@ 05:22:12 by ashtonboatman
What I did on my holidays
I have a strange idea of holidays. Unless I go on my own or with
my partner or a few good friends, canal boating is work, though work
that I enjoy. I don't like too much heat, so travelling to hot
countries is out, even if I could afford it and didn't feel bad about
the carbon footprint. I don't like inactivity, so lying on a beach is
not for me. I don't have a lot of money, so that rules out all sorts
What I like to do is to get on my bike and cycle slowly through
the land, seeing what I see and stopping to explore whatever
interests me. In the evening I find a secluded spot, usually a bit of
woodland off the beaten track, and set up camp. I light a fire to
cook a meal and sleep under a tarpaulin stretched between trees.
I mark a line on a map between two points picked pretty much at
random, then follow that line as closely as I can. 5 years ago I set
off on a line from Ashton to Zouch, a little known row of houses on
the River Soar near Loughborough. I got as far as Duffield near
Derby. Last week I decided to continue the journey.
My plan had been to set out on Monday, but the need to collect an
engine for "Forget me Not" caused me to put it off until
Tuesday. All of Tuesday was taken up with sorting out bilge pumps so
that the boats had a chance of staying afloat whilst I was away. It
was on Wednesday morning that I was finally able to drop the van off
with a volunteer driver and set out.Full of the joys of the open road
I set out on my bike, with bags and pots and pans dangling all over.
I got about 300 yards when a telltale psssshishpsssishpssssish from
the back wheel informed me that I had a puncture. I unloaded the
bike, upended it and removed the tyre. Soon the tube was mended, but
I discovered that my brand new bicycle pump would not put sufficient
pressure into the tyre.
On a soggy back tyre I rode back to surprise the boatsitters at
Portland Basin as I searched for another pump. The only one I could
find had been sunk when "Hazel" went down and was a little
rusty. It also lacked the right size tube, so I had to walk up to
Wilkinsons to get a universal one. Their tube leaked so much air at
the joints as to be useless, but I was able to transfer the universal
adapter part on to another tube and get a bit more air into the tyre.
As I rode on through Dukinfield it soon became clear that the
pressure was still not sufficient. I plodded on and soon came to Hyde
North station, heaved my loaded bike over the footbridge and enjoyed
bread and Houmus as I waited for the train. Soon the hourly nodding
donkey to Rose Hill clattered over the points and stopped at the
platform. I hauled my bike aboard the lightly loaded railbus and sat
down as the engines started to rev. I was on my way at last.