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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Parkin

A Lock is Like a Box of Chocs

Today, we went through lock number 100 – and we started, when we left Bristol, through Hanham Lock, No. 1. So that’s a lorra lorra locks (as Cilla would say – well, she probably wouldn’t, but if she did, she might say it like that. And speaking of Cilla, I like to imagine that – when going through a lock – when it warns you of the Cill, that you could just add an ‘A’ to the end of it. The image of her emerging from the lock and saying ‘Surprise, Surprise, Chuck!’ amuses me greatly).

Anyway, as the man said (Forrest Gump, I believe): “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get”. Indeed, so are the locks – although unfortunately for us, we’ve been all too lacking in folks to share our locks with.

It’s quite a sociable experience being on the canals and part of that is the necessity of moving tonnes of water around every now and then. We’ve been through lock flights with assorted retiree couples – who tend to have much smarter boats than liveaboards – and encountered various nationalities in passing at locks. Although it seems like canal holidays are particularly appealing to antipodeans and Nordic folks – particularly the Danes. But that’s just from our encounters thus far, it’s probably not very representative.

A couple of days ago, we ended up sharing a flight of locks with a group of Yorkshire Boors, as I initially dubbed them. When I offered to pull their boat in from the centre line, his opening gambit was: ‘USE THE POWER, LAD: USE THE F***ING POWER!’ He then kicked the accelerator with his left foot, so as not to let go of his butterfly umbrella (his granddaughter’s, apparently). I’m pretty sure the way you treat a hire-boat is NOT how you treat a liveaboard.

We’re pushing on towards Oxford and hoping to be able to moor there for a day or two and go into town to the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt-Rivers Museum – both anthropological and arts, I think – and hopefully meet with friends and family there.

While I’m inside writing this, we’ve agreed a new system of taps on the roof to alert whoever’s inside that they’re needed, which goes:

One knock for a lock (or a bridge) Two for a poo Three for a wee Four for more (biscuits).

Well, we’ve got to amuse ourselves somehow. See also: the various pictures of our posing with the tiller in ridiculous manners (Flickr feed to right).


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