The Cruise of the Dondevoy


I had allowed fifty minute for the walk to the site, but what with the holes in my shoes and the gravelly roads, I did not arrive until half past nine. This did not really matter, as the Land Rover from the flat for the diggers did not arrive until after I did. The dirt to be removed from the site is a heavy clay; either it is rock hard, in which case scraping only results in a high polish, or when wet, it sticks to your shoes in two inch thick layers. At coffee break, someone found an old pair of shoes in a ditch, all covered with dried tar from a road mending job, but I now wear them, and find them quite comfortable. Conversation flows freely among the workers, despite the hovering presence of Mr Williams, who is known by a lot of uncomplimentary nicknames. The motor was fixed by the boatyard in a matter of minutes, I could have done it myself if I had had a spanner. They estimated the age of the motor at about twelve years, which surprised me, as it runs so well compared to the people I see passing in little dinghies, cursing and swearing and pulling feverishly at the starting rope for fear of being swept over the lock gates or the weir. Apart from misfiring sometimes on one cylinder, mine seems to be very good; cleaning the plugs should cure the trouble easily enough.

I shall go up river tomorrow, and send back the keys to Oundle with a hard luck story, hoping they will not charge me extra. I did not go tonight, as it was raining slightly, and I think that the number one lock at Northampton would not have been open in the evening. After knocking off work at one o'clock tomorrow, Mick has offered to help me through the locks; that is alright as far as I am concerned, as it will save me the trouble of winding the gates up and down, and will give him the benefit of an afternoon on the river.

I got paid today, for one day's work, and I shall have to be careful to make that one pound fifty last all week, but I fear I shall spend it all on food - mainly on cheese and butter for my lunchtime sandwiches. The light is now fading, and it is difficult to believe that the nights are already beginning to draw in, as Summer has not put in a wholehearted appearance yet.

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