Narrowboat AREandARE

From the 2009 & 2010 tantalising tales, traumas and stunning photographs of Barry (photographer) and Sandra (writer) from New Zealand aboard NB 'Northern Pride', to the stories of their 2013 return journey, purchase of 'AREandARE', progress on sustaining their live aboard continuous cruiser lifestyle, and Barry's quest to gain residency and 'Indefinite Leave to Remain' in UK ...

Sunday 30 March 2014

Stepping confidently over lock gates - when you think you can ...

You must know the saying by Henry Ford? "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right."?

Well last Wednesday I proved it's correct - once again.

Many (I'd go as far as to say most) things we do, or don't do in life, depend on your chosen or conditioned mind-set. We can look at life as a struggle, and see the world as a 'scary place' (especially if you read the newspapers too much or watch the TV/news!). Or we can make a commitment to perceive it as an amazing adventure.

Often challenging, occasionally painful, usually interesting, frequently fulfilling and wrapped in wonder.

I'd decided to 'let' Barry off the stern to do a few locks - well we did have 17 to ascend to get to Market Drayton!

Knowing how Barry likes to step over the one open lock gate, rather than walk all the way around the opposite ones, to open the paired one (are you still with me?!), that morning my mind began playing all sorts of silly tricks on me.

I saw this picture of Barry stepping over the gate, but missing or slipping and ending up dropping with a splash into the canal below. He'd likely be holding his camera (where it normally resides when he's locking!), and didn't quite balance well enough.

The next scene in my made-up mind-movie was Areandare moving towards him, me trying with all my might to reverse or stop her, but not being able to and driving right over him.

Talk about catastrophising! (I know, it's not a word, but I think it should be!).

We laughed about it, but I knew it was something I'd feared in the past, which was why it was coming back to haunt me.

Sure enough, at every lock Barry gaily and confidently stepped across the gates. It certainly saves time. I just averted my gaze and focussed on the steering which was a challenge at times in the narrow locks, but I didn't scrape the new bottom too much ...

The lovely lock-side cottage in Audlem

Oo-er Sandra, you're a bit close to the side there (they're rather a snug fit along here)

Lining up for the lock - with the pressure of the side overflows, you have to over compensate. Not as easy as it looks ...

An arty shot!

Some of the locks are very close together - and I had to pass other boats mid-way between which was interesting!

No problem - though why is he looking at me in amazement? Is it because women are rarely at the tiller? Or is he eyeing up Barry's top boxes?

A training boat along the route - an ideal place to learn the intricacies of locking!

And another one safely passed

Evidence of bygone days - markings under bridges from ropes attached to the horses, which used to pull the working boats along the cut

Almost time to swap roles ...

Yet another half dosey doe (for the barn dancers amongst you!)

Another female in charge of the driving - good to see

Just enough room for a 'narrow' boat!

There's a lotta locks Cilla!

Having some fun in the water

Yet another lock - but who'd complain when you're out in the countryside seeing sights like this?

And this - home baking to tempt worn out boaters at the lock-side - Barry had a sample but we rested temptation to purchase (as we already had some ginger cake on board!)

After the first 11 locks were completed, I'd had enough of standing still at the back of the boat, so suggested a swap. 

I'd sort of gingerly attempted the 'step across' last year, but hadn't felt terribly enamoured at the prospect, and my fearful thoughts scared me out of it.  This time I'd decided it couldn't really be that difficult. Could it?

So on the first lock, safely out of Barry's view behind a bridge, I stepped onto the walking platform of the open lock gate. Looking over at the other platform, it suddenly didn't seem too far. So I said to myself loudly "Yes you can, yes you can, yes you can!" And yes, you've guessed it - I DID IT! Barry was right (he generally is!), it was just a step. A big step admittedly, but definitely a step and not a jump.

It wasn't a one-off, I did it a few more times, just to prove to myself I could.

Oh, and Barry caught me on camera on the third lock step while I wasn't looking …

One small step for Sandra ...

But a giant leap for womankind!

We arrived at Market Drayton in the early evening, 17 locks completed, of which I displayed my fearlessness 7 times!

One of the five Adderley locks 

A calm and peaceful canal - reflections from a line of moored boats

Someone loves their Susan

Waterside developments at Market Drayton

Safely moored up for the night, Wednesday 19th March, after hours of driving to travel six miles!


  1. Hi Sandra,My wife tried stepping across the lock gates at Lock 3 on the Hurlestone Flight on the Llangollen and missed.Very fortunately she missed all the steel work on the way down but did do damage to her armpit requiring quite a few stitches at Crewe Hospital. This occurred in 1999 two days in to a 2 week cruise up the Llangollen.Did not put her off canal boating as we have cruised 6 times since. Love it but it is along way to go from here in New Zealand. Regards and enjoy your Blogs and Photos. Martin

    1. Kia ora Martin

      Omg! How awful for you - so the picture I had invented in my mind about Barry falling in actually happened to you? Well, apart from the boat continuing of course, fortunately.

      It's taken me 5 years to get the courage up to do 'the step', and I was inordinately 'proud' of myself for being so brave. Once I'd done it a few times I wondered why I'd been so fearful. However, I haven't been too well the past few days, and when I went to do the step again the other day, I just couldn't. It felt like the gap had widened, but Barry assures me it was the same distance.

      I guess it's one of those thing in life where you have to judge the risk for yourself at the time, and if it doesn't feel right, don't do it. It's a long way down if you don't make it isn't it?!

      I suspect I'll waver between bravery and fear in the future. It only takes a few minutes to walk around the lock, which, after all, is the safest way to do it.

      Maybe I should've added a disclaimer tot he post - I did think about it, then forgot.

      I may just write a short one ..

      Go well Martin, maybe one day we'll meet on the cut? It is indeed and long way from Aotearoa - I miss godzone every day. If only we could be beamed up to either hemisphere aye?


  2. I have to say, when I step across, I try to maintain the principle of three points of contact! Holding the rail while stepping across doesn't seem so bad. And if there's not a rail to hold onto, I don't go!

    1. Hmmm, I'm trying to imagine that Adam. Holding onto the rail while stepping across doesn't sound possible, and having my right hand 'free' to hold onto the rail on the over side felt like the thing to do? But I totally see where you're coming from.

      I shall give this a lot more thought over the coming weeks - I'm pretty sure there'll be some I'm ok with and some I'm happy to walk away from ;-)