Saturday 15th September
Very little done today except watch several episodes of Getty on BBC iPlayer, which was strongly recommended by my daughter. I have to say that it is very addictive and interestingly, it take place when JPG lived at Sutton Place alongside the River Wey near Guildford, although the set is somewhere else.
A visit to the Co-Op was also in order, but you already know what I think of that place. The Barley Mow was on the list on the way back, with their good selection of real ales.
Sunday 16th September
It was a case of ‘Getty With Breakfast’ this morning and I had to make the most of it, as I had a free wi-fi connection from the houses just behind the moorings.
I took a walk along the towpath and through the village later in the afternoon, but nothing too strenuous, calling in again at the pub for a pint. A very lazy day!
Monday 17th September
Time to make a move on to Rugby and being around midday there were copious moorings, so with a prodigious shopping list I walked down to Tesco and stocked up for the trip to Braunston. Otherwise, another idle day not doing much.
Between here and Braunston, the pubs are dire chain outfits where no one cares about the food, beer or customers, so it was a time for restraint.
Tuesday 18th September
I am still making the most of the free wi-fi connection here and finished Episode 10 of Getty – fascinating stuff.The afternoon was spent doing a load of washing.
At 15.15 the NBT pair of boats past me with a crew of three by the looks of it – the only one I knew being Howard Williams. I am meeting up with the loading crew on Friday, which will entail some dirty work on Saturday, but no lifting will be involved on my part.
Wednesday 19th September
As soon as another boat pulled off the water point, I untied and drifted across in the wind to water up and empty the portable loo. With that all done, I set off with breakfast on the hoof, wanting to make Braunston today, because the forecast for tomorrow was constant rain.
I stopped off at Clifton Cruisers for a pumpout, wanting to get rid of the Elsan Blue the guy had chucked in last time, so that I could revert to a biological method of cleaning the tank with SilkyRX. The. re was a warning that it would not work if in contact with formaldehyde. Maybe I should wait until after another pumpout before adding it; in which case it is going to be a long drawn out businsess.
As the morning progressed, the wind became stronger until it was gusting to gale force, which made boating very uncomfortable indeed and there were very few sheltered spots, even behind hedges. I did find one however around 12.30, when I was desperate for something to eat and drink. Fortunately there was some piling to clip the centre line to and I could hold the boat on that while I made a drink and a sandwich, so I was only there for 10 mins.
By this time, I was not far from Braunston and I thought that being in a hollow, it would be more sheltered. How wrong I was. Most of the moorings from the turn to the Boathouse were full and again the boats were 10 to 15ft apart, being either ignorant or selfish boaters. Eventually, I spotted Nuneaton and Brighton breasted up and there was a space ahead of them, but getting moored up was not easy. Firstly there was only one ring near enough to use and secondly despite the hedge, the wind was blowing Stronghold off the bank. Lastly, passing boaters would not slow down for someone trying to tie up. Eventually I got a stern line on the only ring, before pulling in on the centre line for the umpteenth time, sufficiently to drive a mooring pin in a previously used hole and affixing the bow line to it. Not only did I add a spring line to a short length of chain pinned to the towpath, but I added a centre line spring as belt and braces against the wind. I rarely do this, but the mooring pin was loose in the hole, although driven completely in to its full length behind the coping stone. I will remove the centre line if the wind drops later.
I was just taking stock, when I was approached by John Japp of NBT. We had a brief chat and he had been asked by Howard to make a few adjustments to the boats as he collected his gear. I gave him a hand to speed things up a bit so that he could get away home to Patcham nr. Brighton as soon as possible.
Thursday 20th September
Well, the forecast was right and it started raining in the night and continued until about midday, after which the wind began again in earnest, so it was once again BBC iPlayer to keep me amused most of the morning. Eventually i had had enough and decided to take a walk up into the village and down Dark Lane to visit The Admiral Nelson. With very comfortable furniture and so many cookery books on display for customer’s delectation, along with an excellent choice of ales, how can they lose?
Back on board, it was time to sort out a meal. The lamb chops in the fridge were beginning to smell off, so they went in the bin. They were originally bought to BBQ and I did two some time ago. These I was going to roast with roast potatoes, so that was scrapped in favour of the last of a chicken sweet and sour with rice and garlic flavoured fried cashew nuts on top, which was certainly different. I shall have to stock up on food tomorrow morning in the village.
Friday 21st September
A good shopping session, especially at the Braunston Butchers where they had calves liver again in stock, which I eagerly look forward to. The remainder of the afternoon was spent reading and sorting out the mess inside the boat.
The NBT crew arrived and we had a good catchup session before they moved the pair into the arm for loading the following morning. The butty was bow hauled in first and tie up to the wharf, followed by the motor on the outside.
Barry had made me a stainless steel chimney which fitted perfectly and I now have to decide whether to fit the old brass handle and fittings and polish them, or make new stainless ones. The brass fittings take such a battering from the heat and weather, they really need cleaning every day.
The new stainless steel chimney.
Saturday 22nd September
Loading day was here and most people were there when I arrived on the wharf. There were 17 tons of mixed fuels to be loaded onto both boats and once it had started loading continued in record time of less than five minutes per ton. I has to be recognised that there were usually two persons lifting off the stacks and another two people stacking inside the hull, which is why it was so quick. When the butty was about level, the boats were swapped over and loading the motor was loaded to completion. I have to say that the loaders worked tirelessly, never pausing for breath and I wished that I was young and fit enough to do the same, but I did help with some of the clothing up afterwards, so did not feel entirely useless.
Loading the butty.
Off down the Oxford canal.
The pair left the arm at 13.30 in good time to get to The Folly at Napton for a meal with two new recruits on board for a short trip up to The Turn. I bade my goodbyes to the last of the loading crew and returned to Stronghold via The Nelson for a well deserved pint with Barry. Although I had done little this morning, I was knackered and had an hours snooze back on board.
It was time to meet up with my daughter again in The Nelson for a beer or two, although I was not in a drinking mood and consumed very little, but it was an excellent evening, despite being so crowded.