These early morning starts are really not all they are cracked up to be. Granted that the temperature is very pleasant, and there’s not much to make one seasick while underway while the landscape seems so soft with colours beautiful and so muted as to be barely distinguishable, but therein lies the rub.
Who can spot the lock in the above photograph? No one. Not even those among us charged with doing so as we sprinted upriver at our customary seven kilometres per hour, Mr Perkins huffing, his propeller snagged with weed that hid and pounced as we squinted into the sun. The mist takes forever to burn off in the little black crevasses which hide the locks, so that even by eight, a time when surely most would be shaking off the rigours of the night, we were still relying on the little signal light on the gate to provide a hint as to which particular bit of blackness we should steer towards.
The lock at Thoraise it turns out is wedged in one of those crevasses, and in the somewhat eerie absence of any other boat bar Jan and Toby’s, we rested all afternoon in the damp shade of the valley just before the tunnel, in temperatures bissfully ten degrees cooler than they had a right to be.