Friday 28 October 2016

The Last Gasp of boating for 2016

So after an earlier than planned end of play last evening, this morning was a damp start as you'd expect in October but the sun came out and we finished off the jobs.

In previous years we had washed the roof off and then gone through the very leaky drippy Crick Tunnel with its white deposits that spoil the paintwork, only to have to wash it again and re-polish, the next year we forgot and did it all again.  Now we are older and not quite so stupid so we leave the roof till we are through one direction or another.

After completing tasks, we sat back and prepared supper for the lovely Pauline and Neil from NB Waterlily.

We first met them on the Thames at Teddington Lock waiting to go down the tidal Thames and in to Brentford.  Like I have said before, poor Pauline was as nervous as a kitten, then later in the week I saw on another blog that she had gone out onto the High Seas at the Thames Barrier!

We had sea bass for supper and early the next morning we departed quietly.  They to go through Braunston to their winter mooring at Barby and us heading home.

I do really love the Leicester Arm, I look upon it as mine.  But making this last leg up in the autumn is always so sad as its the very last gasp of boating for the year, its been another lovely lovely summer.

The lovely company Neil and Pauline.

What you can't see so well is that Neil and Pauline borrowed my guest slippers, Pauline borrowed my thermal heated fleece ones and Neil got the pink sparkly ones....

I am in purple (of course) with a bow and David's match the floor mats!

From the overnight mooring we had it was a relatively short hop up to Watford Locks, we were there early, as Pauline and Neil asked the previous afternoon what time they opened in the off season, the answer was that the locks are no longer locked overnight and you can DIY through.  But on arrival the bottom lock was empty so I walked around the corner to see if anyone coming down, no, so we went in to be greeted by the sight of very low pounds

Look at that polished back end....!  Fabulous eh?

There was nothing else to do but play around with the water levels and let some more down, but frankly its not something I would do lightly.  We consulted each other and agreed with ourselves before proceeding.
We got through the first two locks and then I was delighted to see the early arrival of the two volunteers.  They said it was ok for us to proceed and he played water behind us.

It seems that the levels are alway low overnight but this was a bit extra low.

Second lock in from the bottom

WaL creeping round the bend

I had the camera ready to record the scrape....

But there wasn't one at all.

Very low side pound

Working our way up the flight.

Soon through and on our way to Crick.  Less drippy than on previous trips even if it had poured with rain that night in Braunston.  We stopped at the water point in Crick and David scrubbed whilst I directed the hose, tricky job really, he likes the water just behind his scrubbing, occasionally in front and all the leaves washed off.  He really doesn't see the funny side of the water going all up his leg......

This shell has been there since 2012 when we started but now its on its side, oh and theres another, maybe they are collecting them.

Don't you just love breasting up, on a bridge hole, on a bend....?  What is the mindset?

A sudden heavy shower, I suddenly had a phone call to make....

Fabulous colours and apologies for the lack of clarity.

The Welford Arm empty for once.

The run up to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel

Cold but look how lovely the sun was again.

The Laughton Hills mooring.  I have to stop here each and every trip.

Yellow hearts in the hedge

The roof was polished you will be pleased to hear.  I was very pleased to complete all the wee jobs and my bit of varnishing too.

All that remains is a run down to Foxton in the morning and then glorious packing.... 

The next morning off we went after ten am due to rain.  It was cold grey and sad.
When we got to Foxton we soon realised that all the other boaters around had done the same thing.  We were the fifth boat in a line of about eight to go down.  
The lockkie asked me to wait until there was one clear lock between us and the boat in front as they didn't really want the extra water to flood the pub!!  Well thats what he said and who am I to quibble?

Three in front that we can see from here.

Last night aboard WaL this year... sob sob

In to Debdale Marina the next day, load the car and away, that sounds quick doesn't it?  Well it wasn't quick but all completed finally.  We are at home now and sad about it too.  Our trip to Lincoln had to be postponed for family reasons,  hence the non lingering on the Leicester Arm, but if we get a run of good weather in the winter who knows, we may do as we have promised ourselves a few times and go winter cruising.  Are you up for it Amanda?

Until next time.....

Saturday 22 October 2016

The sunshine after the rain.....

So this morning was a lovely bonus after last evening rain, 

I mean just look;

The view of Braunston bottom lock from Dark Lane.

I left David with WaL to water up and meet me at the bottom lock.  I went up to the village shop, they of course didn't have what I wanted so I walked along to Dark Lane the lane that leads you to down to the Chandlers at Braunston bottom lock.  They of course didn't have what I wanted so, after checking from the bridge I saw David and WaL approaching the lock I chatted to a very nice man who was the volunteer here today, after checking to make sure no boats were coming down the flight,  I borrowed his windlass to empty the lock.  

The man was sat on a bench in full sunshine.  He did tell me that last year here at Braunston, there had been enough volunteers to man the flight with two people each day.  But these people had drifted away and the numbers of volunteers had plummeted.  He felt that this was due in part to non contact from CART.  He told me that on arrival the volunteers phone to Foxton Locks, report that they have arrived, at the end of the day, they call Foxton and report their departure.  That is the beginning and end of any contact with CART.  I think this is a great pity.  

My own 86 year old mother is a volunteer at our local hospital, the hospital contacts them all regularly by letter and personal visits for feedback, there is an annual Volunteer Week across the Trust, drawing attention for appreciation of all of them plus they hold several receptions through the year for the volunteers to meet each other and be thanked in person by the Head of the Trust.

Going back to Braunston and our locking volunteers I do always make a point of thanking them personally for their efforts and tell them I appreciate them, do you?

So returning now to the first lock, I popped up to the bridge over the bottom lock to see where he was....  no sign only a blue boat entering!  Now I was a bit surprised but very pleased to see an unexpected boat to buddy-up with, now all we needed was WaL.....
It seems that David had cast off from the water point and heavens knows how had left the rope behind.... Now that has to be a first right?  He had put WaL onto the Disabled mooring spot on the centre line and hoofed it back to the WP to collect the rope, seen the blue boat, called to them to join him (Bet they thought him mad)   then having retrieved the rope proceeded.

By now another boat had arrived coming down the locks.....  
All was received in good nature I have to say, a senior moment no doubt David?  Next time he'll forget the boat!

The Crooked House but in recent years its been "Straightened" so now it just a wee house. 

NB Puddleduck that we joined with today.  This is Liz who made lovely company today, Thank you!  They were on the way down the GU and towards the river Lee.

We carried on to Norton Junction where all the moorings had been nabbed.  So we carried on and popped ourselves under some trees.  Had a quick lunch and started some jobs, well continued some jobs.

We have had a white film over the back end of WaL, BAR KEEPERS FRIEND was suggested and worked brilliantly.

We had considered having the stern  repainted with the blacking last winter but don't need to now. 

My job, taping then varnishing the front wooden frame

The other side being polished.

We started off then a shower came over and soaked everything, had a tea break then started again.  Another shower came over and rain stopped play and we packed up.  Then the sun came out again....
But no, I had had enough in and outs.

Thursday 20 October 2016

A fine company of visitors

So another early turn for the visitors, I hope they don't come visiting for a rest!  Just after 7am today and the engine started.  Now today there was only four locks to do, here was the first of them.  I wasn't going to fight Amanda to do this one as she derides such pleasure from them.  She is a most hard working and experienced deck hand....

So just go see what she did today;

David L just at the ready to help as my David reversed through the narrow space here. (Not required today)

Amanda at the ready to lock wheel.

My favourite pub in the early light under the beautiful 187 yr old bridge

Now in the picture above, on the far left you can see the old pump building that housed the pump.  It was designed by a Mr Thomas Newcomen.  David and I had a large surprise when visiting friends on their ocean going yacht in Dartmouth harbour, we went into the Tourist Information Centre on the quayside and they had a mini museum behind the desk giving space to Mr Newcomen's achievements, also an engine of his, removed from the pump house in 1968 from Hawkesbury Junction.  You can read more about this man HERE.  Scroll down to the " Surviving Engines" section.

She REALLY is a pro... but had a senior moment here today.

Sutton Stop, so called after the Sutton Family who lived here and whom several members became lock keepers during the 1800's.

Through the lock and onto the top of The Oxford canal.

This really did turn out to be the best of the day.  The sun was shining, the sky was uninterruptedly blue.  It didn't last, the sun went in and the wind picked up.
I made breakfast which was bacon and fried egg sandwiches.

Hardly any traffic about as you might expect that time on a Sunday morning in October.

Winter hats adopted.

I made a batch of white chocolate and ginger crunch for the fine company.  We ate quite a bit after breakfast and before I poured the sparkle.  Going through Stretton Stop, the odd place where there is a hire boat company and a wee foot bridge over the canal.  I was inside fetching but the drinkers had knocked over a glass flute, these glasses are actually plastic so are they still called glasses?  Well anyway, before I could get on deck to see what all the laughing was for, Amanda had jumped ship, grabbed a broom, washed the floating glass and grabbed it... and was running back with it.

Chocolate and ginger crunch.

Successful flute fisherer's.

Endless fun with Selfie Sticks to be had.

Arriving at Hilmoreton locks.

Actually I didn't do anything with this windlass.

The workers

We met an unfortunate hire boat here, really struggling with their boat as it had picked up wire around the prop.  The hire company had said that they had enough time to return to their base the next day, but I thought that rather unkind as they had no speed whatsoever and pulled the boat into the lock by its rope.  That would have ruined my holiday.

On and down into Braunston in the rain, Amanda and I retested to the warm cratch next to the stove..... no point in us girls getting wet and colder now is there?

The men disappeared to fetch hidden cars and Amanda and I cooked lamb biriani with sweet potato and butternut squash. Rather good and that will definitely be repeated.

This went past here, new owner but the former owner had one of the most widely read narrow boating blogs, HERE.

The new owners of No Propblem, I hope they have as much fun on her as Sue and Vic.