Wednesday, 25 September 2013

That's done cruising for a while

Monday 23rd September to Tuesday 24th September 2013

After a very peaceful night, the day that awaited us was less than brilliant – in terms of the lack of sunshine – once again the weather report of periods of sunshine was not as accurate as we had wanted.

Nevertheless we left reasonably early, but with at least 5 miles of lock-free travel in front of us, I left it with Diane to steer the boat whilst I stayed inside and got on with doing some work – only emerging to the occasional whistle for something of interest or concern.

Soon enough we were at Tixall Lock and both of us worked the boat through – and with a  boat coming up we were able to leave the gates open – the boat coming up just happened to be Gill and Malcolm (nb Shoehorn) – no time to talk – just a few passing comments – they were off and so were we.

Tixall Wide came along and whilst there were plenty of mooring spaces we were not stopping in this instance – Diane was on a mission – heading towards Sandon – for either afternoon tea or dinner.

We were approaching the junction, but decided to pull in after the first aquaduct to allow two boats coming towards us to pass through; Diane was readying herself for the lookout job on the front of the boat for the junction when I heard a mighty thump from the front. The boat was already in neutral and hardly moving – I looked down the starboard side and could see two feet overhanging – one dangling a bit in the water, but in no time at all, there were men on each side yelling excitedly to slow down; stop; throw a line; etc etc.

As I had said, the boat was almost stopped and in neutral; the look down the side allowed me to size up the problem – wife fallen on gas locker; feet still moving and body above water – not dead; time to move the boat to the side effectively without any panic – the panic was confined to either side of the canal.

I did chuck the centre line to the tow path side and the man helped to pull us in – many thanks to both of them for their concern but the situation was totally under control.

Diane managed to right herself and with only a few superficial bruises, she was OK – not as bad as when she had “broken” her leg last December.

The second of the boats went through and we carried on through the junction.

At that point we spotted Phil and Barb (nb Columbo II) at the water point – once again just a quick hello, how are you? , how is the engine? , how is the heater? , see you back in the marina. – and that was it.

No more problems with the rest of the cruise up to Sandon where we moored up on the Armco.

A booking for dinner had been made at The Dog and Doublet – Elaine and Paul were to join us.

The meal, as usual, was excellent; the after dinner drink was less so – not because of the drinks, but one obnoxious gent (term used very loosely), took exception to us moving one chair a few inches to give us a bit of room (he wasn’t even there) and didn’t impinge on where he was sitting.

He went off a bit, so we ignored him; he finished his drink (I presume – I was with my back to him) and then got up and had a go at us for not even apologising for moving the chair – a bit blue in his language.

Paul took offence at his manner and arose from his seated position; the guy continued to be obnoxious; I wasn’t going to apologise for something that happened when he wasn’t even there; told Paul to sit down because he wasn’t worth it – he mouthed off a bit more and then left – apparently he was staying in the accommodation annexe of the place – but he had already been a bit abusive at the bar earlier.

We carried on with our chatting; the people in the other corner were a bit dumbfounded about his attitude and we laughed it all off.

Where's a pheasant plucker when you need one ?

A horny cow

The welcoming home committee
Tuesday was back to the marina day, which is only about an hour’s cruise; we did a pumpout and moored up and within 15 minutes everything was back to normal.

Diane managed to get a couple of loads of washing done in the time from leaving Sandon to mooring up in the marina – remarkable woman that she is – nothing stands between her and the chance to wash (maybe except for actually having something to wash)!

14 Miles, 4 Locks

Totals: 2184 Miles, 1629 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridge

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sunday - you little beauty !

Sunday 22nd September 2013

The first job of the day was the making of the coffee – the second job was to take the dog for his walk and get the paper – do you ever feel like there is some kind of routine going on here?

It was a lovely day out in the morning, but work beckoned and so in Diane’s own way she managed to keep out of my way – armed with a fresh coffee and the Sunday Times she volunteered to hold the bed down.

We had decided against rushing off today and instead to just take it easy and then stroll down to the pub for lunch.

And what a meal it was – on the Wrenbury scale it rated an 8.5 – and the dessert was very good as well – Lemon sponge with lemon sauce and custard – just the one to share between us – we have to watch our figures.

After all of this it was back to the back – we were ready to leave and enjoy the afternoon sunshine with some cruising.

A little concern for us as we were ready to start – the engine wouldn’t turn over when we tried to turn it on – the glowplugs were heating OK but not sound of any charge getting through – the engine battery was reading 12.5V – it usually is a solid 13V.

Eventually it kicked in, but another thing to keep an eye on until we get back to the marina.

We were only a few locks down when those inimitable pair from nb Josephine (Andy and Jean) were beside us again – going towards Penkridge – they were mooring above the lock that we had not long left, so we moored up and walked back for a cuppa with them.

We checked out their new kittens – as much as we are not cat people, they were quite cute – Banjo, of course, was scared of them.

Jean was trying to bring out a new collapsible ladder that they had purchased (to make it easy to get out of the water) when she felt something “slimy” – when she looked down it was a “fish” on the ladder – it was a wee bit funny to see her in a bit of shock and horror at this fish – especially when it emerged as one of those silicone rubber lures used by fishermen.

Diane is holding the offending "fish"/lure

Still we had a good laugh at Jean’s expense – sorry Jean.

We all said goodbye to one another and we were back on our way through the next 3 locks – eventually mooring up just before Stafford Boat Club for the night.

 4 Miles, 6 Locks

Totals: 2170 Miles, 1625 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Birmingham left behind

Thursday 19th September to Saturday 21st September 2013

Do we believe the weather report and stay put based on the prospect of heavy showers or do we risk it and cruise out of Birmingham just a bit?

The skies weren’t too clouded over – certainly not dark laden with rain about to come, so we decided to risk it – afterall, how bad could it get – just a bit wet – well, maybe soaked.

As it was predominantly cruising and just the three locks, it would only mean that one of us would get wet.

for some reason the "6" in 2600 KG was reversed
We were heading to the Black Country Museum and the mooring just outside.

The Birmingham New Main Line is almost as boring as you can get, although we have been told the cruise from Lincoln to Boston is mind numbing (we will have to wait for that one).

Despite the forecast we remained relatively dry and moored up without any fuss in the last available spot – after winding.

We hadn’t been to the museum for 13 years and quickly noticed the changes – a whole street of new buildings – Diane was keen to sample the chips and also the sweets but this being a normal week day, the place had been infiltrated with school kids by the busloads.

Black Country museum

This whole row of shops had been added since our last visit
13 years ago
Each time she was about to enter one of the shops she was beaten by firstly the little nippers and then after that by the teenage variety – but we have to say that they were all very well behaved and each a credit to their school.

she wasn't allowed to go on the Helter Skelter
We wandered up to the entrance to pay our fee – we needed to use the card  - the pub down the bottom couldn’t take it as credit cards hadn’t existed at that point in time.

A lovely chap from one of the cottages called us in to the house he was responsible for and in the warm sitting room of the era gave a rundown on the museum and the history of the house we were in as well as explaining the changes since our last visit.

After this and a stroll back down to the bottom area, the school kids were all chipped up and we managed to get a couple of serves – they were very nice indeed.

Lime kilns in the background

an old trolley bus - now in use at the museum
Onto the sweet shop and this time we had gone to the other extreme – three much older ladies had engaged the shopkeeper and so there was a little wait whilst we listened and enjoyed the chatter going on.

Finally by about the proper closing time, we had managed to see most of the exhibits; enjoyed the chips and sweets; had an afternoon tea and escaped the rain for the day, and so it was back to the boat to escape the cold although inside the boat it was still quite warm.

a few of the old working boats moored in the museum, including
We had a very pleasant night there – no problems whatsoever.

Friday was expected to be a much better day and if initial prospects were to be followed we weren’t in for a great day – grey and overcast – but fortunately the cruise down to Wolverhampton cleared the clouds and the sun appeared.

We watered up at the services just up from the top locks and then commenced the journey down.

This was our third trip through this flight and we have enjoyed every single one of them – the locks are a pleasure to work and we have not had any problems at all.

It is a pity that the isolated incidents, as serious as they were, might have put some off this flight, but we do love the journey through here.

There were a couple of boats in front of us and Diane saw one of them on one occasion, and apart for a spate of 3 boats in 3 locks coming up the locks were in general against us.

No matter we got into a rhythm and the time went quickly as did the locks and just after lunch we were down and cruising northwards.

Mind the Gap !!
We didn’t want to spend all day cruising as we were feeling a bit tired after the flight and so it was at Cross Green we moored up in a lovely cutting just after the pub and plonked ourselves down for the evening – to recover.

these wonderful plane trees at the stat of the Staffs and Worcester

an odd assortment here - just take your pick
Our main reason for this trip had been the stove being installed and we carried on around the Leicester branch and onto where we were as a bonus – we are keen to get back to the marina to prepare for our next venture to the US and to also catch up with Elaine and Paul – to see how they both are – so we have been travelling a bit longer during the days than we would usually expect to do.

Diane had earmarked the possibility being in Penkridge on Saturday to go to the market that is there, so we left earlyish and knew that it should not take us any longer than 4 hours to get there – it turned out to be right on the mark.

There were a couple of boats in front of us at the lock at Gailey, which took a bit of time and thereafter we had at one boat either going down in the lock or about to leave; with a couple of boats coming at these locks the time to pass through lengthened but it was a half decent morning and we really didn’t have any need to be rushing, so we enjoyed a pleasant morning of cruising.

Plenty of moorings were available and we found a lovely quiet one before the first of the two Penkridge locks and then wandered down to the market to pick up some supplies – just to replenish what was missing.

If you visit Penkridge, make sure that you visit Jaspers (the bakery) – the queues out of the door validated it – Diane enjoyed the chicken and mushroom pasty and the rock cake was delicious.

Later in the day, whilst I got on with the engine jobs, Diane was busy polishing the port side and it came up a treat – after we finished, we just relaxed on the towpath and talked to passers-by, most of who seemed to out walking dogs.

28 Miles, 29 Locks, 4 Tunnels

Totals: 2166 Miles, 1619 Locks, 74 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Brum, Brummie, Brummest !!

Sunday 15th September to Wednesday 18th September 2013

With Sunday predicted to be again be a wet, windy and generally miserable sort of day, we decided prior to it to spend the day relaxing and getting a few little jobs done around the boat.

The dropping of daily temperatures from just a couple of weeks ago made up our minds to refit the double glazing – this we achieved for four of the main windows and the new magnetic strips fitted very well now.

The fact that the predicted conditions didn’t arrive didn’t concern  us at all – we were glad of the rest – we had had a week of strenuous work with locks and miles and more locks.

Monday was to be a better day – still a chance of light showers but we were aiming for Birmingham and with just 15 miles we were thinking a 5-6 hour trip.

When the sun was out it was simply wonderful
the less illuminated places were still very pretty as well

The rain has meant muddy towpaths, not helped by the bikes,
but they are legitimate user as well

a well known sentiment - although the Australian version
contains an extra word in there

Lock no 1 on the Stratford Canal, but
no longer in use...

... and King's Norton Junction - the end of the line - now we turn left
I guess we had allowed for the canal to be shallow in places but we found it slow going in many places and the odd prop clearance was necessary – although we only had to go down the weedhatch just once.

A few fairly heavy showers did eventuate during the trip in; but we arrived at a decent hour and were pleasantly surprised to see so few boats.

The left turn at The Mailbox turned out to be a bit annoying – well not actually the turn but the couple on nb Wea-Ry-Tired.

As most will know, the turn is not one to be taken at any sort of speed or else you end up wide and in the trees, and so we were slow in the execution and within a half boat width of the moored boats and going quite slowly – the woman on board had the audacity to tell us to slow down – she copped a bit back as did the guy who decided to poke his head out.

Interestingly though, was that the three boats immediately after them barely moved with our passage – we did see that these boats were securely tied up; just a little further on we allowed the trip boat through the bridge hole and I mentioned to the skipper that the end boat thinks tickover is too fast – his knowing expression and nod of the head acknowledged that he immediately understood.

Still we moored up, with just one other boat on each side – later we were joined by a number of others including Granny Buttons.

We phoned James and Debbie to advise them that we had arrived and arranged a time and place for dinner with them and the girls – Katherine and Rachel.

Café Soya was an interesting choice and the food was extremely good with no complaints from any of us – so very good to catch up with them and their busy schedules.

Tuesday was a late start to our departure into Brum but we needed to visit to the travel agent and pick up a car  voucher for our upcoming US trip – job done – in the meantime the rain had appeared and steadily increased in intensity – we wandered or is that scurried down to the markets for some fruit and I needed a soldering iron – all done and a few treats for Banjo as well.

Back to the boat to dry out a fraction and some lunch before we headed out again.

We had wanted to have a look at the new Birmingham Library - ₤10 million  to build.

In years to come it may well be considered a regional icon, but for me it is an end result of an architects ego.

To spend that sort of money on a building in these times of council cutbacks is not what I would call good value – if there is one thing that governments know how to do well it is how to spend your money – fortunately it is not mine.

With the exception of a few music rooms and a few more meeting rooms there is nothing in there that could not have been digitalised and be made available on-line and shared with the whole country.

Probably of some importance is the Shakespeare room -
preserved from the original library

At least the café served a very nice hot chocolate and the cake was very good.

Very pleased to say that the diesel stove is working wonderfully well and with a minimal amount of effort it lights very easily and heats up exceptionally well – just the thing for the fast approaching winter season.

It was a bit drier on Wednesday and with the memories of two pairs of boots that leak from the bottom up, we decided to visit one of the NorthWest Boot Co. outlets which was located in Small Heath.

After some fun and games with us taking the train going the wrong way, we eventually made it – probably made the right decision to not take the dog through this essentially Islamic community, but also one with a great cultural diversity; found the shop and purchased a pair – I was even allowed to wear them home (just like being a kid again).

The cupboard will be cleaned out a little bit more with at least two pairs gone.

A quiet afternoon drink at The Malt House watching the boats and people go by and then a stroll back to the boat; check on the weedhatch (ready for our next cruising day) and we were in for the evening

mmm - anyone for a bit of beaver !
15Miles, 2 Tunnels, 1 Lift Bridge

Totals: 2138 Miles, 1590 Locks, 70 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A long week

Sunday 8th September to Saturday 14th September 2013
a stutue commemorating the old horse-drawn boats of the canals

All of us had our own schedules that we needed to meet, but all of which meant travelling in the same direction and at least for the present time at about the same speed, save for Mike who had some friends coming to see him – and so it was that Ferndale and Mary H left the top of the Foxton Locks on Sunday morning heading south.

one of each flavour - dark, white and milk chocolate

their own boat to travel along in
the village of Husbands Bosworth

and the tunnel

Linda and Richard needing an Elsan station and as for us, well we really had no immediate needs of much consequence – we all agreed that we would travel the short distance of the Welford arm and allow Mary H to benefit from the services block at the end – all of us being able to partake in the lunchtime delights of The Wharf Inn.

The meals were all very good.

Diane, of course, needed her Sunday paper, so it was a short journey uphill to fetch it for her – why is it that these shops tend to have the serving counter right at the rear of the premises – I would imagine that there would be some who would see an opportunity to walk in and walk out with a bundle under their arms.

Later after everything had been attended to, we exited from the arm to moorings just around from the junction – complete with rings – and a very pleasant and quiet evening.

Without any locks for some miles, we just gently cruised along towards Crick. We had only ever been there by car.

We have to say that there are quite a few areas where either the width of the canal or the depth meant the power was eased off and the speed put to slow – fortunately we didn’t encounter too many boats going the other way.
such a cute fellow is Muffin

Good moorings at Crick, followed by a stroll up into Crick to the local co-op for just a couple of things.

Mike had left Foxton that morning after saying goodbye to his friends and “steamed” all of the way through (no locks helping of course) and arrived latish in the afternoon, so we were all back together.

Not too early the following morning we all headed off with the intention of getting to Braunston (at least) – firstly there was Crick Tunnel – no problems and then the Watford locks.

Linda and Richard were in the lead with Ferndale next and Isobel bringing up the rear – although we weren’t all immediately one after the other.

Just before the locks we spied a familiar boat moored up – nb Moon Shadow with Peter and Meagan – they had seen us coming so we were chatting a bit as we went by – when all of a sudden Ferndale was heading towards the side – she didn’t respond to the tiller – Diane had put it in neutral and so an unplanned mooring occurred and we had a longer chat.

Pretty soon Mike arrived – he had met them also up on the Erewash canal –so a slightly bigger group chatting away; luckily we spotted a message that came through from Linda – they were at the locks and had booked us in with the lockies to go down – who promptly informed other boaters who came in that the locks were closing for 3 hours – her message was telling us to get a move on – with that we were quickly away and waving goodbye to Peter and Meagan.

Fortunately the locks were less than half a mile away; Mike had moored up; Linda and Richard were just exiting the top lock; and we prepared ourselves to go in – in the course of which we passed two boats who had missed the bookings prior to the closure – but as it says, the boats go in order of booking.

By the time we were through the bottom lock there were about a dozen boats waiting there as well as at least 3 at the top – we heard later that the 3 hour delay turned into about 4-5 by the time people got through after reopening.

How lucky was that?

Meagan and Peter from nb Moon Shadow

Diane proving that she still knows how to do the locks

nb Isobel above in the previous lock - a
bit scary having her way up their looking down

I must remember not to wear that blue jumper when there are
CaRT volunteers - this lady came to me to book her boat in
for the trip up the locks - sorry that I had to disappoint her

a few lucky escapes here

just part of the queue for the bottom of the Watford locks - around the bend

Anyway we cruised the remaining couple of miles to the junction, rounded there and just before the tunnel we moored up for a bit of lunch and a break. With a tunnel, 6 locks and a few miles to go we would definitely be at Braunston for the evening.
Braunston tunnel

I cannot recall what was ahead but the look suggests a bit of
concern about it
Whilst going down the Braunston locks we passed the narrowboat Mickey Jay – Diane keen to ask had they had any improvement in their new composting toilet – we do think of the weirdest things to start a conversation.

Whilst we had been cruising for the last few days, Mike had been in contact with his ex, Stella, whom we knew very well and wanted to catch up with – she was at Braunston as well; so after completing the journey to there and with Linda and Richard fuelling up and deciding to go a few miles further along, we were all moored up and plans in hand to give a surprise visit to Stella at The Plough.

It is always so good to see old friends and she did get a bit of a surprise seeing us, but especially seeing Banjo to whom she was guilty of overindulging the treats with last year whilst we were cruising altogether.

A few drinks followed by a tour of her recently purchased boat and then dinner and we had enjoyed their company yet again – slightly different circumstances to previously but very good all the same.

We had agreed with Linda and Richard on a place to regroup in the morning and a time – although it later changed and we went through a bit early but we caught up to each other at Calcutt Locks.

Down those OK and then we hit the Stockton Locks – after the first one we tied the two boats together and Richard drove both boats into and out of the locks whilst the three of us with windlasses, prepared and worked him through. One going ahead to set the next lock and the other 2 doing the paddles and gates.

It went very well indeed and we were able to moor up at Long Itchington just on 2 o’clock and just before the rains came.

The Boat Inn, which is right on the canal, was where we met for some lunch and a few drinks and to chat with a couple of single-handers who were also a bit of a laugh.

our daughter is named Sam(antha) and of course the obligatory
Banjo photo

We had had a tough couple of days and an early night was in order for everyone – especially as we knew that Friday would be our last together, at least on this trip.

The weather over the last 4 or 5 days had not been what you would call especially great but hadn’t reached the really crap stage, but as though by a bit of magic it brightened up as the morning progressed and the afternoon saw a bit of the sun as we were going through Leamington Spa. We both moored at Tesco (bridge 46) for a few supplies (I declined the invitation to lug the trolley back to the boat in favour of getting some work done – good choice on my part) – we managed a bit of lunch as well.

With just a mile and a couple of locks to go to Warwick (our intended destination) for the night, it took no time at all – we both found moorings near the Cape – and later we wandered down to the Cape of Good Hope for a few drinks and meal to celebrate our time together and to say goodbye.

Linda and Richard, we will certainly catch up again sometime very soon and it has been a pleasure to meet you both and to enjoy your company for the time that we have had together.

Relatively early the next morning we set off to the bottom of the Hatton flight and hoping that we would pair up with another boat, to conquer this mountain of a flight.

Virtually no sooner had we turned the corner by the arm, than there was a boat leaving it to head our way.

Diane prepared the first lock and we entered it with nb Ursula (Bill and Christine) – whilst in the second lock Bill suggested to tie the two boats together and he would go ahead to prepare the next in the series of locks in the flight; so as we had done with Linda and Richard on the Stockton flight, we had one driver for two boats and three on the locks.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t driven two breasted boats before, but it was the constant starting from stop, lining up the lock, entering the lock, stopping both boats that was all new – and quite mentally draining.

We all got into a fairly good rhythm; boats were coming down at fairly regular intervals and we got through the flight in a touch over 3 hours – not that anything with cruising is really measured in speed terms (well really we do like to know how quickly we can do these types of flights).

up the Hatton flight - some of the locks didn't need too much
work with the paddles - they were filling by themselves

We moored at the top and filled with water; Bill and Christine also mooring up for a visit to the café – we joined them once the water tank was filled.

They own a one-sixth share in the boat and Bill has been boating for over 25 years – we have a fair way to go to match that – not sure we will make it.

After all of this chatting and not moving we all headed off again – for us we were mooring up about a half-mile from the junction – for Bill and Christine it was a bit closer to bridge 63.

The passing through Shrewley Tunnel was accomplished with Diane at the helm – we both believe that this is the first tunnel where she has steered the boat – and not even a hint of being near the side.

not that sort of Toe

The rain appeared not long after mooring up – ever thankful for a correct weather forecast.

Saturday : Objective no 1 – buying the Saturday paper for she who must be obeyed – with no local shop from which to make that purchase (and with a wind and rain forecast for Sunday) we left to make our way around the junction and up the Lapworth flight – back to single locks – the one problem that we ignored was the drizzling rain, which was coming down when we headed off – it would stop soon enough (we hoped).

It seems to be that the hoping the rain to stop side of things happens as soon as we become a bit wet under the coats that we have on; after the rain on the ground has found that hole in one of the boots you are wearing and the socks are soaked; and generally at the point you are too wet to go inside to get a cup of something hot whilst you are moving.

But all in all it was a pleasant day.

We managed to get a pumpout at Swallow Cruisers (at 12:15pm – they were due to close at 1pm – so maybe the start in the rain was meant to be to get the tank emptied).

Moored up by 1pm and off to visit the pub for lunch – as you do.

Not too far behind us were Bill and Christine – who were doing exactly the same thing – so we chatted some more – mainly about the different canals that we had visited – we were able to compare some notes on some of them but there is still many more for us to visit.

The evening was spent catching up on programs that we had recorded but not got around to seeing yet – we now have much more space on the USB to record some more programs.

61 Miles, 80 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges 

Totals: 2123 Miles, 1590 Locks, 68 Tunnels, 31 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Late rain washes out wallet

Friday 6th September to Saturday 7th September 2013

We awoke on Friday morning to the quiet of a non-raining morning – where was that rain that had been so much spoken about – we waited and waited but there was not so much as the sound of even one raindrop.

Instead all we got was overcast – what sort of weather prediction is that.

Anyway so as not to waste it entirely we ventured off to do some shopping in Market Harborough albeit a late start – still waiting to check if it would rain or not.

Diane did however manage to find a homeware shop with cast iron cookware – the le Creuset range at heavy discounted prices – too much of a bargain to pass up – or so she tells me.

She did however want to consider it all and make sure that it was the right size to fit on the new stove.

After a Sainsbury shop where we needed more alcohol to replenish the stocks – it just keeps evaporating – I must invest in a good seal for those bottles – and the stocks of Sainburys increasing with the additional money in the register – we met up with Mike.

There was a bit more umming and aahhing about the cookware, at which point with measurements in hand the breakthrough came – Mike and I would stay in town whilst Diane went back to the boat to check on the size and she could phone through the result and I would purchase the agreed cookware – then she wouldn’t need to come back into town – what better outcome could she want.

So off she went and with Mike and I being at a loose end whilst we waited for the call, we decided that some long overdue research on Market Harborough pubs was needed – starting at the nearest one to the cookware shop we waited and waited and then waited some more.

The call came through – there had been a delay as she discussed with Linda about travelling on this overcast (and getting darker) day; they needed somewhere a bit brighter than where they were moored – it was a bit dark and enclosing – so they were off whilst there was still no rain.

But the call gave us the size needed and confirmation of the colour; purchase made but we needed just to finish off our drinks and we left almost immediately.

Trouble was that by this time, because Diane had taken so long to ring back and we needed to keep the publican interested in our business, the long-promised rains had arrived and we did get a little wet with the trek back up the hill to the wharf and the moorings beyond.

The new pot did look quite good on the stove.

Not only had the rain started but the temperature dropped – dropped so much that we needed to light the stove and test that out as well – very easy to light and within about 20 minutes the boat was very cosy indeed.

Saturday was much brighter and certainly warmer out of the wind.

Once we had watered and winded (Mike needed to take care of cassettes as well) we headed off in search of nb Mary ‘H’ and Richard, Linda and Muffin – 2 hours later we were all at the bottom of the Foxton Locks together – bacon sandwiches (via Diane) and coffees (via Richard) having been made – morning break if you like.

a lovely morning for a cruise - wind was a bit chilly but the
sun was magnificent

Mike on Isobel shadowing our every move

moored up at the bottom of the locks awating morning tea -
and of course the go ahead for the ascent
Word came down from the lockies that we were next to go up and so about an hour and 15 minutes later we had worked our way through the locks – really quite enjoyable and of course there were just so many gongoozlers about that we managed to get a few of the gates opened and closed with their help.

guess who did the locks?

Malcolm - one of the volunteers - and Mike's friend from Barby Marina

The top reached and the view is the reward

After helping us through the last lock Linda managed to get a lift
to where we all moored - Richard had taken off with the boat
A further 20 minutes and we were all moored up – Mike had made a hasty retreat indoors – something about Grand Prix qualifying – but after that we headed down the hill – via the Canal Museum – to the Foxton Locks Inn for a quiet drink and to watch the other boats begin or end their lock journey.

Only problem was that the rain from Friday morning – that didn’t come – came on Saturday afternoon – but at least it was relatively shortlived, but meant an extra pint or two at the pub.

So all in all the lack of rain on Friday meant that we went shopping and the wallet was a bit lighter; and then the rain on Saturday meant a longer stay at the pub – wallet lighter again.

Can I put a claim into the Bureau of Meteorology for expenses caused by their inaccurate forecasting?

6 Miles, 10 Locks, 2 Swing Bridges

Totals: 2062 Miles, 1510 Locks, 64 Tunnels, 29 Lift Bridges, 145 Swing Bridges