Sunday 19 May 2013

The hottest bed on MR

This bed belongs to Baxter but either he (or it) seems to be massively popular with everyone else.Muttley is always trying to squeeze on beside him.
All visitors seem to make a beeline for him and Meg is not beyond pinching her share
 Then, when the family come visiting young Tylan goes wherever Baxter goes
 my poor long suffering dog - Tylan adores him
not to be outdone by her brother, Mileigh wanted a piece of the bed too
 in the end Grandad had to come to Baxter's rescue - which didn't help G's poor bruised and battered body after his previous days activities down the weed hatch
 We also had the pleasure of meeting Jan and Alistair off of NB Qisma and whisked Jan off with us on our morning walk today - not one of our better ones - and we returned Jan and Josh (their lovely Labradoodle) muddy and without the Sunday paper she'd gone out for in the first place (Sorry Jan)!
Our final Sunday lunch on board NP today as we go our separate ways next Tuesday or Wednesday. Excellent as always but I must point out that the chef was 3 minutes late putting it on the table.
After a cuppa and feet up for an hour, Sue and I set off passed Gayton Marina to Rothersthorpe and back via lock 9. A really lovely walk in the late evening sun and Muttley only found two dead things to eat - I really must remember to muzzle him at this time of the year!! Another fabulous day. Vic and Sue really do know how to do Sundays.

Friday 17 May 2013

Plans; good intentions; boating. Yeah, impossible combination.

Yesterday we knew we were going up the Northampton Arm back onto the canal system today.
We also knew we would be parting company with Vic and Sue soon so we thought we would go out for a good meal (on our 2 for 1 Tastecards) at the Vineyard in Northampton as a bit of a farewell celebration (don't bother; ok at half price but cold plates...grrr).
Before we went out I did remind everyone that we had 18 locks to do in the morning (and we've been off the system and pottering around with the odd electronic lock or two for the last 14 months) so we didn't want to be getting bladdered and staying up late.
How very sensible of me.
Did any of them listen to me?
Did they hell.
Did I listen to me?
So off we toddled (or should that be staggered) this morning; through the town lock and onto the town moorings for a Morrison shop. A certain fellow traveller was heard to mutter that she couldn't ever look a bottle of Bacardi (other brands are available) in the eye ever again and, remarkably, we reached the bottom lock 15 minutes ahead of schedule. This was important as Pip and Roger (NB Windsong) and Kevin Too (The Other One) were coming out to help us lock up so there was no slack in the schedule. We were in front ( (dodgy) coins had been tossed the night before) and confronted with my first 'proper' lock in 14 months it took me 3 attempts to assemble the right 'anti-vandal' equipment. Feeling rather foolish but safely through and re-setting for Vic and Sue they came over on the radio that they were a dog short!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Penny had wandered off at Morrisons and wasn't on board.
Sue went tearing back whilst we moored up and we were just about to return to help the search when Sue phoned through to say that Penny was lying on the path where the boats had been moored with a small worried attentive audience.
Situation recovered we continued to the next lock where we tried to take the top gate out as we couldn't put the engine into reverse - prop foul. Bow hauled her out and locked No Problem through and they too had a prop foul. They were quickly fixed and we sent them on their way as we (that's the royal 'we') had this 'little' lot of wire to contend with. This is about half of it!
 With all the stuff we have on board to deal with such problems, this still took about an hour and a half for G to sort - by which time his hands were dripping blood and he was frozen to the marrow
 To make matters worse, I'd wandered off to walk the dogs and himself got his head stuck down the weed hatch! Vic paid 3 visits to that part of NPs anatomy today - I'm sure Sue will give their take on the day later if she can stay awake. We eventually caught NP plus Kevin Pip and Roger up when they stopped for lunch. Pip and Roger had to leave shortly after as a wet and filthy (playing with Penny) Ozzy had an appointment with the dog groomer - bet that didn't go down well!
 I loved all the 'murials' we passed

and, it might sound crazy, but I had a really lovely day - the company was brilliant (great to meet Kevin Too - I felt I already knew him after all the blog comments), the exercise was good and the time flew by.

NP in the top lock
 I'd really dreaded coming back to narrow, muddy waters but so far so OK

Kevin Too walking up after closing the gate behind MR on the penultimate lock
PS We seem to be moored on the route of the local hire boat companies 'let's take you down and show you how to wind' trip. Oh well .. it had to happen; at least they are doing it slowly with their instructors' on board.

Friday 10 May 2013

It all happened at Doddington Lock - organised chaos!

This morning it was time to move on as the delightful farmer, on whose land we had been parked, was waiting to turn his cattle out.
Whilst out walking with Sue previously, we had been up to Doddington Lock to check out the water situation  and the potential for a Tesco delivery. The original waterpoint no longer worked but Sue tracked down Andy, the owner of Hardwater Mill adjacent to the lock, in his back garden and he kindly said we were welcome to fill both boats from his yard tap if our hoses could could reach it.

So that was the plan then and the hoses did reach (we do have a lot of hoses even without No Problems')
 So here we are merrily blocking the downstream lock entrance and filling our tanks courtesy of the lovely Anne and Andy (who runs NB training courses). Now those of you on the overly populated ditches will think we're mad but we only see 3 or 4 boats a week and those are at the weekend. There was, however, a boat moored on the lock landing which had been abandoned there the previous day in the crazy winds. Needless to say; 5 minutes after we had the hoses set up than the aforementioned owner turned up wanting to lock down. G went and had a word and he was happy to have a brew and wait. Then, of course, another boat turned up wanting to come down (they were the only two boats I saw today). So, with their tank 3/4 full, we locked No Problem up.
 Which cleared enough space for the two to come down although they didn't seem to want to let Sue out!
 We then moored Sue on the meadow to wait for the Tesco delivery which would need carrying from the track, across a bit of field and then across NP's gang plank.
It took us ages to fill MR and we were still locking up when I spied the Tesco van turn in leaving Sue and Vic to start carting the shopping by themselves until I could leave MR and help! What a kerfuffle, by this stage - what with hoses, locking up and down, carting shopping and take off and landings in the wind - I was ready to go and lie down in a darkened room with a gin and tonic.
Not only did these lovely people let us have their water; they also offered to let us moor for the night in with their rescue sheep (I wish I'd thought to ask who or what the sheep were rescued from) but we declined as a half mile cruise was a bit short even by our standards. Also 4 dogs rounding up their sheep was not exactly the way to show our gratitude.

In between all of this, Anne showed us their plans and installation (under construction) for harnessing electricity via their mill race - pictures and more info on this in the next blog.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Pinned down by the wind

A dreadful 24 hours of weather - I can't believe we were doing this on Monday.....
Whilst the adults and older children were nattering, the little one concentrated on recharging
 so that he could stop everyone else from having a nap. The gang planks from boats to bank were irresistible to a toddler and kept everyone on maximum 'stop the child from drowning' duty
 you didn't really want a rest did you Dainion?
 But Dainion and Chenelle did manage to escape on the kayak for a bit
 Despite her efforts at camouflage, Chenelle never managed a nap either
 as for Sue .. mmmm. She says that she was using the sea searcher to find a missing piece from one of the games she kindly lent the children
 Daisy reckoned it was her turn in the kayak
 whilst Meg and Penny crashed out in Baxter's bed
Tuesday was declared a day of rest

Sunday 5 May 2013

A birthday party and morning visitors - such a solitary lifestyle!

The views from our window on Saturday morning
 then we trundled up the hill to the village of Great Doddington - having been out on the Fens for 12 months my lungs are not very good at hills yet; several stops to admire the view were required!
a pretty village
home to the dog friendly (I think they were given a drink before we were) Stags Head where we went to celebrate Sue's birthday
a village full of traditional buildings

and this one - straight out of Grand Designs. I bet they had some hassle with the planning authorities as it's smack bang in the middle of the village
it certainly has one helluva view!
 after lunch we rolled back down the hill

 via Wollaston Lock
 luckily missing the downpours
 and back to the boats - I think I heard a little bit of moaning about the distance from a couple of blokes
 In the evening we went round to No Problem for party food and games - unfortunately the concentration levels deteriorated as the evening progressed so the games had to get easier in direct proportion!
This morning we had a great visit from Pip and Roger (NB Windsong) and their beautiful dog Ozzie (my pics of people were rubbish so I haven't put them up) who finally stopped playing with the rest of the gang long enough for me to get this picture - he'll sleep well tonight!!!!
Vic did us proud (again) with the Sunday lunch and in the evening we were attacked by hot air balloons that were struggling to both move and stay airborne - the wind completely died (hooray). The Heron was having no such problems
 Another lovely two days; but look at the state of my two