us when we berthed.
Remembering about white bread, I threw in a handful of porridge oats which seemed to go down very well, but we didn’t overdo it.
We like Luddington.
There is an apology notice for having no shop or pub, but there is water and an elsan point, and you’re not too far from the pretty little village if you fancy a short and flat walk.
Hubby decided to put his head down, so I got rid of the rubbish and took Maggie for a walk on my own.
Coming back to the boat, we were joined by a grey furball that looked like a cross between a greyhound and a wire-haired terrier. He decided to follow us home, then heard his owners call and was off like a rocket. They were just going through the lock and probably hadn’t realised he’d got off to explore.
We had cold chicken salad for our evening meal, and settled down for a game of scrabble.
We could hear music and laughter in the distance which was getting closer and inwardly groaned.
So much for a quiet evening.
What drew up behind us was a floating hen party.
Dressed in black outfits and pink wigs, 30 odd females staggered off amidst giggles and glasses of champers. The bunny girl wasn’t the bride, but she wanted her picture taken at the wheel.
A couple of the girls came over for a chat about our boat, making a fuss of Maggie at the same time. The bride had trotted off to the other side of the lock with a group of her friends, and by all accounts the wedding wasn’t until the middle of August. They were certainly a merry lot out for some fun on a girlie night with a difference.
About half an hour after their arrival, the restaurant boat arrived and berthed in the lock entrance so that their passengers could get off and look around. It was quite amusing to see so many people in evening dress with the pink wig brigade singing and swinging their wine glasses in the background.
Both wide beams left together around 9pm, leaving us alone with the ducks and to walk Maggie for her final wee before we retired for the night.
It had been quite an eventful day!