Thursday, 11 June 2015

Monster Hamster and the experienced boater

Whilst walking around Beale Park yesterday evening I came upon a monster hamster.  He was so damned big he wasn’t frightened by me and was content to give me the ‘evil eye’.  He could have supplied us with enough meat to last at least a week.

monster hampster

This morning we departed for Reading with the intention of restocking the cupboards from the large Tesco below Caversham Lock.  However the moorings were again full.  We were very fortunate that the owners of wide beam Isabelle Jean noticed our predicament and offered to let us breast up against them.  Jan went off to do the shopping whilst I stayed behind and gossiped discussed important boating matters with the husband and wife crew.  They told me the 24 hour mooring signs outside Tesco had been removed and some of the boats occupying the moorings had been there since the previous autumn.  They had contacted the EA who explained the land was the responsibility of the local council.  Something needs to be done and Jan has written to Tesco in the hope they will prod the council into action.

isabelle Jean

Thank you Isabelle Jean

After Jan had stowed away all the rations we changed our plans deciding against going back up above Caversham Lock and mooring beside King’s Meadow.  Instead we would go up through Blake’s Lock and moor in the Gaol Loop on the Kennet & Avon.

We arrived below the lock to find a narrowboat on the lock landing.  The lock was on self service (lock keeper at lunch).  The female member of the crew (wife) was at the tiller and the husband up at the lock.  We began wondering what he was doing as he was raising the top paddles which would result in the lock being filled instead of emptied.  Perhaps there was a boat in the lock?  but that didn’t make sense, unless it was a wide beam.  Jan managed to get off Waiouru and go up to the lock.  This lock is manually operated and the paddle mechanism is operated by wheels rather than a windlass.

The mechanism looks like this

new lock mechanism

When the red topped rod is up the paddle is also up.  Jan went up and lowered one of the top paddles and the husband copied her.  They then raised the lower paddles to empty the lock.  I chatted away to the wife who told me they had never been on the Kennet & Avon Canal and she had recently undergone a shoulder operation.  I passed on some local canal information as she told me she would be the one doing the locks whilst her husband steered.  Jan also mentioned the locks on the canal could be difficult and was promptly told by the husband that he has boated for six weeks every year over the last decade and had done thousands of locks.  This was the man who had opened the top paddles to empty the lock?  He then asked Jan “Are you going to the next lock?”   Jan informed him we were mooring after this lock and he replied “So you only do one lock a day!” To which Jan replied “This is our fourth lock today!”

We went into the Gaol Loop noticing both Sola Gratia and IncaThere were no vacant moorings so we moored around the corner just before Queen’s Road Footbridge.  The mooring is slightly set back from the towpath and hopefully we won’t be disturbed tonight.

4 comments :

Gary Carolyn said...

Hi Tom, should have gave us a shout and moored alongside ...

Tom and Jan said...

Gary,

I think you were in town watching Carolyn spend! 😁

Jenny said...

Perhaps that monster hamster is a capybara? The capybara, Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris, is a semi-aquatic rodent of South America. It weighs about a hundred pounds, and is about 2 feet tall at the shoulder.

Goodnss knows what it is doing over there.

Tom and Jan said...

Awe Jenny you've spoilt my fun! You are right of course. Beale Park specializes in small African and South American critters!