*Copyright Sophie, appropriated by me and much overused since.
Day five of The Big Trip, and the Fab Funky Ladies (FFL) were on board. We had modest travel plans – the starting point was Castle Marina, and the end point was a mere mile or so away at Trent Bridge – but the route was fraught with hazards.
Not least of those hazards was food provision – a meat-free, dairy-free and gluten-free menu was needed. How were we supposed to sustain ourselves through a hard-day’s boating without a cheese-and-ham toastie? It’s the kind of gastronomical challenge that could have easily lost me my crew, but luckily there were free-from-everything-but-mysteriously-still-delicious bakewell tarts. Lunch was saved, and a potential mutiny averted.
Celebrations for an epic coeliac-friendly lunch were cut short by a brutal attack. The assailant was swift and calculating. It’s possible he had been observing his victim all morning, learning her habits and weaknesses, planning his assault. Like the mafia, he picked the post-lunch slump when Bryony was feeling full and content and had let her guard down. As she clambered through the engine room he leapt onto her chest and all hell broke loose. As his eight limbs pummelled Bryony’s collarbone, the three of us were paralysed with fear. Now I don’t like to portray myself as some kind of hero (it’s what anyone in my position would have done) but at this point my instincts took over. I flicked that spider mercilessly into the water. Once you have senselessly massacred dozens of arachnids, the killing reflex is always lurking in the background.
One crisis may have been averted, but danger was still around every bend in the river, behind every lock. On top of every lock. The first boating challenge of the day was Meadow Lane lock with its vertiginous 8’8″ drop to the River Trent. One slip on the gates, and the FFL could have been sleeping with the fish. Or at least splashing around with them. But my crew were not content with just looking danger in the face – they wanted a selfie with it. Because that is how the Double Fractureers roll.
However, Meadow Lane was a mere warm up. The big test was Holme Lock – a 12′ drop and large enough to irrigate a small drought-ridden country. I don’t want to start a panic, but I suspect rumours of the Holme Lock Monster may have some substance to them. Sure, it could just have been general river debris moving around the boat trying to wrap itself around the propeller, but I’m pretty sure I saw scales. And a fin. Possibly a tentacle. (Sadly my camera ran out of battery at this very moment, so no photographic evidence is available. However, I think it would be pretty easy to organise a 24/7 surveillance of the lock with a few like-minded believers to get the necessary snaps for the Daily Mail to jump on the bandwagon.)
Holme Lock behind us and Sophie took up the helm. We had survived monsters, heights and the threat of wheat-based pastry. Would we survive her driving? Happily Sophie was a self-certified excellent sailor, with minimal zigzagging down the river. The moment with the river bank is barely worth mentioning. We are ready to take on the next waterway. It’ll either be the River Soar or the South China Sea.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Little Bitty Pretty One‘ by Thurston Harris..