Thursday, 13 November 2014

..... and so to bed.

I am writing this from home now as I bet you have guessed Reader.  I feel bad not winding up properly last week but after we got home its been a bit wedding focused here.  If you are not a Frequent Flyer to this blog, our daughter is getting married in Feb 2015 in New Zealand and there are things to do now.  
     We have had a Bunting Workshop here this weekend (or I could say a Sweatshop), 120 metres of bunting is going to fill someones suitcase and I am hoping its not going to be me. But it is made now and is currently decorating my lounge nicely.  
It worked well with me and all daughters plus friend Clemmie (and the groom had a go too).         The next day was the Clucky Day..... not heard of that you men boaters???  Well its a day when mother, bride and sisters go off trying on wedding dresses, shoes and the like, mostly for fun when you already have one.... This did backfire slightly as the bride is now on her 4th choice of dress.... can't say more.

So then back to Market Harborough, we had a fun weekend and on the Sunday a good lunch was had by all at the Waterfront restaurant.  We had to part company with our fellow diners on the Sunday afternoon and The Yarwoods made a prompt getaway  the next morning they have all sorts of jobs to complete before they go to Spain for the winter, but I had decided that a morning shopping in town.  I brought a new dress,   David on the other hand went a bit mad, hard to believe I know.  It happened in Waitrose of all places, 25% off of all wines, so he brought some.

So back to the boat, the roof was in need of a scrub, then underway to Foxton, very sad I felt to be going home finally, but its been a pretty long cruising season for us.
On this leg we did actually see the Kingfisher that was elusive two days ago.  It was about 1pm when we left the basin, the sun was out and in places it was blinding off of the sparkling roof!


NB Yarwood on their way, Bon Voyage crew

I like what the sun did here on my phone

Glorious day, gee wilickers though it was cold

Arriving in Foxton, there were just a couple of boats that came down then all quiet.  Although we were minutes away from Debdale Marina, our winter base, it is closed on a Monday so we were going in on the following morning.
This was Foxton early the next morning...

Pretty beautiful eh?


Bridge 61 in soft autumnal light.

So the boat was popped into her winter bed, we loaded the car, and like the nincompoops we are we had forgotten to bring up with us in late August the mini electric radiators from home, so someone has to go back and put them in...

When unloading the car at home, David had a count up of wine...  we have 72 bottles here!!!!!
I told you he went a bit mad.
See you all next year.







  

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Friends and Cocktails

After a bit of fannying around this morning, we made our way along a pretty great stretch of canal to Market Harborough.  Its about 5.5 miles there to Union Basin where we were meeting friends. The sun shone as it has most of this last week.  I had my eyes peeled all the way for Kingfishers which nest along here, but I was disappointed today.  I learnt from an expert that at this time of year they are not feeding their young so are not out as much.  You really do appreciate TV's slow motion cameras when you do spot one as in a blink of an eye they are gone in a flash of blue and orange.


The reeds glistened in the sunshine 
Leaf soup. Bungs yer prop up a treat.  Not at all annoying.

We came to the swing bridge just outside Foxton village.  Its a cantankerous old bridge this one, weighs a ton and hates being pushed around.  I was struggling with it and just then a friendly lady walked by and offered to help, thanking her as she hopped to and got the ball rolling, she told me that CART had done work on this bridge, however when she does her 4 mile walk here every day, she often helps boaters with it. 

We arrived in the basin, and turned around,



This is an old Bonded Warehouse now a rather nice restaurant.

We we looking all around to see where our friends boat was....



Spotted it yet?


There she blows!

NB Yarwood.  HERE    The boat was blindingly shiny, but yes you've guessed it, Lesley said it needed polishing......!
We moored up just outside the basin on a nice vacant straight section with our own water tap laid on.
Handy.

We invited them for cocktails and supper and it was rather good too.  Waitrose's current monthly recipe cards for red salmon risotto and black forest fruits calfoutis. Went down rather well, as did Lesley's Brandy Sponge, I do love a woman who splashes the brandy around a bit, hic.









Sunday, 2 November 2014

Foxton

Just left last nights mooring, how pretty is this?


We had plenty of time this morning to get to appointed place, that is to say The Bridge 61Pub at the bottom of  The Foxton Flight.  We arrived at the top in a little over an hour, passing by these trees...

Running the gauntlet.
The worst ones have with fallen or been removed however the angle of their growth of these remaining ones gives me the screaming abb dabbs, so David drives as fast as he can under these.
As we edged into the first lock there was a fair few people watch and taking photos, it was only about 11am, the crowd got bigger and bigger....


With the undivided attention of two lock keepers, who did lots of the work although Reader please be assured that I repeatedly asked to swap sides so that I could do the paddles, we made super fast work.  Turned out for the luck watchers that 6 or 7 boats had gone through much earlier, we were the last boat to go through the locks today.
The crowd grew as we progressed down, and a cute set of three little brothers who were thrilled to be invited to open the gates for me.  Their mum was cautious and hung on to the youngest one so that was good to see, but another mother had her small son, maybe 4 years old,  on a sit on scooter, she held the dogs lead while the child on the scooter peered over the empty lock side, Reader it was so scary I had to look away, the lock keeper tried to tell her to keep him back, but she merely replied that he won't go in.  So that's alright then!
Phew.
The crowd stayed with us all the way to the bottom where fond farewells were said and the children all waved goodbye.  I am happy to report small child indeed not fall into the lock, however this year several people did.
I walked down and over the bridge followed by a couple with a small girl, I took the centre rope from David and we moored up.  As they walked past I heard him say "That was Prunella Scales"
as he walked off I collapsed into a heap of helpless giggles, you see Reader in China, if you don't know her, HERE  she is a well known British actress who is 82, currently I am considerably younger than this but clearly today didn't look it.
David when he had stopped laughing his head off, realised that this made him Timothy West who is 80!!

We moored here after I had got express permission from the lock keeper


This is the sign


Frankly we didn't really understand this sign, does anyone?

Sunset from the bridge
Supper was a very cheesy mushroom omelette.






My favourite place.

So a nice morning with sunshine too.  This section of The Leicester Arm David and I consider a bit to be "Ours", we don't mind other boats using it,  and when we reach here we know that we are almost home to Debdale, it does make you a bit sad because although it is the most loveliest section its getting towards the end of the current cruise and in this years case the most fantastic summer of weather and cruising.

We had a lovely run up to Bridge 50, it took about 3.5 hours and I loved every minute of it.
Here are some of the sights.

Lots of pheasants running about the path.

HERE

What a great sight.

This is Oilseed Rape, look carefully and you will see it flowering in places, it should do that next April!!!!

Welford Arm moorings, usually at least two boats here.

This farm is opposite, we say its The Grundy's Farm

An avenue of yellow and green leading up to....

Leading up to The Husbands's Bosworth Tunnel


The Laughton Hills, home to buzzards and our mooring tonight. 
The view from the cratch.
Supper was with friends at The Bell in Gumley.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Prettiest canal in the world

The morning proved wet.  It was expected and the back cover was on so no great shakes.  We were well on schedule for the end of the week so I could do that thing I LOVE, staying in bed with a great book, tea delivered and later breakfast.
When it dried off, David did the car shuffle and at the same time exploring more of the immediate countryside and discovered that on the nearby Stamford Estate is a monument to Percy Pilcher,



HERE

Killed at the age of just 32, he could have beaten The Wright Brothers into the air.  David says most interesting.

We had decided to move in the afternoon as the forecast said rain again mid afternoon. Lunch was brilliant,  halloumi cheese, with olives and that revolting char-grilled artichokes, (which I think are food of the devil and actually had to spit out, something I haven't done since childhood!) crisps, chilli jam and tomatoes, oh and a glass of merlot that needed finishing.  



This looks colder than it actually was. 
This Leicester Arm is just the prettiest canal in the world

Quiet.

So at his leisure we set off to do a couple of hours, after one, the heavens opened and I disappeared.  Shortly after he moored up, pretty cross though, the forecast was rain mid afternoon and at 2pm David did not consider that mid afternoon.  I pointed out that the clocks had gone back.....


Greens turning yellow

Yellows turning copper

I have cushions on the boat this colour

Thats pretty much where we stayed.  A pretty spot and later in bed we listened to owls hooting just outside.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Braunston

David thought we ought to have an early night last night because there was so much to cram in today. He hinted strongly about an early night by switching off the telly and then the lights.  To be fair I was yawning and had been most of the evening so I didn't argue too much.
So Himself up with the larks today and off to get his newspaper and milk from the shop in Braunston.  Early this year he was jolly cross with the shop when it failed to open early enough, he was up there chuntering and in the end gave up and came back to the boat, however all was well today.
Supplies fetched next wash and wipe the boat down,  he had completed this before I was dressed, so out I went to apply the polish.  He was the buffer-upper today.
Just as I was bending down buffing myself when I almost fell in as the boat moved out....
David!!!! I yelled, yes he replied calmly and as I turned around there he was cool as a cucumber, he had untied the ropes and was walking the boat along to the water point.  Didn't think I should be informed of his plan, I reckon he had put money on me falling in.
So I finished buffing as the sun came out at and as the water finished.
All aboard to the chandlers with the list of requirements.  The most important thing after loo cleaner was a new fat dangly thing.  I had almost set fire to the old one, inadvertedly, it had been put over the engine outlet and had cooked nicely, luckily it was the same one that had burst so not all bad.
As we waited in behind a chappie in the chandlers who was buying masses of stuff a hire boat appeared, David shot out the door and ran around to secure a place with them in the locks, the crew was emptying the lock and David ran back to WaL jumped on and whizzed along to join them, leaving me still in the queue, happily not for long and I hopped out to off load the shopping.
This was one of David's better ideas as the family of five consisted of a big strong dad and his two lovely KEEN sons plus the grandparents, all from Yorkshire, hirers of twenty years standing.  The dad was ahead turning the locks and I was with the two lovely boys and their Grandma.  It turns out they were from Worksop and live near to Mr Straws House
HERE 
A place I have wanted to visit for years and years, but when you live in the south Worksop isn't really on the way to anywhere, however I have an invite for tea when we do visit next year!

As I walked along beside the boat the sunshine showed up the bits we had missed polishing to a horrid degree.

Braunston Locks with lovely family

It seemed that we had completed the locks so very quickly, almost a shame as I would have liked to have spent more time with such a lovely family.  But off we headed for Braunston tunnel, another record was set today, us having to pass 5 boats in the tunnel, the previous record was 3.  

Look carefully to see a blue haze, this was some of the fumes from the tunnel today making me cough.

At Watford Locks I went up to book in with the Lock Keeper, so nice here to be told yes come straight in, nothing waiting at the top, so 
Bish Bash Bosh up and away through here in record time too.

WaL in the bottom pound at Watford
Not a breath of wind here and full sunshine, that doesn't often at Watford Locks.
 
Reader that is the M1 passing overhead right at the top of the flight.
  
Last year Crick had this whole side for winter moorings, it wasn't the case this year.  In fact the signs which say no mooring opposite the marina entrance had gone too.  Curious.

Plenty of moorings if you want them here at Crick.

We ended our day at my favourite place, I call it The Hares Field as I watched five playing one spring but today the crops are far too early so no cover.  It was here in the spring I watched a water vole too.  Nothing this time.

Supper was courgette and chorizo pasta.










Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Love Nest and fish wrappings.

A couple of days at home to see my mother, she is well thank you for asking.  While I was there I took this;


There is a very thin sail boat in the middle there.

Looks like a storm but actually it was just a striking sunset, but what great colours nature sends.

Braunston beckons and as our boating season heads towards its conclusion the final round of boat polishing has to be fitted in whilst the weather is dry. 
This can be handily done in Braunston on the towpath side side.
So just a quick flit up the Grand Union Canal, we passed some curio's,



This boat had been there a number of days, no owner to be seen, the old fittings discarded on the towpath, so that's alright then.


Oh what a sweet Love Nest they have themselves.




 This was listing and open, no tax to be seen, it maybe saved of course.... however in its garden was the carcass of a Land-rover and other pieces of treasure.




Another abandoned boat????  Nope, this one had the fire going and a figure moving about inside.

 We found the canal pretty busy, far more so than we had expected.  Half Term seems to be the reason, lovely to see so many grandparents taking their grandchildren out, hire boats all over the place.  There were spaces in Braunston to moor but not loads.  We handily got on very close to the water point, which is next to the rubbish bins, one of my hobbies is disposing of rubbish, my husband says I am obsessed, however any housewife or rather boatwife will tell you the same the bin smells long before it is full, especially as we are having fish tonight.

Braunston, its been a while since we were here. 

David hopped off and moved the car from god knows where to considerably up the road, while I unpacked and pleased that I had restricted packing to one bag each.
Skinny supper was haddock steamed on a bed of mediterranean veg with chilli and couscous.