Back Yet Again.
Monday 10th September
Here I am back on board after an angioplasty, which involved inserting two stents into the right cardiac artery, so that should put paid to the angina for some while. After a seamless journey involving four trains, which fortunately all linked up, I started up the towpath and within five minutes, three people greeted me with a wave or hello. It is quite incredible really that this camaraderie exists on the cut and nowhere else and so many boaters remark upon it frequently.
Stronghold was exactly as I left her, all safe and sound and I soon had the gas and power back on, but had to pay a visit to the Co-Op to get something to cook later, via The Old Swan, which is a 16th century coaching inn; well what a let down: the beer was limited to Banks’s bitter and mild; there was only one small main bar and two other rooms; no food and basic seating, with about six customers.
Tuesday 11th September
A more consistent shopping expedition was now in order to keep me going until I reached Rugby. Unfortunately it was raining fairly heavily and continued until about midday, so I was unable to make an early start unless I got soaked, which I was not prepared to do. There are two outlets of the Co-Op in Atherstone, so I went to the nearest and the smaller of the two, which was of course very limited, but the larger one is not much better. Despite the logo advertising “Good With Food”, it is just not true and I would have fared better in Aldi.
After lunch I did let go, heading for The Anchor again in Hartshill. Surprisingly there were a fair number of boats moored up there, but there always seems to be spaces. I had forgot about Tarmac’s yard opposite, which starts up at 07.00 with a fork lift or similar clanging about and probably loading trucks for delivery.
Wednesday 12th September
I let go for Sutton Stop this morning and arrived in good time to bag a decent mooring just above the water point on the Coventry canal. After a good hot shower, I went to The Greyhound to meet up with Terry and Chris Rigden for a meal in the restaurant. I had previously bought a painting by Chris of Nuneaton and Brighton cruising past their property in Bedworth at the Braunston Show earlier this year and said that I would be passing through at the time. We had a very pleasant meal as always at The Greyhound and I learned more about their boating activities. They also invited me to stop off for a meal when I was passing next, which I thought was most generous, but it will almost certainly be next year now.
Thursday 13th September
Mostly a day relaxing on board, though I did go foraging for blackberries later. The best of which were to be found along the towpath of the North Oxford. I did eventually pick a pound and a half. I also bumped into John and Myra on Tramper II, who I met initially at Sawley some two years ago. It was they who sold Tramper, their first boat to my mate Colin, thus the initial reason for asking about the name and meeting them.
In the evening I met up with my eldest daughter and fiancé in The Greyhound for the last time this year, but this time it was for drinks only. Another great evening in one of my favourite waterway pubs.
Friday 14th September
Heading off this morning for Newbold moorings, I encountered another boater holding in Papillon and his wife hanging on to her boat. It transpired that Papillon had come adrift at the stern end, so I stopped to lend a hand, which meant driving mooring pins in, because there were no rings. Papillon had been there about six weeks to my knowledge and already had two CRT tickets attached for overstaying the time limit. The stern mooring pin turned out to be a thin tubular steel broom handle, which someone else must have used in emergency, because the steel mooring pin was hanging on the end of the line at the back of the boat and had obviously not been seen. I drove it in tight to the steel piling, hoping that it would not pull out, because the ground was extremely soft at that point and quite unsuitable for mooring there. Whoever moored up originally, quite obviously either did not care or were just ignorant – maybe both. The front door had also been broken into, so it may even have been stolen.
Arriving at Newbold after about five hours cruising, I moored up and was congratulated by the lady on the hire boat in front about the slick method that I use. There are plenty of rings available here, which does make it easy and I clip on the centre line to a ring, before attaching a tiller string to keep the boat straight which then springs her into the piling. With the boat held in position on tickover and in gear, I can now attach the bow and stern lines and suitable fenders and another spring line from the bow to stop any lengthways movement when other boats pass by.