Friday, 16 October 2009
As I approached the lock on foot, windlass in hand and sweating profusely, I heard the two elderly ladies, one a wheelchair user, chattering excitedly.
"Are you bringing your boat through?" one of them asked.
I resisted the temptation to say something rude like, "Well, no actually, I spend most mornings walking along the towpath, opening lock gates,dressed in a coat that is much too warm, just for the fun of it." They would have been so disappointed and I realised, especially as we had been practising empathy skills at college the previous weekend, that they, like most Gongoozlers*, were fascinated by what they were about to see.
So I forced a smile and just said "Yes."
"Oh good, then we'll wait." the upright one said, getting out a flask and sandwiches.
I felt obliged then to hurry, but knowing from past painful experiences (remember my little swim?) that it is never a good idea, I decided to take my time to ensure no accidents occurred.
I had seven locks to go, not so easy on your own. I wanted to savour this journey which was the start of my planned cruise to move Argy to where he is to be sold. The fresh smell of the water swirling rapidly around the base of the lock gates always reminds me of the smell of newly laundered clothes. I wonder how they re- create that perfume in washing powder?
It has not been an easy decision to sell my boat and there are many reasons that have led me here.
It could have started when I took a shower in a hotel recently, my first for a couple of weeks, and as I undressed, a huge dead spider fell out of my hair. I had no idea how long it had been there.
Or it may be that the 'tenant from hell' is definitely on the move very soon and I need to reclaim my house for a while.
Perhaps it is the thought of the canal freezing again this year and the long walks to carry water and shopping back to the boat.
It is of course more complex than any of the above, as those of you that know me, well understand.
These last few years have been amazing and although I feel sad about losing the shell that has protected and comforted me so well on many occasions, I hope Argy will find a new owner who will firmly take charge of him and his quirky ways.
It has been an awfully big adventure, and I can't wait for the next one.
So, it's goodbye for a while from Tillie Baker's Canal Tales - but I will keep you posted.
Watch out Norfolk - who knows I may be writing about a village not too far from you very soon.
*A gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals but do not actively participate.