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Gavin, Rachael and Xander. Oh and me too!

Its not all bikes you know. Last weekend we were able to get away on my dad’s narrowboat. We got five days of mostly sunshine. For me the last day was the best, we got to spend the whole day with my parents cruising down the canal back to the boatyard he keeps it at. This is something my dad got into when I was around ten years old, first hiring, then buying and eventually building his own having designed the layout, getting the hull built by a boat builder and then completely fitting the boat out himself. Everything from insulation, fitting the engine, gas central heating to 240v electrics were fitted not to mention the entire interior is custom built woodwork. Anyway, that’s not important. What is important is time and how we get to use it. I see my parents at least once a week and often more than that but this day allowed us to spend time with mom and dad doing what dad loves best. It certainly felt special to me and its one for the memories. The things that will stick in my memory are seeing them on the back of the boat together and seeing them have a good time too.

As I said it was a five day trip and we also got to spend the third day with Gavin, Rachael and their son Xander. We picked them up near Armitage and cruised down to Fradley, had lunch and cruised back to where they had left their car. Their son is growing fast and it makes you realise that we get too busy with our lives to spend enough time together. I do see Gav fairly often at the moment as I am his mechanic for when he needs help with his bike but we only see Rachael and Xander every few months.

There were two moments that I found very amusing. The first one was where a hire boat forced its way through a junction I was already negotiating, I had to reverse away from them and they collided into the side of another boat behind me before running aground and being stuck for twenty minutes. The second was bit of brinkmanship which surprised me. Dad was steering the boat on the last day and as we approached a moored up boat, we could see he was frantically trying to get his mooring ropes up and get going before we went past. There was a lock around the bend that often has queues. Unlike being in a car, getting stuck at a lock is not a few seconds of waiting, it can be 15 minutes while the lock is cycled through. So we could see this chap doing his best and as we approached  he got the last rope off, hurredly coiled it, put the boat in gear and grabbed the tiller. All without making any visible sign he had seen us. Dad however appears to be wise to this trick and he just kept plowing on at 4mph. Etiquette sort of suggests the chap should have waited for us to pass before moving off so he was very surprised to see the front of our boat start to come past him as he picked up speed. There was a bend coming up and as we went around it and there was some bumping of hulls as we passed them. His paintwork was very nice, dad doesn’t worry about the odd scratch!

I found myself quite cross with that chap, he had deliberately pulled out on us! If I was steering I would have ended up giving way, being quietly annoyed but saying nothing and I did wonder whether he would wanting a word as we pulled up to the lock. I guess, he was quietly annoyed, he didn’t have anything to say.

So, life at 4mph is not completely free of conflict, even if it is in the passive aggressive English way and it certainly added a bit to the day seeing his face as we overtook him.

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