Thursday 8th June
Not raining at 07.00 but it does not look promising outside. Thinking I might survive the chilly morning, I put off lighting the fire until about 08.30 and eventually succumbed.
Thinking about going to the bottle bank and paying a visit to Helen later, she turned up about 12.00 for a cup of tea, a chat, and maybe a warm up by the fire; company is always enjoyable. We exchanged phone numbers, just in case of wanting to get in touch later. I should have done that yesterday, as she asked me to look out for her boat, which I did at 4pm while she had a hospital visit.
Once again we had a splendid meal at The Greyhound. Not only was the bar full to capacity, but the restaurant was too. Staff there are attentive without being overly so and the restaurant and bar staff seem to be here, there and everywhere, so the service is second to none. We thought that the chef had changed since we had been here last, because the menu was far more imaginative than before and if you go to a restaurant, you usually want to eat something you would not cook at home.
Back in The Greyhound at 6pm for a pint and Helen joined me shortly afterwards and bought me another one. She explained the problems that she had had with the rudder on her boat ever since it was replaced last year. I promised to look it up on CWDF and also look out the photos of my boat in dry dock.
Friday 9th June
The sun was shining again early this morning, but unfortunately it clouded over later. Chances are that the weather will improve from here on and the forecasters promise sunshine and hot weather.
I found the pics of my rudder and sure enough the proportions taken from the photograph were 1 part ahead of the rudder stock and 4 parts behind it. Researching on Canal World Discussion Forum, the verdict was about the same, so it sounds as if she has been sold a pup. Some bastard taking advantage of women boaters again! I messaged Helen the news and she later phoned to thank me. Apparently she likes to go to Braunston Hysterics and so we might meet up again there.
I let go at 11.10 heading back towards Braunston, following a hire boat through the lock, but soon caught them up. Instead of passing, I stopped to make coffee and then caught them up again; this time they let me pass – always frustrating when a boat is going really slowly. Not a lot to relate on the trip, except that I passed nb Lindy Lou, with Vic and Linda aboard, heading for Northwich – not much chance to say anything, but then Vic is a man of few words anyway. Vic helped me through locks on the Oxford last year, when my hip was giving me hell and he used to drink in The Pelican on the Wey Navigation.
I had washed my all wool Guernsey overnight, so rinsed it out this morning, but do little more than gently squeeze out the water. I put it on the slide with a towel beneath and imagine my surprise when the sun dried it by the end of the trip – that is faster than at home.
After five hours, I arrived at Newbold and found a tight place on the 14 day moorings. No consideration though from a hire boat as I was trying to moor up, so the bow of Stronghold was pulled out by the speeding boat, so both collided. Just another mark to be touched up along with the many others.
Saturday 10th June
I let go about midday and made Rugby moorings an hour or so later. As I passed beneath the main road bridge, Ryan Dimmock and another boater working for Jules fuels on nb Bletchley, met me at the path end having shopped at Tesco. I asked for gas and although Ryan did not have any, the other guy did. I followed them along the towpath to their boats, which were moored up a long way from the bridge. Having settled the bill, I then had to look out for a winding hole to go back to the bridge to get to Tesco and shop. The winding hole was at Clifton Cruisers, so that took a while, but it saved a long walk back to get to Tesco.
Having shopped for a lot of food, I was too tired to start cooking and went to the local Harvester pub for a beer and a meal – OMG I went to eat at a Harvester!! Actually, it was not too bad, despite the hand pumps having Doombar, Doombar and Doombar on the three of them. I settled on three starters together, so at least I had my choice of food and not a compromise.
Reading my e-mails there, I realised that the Foxton Festival is next weekend, so I had better not hang about any longer. Looking at Canal Plan, I can do it in just over 3 days at 5 hours each day, which sounds reasonable and might even give me a chance to go up the Welford Arm on the way.
Sunday 11th June
I untied just after 07.00, winded in an abandoned arm by the pub and headed for Clifton Cruisers, because I needed a pumpout desperately. Having lifted the toilet lid this morning, it was obvious what was needed. I got there just after 08.00 and although there was a note on the office door to say that the man was somewhere in the yard, he wasn’t. The office door was open and I called out, only to be startled by a barking dog on the loose in there. Fortunately he was not aggressive and came to me and licked my hand. Eventually a van drew in and I asked for a pumpout, but had to wait until 9 am, because he did not have the keys, so I made breakfast instead.
I moved on from Clifton to Hillmorton Locks and tied up below to pay another visit to the Canal Chef cafe, this time with camera in hand.
Hillmorton Bottom Lock.
Canal Chef with Badsey and Angel outside.
The shortened version of Nuneaton!
Back cabin seems true to form.
What a fascinating collection.
There were still some peeps sitting at the window table, blocking my view of Nuneaton, so I had a coffee and waited until they had gone. The lady owner was reading a copy of one of the books by Iris Bryce, who used to cruise on nb Bix many years ago and whom we met up with on our first ever boating holiday in 1979. I have all of her books at home and must read them again. I should point out that Bix was moored up just behind me, but the owner was not on board. I could take photos at will with the owner’s permission and the table in the bay window now clear. There are several models of narrow boats displayed, one of which is Nuneaton. I remember this being seen by an NBT member a couple of years ago and now it has been bought by the cafe owners. Something about it was not quite right, but could not put my finger on it until the cafe owner pointed out that it was not full length and one of the “rooms” had been left out, also the forehatch is not true to life. I was assured that the model is remotely controlled when in the water.
The first lock was operated by a lone volunteer, but the next two were left up to me. In both cases I did my usual trick of stepping off the stern as the boat went slowly into the lock, waiting for it to get about 10ft from the top gate before drawing half – in this case a whole paddle. Although the boat stopped exactly at the top gate, both bottom gates were so well balanced that they closed of their own accord – easy. I had spotted Rodney walking down the towpath and we exchanged insults as is usual between us. Valerie was steering nb Hazel Nut and Chris and Terry were in the other lock on nb Barleytwist, so there was little chance of conversation as we passed by. I should explain that they are members of the Byfleet Boat Club, of which I am also a member.
I reached Braunston after five hours cruising and as I went past Midland Swindlers, someone shouted out my name. It took a few seconds to recognise Karen Cook on nb Stella on the 14 day moorings. I did eventually get her phone number off Barry, so left her a message that I was going to The Nelson at 6pm, but there was no reply. She told me later that there was no signal where she was.
I did another load of washing in the marina launderette and eventually got to the pub at 6.30, but no sign of Karen. She and James (her son) eventually appeared and we had another drink and a good old chat. She is waiting for the new marina to open at Dunchurch Pools, where she has a new berth. www.dunchurchpoolsmarina.co.uk
Monday 12th June
Although I was up early in the sunshine, it soon gave way to cloud and made for chilly boating weather. I went up to see the Braunston Butcher after talking to a CRT volunteer lady called Lynn Doyle on the towpath, who asked if I really came from the Wey. It transpired that she spent her childhood there around the New Haw area and knew of a man called Richard on a boat with Grace in the name, which was of course Richard Heaseman on nb Lady Grace. It seemed that he recognised one of her locomotive paintings when he went into the Stop House at Braunston. I should explain that Lady Grace used to moor at Pelican Wharf.
I did actually manage to leave the moorings at 10.15 and got to a queue of boats at the bottom lock. Two pairs went up and I hung about waiting for another boat, but after a while decided to go. As soon as I was at the next lock, another boat was coming up behind me, so I waited in the lock for it. Again it happens to be a small world, because the boaters on board were from Rodmell, which is very near to me at home. Their boat was called Sundowner and they passed me later at Foxton, heading north.
Arriving at Norton Junction I waved them goodbye and turned off towards Leicester, mooring close by for a bite to eat and write this blog.
Pressing on towards Watford Staircase, I passed another boat and the steerer told me that there was little traffic on the flight and sure enough, there were no boats waiting when I got there. I walked up the flight, as requested and had a word with the lockie, who said I could go up the first two locks and wait in the second pound to pass a boat coming down the flight. These locks were not part of the staircase, so that was no problem. The trick of stepping off the boat and letting it go in on its own did not work here. The boat slowed to standstill in the centre of the lock and I had to go down the ladder and walk it further in. We passed by OK with good comments from the two lockies and the flight went like clockwork, as I stayed on board and the lockies did the work, so all done in record time.
Blind bend moorers - they wouldn't do this in a car.
No other boats were coming through Crick Tunnel, so that was easy and I reached Crick soon afterwards to moor up. With hindsight, I should have moored close to the tunnel mouth, but took a chance to go further onto the moorings with less trees. This did not pay off and I ended up well past the three marina entrances.
I had a walk into Crick to try The Red Lion, for the database of course! After a pint in there, I walked across the road to The Wheatsheaf and who should be sitting outside but the peeps moored behind me, who were also on their way to Foxton. I bought a pint and went outside to join them for a good old natter about boats – what else?
Tuesday 13th June
The day dawned bright and sunny, but as a lady told me once “It is like all men, all promise and no delivery!” Not that I would agree of course. It did cloud over later and was cloudy all day, but warm, so it was a pleasant four hour cruise along the summit to the Welford Arm junction, passing very few boats on the way. The last lap to Welford took an hour, so I arrived at 02.30.
I winded the boat and moored up alongside The Coffee Boat, FB @ FlavoursafloatCoffeeEmporium and as soon as I was alongside I said “ Here I am moored up very close to my two most favourite beverages – beer and coffee!” so that broke the ice immediately and we had a good chat about the types of coffee that they sell. Jim and Sheila are also going to Foxton and further chat ensued in the pub later.
Meanwhile, I was cooking a fish pie by instalments. Yesterday I cooked the mashed potato; this morning, I cooked the fish in milk in the oven; this afternoon, I made the white sauce and assembled the whole dish; in the evening, I put it in the oven. I had previously done this dish at home from a Delia cookbook, but did not have the recipe with me, so I looked it up online and found a Jamie Oliver version. While I was in The Admiral Nelson, I photographed on my mobile the Delia version from her cookbook in there, so now I had two versions. I should explain that The Nelson has a myriad of cook books on view in the bar for anyone to read. I shall have to put both versions together, as the dish turned out to be amazing and I would like to cook it again.
Wednesday 14th June
I had cleaned up the mud marks from the mooring at Suttons from the port side, so now that the Coffee Boat has left, I can move across to the right hand side and use the spare tap to clean the other side and the cabin top. The day was very warm and sunny and the cleaning took me all of three hours, but then the top had not been done for well over a year.
Fuel boat Callisto appeared during the afternoon and winded in front of me, so I asked for diesel and he came alongside to fill my tank. He would only take cash and bank transfer for people that he knew, so it had to be cash, which cleaned me out, so a trip to the Post Office was due shortly. By four thirty, I knew I had to go there and then, knowing that Post Offices have very strict hours of 9 to 5. When I walked in, someone else was drawing cash, so I asked what time she closed and she replied, “Right now!” so I had just made it in time. I asked what time they opened and was told 04.30 in the morning! That of course is the shop, but the the Post Office, opened at 09.00 of course. After the rush to get there, it was time for a relaxing pint in the pub and by this time I felt that I deserved at least one, or maybe two pints.
Thursday 15th June
Perfect mooring with all facilities close to hand.
A gauging weight used to weigh down the boats
and record the dry side for load carrying purposes when first built.
It was time to move on towards Foxton and I let go at 08.30 if only to get ahead of a hire boat watering up.
The day was sunny and starting to get warm by then, but it was to be short lived as the wind came up and the clouds formed just after reaching the junction. I passed by Nutfield and Raymond moored up at North Kilworth, where they had some school children on board in high viz jackets. Yet another marina is being constructed there, which is owned by the same guy that owns Debdale.
Sister marina to Debdale at North Kilworth.
I had arranged to arrive at Foxton Festival on Friday, so had to find a convenient mooring today and write this up. I hate mooring beneath trees, not only is it dark, but the roosting birds shit all over the cabin top, and having just cleaned it, I had to be out in the open, so here I am just north of Bridge 50. Being out in the sticks is all very quiet and peaceful, but there is no internet connection by mobile or hotspot, so posting this will have to wait until tomorrow. There is no TV signal either here, so It’s reading or reading – good job I have a good book. Oh yes, there is no pub either!
My friend Barry has just phoned to let me know that I will be steering the motor in the opening parade of the Braunston Historic Boat Rally, which has really made my day. I did steer last year in one of the parades, which was very successful, so I know what is involved. I was also on board when Tom Lapworth did it and all eyes were on him to pick up tips. On board to open the show will be Timothy West on Nuneaton and Prunella Scales steering the butty, along with Richard Parry, CEO of CRT, Tim Coghlan, boss of Braunston Marina and several members of CRT apparently. The good thing about opening the show is that Nuneaton will have a clear run up to the turn – not so good will be the return trip if others are following, but then they might not be for the opening ceremony.
Later I phoned the harbourmaster Andy at Foxton, who said that there was plenty of space to moor and that I was welcome to join them. I passed all the boats moored up there already and winded above the locks, ready for the return trip. Andy Ruck was on hand to guide me to a suitable mooring, which was not too far from the festival field. Again there is no wi-fi, except for my mobile, which has a better signal now than this afternoon, but still not strong enough for posting this. The only other alternative is to take the laptop to the pub to connect. for some inexplicable reason, this did not work either.
I hope you readers out there appreciate this, because I have loaded it on to a phone connection and it is like watching paint dry, but ..........never again!!
I hope you readers out there appreciate this, because I have loaded it on to a phone connection and it is like watching paint dry, but ..........never again!!