Saturday, 29 August 2015

Hire boaters or dumb-ass boat owners

Thursday 27th August to Saturday 29th  August 2015

For the first time in a couple of weeks we had a completely relaxing day with nothing that really needed doing and not a lot done anyway.
Why you may ask? There has been a fair amount of travel done lately and we thought that we deserved a day off and besides that there was a bit of rain forecast.
We had reached our target location which we needed to be in for our Friday travels, so no need to move.

We have been to Berhamstead a number of times previously but never ventured too far away from the main street - this time we did go out of our way.
Diane had not been to see the castle ruins so we went there.
 
Not a great deal left, but you can visualise the walls, the moat, the motte and
the outer defences - just a shame they built it so close to the railway




We had not walked the canal to see more closely the things along there - rather than just cruising; we hadn't walked different streets - so we did that as well.
 
Watford Ladies FC home ground is at
Berkhamstead. No, Diane is not about to sign up
Seeing new aspects of places already visited is especially interesting and we have tried to make a concious effort to do so.

Friday was our day to travel down to Watford - Diane had a screening test to go through at Watford General and we had some post to pick up from Maggie and Paddy.
So on the train which was stopping at Watford Junction where we both got off and waited for the next train which would stop at Bushey - I travelled on this one and Diane exited the station and made her way to the hospital.

We had been waiting on some pens to arrive which we had ordered in a bit of a rush from James and Debbie (The Pen Makers Boat aka nb Lois Jane) - they were able to get all of these away quick smartly for us and we could not be happier with the results - the pens are really lovely and will make great gifts - so if you are looking for something very good and of high quality then look no further.
 
This photo doesn't do them justice - visit the website and see for yourselves 
I spent some time with M&P talking about the wedding last weekend and everything that went on and before long it was time to walk up to find Diane at the hospital - no problems there - she was out very quickly and with the test results - all is OK - so only left to have something to eat and then head home - Diane had been fasting all day and by now it was after 4pm - the poor girl was in danger of wasting away to a shadow.

After what was a reasonably long day of travelling down and then back we made it home a little before 6pm - certainly glad to have made it and just a little bit tired.

Saturday was moving day and we had Hemel Hempstead in sight for mooring for tonight, but firstly we needed water and then later we needed to empty the cassettes.
 
Just possible to see the totem pole (in the background) - 
which was carved by members of the Kwakiutl tribe
in recognition of the years that trade took place
between this area and Canada.


More from Watford - well at least the icon 

We did manage to share a few locks with one boat before we caught up with another single boat - as they were originally ahead of us we waved goodbye as they teamed up with the other boat.
It wasn't long before we were joined by another single boat - this time a hire boat with parents and three young children out for a week - Linda and David were the parents and there was Abigail (8) and twins Isobel and Joshua (both 6)
I mention all of this because both Linda and David shared boat and lock duties; all of the kids were so well behaved and very careful about everything and well mannered.
Linda and David had an excellent understanding of a lot of things about the canals and were excellent examples of how any boater(s) should be on the waterways.
I am pretty certain that I have said it before, a great many people who hire boats do so because they enjoy the waterways as much as others who own their own boats and the skill levels are in many cases much better that the pompous old farts who go out every other year and think they own the canals - Well done to you all!
As I was saying there are people who own their own boats and really have no idea of the ettiquette that is part and parcel of cruising.
We were coming up to Lock 62 and I was walking the towpath to prepare the lock; being no more than 40 metres away I could see that the lock was full - this I thought would be the case as the boat that had exited had not long passed us.
Anyway, two women had come up with windlasses and disregarded the approaching boats - clearly in sight - and turned the lock - I yelled to them that the lock was full - one dropped the paddles, the other completely ignored me and faced away.
As I got to the lock it had dropped and would drop further before they could/would change it so rather than get hot under the collar I walked away.
In cases such as these we will refuse to offer any assistance; Diane later going up as they were almost ready to leave the lock and advise them about conserving water/turning locks/ co-operating with all users - they didn't have a clue - one even saying lying that the lock wasn't full.
I overheard the conversation on the boat with the steerer which basically went along the lines of "it was our lock, we were there first" - Give me strength.
As is now my custom - if you come across a 35-40' bluish boat called "Buster" (painted on the bow only), then it maybe the same people - be prepared for them having no manners and only caring about themselves - there, named and shamed.

We moored up after Lock 63 having farewelled Linda and David and then needed to post a letter; across the other side from the next lock was not one but two games of cricket in progress - we had often wanted to see a village cricket match - this was about the nearest we have come across, so we wandered across and had a bit of a look; then wandered up to the main shopping area and did all of the things that we wanted to do and came back, sat down and enjoyed the one game that was still going - I was happy to oblige with the commentary for Diane in the style of many a fine commentator - she of course knows just as much about it and just smiled and nodded at me.
Still it was a nice way to end the day.

5 Miles,  11 Locks, 1 Swing Bridges
YTD: 784 Miles (1262 km) , 470 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 16 Swing Bridges
Total: 3678 Miles (5919 km) , 2591 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 167 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Let's play dodge the rain - and the thunderstorm!

Tuesday 25th August to Wednesday 26th August 2015

We seemed to in a constant state of trying to beat the weather for these few days - the BBC weather app was in constant use - when is the rain coming; when will it clear; what is the best time to leave and how long will we be able to cruise.
I fear we will have used up our data allowance just in looking at weather reports.

Never-the-less we did set off quite early on Tuesday morning and the weather was lovely and yes, I will say it yet again, it is the best time of the day.
We were able to enjoy the early morning and seemingly had it all to ourselves - no waiting at locks, no problems at all.
It seems that the temperature must be dropping overnight because there were a couple of boats that had their fires on, though for us, we are quite warm inside and haven't changed from the summer duvet.

It wasn't long before the sun had surfaced above the tree tops in the distance and it was showing that summer was not yet over by any stretch - there was warmth in it even before 8am.
Onward we continued, stopping briefly for water at Slapton Lock - the water pressure here was very good - maybe because everyone was still in bed - we have used it before and has been a quick filler.
We had a provisional target of Marsworth, but even we thought that was a bit adventurous until we were through the swing bridge just before Pittstone Wharf and then we knew we would make it before the forecasted heavy rain appeared.
Just as we were getting through the two locks below Marsworth, the rain did start to appear - just enough that we should put our coats on.
Fortunately we were moored up safely and snuggly just after bridge 129 before it really came down.
No more movement today.

Wednesday was very much a different day - the weather reports indicated that it would rain until sometime after 10am and before 11am, but after that there would be some not so heavy rain.
When it stopped just on 10am we decided that we would be off

With only the Marsworth Locks to do before the summit pound we thought that we could get through that fairly quickly and then a bit of cruising before beginning the descent.
What you think will happen and what does happen are two entirely different things.

At every lock we either met a single boat that was coming down and had only just filled the lock and then took their time getting through - one chap (not on his own) refused any help, wanting to do it his way and proceeded to open all paddles and then both gates, close them in a non-methodical way, do the same on the bottom gates - or we had to empty locks left full from the two boats that we found out were in front of us
Anyway, we were nearly 2 hours getting through and by the time we were about to exit the top lock, the rain had started.
Ironically, this was the only lock where we had any luck - a hire boat coming out from the Wendover arm was heading down the flight, so we could leave the gate open.
The intensity of the rain increased and after steering between moored boats on both sides, Diane headed inside (out of the rain) and left it to me.
We were a little speck on the weather map under the yellow section near
Aylesbury - I was a tinier speck left out in the open

Before anyone suggests that she was escaping the downpour and leaving me out there alone, it had already been prearranged - she had dreamt up found imagined several things that had to get done - things like dusting the bananas, tidying the bookshelf, rearranging the pens in their holder - very important stuff.
I do however know that just after the Tring cutting, after I was drenched from the thunderstorm, there were hot sausage rolls coming out and fresh tea - later on when I went inside I did discover that it was all clean and tidy and vacuumed - things not possible to be done when there are locks to do.
Better to have just one person soaked than both - next time, I think I will have an urgent batch of brownies to bake.
We combined well to work through the locks on the descent into Berkhamstead - only one lock was shared, all of the other locks during the two days were on our own.
Most annoying of all, was that there was a single-handed boater just in front of us, who was completing a lock and saw us approaching, gave no sign of aknowledgement, apart from looking back at us a few times. As we were cruising between locks 49 and 50 a boat crew heading the other way said that he was waiting for us at the next lock - his words not theirs - as we approached he was hauling his boat out of the lock to go to the next one.
We had a boat coming the other way and didn't see him again, but it would have been of benefit to us both to share the lock and halve the exertion, but more importantly it would have saved precious water.
As my grandfather (from Lancashire) used to say "you can't put brains in statues".

We eventually moored up in Berkhamstead before a little more rain afterwhich we ventured up into the town to explore and Diane had a need for some crisps, cake and coffee, which I had to help her moderate her intake.
After two hard days we will be taking it a bit easy for at least tomorrow.

25 Miles,  31 Locks, 2 Swing Bridges
YTD: 779 Miles (1254 km) , 459 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 15 Swing Bridges
Total: 3673 Miles (5911 km) , 2580 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 166 Swing Bridges

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A day to Manchester and back.

Monday 24th August 2015

As alluded to in the previous blog, we had a little trip to Manchester today - a round trip of some 6 hours driving and about another hour of other things (included stoppages), then finally a late lunch and some shopping to top up the pantry.

I have previously shared the information that I have finally been given a Residence Permit noted as Indefinite Leave to Remain, which has taken a few trips up to Manchester and back as well as sourcing plenty of documents and other material to prove that I am actually me; that I am working and earning money; that I am also working in the UK and also seeking other work (as if I even have time for a 3rd job); in addition I had to show bank statements in the UK for the past 5 years; wage payment receipts; and other ever-changing requirements - on top of all of that we have had to pay the solicitor to prepare the application and pay the Home Office to look at it - there are no guarantees with any of this and even one minor mistake and you have to restart without any refund of the charges
So a bit of angst over all of this and relief that it is finally over - except for one matter.
There it is - all that effort fora piece of plastic

All of the paperwork has been returned from the Home Office including my passport and the Home Office issued ILR card to the solicitors office and we needed to pick it up - having the car was a bonus so we headed northwards.

Diane had asked me if I wanted her to come with me - so far in the car - what with her record of being a passenger.

"Of course you should come" I said - and I hadn't had anything to drink.

Let me say here that I was not completely specific with the type of car that I should have hired when I rang the company.
There should have been -
- a set of brake pedals installed on the passenger side, because this car now has a hole in the floor from Diane trying to use the brake on that side of the car,
- a larger back seat area, because although she is one she couldn't get into the one that we had and actually be a back-seat driver,
- a hair-trigger ejector seat so that each time she jumped at something that wasn't going to happen but she thought would then the roof would detach and whammo, the seat would spring the passenger off into the bushes,
- a very large boot - the one that we had was too small - I couldn't push Diane into it and close the door,
- finally, I neglected to ask for the optional sound-eliminating headphones.

The number of trucks, cars, motorcycles, golf buggies and mobile scooters that at one time or another were apparently going to suddenly veer into the lane directly in front of us; come into the car with us; or were too close behind us was staggering.

I'm not saying that she is the worst passenger - well maybe I am - but I do love her dearly, just not when I am driving a car where she is in the left hand seat.


We eventually made it back to the boat intact; in perfect health; and still married - oh, and we did manage to get all of the paperwork.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Near-Catastrophe Miss

Thursday 20th August to Sunday 23rd August 2015

We had moored the previous night at Stantonbury Park in Milton Keynes - this has been a location that we have passedby on a few occassions and thought that it looked a peaceful quiet place, but have always favoured Campbell Park.
For the previous day we had just simply had enough cruising and with rain imminent we decided that our previous thoughts would be a suitable barometer - we were not disappointed, and it was both peaceful and quiet.
So for Thursday it was only the matter of a short cruise to our preferred mooring spot at Campbell Park - en route there was the required elsan visit - this became the canal version of a Grand Prix pit stop - Diane gently easing the boat into the assigned mooring spot and whilst she was tying up, I was already off the cassette and reappeared onto the boat within just a couple of minutes - it really now is a fine art; Diane untied and we moved off - barely enough time for a boat that was right behind us, to now be right in front.

Why move the short distance? Easy really, we were hiring a car for the weekend and it was just a short 1mile walk from the newmooring to beable to pickit up.

We did however spend the remainder of Thursday getting a few things done at the shopping centre as well as others aboard.

We wanted to be away as early as possible on Friday, so I made the trek and was on the doorstep of Enterprise just before 8am; they were open early and I was away not long after 8 and parked beside the boat before8:30.
Whilst I was sorting out the car, Diane had taken care of all of the packing, so we were on the road just after 9am.

What was the reason for the car hire? - Diane's cousin, Phil, was getting married - the ceremony and reception being at Gorleston (Norfolk);  many guests, ourselves included were staying that night and we would come back to the boat on Sunday.

But for Friday we were heading down to Watford - there was an urgent package that had arrived in the mail for Diane and couldn't wait for another week, so we drove there to pick that up - only her uncle, David, being there - he had notified us that it had arrived.
One other reason for the Friday expedition was that Diane wanted to see somewhere that we hadn't seen together and she had always wanted to return back to Clacton-on-Sea where she had visited as a young girl - I, of course, had never been there, so why not?

Escaping the confines of greater London and its traffic was one of those things that you think is not going to happen, but eventually we crossed the M25 "barrier" and the green areas got bigger and the housing estates reduced - but getting anywhere is slow.
Finally we found our destination and then a parking spot (also rare) and had a wander around.
Like many other seaside holiday towns it was showing part of its age and certainly its target audience.
With Clacton Pier in the background, we were enjoying the sun, so the selfie-queen
was busy with the camera

There has been a considerable amount of money spent on improving the facade and making it more appealing and given that we were still in the summer school holiday period there were a lot of families around enjoying themselves - I guess the sunshine helped a lot as well.
After an hour we had seen enough and had added the characteristic tones of the Essex accent to our library of unforgettables.

Onward to our "mooring" spot for the night - and quite frankly we were pretty well knackered from the early start, the driving (giving directions), the heat and humidity, and being tourists, and it was not a late night for either of us. A Friday night drink at the pub next door was as about as exciting as it got.

Saturday was the day of the wedding and with it being scheduled for 4pm, this left us plenty of time to make it there.
Firstly we drove off, heading to Ipswich where we thought it might be nice to have a bit of a look around, as well as having some breakfast - it what is becoming a likeable alternative, the good folk at the 'spoons in the centre of Ipswich catered for us very well indeed; we also had a wander around the Saturday market in the central pedestrianised area, before making our way back to the car which happened to be right alongside the ground of Ipswich FC - sad to say that they were playing away that day, so we didn't get to see if the lads really were living up to their nickname and driving tractors to the match.

Further along and seeing that time permitted we took a small detour to have a look at Lowestoft - it has a quite lovely seafront and beach with real sand - there still are a lot of pebbles and rocks - but mainly sand; the colourful beach-huts (for hire) were almost fully occupied.
Diane thought that somewhere over this weekend we would be able to have a swim in the sea, but even with the higher temperatures and the high humidity it was not hot enough to catch me getting even my toes wet - Diane was enthusiastic about it all, but decided that testing the water was a good start - how strange that even getting wet to her ankles should so quickly change her mind - the verdict - the water was freezing.
There were plenty of kids and reluctant parents in the water - I think it is just that we are getting old or rather, I should say, more sensible.
 
The water was not as warm as it looked and behind that "smile" was a grimace

plenty of people were in the water but not warm enough to entice both of us

It was a great area here to enjoy it all

Back into the car, which after an hour in the sun was perhaps changing our mind about a quick dip - we resisted it by opening thewindows as we left the car park and we were quickly cooled down - for despite everything else, the airwas not hot nor even warm.

The short driveup to Gorleston was just that - short - it tooklonger to find a parking spot to leave the car - everything in the hotelpark was full, as were the surrounding streets - eventually perseverance paid off and we unloading the luggage and walked to the hotel.
Fortunately our room was ready and we were able to offload the luggage and then head to the bar; not so for some others in the party - in particluar two of Dianes second-cousins and their partners who had had their reservations unknowingly cancelled and were waiting for rooms to be available - all was eventually sorted out, but the hotel didn't fare well out of it all.
Time to get changed and make our way to the venue for the ceremony - an anxious groom waiting, a bride with the traditional slow clock - all was going to plan.
Ready for the wedding 

It was indeed fair to say that Nikki looked absolutely beautiful; Phil scrubbed up pretty well; they are a lovely couple together - still cannot work out how he managed to get Nikki.
 
That's Phil on the right - just hoping that Nikki isn't too much longer

Phil and Nikki - its all done now; Rachel and Kathryn (bridesmaids) in the
background




No problems throughout the ceremony; the photography session went well as did the reception which was very simple and very effective.
 
Jonathon and Zara - a beautiful couple

Phil's dad Paddy - not so uh glad about the wedding as he was
happy to collect his winnings from me with England winning
back The Ashes


We had had a long and relatively active day and by 10:30 we were both knackered and made our excuses and headed up for some sleep which arrived pretty quick, despite the warm night and the humidity.
 
Unaccustomed to public speaking - Phil did a great job!

There's one at every party

The following morning we were down for breakfast quite early and in the warmsunshineand high winds we took a good long walk along the seafront, catching the pilot boat heading back from a ship ready to come in and then seeing it being brought into the Gorleston/Great Yarmouth harbour area - boating is in the blood now
 
Rather windy - but in the background the windsurfers loved it

This was under pilot's instructions as it entered the harbour - note the waves

the Old Lighthouse at Gorleston

After packing the car and saying our good-byes to all that we knew we decided that we would make a relatively early exit - 9:30 is after all almost afternoon in our book - but some think that it is even too early to be awake.

Along the way, somehow I missed the turn-off for Cambridge - honest, your honour, I just didn't see it - I suspect the navigator was giving me a bum steer - that wouldbe thenavigator on the satnav, not the one in the passenger seat (it would not do well for me to be saying that about my beloved).

Anyway, having missed the turn, we made good of it all and Diane found a National Trust property to visit - Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk - and it was a hidden gem.
 
Oxburgh Hall

Main Entrance

Built in 1482 it stands surounded by a moat and was given authority to be fortified; so with castellated towers and suitable defences it stands, still much as we could see that it might have stood for over 500 years.
The family still occupy part of the buildings and have permission to do so for perpetuity.




The fellow in the painting was Governor of The Tower
of London between 1553 and 1558 

A damsel in distress - must rescue her - wait on, I know her



Candles for Mum and for Lauren


After spending a few hours there we realised that it was time to push on - having come too far north we would need to settle mainly for secondary A roads to make our way back.
That would have been fine but we did have a near crash as we made our way toward March.

A Tesco delivery van was in front and suddenly it's hazard lights came on and it pulled toward the other side of the road. My thoughts were that it was pulling over to stop and make it's delivery, the hazard lights being to alert drivers coming the other way that it was doing so.
In the meantime I was preparing simply to carry on travelling along on the left-hand side of the road and passing by, when all of a sudden the van was turning to be across the road - I had not been too close when we were behind the van, so the driver would have known that we were there, but I was also close enough (very fortunately) that I was able to veer further left (and that there was sufficient room on the narrow road to do so) and miss the van that seemingly was still moving forward.
His manouevre was, in the least stupid and I would think totally illegal, so it would have been interesting if there had been contact.

After that near miss the "normally" placid passenger was even more apprehensive from her side of the car; there was genuine fear on my part that wemight have been charged the excess because of the damage to the dashboard fromher plunging her sharp nails into it in an effort to hang on.

Diane's approach to being a passenger is akin to Hyacinth in "Keeping up Appearances" - ever cautious about something a few hundred metres up the road and fearful of anything approaching from either side or in the adjacent lane.
She is to put it mildly a woman is perpetual panic.

We did make it back to the boat in reasonably good time; my bloodied arm from fingernail imprints, scratches and bites will eventually heal - doctors said that I need to stay away from a car with Diane in it for a few weeks and I will be OK.
Sadly that could not be the case - we had planned a trip to Manchester and back for Monday; that I am writing this now gives you an idea that I survived - how I managed it is another story




4 Miles
YTD: 754 Miles (1213 km) , 428 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3648 Miles (5871 km) , 2549 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Strange that it should lead to.....

Monday 17th August to Wednesday 19th August 2015

It's amazing what one little statement can create on it's own and cause to happen.

Here we were going happily along with the plan to put the boat into Wigrams Turn Marina when a Facebook message to our dear friend Stella came back with a reply about why go to Braunston and then back when we could go up the Braunston flight and stay in Welton Marina?
The ripple that this caused in our thinking created a wave that gathered momentum to the point that we have gone through Buckby, Weedon, Gayton Junction, Blisworth and Stoke Bruerne.

Rather than 5 miles back we have progressed a lot further south.

One minute we were calmy moored in the Napton flight preparing to spend a day peacefully still and not moving and before long the ropes were untied and the first lock was ready.
 
and yet another view of the windmill on the hill
Arrangements made for Tuesday were brought forward to Monday evening and we were looking at a long travelling day for Tuesday.

The journey down to Braunston was very smooth - along the way we passed by Jacqui and Les on nb Valerie - just time for a brief chat as we carried on; past Wigrams Turn, where we would have been and on to find a mooring just before The Boat House.
 
very much at Braunston Junction - we veer right and out of shot on the left
another boat was approaching - but far enough away
Linda and Richard had been in contact and we met for final farewell drinks (there is never just one goodbye it seems); we met Janet and Howard (nb Compass Rose) as they cruised in from the south and had a cuppa with them before we would eventually meet for dinner.

It was lovely sitting out on the "canal" deck at the Boat House with Linda and Richard, enjoying a drink and discussing the last month of travelling together - it has been an enjoyable time but finally we would be cutting the elastic.

We love catching up with Janet and Howard and listening to Howard's stories of their adventures - discounting by half the embellishments that Howard always adds, but their trip through the Standedge Tunnel and then across The Wash standout as their highlights.
Janet, as always, reminds Howard of where he has veered off track.
We love you both and may it be soon that we can sit down again to hear the narrations.

So on to Tuesday morning - we more or less had a normal morning and were ready about the usual time for us; a message coming through that we had some help ready for the 6 locks immediately ahead of us - not sure that Muffin would be much help but the windlassing abilities of Linda and Richard would be most appreciated.

In the end we needed their help -  I was left on the boat and with Linda, Richard and Diane as well as the male half of the boat with whom we shared the locks, they all worked effectively to push the rather lazy pair in front of us.
It seemed that 80% of the traffic was heading towards the tunnel and this one pair were p___-f_____g around, with boats queueing up behind - they didn't seem to have a clue.
Anyway we got through; our goodbyes were said; we waved them farewell; our lock-buddies pulled over for a well-earned breakfast/morning tea and we headed for the tunnel.
 
fare thee well and thanks for a great time
We have been through Braunston Tunnel 5 times previously and I am sure that in all of that time I have only ever passed 1 boat before - this time it was 5 boats travelling the other way - there were no problems, just rather strange to have met this many in the tunnel at one time.

At Norton junction the pair that had caused the delays headed north and we carried on to the Buckby flight - eventually pairing up with a hire boat at the second lock - they pulled over for lunch after two more locks leaving us on our own for the rest of the flight.
 
The last lock in the Buckby flight and without a by-wash, all of the water that
we had brought down was overflowing
After this we had 15 miles of lock-free cruising - completing most that day with Diane at the helm whilst I was able to work inside - the internet signal was so good that even on the move I was able to download and upload files as needed.
 
Diane thought that she had a drinking partner until she realised that he wasn't real
Wednesday was more of the same as Tuesday - lock-free cruising; a tunnel (Blisworth), this time 6 boats to pass; 7 locks at Stoke Bruerne; another pair of lazy sods ahead of us - even when we set the locks for them ahead of them they still managed to be a hold-up - we were accompanied by a fine gentleman on nb Touchwood who in an unknowing way up held my theory that you definitely cannot judge a book by it's cover - he single-handed and worked his side very well - between the three of us we operated quite efficiently.
 
In the small boat category, the winner is....

....Edward Lear

Once out there was more lock-free cruising and Diane resumed duties on the helm; I was back inside for more work and tea-making responsibilities.
Another long day and we moored up in a lovely open area with perfect reception on all-fronts - a rather tired skipper could have done with a foot-rub but we were both a bit exhausted - make a note, Ray, to get that done next time.
 
The Great Ouse Aqueduct - a lovely edifice to the canal makers

The crazy-haired woman - Guess where we are?

We had gone a bit against our usual travelling rules but in the end the longer than average days will workout marvellously well.

During our day, I had a phone call come in from our solicitor in Manchester; seems that the Home Office has in their infinite insanity decided that I am not a threat to the security of the realm and granted an Indefinite Leave to Remain visa for me, so I can stay in the country.
Despite a 3-1 deficit, I do still have some standards and I cannot support the England Cricket team (Go Aussies); I will continue to support Wales in the 6-Nations; Australia or NZ for the Rugby World Cup; and Australia to remain on top of world Netball.

35 Miles, 25 Locks, 2 Tunnels
YTD: 750 Miles (1207 km) , 428 Locks, 14 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3644 Miles (5864 km) , 2549 Locks, 112 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges

Monday, 17 August 2015

Last goodbyes - or is it ?

Saturday 15th August to Sunday 16th August 2015

The rain from the last 36 hours had disappeared by the time Saturday morning had arrived and as lovely as it is to have that rain and the sound upon the roof, it is equally nice to have some sunshine when we are planning to cruise - today it was as it should be.

After a leisurely start - read as Diane has her coffee in bed, reads the blogs and catches up with the boating world in general - we readied, untied the ropes and set off.
With just a short section to do today - Napton was the focus - there was no rush.

The air was still a little chilly from the effects of the rain, but the sun was out and a cruise to the top of the flight was a great way to commence.
We didn't expect that we would be seeing the bottom of the flight today and that being the case, we needed to fill the water tank at the top. After a reasonably short wait for a hire boat to finish we put the hose in and waited ...and waited...and waited - it was a very slow tap - finally an hour later (in total) we could leave.
During our time stopped we waved to Linda and Richard as they past us by and disappeared through the top lock.
this chap and pooch paddled past whilst we were watering up

In fact there had been a lot of traffic both ways whilst we were stationary; and this continued during our journey down just the five locks that we finally determined to be enough - waiting at each lock for at least 1 boat ahead of us, but always able to leave the gates open for a boat coming up.
We moored up between locks 11 and 12 , for two reasons - firstly, it was a lengthy pound and allowed for the fluctuations due to the boat movements and secondly the internet and phone signals were still available (Linda had reported nothing much at the bottom).
As it was they weren't great but manageable.

It was still lovely weather when we decided to walk down the flight to deposit some rubbish in the bins at the bottom - who do we then find - Sue and Andy - you just cannot get away from some people.
A walk into Napton itself to see what was there (and for Diane's Saturday paper) was followed by a walk back again and a visit to The Folly Inn.
one thing about the pubs at this time of the year is the floral displays

We caught up with Linda, Richard and Muffin outside - dinner had been arranged for that night for all and we returned back to the boat.
This would definitely be our last night together and we enjoyed a fine meal - a big pity about the service at the bar which left a lot to be desired - seemed very unorganised and as a result slow to almost non-existant.
a chance for the boys to play a bit of dress-up (photo courtesy of Linda)

The desserts looked and tasted superb

By the time we had finished it was well and truly dark outside - such a dramatic change to just a few short weeks ago when we all were first together back in Henley.
Torches were definitely needed to find our way home.
Next morning, Sunday, Diane and I had decided that we would be walking again, but venturing up Napton Hill to see the windmill and after that it would be time for a break at the shop in the village, which we had seen the day before.
Walking up steepish slopes is not Diane's forte but she seemed to manage quite well - must be getting some fitness in those legs again.
no explanation will be given on this

The downside of the walk up to the top is that the windmill is now on private land so we couldn't get too close for photos; and the trees around the top block some of the views, but you can get a good idea of just how far you would have been able to see in the past.

The windmill from down on the canal...

...and at the top of  Napton Hill

views over the surrounding countryside...

...northward towards Rugby 
surprisingly at the top, there were still the ridges and furrows of a by-gone era


With any up hill climb, it is easier coming down and with the prospect of a coffee and maybe some cake, at the end of it, it then was a lot better downhill.
The shop has undergone a complete transformation in last couple of years, as told to us by others, and it is easy to see how - this is now a modern cafe at the front; functional store as well and a service-orientated staff running it - the coffee and cake were also excellent.

Back to the boat and we brought up our 10000 steps for the day before noon - there was just time to put a few things away and ready ourselves for lunch at The Folly Inn - typically after the walk from the boat down to the pub, Diane remembered a few things that we had left behind on the boat that she wanted - so I added a few more steps to my total whilst she made sure that the cider was still OK to drink.
Sue and Andy who had left this morning and taken the boat into Wigram's Turn Marina, had trekked over land to join us for a last Sunday lunch together.
As it was as the night before, the food was far better than the bar service - so nothing changed there.
Diane "hassled" a young girl on a nearby table to take our photo and then had to call her back to take some more, but she did do it in a comical manner.


A right pair of divas here

After a last drink we waved our goodbyes to Sue and Andy.

We have had a wonderful 6 weeks of travelling with Sue and Andy and Linda and Richard as well as Muffin (who we get to spoil a bit) and we shall miss them all, but at the same time we will need some time by ourselves before Diane has to leave me to go home - maybe I will be going also, we do not know and cannot give any dates as yet - I still haven't heard about my application to stay in the UK - they may be telling me to leave.
 
You wonder where they get the names for some of the beers
that are going around !
6 Miles, 5 Locks
YTD: 715 Miles (1151 km) , 403 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 11 Lift Bridges, 13 Swing Bridges

Totals: 3609 Miles (5808 km) , 2524 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 45 Lift Bridges, 164 Swing Bridges