Monday 29 September 2008


Stayed put yesterday, but not really a day of rest as we had dogs to groom & Muttley squeals like a stuck pig (it's something he often does for no particular reason & has frightened many a full grown vet with his random squealing - ie 5 mins AFTER an injection) which stresses the hell out of me. Autumn really showing it's colours now; admiring the gorgeous colours of the Virginia Creeper & kicking down the dried leaves on the tow paths.
Talking of "gorgeous," it's a word, amongst other superlatives,that I seem to have over used on the Stratford Canal - I won't apologise because I have been totally charmed from the first moment: so much so that we are going to divert beyond our junction & continue on up the Lapworth. We have to do some planning soon as have friends coming for 3 nights , a week Thurs , & be back at Brinklow around 25th Oct for Boat Safety Cert .

Two photo's above of NB Debdale who we met a couple of times on the Stratford, from the smell emminating from their boat they bake beautiful bread!

Sunday 28 September 2008

Returning North

Slowly heading back up & met up with friends, from Norfolk , on Friday evening at The Mason's Arms at Wilmcote (well cooked pub food with lovely, friendly staff). Had a fabulous cruise together up to Lowsonford on Saturday, in glorious sunshine, before they had to return home. Sally recognised the sound of the Buzzards first-4 in total & 3 clear enough to see their glorious markings. There also seemed to be some kind of running competition going into Wootton Wawen & I don't expect the competitors who encountered us (on a very narrow part of the towpath) trying to hang onto boat , whilst trying to pull sloes down with boat hook into reach of picking, were discussing our activities very kindly in the after race bar post mortem! What the hell - shall it be gin or bacardi? Essential stop at the farm shop there and allowed aforementioned friend a measly 3/4 of an hour in the gorgeous barn shops there. This is getting VERY scary - I'm beginning to sound like a proper female - I'm sure it's only a momentary lapse and my normal allergy to do with anything retail will soon return.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Town Centre

Put the extra pictures on as they describe the canal better than I can. The last couple of miles were horribly ordinary but then you sort of burst into the basin like the leading lady on premier night under the flash bulbs of the (largely Japanese) press - weird!
Sadly, for current visitors, the basin & RSC building are undergoing major construction so no photo opps in the immediate vicinity but took the dogs down to the acres and acres of parkland beside the Avon which are quite stunning and SO MUCH SPACE right in the centre. Daisy & Ted, however, are not happy bunnies as I wouldn't let them out in this geo situ. Wandered into town this am to sort out some bank stuff & buy some shoes (needed) & some boots (merely wanted), had lunch out (superb) & then we were too cowardly to brave Daisy any longer, so legged it out of town through 5 locks and let her out at the first safe opportunity! my God, that cat is ruling our lives - we now feel guilty for having our first night in town EVER- & the language from her; she certainly didn't learn it from me!

"Legging," it out of town, however, was a little easier said than done! Although, we had been told, the canal had been in virtual flood conditions only a week ago; the last few days had seen rather alarming drops in the pounds - 2 out of the 1st 4 locks saw us seriously bottomed out & we had to do a bit of "flushing" to re-float.

Sunday 21 September 2008

Stratford Canal

After our little detour, we turned onto the Stratford around mid-day: what a beautiful entrance is made into this incredibly pretty canal. About as big a contrast to the Grand Union as you could possibly get-I mean physically, scenically & traffic wise; because I loved the grandeur of the GU, whereas the Sratford is, rather appropriately, "quaint". The latter is also b****y hard work with all the locks threatening to fall to pieces on you & gates that weigh a ton, although there is plenty of time to make a cuppa (not to mention prepare a 3 course meal) whilst the locks fill & empty!

I also received the best (only!) offer I've had in ages from a German boater who asked, "on boat for jumping?" Whilst the idea was not without merit, I do prefer a more formal introduction normally so declined politely and continued walking as MR passed close by.This canal is beautiful & intimate, but I could be biased as it is the only canal we haven't seen in the rain (yet!). Will stay by lock 30 tonight as well, because we've had a Tesco delivery this pm. & it is too late to stir ourselves. I must also confess to finding yesterday's cruise quite tiring.

Friday 19 September 2008

'cause we can

Found ourselves completely indecisive this a.m. Should we stay-still love it here, but spent 3 nights and not good at doing "static"-so we'll go then, but where? Need to pick up friends at Wilmcote on the Stratford, but not 'til Friday. In the end, just carried on up the Grand Union to have a few hours lock free, battery restoring, cruising in the sun ; doing a couple of loads of washing & enjoying the masses of water points. Wound (or winded?) below Knowle locks & stopped at yet another over expanded pub with a passion for "covers" rather than a passion for foood. Yet again water pouring over the top of the bottom lock, bottom lock gates(!) - I'll stick the photo on when I do the next blog.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Post Hatton

Amazingly, Hatton flight went according to plan (only quicker!). Left at around 9am and, with 6 of us to drive 2 boats, work 21 locks, mind 2 babies, 2 dogs, pick blackberries, no rain and the cats asleep, the whole lot was acheived in 3 hours with a great deal of fun-watered & bacon buttied at the top and moored up beyond the tunnel for blackberry & apple crumble & drinks at a very respectable hour at a mooring with fabulous views & open spaces beyond bridge 61 we're still there now! You will note from the above photos that the crew were very flexible about who did what on what (but I think Graham was quite pleased to get MR back --when he'd done his stint on the lock gates-& was full of admiration for the way Jacquie handled the somewhat recalcitrant hire boat) Really did have to say goodbye to the gang this time, but have a strong feeling that we will see them again. Since they left am yesterday we've just been enjoying this mooring & a little sun. Great walks for the dogs & Daisy off bridge 62 ahead, some much needed housework has been done & even a little painting & fishing. Probably moving on tomorrow but reluctant to leave what is probably one of my 3 top moorings-loads of water but running short of milk & fresh veg (& wine after our recent social period!!!!!!). Top left photo shows a nice friendly lock without any requirement to fill it by opening paddles! It shows just how much water is still about even after several dry days.

Have seen a lot of a boat called "Yesdear" since last Thursday-ish which gave me a brilliant idea for one day a week where all Graham is allowed to say is..........hold that thought for another day-my roast lamb awaits

Monday 15 September 2008

Big Cuts!

So. Changed our internet connection 'cause I don't have the patience to fiddle about with the very intermittment connection we've been struggling with - hence my silence. My friend's BBQ at kirtlington quarry found some rare sunshine & lots of fun & booze-although the horse we met coming down, as we (both dogs & Daisy) went up to mark the path from the nearest road point with armfuls of balloons, nearly had a heart attack-but the lass stayed on-superglue required.

So much has happened that senior moments have eradicated whilst experiencing extreme techno difficulties that I beg your understanding whilst I recall random memories. It was such a joy to turn off onto pastures new at Napton and be confronted by our first experience of BIG canals. Paddles are hydraulic (&look like pot bellied stoves) & you can go in side by side. This means that driver of boat has someone to yack to whilst stuck in the dungeons & isn't isolated from lock side banter. Immediately started locking down with Brian & Leona, daughters & grandsons - long & lovely day in sunshine & friendship moored up together in the evening & let them move on yesterday with more than a little sadness for saying goodbye-we'd had some heavy & very wet locking days & I needed a day of rest yesterday-I'd intended to paint but was just too tired.

Set off early today having recovered from the Stockton flight Saturday & continued on downwards through the double locks by ourselves with not another soul in sight. Moored up late & shattered just before tomorrow's endurance test of Hatton's 21 locks from Warwick. Wandered up a little to check out potentially safer moorings for cats (always difficult inbuilt up areas) & found, to our delight, Brian's gang moored a little further up. So -hangovers permitting-we'll set off tomorrow at about 9am & do the 21 together-let's hope we are all still friends at the end of the day!!!!!