Day Total (mostly solo): 12.25 miles, 8 locks (52 ft 9 in uphill), 5 hrs 53 mins
Overall Total: 247.25 miles, 174 locks
So leaving Bull’s Bridge this morning in the glorious sunshine was a lovely way to start the journey north. Back past the Slough Arm and memories of our day in Windsor and then to the first (and last) lock on the Grand Union Canal. Heading north through the outskirts of London, though we are still inside the M25 (just).
We’ve moored in Rickmansworth – a nice little town on the western fringes of London – have a look on the map – lots of low lying land and lakes and ponds.
The locks here are fairly spread out – a bit of cruising and then a single lock – all the way from the mighty Denham Deep lock (you will remember it is the deepest lock on the Grand Union at 11′ 1″), to the rather titchy Black Jack’s Lock at 3′ 8″.
We also saw some beautiful birds – Red Kites and Buzzards soaring overhead, a kingfisher (my favourite bird – the photo below isn’t one of mine – I didn’t have the camera with me at the back of the boat!!!)…
… and this heron – the photo is mine this time.
All of the birds were watching – but they weren’t gongoozlers, as the heron proved by catching a fish.
Oh – gongoozlers – I forgot. They normally look like this!
The term is defined on that oracle of the modern age – Wikipedia – as follows:
A gongoozler is a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom. The term is also used more generally to describe those who harbour an interest in canals and canal life, but do not actively participate.
“Gongoozler” may have been canal workers’ slang for an observer standing apparently idle on the towpath. Though it was used derisively in the past, today the term is regularly used, perhaps with a little irony, by gongoozlers to describe themselves and their hobby.
The word may have arisen from words in Lincolnshire dialect: gawn and gooze, both meaning to stare or gape. It might be presumed that such an expression would date from the nineteenth century, when canals were at their peak, but the word is only recorded from the end of that century or the early twentieth. It was given wider use by the late L. T. C. Rolt, who used it in his book about canal life, Narrow Boat, in 1944.
We had a large crowd of them at Camden Lock in London, and we had lots of them out today as we pottered our way up the locks. Most of the time they are very friendly folk, and it’s lovely to be able to explain a bit of how locks work to adults and children alike. I even had some “help” opening the gates at one lock. It does rather put the pressure on, especially when at the most populated lock some lads kicked their football into the cut just at the lower edge of the lock. Thankfully there was a bridge just before the lock so I was able to sit the boat diagonally across the lock tail (the end of the lock) and retrieve the football. Sadly, as we were going uphill the Gongoozlers up at the top of the lock didn’t see my amazing manoeuvring skills and just thought I’d got the lock approach wrong. Ho Hum!
But it was the last bit of the definition on Wikipedia that got me thinking…
The term, “gongoozler” may also be used in any circumstance in which people are spectating without contributing to either the content or interest of an event.
Are you a disciple or a gongoozler? Are you happily living the life of a spectator, or are you contributing to the life and growth of the Kingdom of God? The problem is that sometimes we have to stop and look and wait – just look at the birdswe saw. The Red Kite, the Heron and the Kingfisher were actively looking, not just spectating. The danger is that at times we might persuade ourselves that we are active and involved, when actually we are much more of a gongoozler.
Are you “contributing” to the work of the Kingdom, or are you a Gongoozler – watching with interest whilst others do all the work?
What is God calling you to do?