Boating In The Lake District
Benbow slewed, wallowed and rolled as six sweeps tried to row in unison
, only succeeding in striking each other more often than they struck the water. Occasionally two sweeps, one on either side, would discover some sort of harmony and, quite accidentally, Benbow would make headway.
Arms ached and sweat poured; language became very adult and boys who had been good friends became bitter enemies. We probably used eight miles to effect a journey of five and a half, and when, after an extremely gruelling afternoon Ghyll Head jetty was seen ahead, we felt that we had certainly paid for that picnic.
I parked the Rover on the grass verge opposite the Ghyll Head road. Hop out! I said to our politician, I want to show you something, and opening a small iron gate set in the dry stone wall, I led him down a narrow path, muddied with old leafmould, noting as we walked that over there, to the left, stood an ultramodern bungalow, its carport roofed with corrugated yellow plastic sheets.
Forty two years earlier we had gathered wood for our campfire from the spinney where that bungalow now stood. At the end of the path we stepped on to a jetty, freshly timbered with new planking, and from whose wooden piles, driven into the lake bed, were hung plastic boat fenders. When last we had stood here, the planking was cracked and slippery with moss, and from the piles hung old car tyres.
It didn't matter. This was the same jetty towards which we Because the Scouts had erected the tents and prepared the camp, it was the turn of my group, the following day, to cook the meals for all, and my personal task to prepare the breakfast. Well, even today I have some difficulty in boiling a kettle of water correctly. In those days I was even less proficient.The baconI cremated, and the eggs, blackened beneath and black around the edges, had yolks of powdered yellow chalk.
Vengeance was not long delayed. After a disastrous meal we were told to take Benbow out and to learn how to handle her, and I must not dwell overlong on what happenedthe memory is still painful. Suffice it to say that the plot must have been carefully and cunningly hatched, for the operation was remark ably slick.
I was hustled into a seat in the bows, the huskier members of the Scout troop manned the sweeps, and Benbow was expertly aimed at and propelled towards Grass Holme. As her prow bumped the rock someone called Jump out Knowles and grab the painter!
Of course I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. As I jumped out the painter was whipped from my hand, six sweeps slipped into reverse and in perfect unison swept Benbow clear of the rock.
And there on the rock I stayed, for seven long hours, feeling much as Napoleon must have felt during his sojourn on Elba. When in due course my friends felt I had paid sufficiently for my culinary misdemeanours, and sent out a rescue party, I immediately and for reasons which will be clear to the discerning of my readers renamed that island Fourpenny Island.
by: Adrian Vultur
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