Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Coal Boat

15th January


I left the children watching kids TV and walked a few boat lengths up the towpath to the coal boat. The banner hung over the hold reads, ‘Coal, Diesel, Calor Gas, Logs, Kindling’.

They are triple moored; I crossed the back deck of a widebeam, then the counter deck of their motor boat, to knock on the cabin of their butty.
“Yep?” It’s Coal Lad.
“Are you up? I can come back later.”
“Yes I’m up.” He peeps a sleepy head out of the back doors, and grins. He’s dressed in his work clothes and a grey wooly hat.
“I just wanted to let you know I need a pump-out when you go. You said you were off at eight.”
“Yeah, I’m still waiting for him. He’s stuck on the A40, so I went back to sleep.”
“Well, no hurry anyway,” I smiled.
“And maybe one gas,”
“We haven’t got much gas.”
“That’s what Candlebridge said” (the other coal boat) “something to do with the ice.”
“Yeah. All the gas comes out of Essex. All that snow and bad weather before Christmas has set them right back. They run a tight schedule you see. No one’s got any gas. All these people up the Lee are ringing me and saying they’ve got no gas at all. They can’t cook and they’ve got no hot water. So if you’re not desperate we’re only selling it to the people who really need it.”
“Wow,” I said, “no I’m not desperate. We’ll be alright,” and I returned to my boat.
Then, as I was standing at the sink washing the dishes I watched a tree on the opposite bank get blown down by the wind. It fell in slow motion right across the cut, and almost reached the little GRP cruiser that is double moored next to us. Now the coal boat won’t get through! I lifted up my eldest daughter to see. But in minutes, a couple of rufty tufty boaters were over there and lifting it out of the cut. More manly boater blokes arrived with saws and a trolley and began to saw up said tree for firewood! Free fuel all round.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Loving the blog Peg. Keep up the hard work and the quality.

Andy

Anonymous said...

Oh, and a cheeky plug for my own paltry efforts. ; )

www.gauchoisntfunnyanymore.wordpress.com

Andy Wilson

Michelle Twin Mum said...

What a whole different world you live in. I can not even imagine.

Did you get soem free fuel too?

Visiting from BMB. Mich x

Mother's Always Right said...

I want to live in your world! Every morning I walk along the Kennet and Avon canal at Woolhampton and gaze longingly at the narrow boats. In the summer we see their owners sitting outside with a cup of tea. In the winter we see the smoke from their log fires. I feel now like I've had a glimpse through their little windows and seen inside. Thank you x

Boat Wife said...

I woulda got free fuel if we still had a solid fuel stove but we went for a diesel stove when our first baby was born. Kennett and Avon is our dream! We always wanted to travel there. We are from the westcountry but have jobs in London. Wanted to do the challenging Devizes flight (14 locks).