The die was cast –Song & Dance was heading up the Basingstoke Canal: to preserve their water (in short supply) boat movements are limited, and transit through the lock flights has to be pre-arranged, and is allowed on specific days only. An 09:30 appointment at Woodham Lock meant an earlier than normal start for the Captain (and concern that he might not return in time from his nocturnal perambulations). But no disasters… casting off at 09:00 from New Haw gave the crew plenty of time to meet up with the lockkeeper.
The Basingstoke Canal junction with the Wey Navigation is pretty much under the M25 near West Byfleet. Not a very salubrious start, enriched by a rather nice if somewhat unusual boat called Frodsham. If you’ve ever been to Frodsham, you probably wouldn’t want to name your boat after it.
As befits such a part of Surrey, the graffiti was of a better standard than usual, if still incomprehensible to mere mortals and Russian Blue cats.
Turning into the Basingstoke canal cut, the concrete and traffic was soon hidden by trees and woods lining the canal, and Woodham Bottom Lock was reached, through a thick carpet of duck weed.
We needn’t have rushed: there was another boat due but was running slightly late. Still, it meant we had company and an additional pair of hands through the wide locks. And having completed the paperwork and unlocked the padlocks, Matt, the lockkeeper, kindly went on ahead and set up the remaining locks for us so we could just sail in. A gentle introduction to working again after all the automated Thames!
Although secluded, and potentially anywhere, at one of the Woodham locks we bumped into an acquaintance walking her new puppy. Must be close to home.
Arriving in Woking under leaden skies, there was a work boat moored right in the middle of the limited mooring, rather restricting the options for a longish narrowboat (it had been there for some months). The first mate failed to notice the coping stones were nicely rounded and smooth, missed his footing, and found himself with one foot on shore, two hands on the boat, and a rapidly widening four foot gap between the two. Ah well… the clothes were in need of a wash.
Shower and change of clothes, a quick visit to the delights of Woking for provisions, and we were joined by an old friend for a short cruise to The Bridge Barn and dinner. The next morning Fran spotted an old colleague walking her children to school down the towpath. Definitely close to home!