We slept in this morning, and had been awake for just ten minutes when there was a knock on the boat at 9.00. It was the South African chap we have talked to several times and he had a bucket of crayfish trapped in the angling lake. Did we want them? I was standing there in the freezing cold in dressing gown and bare feet so Alan was scrambled into his clothes to be given instructions on how best to cook and clean them. We took them up to the house to our son-in-law who is good with wild food: he has been known to pick up pheasants knocked down on the road in front of him to cook for dinner. He grew up in the wilds of Wales. We showed Ralph the crayfish with waving claws and then he put them in the freezer for a couple of hours until lunch. He produced a delicious risotto to accompany the crayfish. The crayfish themselves provided only mouthfuls of meat and we really didn’t think they were worth the effort. They had a lot of eggs so at least they have been removed from the waterways along with their future off spring.
We had also woken to a new layer of ice on the canal but it wasn’t thick, and we returned to the boat after lunch determined to go through the lock to the lower pound. There was a sea of ice chunks, probably more than there are in the Arctic after global warning, and Carrie in NB Blackbird was at the waterpoint having forced her way through the ice from Ironbridge Lock. She was bashing away at huge slabs of ice that were blocking access to the lock. Alan brought Lazydays down and we managed to get both boats into the lock by pushing ice out of the way, and made our descent. To our great surprise another boat came along on its way up from Black Jacks Lock so that encouraged us to believe that Carrie would manage to get down to Rickmansworth as she planned. We couldn’t get both lock gates fully open as there was so much ice wedged behind them but the boats squeezed out and we moored Lazydays opposite the marina.
Alan’s heel is extremely painful now and he can barely move so I foisted myself on Carrie to get a walk along to the next two locks. It was quite easy going along to Common Moor Lock where we met another two boats coming up. We were warned that the next pound was exceptionally low and another boat pulled in front of Blackbird. It was one of the boats that moor on the off side along that pound and its Biblically bearded boater was heading out before he couldn’t move at all. The ice became really heavy and the canal was shallow so it was a relief when both boats reached the lock at Ebury Way. Once again the gates couldn’t be fully opened top or bottom and the boats had to manoeuvre to get in and out. Carrie decided to moor for the night just below the lock as it was getting dark and I headed briskly back, feeling better for the exercise. As I passed Common Moor Lock I saw that someone was running water through the lock to the pound below. It would need a lot of water to make a difference. I am feeling slightly paranoid that we are going over a little on a lean and our water levels are falling: probably total imagination!
Statistics so far:-
2141.60 Miles, 1209 Locks, 120 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 36 Tunnels