Sunday 28 February 2010

Flecknoe for the weekend

A nice quite weekend in the sticks prior to slipping into Braunston to be measured and fitted for our new cratch cover. Although it will be lovely to catch up with Caxton I'm not much looking forward to hanging around Braunston's bustle. I think we shall move out for a bit and then go back. We have a fair amount of admin to catch up with and the car will allow me (amongst other things) to take the menagerie to the vet's at Middleton Cheney (annual check up & jabs) but, like most of us this winter, I've just had enough hanging around. I want to be travelling onto new waters.

Friday 26 February 2010

Long Itchington

We have caught up with Dave & Sue on NB Beefur and had a load of catch up time & catch up beers but, more importantly, all their wedding news and photos.

Trundled around Long Itchington a bit with the dogs and dragged ourselves away this morning
Moored up together for a few nights.
Baxter nipped in for a cuddle
Daisy is staying very close to home because of Captain Cat on Beefur. She's very brave with dogs but a complete wuss with cats.
Dave came & lock wheeled for us up the flight of the Stockton 10 and we picked up Jane & Mac at the water point on NB Hero so we shot up in no time. Had a pint at the top, said goodbye to Dave & carried on through Calcutt locks.

I love this - not just a memorial on a seat, but a memorial behind a side hatch.

Catching up with Beefur

After my long lapse in blogging and then trying to make sure that I blogged daily, I have come back to the age old problem of no signal again for days. We were on our way to catch up with Sue & Dave on Beefur (as in 'B' for boat) and passed some BW guys chopping & proffering wood. Thank you. We are now well stocked with wood.

Saturday 20 February 2010

I've lost my fellow lockwheeler

We moored at the bottom of the Hatton yesterday outside the Cape of Good Hope in Warwick. More ice this morning and the forecast is fairly dire for the next few days. It's not the most scenic of moorings but, I'm afraid, we have become a bit wussy this winter now when we see icy forecasts. So here is safe for Daisy, has dog walking off the towpath for Baxter & Muttley, has a pub and a shop for us and, most importantly, a water point that our hose will just reach - although it was frozen up this morning.
There are only 7 days left in Feb and we are still planning around snow & ice - we certainly haven't travelled as much as we normally would have & it's playing hell with BW's stoppage schedule.
So I think we shall hole up here for a day or 3. My lock wheeling buddy has been collected today and I have to confess to falling asleep over my book after putting on a couple of loads of washing and a bit of a clear up. I shall really miss him, he has been such good fun and so helpful.
I must go foraging for food tomorrow and do some cleaning but, if we're still here in a day or two, I think the time has come to get the paints out. When the shop was open 6 days a week I always took one and a half days out a week to paint. Retire and move onto MR for two years and there hasn't been time. How does that happen?

Friday 19 February 2010

Hatton in all her glory

Off we set down the 21 wide locks of the Hatton flight this morning looking oh so splendid in 4" of snow.
I think I'm getting old - I found this flight much harder than I ever have before and I had Dainion's help this time. I don't know if the cold air makes the hydraulic paddles stiffer but 23 and a half winds per paddle was tough - particularly on the bottom paddles. Equally, we couldn't keep our feet under the bottom gates so we couldn't send one on ahead to reset the next lock as it needed both of us to open and close the bottom gates. We also struggled to open the top gates due to the ice packed up against them.
There was, of course, plenty of time to lob snowballs at Grandad whilst he was captive at the bottom of the locks - doesn't matter how old and decrepit you get there is always time to do fun things with snow!!!!
Talking of fun in the snow - my little Mudlark has turned into a snowlark; I would have put Baxter's photo up but, being mainly white, we couldn't find him!!
Perfect straight swathe cut through the ice - good job we didn't encounter any bends.
These little guys were determined to have some attention as we approached the last lock.
Followed by a well deserved pint in the Cape of Good Hope. Night night.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Through Lapworth to Hatton

Up bright and early with a far more positive approach. I normally enjoy a good work out on a flight of locks but, somehow, my heart hadn't been in it the previous day - today, D and I whizzed down the remaining 16 locks in 2 hours; brilliant team work.

The Stratford South canal is still closed so G completed some interesting and rather complicated reversing manouevres to avoid the stoppages and get into the Kingswood Junction basin in order to service the boat.
By this time it was 12.30 and we decided to push on towards Hatton as the weather forecast is threatening to ice us in again. We stopped briefly by Shrewley tunnel to get groceries and by this time it was seriously snowing.....and it snowed and snowed and snowed.
Daisy trying to camouflage herself whilst mousing. I could well be ringing G's school on Monday to say he won't be in because he's iced/snowed in on Grandad's narrowboat (we think that could be one of the most original excuses for non attendance - certainly one of the coolest).

Snow stops play

Set off just after 9.00 and soon hit miserable, grey, cold, sleety weather. Through lock 4 of the Lapworth and the two lock wheelers were cold, wet and demoralised so we gave it up and moored up for a hearty lunch.
Warmed up and, with food in our bellies, the guys went back out to do manly things like oil changes and logging the previous day's wood. Me? I put my feet up and had bit of a breather before starting on dinner. It's rather nice having extra crew.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Time to leave the city life

We pulled pins just after 9.00, with the guys heading for the water point and myself heading to Sainsbury's. We left the city looking at it's finest in the glorious sunshine, leaving via Gas Street and the Mailbox. We have had such a good time here and I'm so glad that (after 2 years) we have finally overcome our city phobia and proved that cities can be safe (for us and Daisy), clean and exciting. Definitely coming back - there's still loads I want to do here and a lot of it is affordable (although a lot isn't).

The suburbs out towards the North Stratford Canal were a lot cleaner and tidier than our approach on the Fazeley, but G was a man with a mission today with definite 'push-on-itis' because the Bluebell Cider House was within possible reach (although we were a bit sad to hear that it has changed hands).
But then we hit a bit of a problem someone (hopefully) is going to sort me out on this (ropey) understanding is that this is happening ahead of a posted stoppage and diversion to put in a new bridge.
So we went under the new bridge which was up in the air
and we took several runs at the gap on the other side. Each time we ground to a halt. We threw the working crew ropes to bow haul us (we couldn't get to the bank) which just pulled our bow into the tyre barrier and we ran aground again.
But along comes our night in shining armour! No, he's not ramming us, he's approaching for me to tie onto his front so he can reverse up and yank us off the bottom.
Poor man; the working crew were heard to mutter things like, "what do we do if he gets stuck then, wait 'til another one comes, there might not be anymore today?" So his reward for chivalry was to wait while they lowered the bridge, sent a digger across, did a bit of dredging, raised the bridge and then let him through. Whoever you were..bless you and I hope you weren't in a rush.

Just as we were on our way again we came across Gypsy Rover & Ucello-Dot & Derek approaching from the direction of Cadbury World with obscene amounts of chocolate (minty varieties in particular) so lovely to see them again and we yacked & yacked with poor D politely enquiring about what and when lunch might happen.
Amongst the yacking was a heads up on wood they'd passed, look at my happy man when we found it. I feel a day's logging coming on tomorrow, plus an oil change. Never did make the Bluebell with all the excitement. Nice to be back in country bumpkin land.

Monday 15 February 2010

We just lost our virginity

That is our sushi virginity (although I think D had had an M&S taster). D & I went off and did our pirates of the Caribbean which we thought might be seriously uncool, so we sat at the end of an aisle ready to do the old, "you pretend to go to the loo and I'll follow in 2 mins" routine. There was no need, they were very funny and we enjoyed our tyranny. We then rang G and met up for a drink. We have become such sophisticats.
I didn't feel like cooking so we offered D the choice - either we went back to the boat and he cooked or we ate out and he paid. He decided we would eat out and he chose Japanese. We ate out in style and the idea of taking food we fancied off a conveyor belt was a novelty we all enjoyed at a very reasonable price.

So that's our fill of city life - we're off to the north Stratford in the morning. We've had a fabulous time, and tonight we saw it out in style, but now it's time to return to bumpkin land

Sunday 14 February 2010

Cadbury(Kraft) World

The boys went off (by train) to Cadbury World today. D enjoyed it but I think G was unimpressed. I cannot tell you how much chocolate came home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tomorrow D and I are off to play pirates at the city library.

Half term

Grandson dutifully delivered yesterday. Kaz hit the shops and both Karl & Graham nobly tagged along - I ducked out on the excuse of cooking dinner; I really don't do shopping unless it's specialist food shops.

Little one was totally exhausted after all the shopping.

She's going to kill me for this but, if you look carefully, she's on the phone and concentrating - sultry or what?

Steering 66ft of narrowboat is child's play (so why can't I do it?).

Much needed fuel delivery.

Friday 12 February 2010

Domestic Duties

Have been very dull folks today; spent it cooking and washing ready for family visits tomorrow. Did a couple of loads of washing and reversed across to the water point following the de-frost. Just decided to nip out for a well deserved pint when the diesel boat turned up - then it was time for supper and that was us out of day. It happens like that sometimes.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Graduation Day

Everywhere we went there were proud students in gowns posing for photographs with even prouder parents and siblings. We couldn't help but get a little glow for the sheer joy of their occasion in the beautiful (but bitterly cold) sunshine.
After the usual dog walk followed by some serious menu planning, I left himself building shelves and set off in pursuit of the nearest supermarket ready for some serious cooking for the family this weekend.
Another very scenic walk to the shops, but this time via architecture rather than lakes and country parks.
We had a quick planning meeting this pm and have sort of decided that we will stay here 'til around Tuesday (things planned with grandson in Birmingham on Sunday & Monday), then return to Soho to collect the rest of the wood and then head off to Dudley. Our ultimate plans for returning to Braunston & rejoining Caxton are dependent on the re-opening of the Lapworth flight. Keeping a careful eye on Gypsy Rover's blog as they are our 'men on the ground'. No need to make a decision as to which way we go for at least 8 or 9 days. Lots of fun to be had with Dainion over half term first. Yesterday's snow has nearly gone, but there's still too much ice around to let Daisy out without supervision. Poor Daisy.