Ah, Spring. The grass is green. The skies are blue. A profusion of yellow daffodils bravely poke their heads through the soil to bask in the sun. The gloom and grey of what seems to have been a very long winter has gone, and, behold, a multitude of locks stretches magnificently into the distance. Locks? Yes, lots of…
We’re boaters, you see. And boaters are often to be seen tranquilly travelling the waterways. Until they reach the locks, that is. At which point, despite initially approaching with gusto and determination to rise to the challenge, at approximately ten or so locks in, the rhythmic chug of the engine and the melodic trill of birdsong gives way to the frustrated expletive of bruised boater.
Tardebigge Locks, or the Tardebigge Flight, is local to us and generally has to be negotiated in order to get anywhere. It’s the longest flight of locks in the UK, comprising thirty narrow locks on a two mile stretch of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. They are Grade II listed structures, i.e. the original working mechanisms, as in heavy, extremely:
And guess who gets to operate them?
I do do my fair share of driving and, in fairness, my partner does have a dodgy knee (thanks to too many times being dragged protesting onto the tennis courts by his mates). Strange that his affliction grows worse as we approach the gates though? Hmm?
In all, between the River Severn at Worcester and the Birmingham level (just under sixteen miles) there are 58 locks, raising the water level by 428 feet (about 157 metres).
My partner, being ship’s captain (the captain’s hat was banned, by the way, on threat of divorcing him before we got married), decided it would be a jolly good idea – for communication purposes when crew was out-of sight – to utilise a set of walkie-talkies. ‘Why walkie-talkies,’ I asked him, unimpressed, as I alighted onto the towpath with windlass (the tool with which to open and close the paddles). ‘What’s wrong with mobiles?’
Mobiles, apparently, were not in the spirit of traditional boating, he informed me, twiddling his knobs.
‘Ah,’ I said, indulging him and unenthusiastically hooking what was bound to be an encumbrance to my waistband as I set off to move the equivalent of a mountain.
I was winding the paddles when a voice drifted up from my midriff. ‘Captain to crew? Over. Captain to… crackle, crackle.’ Now, bearing in mind it requires two hands and the whole of your bodyweight to wind said paddles, and you let go of the windlass at peril of breaking a thumb when it goes into free-wheel, or knocking your teeth out, I chose to ignore him.
I continued to ignore him, to the bemusement of the gongoozlers, as I re-deployed my meagre bodyweight to attempt to heave open the lock-gate. I was about halfway, back to the beam, sweating and grunting, heels dug in and shoulder-blades meeting in the middle, when I heard, ‘Captain to crew? Crackle, crackle. Captain to…’ It was at that point I let go of the gate to twiddle my knob. ‘For God’s sake! Go a-way!’ I growled as the gate swung back taking me, skidding across gravel, with it.
Actually, I didn’t say that, exactly. I used the ‘F’ word. In my defence, this is the gate.
This is one of the Diglis lock in Worcester. Diglis is a set of two locks, the deepest in the country and the only pair on the River Severn. In the first picture, the dot at the end of the right-hand, far gate is a person, to give you some perspective.
The walkie-talkies were never twiddled again.
Ooh, yes, there are many more such incidents. The time I fell in and he didn’t notice. The time I calmly informed him, having noted something slightly amiss in the galley, the boat was sinking. ‘Oh,’ he said, and took another bite of his bacon butty. Perhaps I’ll save those for another day though.
We’re now trading our little 30ft boat in for a 68ft live-aboard. Question is, can I trade my man in and hire a new captain?
So now you know why I write. I prefer to allow my mind to wander, rather than wonder what technological gadget the man will insist we can’t live without next.
End of crew’s log: April 2012
What signs indicate that Spring is just around the corner for you? Do you boat/vacation/garden/hike/bike or maybe cook? Do you have a helpful mate along for the ride or to show you how in the kitchen?
About the Author
Sheryl grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs.
Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing. A full member of the Romantic Novelists' Association for some years, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, "life is just too short to be miserable."
Sheryl's new novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER, combining delicious and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, has just been released by Safkhet Publishing. Sheryl has also been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE will be published July 1st 2102.
Recipes for Disaster
The shortest way to a man's heart
Mix romantic comedy and step-by-step cooking instructions. Bake at 200 degrees for an entertaining read and handy guide.
She's a single. He's a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There's just one catch – she can't cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she's got an Ace up her sleeve and all she's got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can't cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they've got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?
Format: Paperback. Also available on Kindle
Available from: Amazon, any local bookstore, or direct from Safkhet Publishing
A loveahappyending featured Author http://loveahappyending.com/sheryl-browne/
Somebody to Love
Coming July 1 2011
After a turbulent marriage to a man who walked off hand-in-offshoot with something resembling a twig, divorced mum, Donna O’Conner, doubts happy endings exist. She’d quite like to find herself an Adonis with… pecs …and things. Alas, that’s not likely, when her only interest outside of work is hopping her three-legged dog in the park, carrying a poop-scoop. In any case, Donna isn’t sure she’d know what to do with an Adonis if she fell on one. When PC Mark Evans comes along, gloriously gift-wrapped in blue, however, she can’t help wishing she did.
Mark, a single father, is desperate for love. He doesn’t hold out much hope, though, that there is a woman out there with a heart big enough to love him and his autistic son. Enter big-hearted Donna, plus three-legged dog. And now Mark has a dilemma. Pretending not to mind her house-bunny chewing his bootlaces, he’s smitten with Donna on sight. Should he tell her his situation up-front? Announcing he has a child with autism spectrum disorder on a first date tends to ensure there isn’t a second. Or should he skirt around the subject, which amounts to a lie? When one lie leads to another, can he ever win Donna’s trust back? Admit that he didn’t trust Donna enough to let her into his life?