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,


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


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


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
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. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Dawn, well almost.

This was dawn today, well 8:30 anyway

This was my view this morning as I opened the side hatch, nice me thinks.  
We were just short of Long Ichington.  So we set off to complete the run towards Braunston on this section of the Grand Union Canal.
A nice run along here with every lock in our favour, that was a nice change.
The sun was shining and as the day progressed the wind picked up to a breeze and then later to being pretty strong and as we climbed all the locks developing into a small hurricane at Calcutt marina where we wanted diesel, our map had the marina at the top of the three locks but in fact the services are between the second and third lock coming up.  So to get diesel David had to do a nice cheeky bit of reversing across  the pound at one point getting a tiny bit wedged on the concrete but how nice that on this occasion the button being  in exactly the right place and saving the paintwork.  
So the last locks done, 13 today and we just wanted to moor up out of this wind.  So onward to the junction, no boats coming, a left turn and along to shelter under the hedge.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Heading eastwards

Off we go then heading out of Leamington and towards the Stockton Locks, quite a nice run along, with some pretty autumn colours

Not supposed to be an arty shot, I was just in a hurry and snapped.

Here was one of the pair of staircase locks, here I met a sweet young chap who even though he was a single hander, had gone back to the upper lock to fill it for me.  
So a nice day even though no Lock Buddy and we had to empty about half of the locks, it was a nice day. plus it was sunny, always helps.
We moored up out in the countryside, first time in ages, short of Long Itchington.

Pasta again for supper, with chorizo and mascarpone. 

For god's sake turn left!

Today was a short bit of cruising today around the corner, along a bit, down two locks and into Leamington Spa.  Well this was the plan...

He accidentally almost drove into here, the Saltisford Arm, he missed this turning....

Easy mistake to make and a quick bit of reversing had it sorted.
Leamington Spa proved quite jolly, we got there after lunch and found a branch of Bill's.  Bill's started yonks ago in my home town of Lewes


Actually if you read this link you will see that he started just about after leaving school, (We went to the same school), so we went in and had a platter of delicious dips and toasted pittas plus coffee and two newspapers, all of a sudden we had been there almost 90 mins and thought we had better hoof it.
So away to the museum to see a couple of beauts

This is a Duncan Grant picture, he was one of the Bloomsbury group, Charleston Farmhouse, their  holiday home is world famous and also in my neck of the woods in Sussex.

Lucy Kemp Walsh painted this and David's mum has it on her wall.

Afterwards we did some mooching around some nice classy shops, always such fun. 
Back to the boat for an interesting supper,  sardines whizzed up with up pine nuts and raisins on pasta.  Much nicer than it sounds and next time we'll use two tins of sardines.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Buckets of blood and hooting

So on a nice and bright sunny morning we arrived at the water point at the top of the Hatton Flight.  We wanted, like all sensible middle-aged people "A Lock Buddy", there were none to be seen.  While I applied lipstick, David went forward and set the first lock, he carried on and set three.  When he returned, he implored me to drive the boat.  Said the paddles were going to be too hard for me, said something like we'll never get anywhere if you do them.... Ha! We'll see about that.  We had agreed that as there was no one waiting, that we would make a start and if a boat appeared we would wait and allow them to catch us up.  I was feeling pretty assured that if we could make it through the dreaded Kennet and Avon then frankly Reader we could do anything.
"I'll start off darling and we'll see how we get on, of course I can do them." Famous last words.  
Well Hells Bells and Buckets of Blood Reader is all I can say, Oh my word they weren't half heavy, I felt my favourite short windless slightly bend with my heaving on it...
So over the course of the first three locks developed a system, it mostly considered of David asking me (Yelling) to drive the boat and me ignoring him.  But the bike did come out.
So he drove into the full lock and shut the gate, some of them he shut the paddle done too.  Then I valiantly would up the paddle to empty the lock, now using the long handled windless which rarely comes out of the locker.  Then he drove the boat out and into the next lock with the previously opened (By me) gates.

Rather a nice piece of sculpture

Reader these are the unusual paddles here

This went on for a few more locks, Reader if you are unaware the Hatton Flight has 21 double locks and they are heavy beasties.
So as we carried on I was going ahead on the bike to prep three locks at a time then biking back uphill to close the gates of the lock behind him and then downhill to catch him up again,  now I do yoga, aqua aerobics and cycling so I think I am pretty fit,  but I was flagging pretty quickly. 

So David ended up going ahead on the bike to prep the locks and open the gates whilst I held the boat on a rope and if time pulled it out of the lock too, but I think that only actually happened twice, then he climbed back on, and off we went again.

So here he is opening the paddles 

Running carefully and safely back to the steering wheel.

So this was a bit later, off to prep the next few locks

He said he preferred to do all this than to wait for me, him doing nothing....

You can see that some pounds were long

It was pretty wonderful when finally the last four locks were in sight.  David went off on the bike and prepped them and came back, as he drove the boat off  I heard our hooter going off in a frantic sort of a way, it was a longer pound and  I was wondering what he had met out of my vision, I soon found out as on the bike I met a couple, Oh how they laughed, they had walked up from the bottom car park and found the towpath side gates opened so had closed three of the four.... "But we opened that one again for him" they declared generously, still laughing.  Small sense of humour failure on both our parts, but no punches were launched.

It had taken us three and three quarter hours to descend, that was us two alone and having to fill every single lock first.  We thought that pretty good,  I also couldn't help thinking of the more elderly couple we had met the day before on the Lapworth Flight who go to Birmingham each year via this route. Respect!!
Just out of the final lock and moored up immediately. We had delish egg mayo big rolls, then after David had collected the car from the top of the flight, we went here to Baddesley Clinton, yet another National Trust property....

Baddesley Clinton
 A stone house dating back from the 1300's.  It comes complete with a moat and three priest holes all used in anger too.

I do love a nice bit of Dogwood

Just loving these lime greens yellows and purples

I think this is Red Oak.
Supper was puff pastry tart with fresh figs, goats cheese, olives and capers and salad.
Delish I have to say.