Thursday 31 July 2014

A lazy day, hurrah.

Well David must have read yesterdays blog entry as today was a very very nice lazy day.  He was up at goodness knows what time, I heard him finishing off last nights washing up, then that lovely silence!  He went off blackberrying, to a secret location we discovered two years ago when slightly lost and looking for the towpath again.  In fact only a few were ready there.  Its a pity we shall be away from here for a while as the birds will have them I reckon.  So Brambly’s are now on the shopping list.

Last nights mooring in the shadow of the Laughton Hills.

We pulled the pins at about 8:30 and trollied off.  It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky, although that didn’t last terribly long. 
An uneventful run down the Leicester Arm with its  beautiful scenery.  It was quiet too.

A lone boat moored up at The Welford Arm.

I drove for 15 mins, went a bit mad on a corner, then suddenly I had had enough, this did coincide with the start of Test Match Special.  Now I do like cricket, I have been to many matches at Sussex and Lords, I love the sitting in deck chairs bit with nice M&S picnic, but I cannot bear TMS so off I went to the front, rolled up the cratch cover and sat tin the sun reading the end of my book.  This is a luxury I never normally take part in, but I liked it……

Sunny warm and no boats.

We spotted our Old Gentleman again too and pulled up to have a quick chat…
see April  HERE
This lovely elderly boater is very well and still out on his own enjoying life, wildlife, his books and it seems plenty of friends.  We parted after a chat and look forward to seeing him later on in the year.

We came around the corner to bridge 22 and no one there so we had the long run of armco to ourselves.  Moored up, books out and late lunch was served.

Much later the sky now pretty much clouded up had turned very dark, 
David nipped off to put on the tonneau cover on our semi trad back end and not a second too soon either as the heavens opened with thunder and lightening thrown in too.

You can't see him but a boat just went past in this...

Not that we sniggered or anything, but several boats came past us at the height of the downpour when visibility was so poor.  One actually has moored up here too, on this long long empty stretch, he is right on our tail!

Skinny supper for us today as we are on the 5:2 Diet Plan, lightly sautéed salmon steaks, french beans and just two new potatoes each.  I fancy a magnum tomorrow, on this diet I can have two.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Summer Cruise begins.

Well saying that I am not sure if it is a late summer or an early autumn cruise, either way its started.
I feel our three week sojourn home was a tad hectic, there was a small amount of sun lying in, but only a small bit. 

He had plenty of time for this...

There were however, dentists, doctors, a birthday party, an engagement party, a 50th birthday dinner, leg waxing and nails to be fitted in, saying nothing of shopping and lunching out. Oh I nearly forgot to say, youngest daughter is approaching the end of an eight year quest to gain a drivers licence, well her parents have been endeavouring to get her to, she is far more interested in travelling the world, so I have taken her out driving three hours most days, so you see how the time flew past.
So back to the boat for a rest and David I do want a rest, preferably with copious amounts of sunbathing thrown in.
We arrived at the Marina at about lunchtime, it was blistering hot and a waste of good weather as it was too hot to sit out in when we had unpacked.  Well I unpacked but David went shopping for the list of things I forgot to bring. 

He was however in charge of the wine cellar, this was the overflow from our two storage places...slightly in the way
Later we sat in the sun with next door neighbours Mr & Mrs Tubbs, tea and scones stretched out into a rather nice evening with wine.  So good to catch up with nice people.

Evidence of The Boat Sharers, involuntary rope coilers.

Almost ready to leave, cratch filled with crushed wine boxes!!

Today we set off for the Foxton Flight.  One of my favourite places, as each time we do the flight I never fail to marvel at the engineering feat.
Pretty quiet here I thought and as we entered the basin we saw a boat entering the bottom lock so I was jettisoned with instructions to run up the flight to see if we could tag onto him and go straight up.  Of course the lock keeper was at the top, they are always at the top, unless of course you are at the top, then they are at the bottom.  Panting a little I reached him….. but no we couldn’t go up, the boat in front of us was heading for the fifth pound with orders to stop there and wait for the three waiting boats to come down and pass him.  We were to wait at the bottom and it would be 90 mins.  Unlucky timing, but we never have waited much before.   I wasn’t too unhappy as I fancied a coffee and an uninterrupted read of my thrilling book…
After buying postcards for both our mothers, writing them then posting them, buying milk, making coffee, answering texts I managed no reading whatsoever and then it was our turn.  

Entering the bottom lock.

Half way up and look at the centre ropes already!!

Helped by two lovely girls, out visiting Foxton with their granddad, we whizzed up and were soon at our, well definitely my favourite mooring at the foot of The Laughton Hills in full afternoon sun, chairs out, Ooooooh would you believe it a glass of wine fell into my hand.
Being almost sick and tired of salad we had Chilli for supper. 

Its nice to be back.

Marvellous bit of parking here.

Friday 11 July 2014

End of the Spring Cruise, for us anyway.

So Reader, today you find us north of Wigrams Turn and well short of Braunston.  On arriving MR & Mrs Yarwood were away for the day, but we amused ourselves by; cycling to the car,  driving the car here, reading in the sun and drinking nicely chilled sauvignon blanc.  Reader can you guess which two out of the four I helped with?  Yes correct.

I had asked David to fill the car up as I knew it was down to the last square of gas…. He helpfully said “Oh it will be fine to do that tomorrow”

I got a bit cross with the TOTAL lack of  3G here, but did some writing and thought I would post it up later.  

The next day was somewhat complicated, it involved, liaising with NB Bluemoon    HERE     and  NB Yarwood      HERE    and The Boat Sharers, remember Reader that these two appear at regular intervals throughout the boating season, mostly in a pair but sometimes singularly.  These two were arriving at Dear Old Debdale, to leave their car there, be picked up and then come aboard.  For two weeks!!!!!

So after David made the arrangements, he then went off cycling.  I took the bag of kitchen rubbish with me to Debdale to dispose of there, well Reader we do pay a lot of money a year to the marina for such privileges we rarely use! So off I go, with 22 miles driving available to me only, through Braunston, looking for a petrol station. Not one. I don’t know Daventry at all but on my route to the M1 no petrol stations to be found.  

Onto the motorway, I only had to go two junctions which I know fairly well although I could not have told you how many miles it is between them two or twenty…? Down now to 17 miles driving available to me. Gulp.  Then up on the gantry comes the warnings that there are LONG delays on the motorway between junctions 20 & 22, I want 20, now I am in a full blown cold sweat….  Thinking ahead that when I run out I just know that David Lewis will come and rescue me  (He did tell me later that besides not having a spare wheel on that BMW of his he certainly never carries a petrol can…. I ask you?

So lucky that my junction was clear and I could escape and was free wheeling down to South Kilworth to the petrol station there with 7 miles available to drive only.  Phew, I’ll get that husband of mine later for this, maybe with the pole again, that worked well last time.

So reached Debdale in one piece and The Lewis’s transferred all their luggage and food into my car, well plus his tool suitcase to do jobs on WaL with…  Off we set for the pub all booked for a Grand Reunion Lunch.  Us eight had a bit of a jolly weekend at ours in February in one of those shocker storms.  Today was to be a bit more of a peaceful affair at The Rose Inn at Willoughby. 

So here we have back row David Lewis, Lesley, Amanda and Joe front row David Carr, Louise and John from Bluemoon.
We then went back to John & Louise’s for tea  (Louise took better photos than me, they are on her blog) with scones jam & cream that Amanda had made. 

Finally leaving these holiday makers and returning to Wal & Yarwood further down the canal.  Thank you for having us all. 
A lovely day and we were’t too raucous in the pub either.

That evening David and myself departed for home (The bricks and mortar one) and left the Boat Sharers to it for a fortnight.  So Reader they are headed for Birmingham and beyond, if you see them do Smile wave and say hello, and whatever they tell you remember that   IT’S OUR BOAT NOT THEIRS!!!!!

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Lunatics and walloped

So captain says we are 90 mins from the Napton Flight.  He wanted to get there early to avoid the rush, I wanted to fill up with water at the top as the bottom of the flight can get congested for a longer boat.  

Off we go at 7:08am, late for some but early-ish for us.  Creeping out of the mooring, whispering and heaving the bow and stern to avoid using the bow thrusters to annoy the neighbours,  a the breeze had picked up.  

Although we arrived here alone, by evening on both nights the moorings here were full. The trip actually took much longer than expected as its so bendy. I often suggest to David to sound his hooter which he is somewhat reluctant to do, he prefers mostly to go real slow on these bends and position himself well.  Today this was just as well.  

Approaching one of these shockers, David says it was the tightest bend on the canal, almost a U Bend and a bridge too.  But just as he was reaching down to press the hooter when someone else’s  was blasted  making us both jump.  It was a little tug thing, very short and going like the clappers, although David whacked us into reverse, walloped the bow thrusters quick and managed to stop us from being hit.   this lunatic however just came bombing through.   The only good thing was that the two young lads on it ended up hard up against the armco there trying to heave it off again.

So with this fresh in our minds, we crept on even more carefully.  But not for long when a hire boat came around a corner.  They were not going ramming speed or anything, just maybe a tad inexperienced,  a boatload of very friendly Germans,  this section is pretty challenging for anyone I think.  However we met them on a 90 degree bend and they ended up in the plants.  We avoided them easily but were also in the plants….  grounded.

No joy reversing so I sprang to help by going up on the roof to get the pole.  These “Barge-poles” are heavy Reader, and it was most unfortunate that in my best efforts to get down from the roof with said pole I walloped David on the shin with it.  

Now it is a truth universally acknowledged by all wives that when you have done your best to help your spouse and your efforts have resulted in no help at all that all wives will just see it as hilarious.  This wife certainly did, in fact had trouble stopping laughing. 
“No I’ve got the bloody thing moving now” He said as he hopped from side to side, swearing and rubbing his shin, so I turned, laughingly to return the pole to the roof, and hit him again on the shoulder.  It was like the scene with Eric Sykes and the ladder Reader really it was hilarious.  I don’t know what the Germans thought watching all this, it still brings tears of joy to my eyes recalling it.

David has now forgiven me.

So onwards to Napton Top Lock.  The water point was free so we did get on it, David was rabbiting on that we should maybe fill up at the bottom, I said nothing as I don’t really mind either way but I just think when you are descending the locks its more user friendly to fill at the top.  Got the nozzle on and bugger me, a boat appears from no where and goes to the lock.  David being the helpful chappie he is went forward with his windless and filled the lock for them, he was sort of thanked, sort of.  We turned and walked back to the boat and would you Adam & Eve it… ?  Two boats arrive.  Sniffy woman on the second of three boats said “Yes and we are both travelling together”  David now über pissed off.  Clearly Reader these two boats arriving was totally my fault.  He withdrew and said he was going  off to make his breakfast, the lady on the second of the three boats said sniffily “Oh I had breakfast on the move….” Reader that went down like a cup of cold sick I can tell you.

So back on Wal, David livid about getting here early and then having to give way to not one but three boats, we eventually fill up with water and are about to start off when a fourth boat arrives, this was all too much, I took cover but no need as the charming man simply gave way to us with a smile. 

So onward. We filled the locks in turn with two or three boats coming up and making life easier.  We carried on down, pretty much following the two sniffy boats.  But there came a time when I was texting on my youngest daughter on matters of great importance….. She is getting married in Feb and has found another dress, yes another wedding dress, she has one but actually today was all about shoes, so important and I was loitering, hanging back form the lock, texting when I was aware of a calling, maybe you would call it a shout… Then another shout this time of  “CAN YOU DO THE GATE?” no "Please", so Reader this was from the captain of the third boat in front of us, this is the boat that I had already helped at the top lock and received no thanks, so I was in no hurry to help them again, but after the shout I did go forward and open and shut the gates so that the wife could walk across simply and guess what….?  Yep NO THANKS AGAIN!

 So David started off furious and then calmed down, I started calm and ended up infuriated, not helped when I got “Told off” by a volunteer lock for filling a lock in front of an ascending boat.  Now this was this boat was entirely unbeknown to me as I completely thought we were still following the two boats down, I hadn’t seen any boat coming up.  
I was incensed to be told off, he then followed it up by saying we should have waited 20 minutes to fill and empty lock….

I shall say no more on that subject but things improved as we finished and found yes there they were on the water point Sniffy Boats one and two and guess what..  Neither boat greeted nor acknowledged nor thanked us for helping them, remember no one had helped us.  Luckily “Sniffies” are few and far between on the waterways and I am in no hurry to meet them again.

I discovered last week that these taste delicious.  Sorry if you are a vegetarian Reader.
So this is the damage to lock 9 I think it was,  a boater appears to have taken the wall out and the corner stone of the lock entrance.

Presumably CART gentlemen making these 200 year old steps "Safer" as they were steep I was told.  One has to ask why?
Moored up later next to NB Yarwood with whom we shall be having fun with later.

Pink and fluffy...? Nope scratched and stung!

I had been promised a nice fluffy lie in today, tea and reading in bed and no “Are you getting up yets”.  I did however get invited on a nice flat walk, over here, up there, round here and to the pub  (for a low calorie drink as it was a skinny day), back to the boat in an hour plus however long we decided to be in the pub.   
An offer no girl could resist.  
So as it was a chilly start I foolishly took a fleece, five minutes into the walk I was boiling and had to carry the bloody thing.  
Very happy as I spotted a new bird for me, a bright yellow one.  As a precaution I did put on two pairs of socks and my new-ish walking boots…. Thank goodness I did.
So the first bit, go along the canal and turn left. No problems so far, then as a taster of things to come, the footpath disappeared, completely.  Now Reader I can hear you saying, footpaths don’t just disappear but here in darkest Warwickshire they do.

Victorian barn with stables attached for storage of sleepy working horses onsite at the end of a working day.  How farming has changed in a relatively short time.

David has this theory that in Leicestershire where we have wandered about quite a bit around Home Sweet Debdale, the paths and bridal ways are well marked and maintained maybe something to do with all the Horsey people and them being well used….?  However here, no signs, no Yellow topped poles, no nuffink.  We ended up scrabbling over fences where paths were marked on our map  (You remember how David loves his maps), trying to open walkers gates unused and grown over thick with brambles.  
By the time we got to the pub, The Butchers Arms at Priors Hardwick I was hungry and hot, a sandwich was wanted.  The barman in a jacket and tie said no bar food as this just a restaurant.  I giggled and said Oh no I am not dressed for a restaurant, I was in shorts, tee shirt, mad hat hair and attractive walking boots.  He said Oh no we have all sorts here, walkers and even Boaters  actually you look better than most!!!!!  
David wasn’t completely sure how to take this.

He escorted us to the patio and gave us cushions to sit on…..  The first thing on the menu I saw was Beef Capriccio. Well that was that, our favourite Italian dish of all time.  If they weren’t embarrassed to look at me then fine, skinny day out the window and beef was ordered.
Lovely meal,  silver service and large portions.

Little bit of iffy brickwork in-between top and ground floor windows.  Someone likes straight lines, look at that creeper trimmed neatly!

The Butchers Arms at Priors Hardwick, thought to have been built to accommodate the church builders in the 1300's

Ancient house but David really likes this tree, he planted one in our garden years ago.

Home to the boat.  
"Just downhill" he said.  "Path on the corner of the road", “Where’s the sun?” says he….  There it was, but this time the walkers gate was neck high in nettles.  Marvellous.

I love these ancient fields with the "Strip's" still clearly visible, walking over land farmed by men 900 years ago.

This was clearly the best path of the day, but here I cut myself and had blood dripping down..

These were all stingers here, we managed to find this pathway, others had entirely grown over. 

Eventually we found another way, all the time having to go further away from the required direction.  We were unable to follow intended short cut and ended up having to follow the tow path which here on the South Oxford is über bendy, we had to walk 3 miles more than we had thought and very rough under foot and lots of long brambles overhanging the tow path to get you in the eye too.
An hours walk turned into a five hour near ordeal.  I have many scratches and stings, all together not one of our greatest walks. 
Boat finally, boots off, tea made and naps the sun all around, to what was left of it

I am going to join the Militant Wing of The Ramblers Association, Priors Hardwick branch  and press for DIRECT ACTION.

This was tonights sunset.  To maintain this moorings viewpoints next visit I shall send Sweetie Pie through the hedge with the hedge trimmers to hack from that side.
 Can'e remember supper, I think I had to eat a bar of chocolate.

Monday 7 July 2014

Beef, mushrooms and an a direct hit.

Now we are, in general, loitering, we are in no great hurry to get anywhere, so with this in mind David had the idea that today we would go through the lock at Cropredy early, so that tomorrow morning we could make an early start to get to Fenny Compton, the key factor being the arrival time.  We had our eye on our favourite mooring there and wanted to get there early.
So we did.  Saying goodbye to those attractive beef cows.  

Our sum total for today’ stats are 1 mile, 1 lock.  

There we moored again and I did the chrome polishing of the port holes.  While I was in the mood I did the mushrooms too.  I have plans to do the water side portholes…. but not today.  That done, I fetched the books and we did that nice sitting in the sun thing which is so diverting.

The next day, because believe me Reader, nothing else happened, we set off nice and early.  I had been persuaded, cajoled and implored to leave at 7am.  Tea had been brought to my bedside with the sweetest of encouragements and promises made in my ear if I would just rise, do the eight locks and hurry up about it as he was leaving in 10 minutes flat.
I obliged.
Now as you will know me by now Reader, early mornings are not really anything to do with me, however I almost enjoyed this one.  
We didn’t meet anyone in the beginning, the locks were mostly only half filled, so no long waits, it was really warm and the sun was shining.  What more can a boaty wife ask for?

A one lock, I can’t remember the name but it is the one with the cottage that has no access road, it is boarded up and has a sign written up that it is owned by local boaters and any thing suspicious to call blah blah blah.  Well in the garden I spotted a blackcurrant  bush, in fact several.  I sent Nanny below to fetch a container and we steamed through picking them.   We are accomplished blackcurrant pickers, in his yoof, Darling had a huge veg and fruit garden.  It was his escape from his business, his wife and well, not the children as he loves them far more than me, but if couldn’t be found anywhere he was always to be located  there, digging, where the phone don’t ring.  
Well with no boats coming we picked all the black ones so now these few days later the red ones left would have turned by now so if you are coming that way… get yer pot out.

Cooked these up with strawberries.
Onward and at Fenny Compton we were mentally prepared for a wait for water, but isn’t it great when the water point is free?
David has been practicing today to be a single hander today….  I am not completely sure why, however he INSISTED I was the one to go shopping here, just a mile down the road into the village of Fenny Compton to the Co-op while he does the water fill and then if necessary move the boat onward, in fact as we got close he very nearly pushed me off the boat,  dumped the bike on the towpath such was his enthusiasm to be rid and said something like “Off you go”.  Yes Reader you are correct, it was a change from this mornings sweet nothings….

So off I went and for an old bird I got a very nice smile and greeting from a lycra clad young cyclist (Big sunglasses do so help.)
Supermarket Sweep completed and two boxes of Magnums brought back I pedalled back to the Wharf, I was expecting to find WaL gone and me going to have to go along the towpath with my basket full and a packed carrier bag swinging on the handlebars but no there he was.  For sale here was a basket of jars and Nanny had spotted one of Chilli Jam.  We had it for lunch later, totally delicious and for only £1, a snip.
  We trollied along and reached our intended place Hurrah.
Out with the garden shears to do my bit for maintaing the viewpoint here and also cut the only bit of grass mooring that had been passed over by the mowing Contractors.  Probably some sniffy Shiny Boat owner we asked them not to mow here…….!

Supper was Beef Burgers, pesto couscous and salad oh nearly forgot, Magnums for pudding.

Bird mess being washed off.

Previously in April this was underwater, now it is not, but for how long?

CART doing work on the tow path side.

I used to keep these ducks but I didn't have a canal to keep them on.

No this craft isn't sinking, its supposed to be like that, got to like looking at grass though.

Very very narrow here in Fenny Compton Tunnel

PS This will amuse David Lewis, I took David’s favourite hat and washed it, in it’s absence a passing bird scored a direct hit

Thursday 3 July 2014

Loads of moaning but it's no problem

This was the sky last night.  Rather a pretty one don’t you think?

So time to leave Kings Sutton, it’s been a lovely mooring for the Bridge Hoppers that we have been this weekend.

No boats, no people, we like moorings like this.

We left pretty early heading off towards Banbury, we wanted water there and it was bound to be busy.  
I just love it when we go under motorways, I think to myself how many of those busy bees would rather be down here on the canal….

Going under the M40

This is the meadows to the south of Banbury, you may remember that we had a Rude Awakening here back in April      HERE

The work does not look terribly much further on these months later.  I wonder what it will be like next year, if we come back this way.

Into Banbury, the canal seemed pretty quiet, the water point was not however.  Two boats on the bottom water point and as we approached, the boat exiting the lock made his intensions clear that he wanted water too.  Easy decision for us to go through the lock and water at the top side.

As we completed the lock there was a smaller boat on the water point, fine, we will wait.  As I approached the boat, it was clear that it was not filling up, there wasn’t a hose which was a clue.   I walked to the lady and said that we wanted water and had she finished…?  Oh I am just doing a bit of boat washing and painting!!!!!!!

Water points, excellent place for boat painting!!!!

On the corner of edging, Wal getting scrapped.

I was a little surprised at this answer and said well are you mooring here then, we want water.  
Oh you should be able to get in behind she said.  Well she was kind enough to pull her boat forward so that we could almost fit on, all concrete walls here and as the the lock went on to empty and fill there was quite a bit of movement, or scrapes I might call it.  
But in her head this was perfectly acceptable.  She had a permanent mooring in the boat yard there but today was a school visit.  Tooleys Historic Boatyard were taking the school children out in their Dayboat so she had had to move her boat to allow this.  So washing her boat and painting she was, on the water point.

Finally  the water was done, a newspaper fetched, we were off again.  There were spaces in the centre of Banbury as it was about 10am-ish, but still in these places that many people want to moor in do boaters leave these ANNOYING gaps.  We always moor button to button in the summer, in busy places.  
Why don’t others?

Nice big spaces left in-between boats

Now we knew that NB No Problem   HERE     was on the move this morning, we had hoped to see them and as always it was on a bend with no room to stop.  But we did stop on the very next place we could and biked back to visit them. 
They are both looking very well and pleased to be on the move hot footing it down to The Thames to meet up with family.

Glad we got chance for a chin wag both.

We were headed for Cropredy, but as we got within range there was a nice stretch of Armco with only one boat on it.  Bish bash bosh and we had moored on it, got out those trusty chairs and we did what I just love doing in the summer months of reading in the sun, then watching a whole bunch of boats moor up in quick succession in front and behind us.

Cows make us feel at home.

Supper was a skinny supper of Thai fish cakes with salad.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Braunston Boat Show

I am very excited about today, I have wanted to go to the Braunston show for a good few years, but we were always in the wrong place.  This year we are in entirely the right place and in addition to that jolly chums Mr & Mrs Yarwood   HERE     are going, plus David & Amanda too.  Anyone who has ever been to Braunston knows that it is a “Black Hole” with regard to any modern form of communications, so firm arrangements were made in advance by carrier pigeon. 
Having the car is so much fun, we were able to do a taxi pick up for The Yarwoods and whiz on into town,  by complete chance Amanda & David (The Boat Sharers- or so they call themselves) drove into Braunston at the exact same time, him doing high speed handbrake turn to make the junction.
We had a table booked at The Admiral Nelson for later so we parked in their carpark and walked along the nice newly laid towpath towards the marina and all the action.
The Parade or is it a ‘Sail Past’ was just beginning.  The commentator gave potted histories to all the boats, it was jolly interesting, but don’t expect me to have all that here for you, instead I would urge you to go visit yourselves next year.
But here are a few pictures to paint the scene.

Lesley pointing out to me that when fully laden this boat would be down to here.

Sarah from NB Chertsey   HERE

Three Ice Breaker hulls

Bones and Amanda, Bones is very camera shy.  HERE


Time to leave

PS  I went to the loo for three minutes and this is what I find on my camera today. 

Lunch was Buffalo Burgers, delicious, we shall see their cousins in a few days time….