Thursday 30 January 2014

As anticipated, we left our Foxton mooring in full wet weather gear. I did the (easy) swing bridge and G went through with MR and pulled onto the waterpoint before heading up the flight on foot in search a of the Lockie. Couldn't find him, so decided to just carry on by ourselves - set off towards the bottom lock and there he was. It was so filthy that I left Muttley on the boat by himself, but I had to take poor old Baxter with me whilst I lock wheeled. Poor boy looked so sad and bedraggled but I daren't leave him in the cabin on his own through locks any more. Shot up the flight and watered up the top and G decided we'd head towards Welford until he'd had enough - I stayed inside with the boys (the tow path was too filthy and slippery to walk) and prepared two days' worth of food.

Whilst we were watering, we saw a couple of lads in a jet propelled tiny skiff approach the top of the flight; run around a bit with a surveyor's wheely thing and then head back the way they'd come

When we reached the tiny lock on the Welford Arm they were there again, opening the lock for us and then squeezing - and I do mean squeezing - in the lock behind us
They were actually doing  a dredging survey and they must have had the filthiest, coldest, shittiest job going - their little skiff was a quarter full of water and had two holes in it. One guy was sat in the flooded skiff and the other guy was trying to walk the tow path with his wheely thing in terrible mud and, in places, at dangerously sloping angles that threatened to tip him into the cut. They were only youngsters but not too depressed to have a bit of banter with us.
The River Avon - just a trickle normally in these parts - starting to look considerably more than a ditch
We moored up at about 3.30 pm, very grateful to be warm and dry with a nice cuppa. No TV signal but I had a good Jodi Picoult book to finish, so that suited me. We watched the poor lads finish the survey up here, then turn around and re-trace their steps. I don't know how much further they had to go but I so wished I'd offered them a tea or coffee and a bite to eat - I was so grateful to be in and settled that I didn't think until it was too late.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Giant hail

By Friday Lesley's car was sorted so we went off to a big shopping centre on the outskirts of Leicester and I not only managed 4 1/2 hours of clothes shopping, I also bought a load of new stuff - I couldn't rouse myself enough to try anything on though but, luckily, it all fitted.

G had been at his Mum's and, on Saturday,  I was just about to walk down into Harborough to meet him off the bus for a pint when all hell broke loose. Thunder, lightning and giant hailstones all seemed to come from nowhere. The already filthy tow path wasn't much improved.

Sunday we left in the pouring rain - no choice really as I had family coming out to lunch on Monday and we couldn't expect 'proper people' to wade down the Harborough towpath. We moved to Foxton where the puddles on the towpath are at least over hard standing - I sent G to wrestle with the swing bridge and we moored up just before the junction with plenty of time for a pint before our Sunday roast which had been prepped en route.

We went to The Bell Inn at Gumley for Monday lunch - dog friendly (although we didn't take ours), people friendly, great beer and good food. In addition to an extensive and varied menu they also have 5 daily specials at £4.95 to which you can add any of the a la carte starters for £2 (normally £4-£5). Our 4 dishes came with potatoes/chips/salads/veg as individually chosen; plus an additional huge bowl of different veg and another of chips - the latter was donated to the lads at the bar and the former came home in a doggy bag for soup. Crazy quantities of food.

We were going to move on today but we couldn't raise any enthusiasm for it in the continuing rain, so stayed where we were and got on with some jobs. Even when the sun did make a brief appearance it didn't stop raining so a pretty soggy dog walk and not very photo friendly
 I doubt Anubis will ever come up and play again
 Hardcore under our feet
 Mum's in waiting looking resigned to the rain
Up the flight tomorrow - the forecast suggests it will be full wet weather gear again

Thursday 23 January 2014

Oh bum piddle wee wee

I've just been out to turn the engine off and my glasses have fallen in the cut - so annoying; I bought them in Ely and they cost me 99 pence! I was particularly fond of them as they were just the right level of magnification for the 'puter.
 Large 'plops' of rain continued throughout the night into this morning
 but Lesley and I managed to get the dogs out in the, relatively, dry by late morning
just in time to wave goodbye to Diana and Brian who were leaving as we returned.

After 14 months of the 5:2 fast way of life, Lesley's brand new size 10 trousers were too baggy. All donations gratefully received - I am a perfik size 10. Thank you Lesley; new wardrobe for Europe

Wednesday 22 January 2014

A nice surprise and a joyous reunion

Trundling along the towing path in to Market Harborough yesterday, I was greeted by two very excited Labradors shortly (sorry, I promised not to call her shortly) followed by Lesley. The 4 dogs went nuts as it's roughly 10 months since they've seen each other.

 Here's the good ship Yarwood pulling alongside the coal boat before Joe went off to sort their car out
 G and I were kindly invited to join the M H marina boaters last night for steak night at the Weatherspoons and we actually knew one of the couples whom we had met when they had their previous boat
 More dog walking today before Lesley and I went off to do a bit of shopping and enjoy a pint in The Swan
 When I arrived back at MR we had a new boat moored behind us - no mistaking that colour scheme; it's Harnser and Brian, Diana and G were  sat round having tea and a natter. Another brilliant day.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Losing track of time

I  seem to be losing all track of time. I haven't been able to wear a watch recently due to an allergy flair up and, anyway, the battery has gone flat. Then last night I asked G to record a movie for me, but it wasn't on because I'd been looking in last week's TV guide. Then I arranged to meet my cousins for the day next Monday but we both had a different date - I was looking at the calendar for January 2015. Talking of meeting the cousins, we need somewhere for lunch - has anyone tried The Black Horse in Foxton? Last time we were through here it had been taken over and was closed for refurb.

Awoke to a hard frost yesterday - very beautiful with mist hanging in the valley as it dropped away from the canal

 and from our side hatch this fabulous reflected tangle of tree limbs
I walked the dogs to the top of Foxton Locks and left G watering whilst I went in search of the Lockie - I checked the office and walked down to the bottom of the flight and checked the shop. No sign of him anywhere and the boys were getting very bored
G eventually tracked him down in the museum and we quickly made our way down exchanging a lot of banter with the Lockie and the inevitable gaggle of gongoozlers
It doesn't matter how many times you do this flight you never tire of the views. On a day like today they are sublime
Down the flight and hang a right through the swing bridge (no key needed to operate it now) onto the Market Harborough Arm. Although it was lunchtime we left Bridge 61 un visited as it was a 'fast' day
I felt very virtuous as a pint after a lock flight always goes down well - on reflection, a pint always goes down well even if there is no flight
The swing bridge at Foxton village was a nightmare - I tried to operate it and gave up, taking the tiller and letting G have a go. He couldn't work it either. Then some guys who were doing clearance work turned up and operated it; evidently you have to line things up manually before the electric bit makes contact. It was quite difficult picking G and the boys up the other side as I couldn't put my nose to the bank without sticking MR's bum in the overgrown trees and bushes - not good for the paintwork or my head
This space hopper had been strategically hung to warn of a very thick and low level branch
Gorgeous - not another moving boat seen all day, nor yesterday
Guess which idiot left the bird-feeding gear on the wrong side
Although I put the feeders up at 2 o'clock, the only bird seen was a Moorhen who rather liked the seed and grain I put out on the log. Probably because Daisy was out all afternoon (although she leaves the birds alone), it took her less than 5 mins to catch her first mouse
10 locks and 4 miles today - nicely positioned to meet up with Yarwood tomorrow in Market Harborough

Monday 20 January 2014

We wanted to be down the Foxton flight by today (Monday) and our Saturday night mooring left us about 9 miles away. We thought that might be too much to do as the forecast was for thick mist (which usually means very cold) on Monday, so G moved the boat in yet more glorious sunshine about 10.30 whilst I caught up with the omnibus edition of the Archers and prepped the Sunday Lunch.
 I love this part of the world - beautiful, undulating countryside
 and we moored up at 12.30 within a mile ish of Foxton top lock
 We actually moored just short of bridge 59 and let Daisy out to play for a bit. Although a passing dog upset her - look at the size of that tail.
As the dogs hadn't been walked, we thought we'd better walk them down to Bridge 61 as G would be on a 'fast' day when we passed in the boat!

I thought it best to take some photos down the flight as it might have been too murky today

 Glorious isn't it? It takes a lot of beating when the sun is shining - although the sun was so low that I couldn't loose my shadow

We had an extremely nice pint of Welland something (not tried it before) before returning to MR and roast pork cooked by G whilst I played with the camera in the curious light. On the way back up the flight we passed some more people who follow the blog, we seem to have quite a few followers in this neck of the woods.


Saturday 18 January 2014

We didn't get our alarm call

Normally, if one of us Graham isn't already up, Baxter comes to the bedroom door and barks at 8.13 and then goes back to bed. This morning he didn't and we didn't wake up until 25 to 10! I still can't believe it. So by the time we'd showered, breakfasted and I'd popped into Crick, it was 12 o'clock before I set off with the dogs and G set off with MR. Lazy bloody tykes we are.

The narra is still parked in the field
 another grey day and I was having some difficulty with my camera lens so not many photos today. G said he'd motor on to Yelvertoft and start watering whilst the dogs and I caught him up. But the towing path became ever muddier, narrower and slopier until their was a real danger I was going to end up sliding straight into the cut. The cavalry had to reverse back to pick us up.
 We watered and rid ourselves of the rubbish at Yelvertoft where I discovered there was a sale of Joules seconds at the school - oh joy, joy, joy. My favourite stuff and the prices should be OK if it was seconds. Joy quickly turned to gloom when I realised it was last Tuesday. Gutted! 
It was 4.30 before we stopped tonight close to the junction with the Welford Arm and we had done 11 miles. Poor G was so welded/frozen to the tiller arm that I thought I'd have to throw hot water over him to separate him.

Friday 17 January 2014

Our halos are shining

Yesterday shone bright and sunny and we decided to stay where we were for the day. I heard the sound of a boat approaching and than hovering alongside. It was blog reader Philip in the process of delivering NB Megan Mary to Crick for someone. Poor man caught me in dressing gown and bed hair. Mind you, if he'd turned up 30 minutes later he'd have caught me in PJs, pinny and Marigolds as I'd decided an oven clean was well overdue. I hate that job but it's very satisfying once done.
G also got stuck into a job he'd been putting off for a bit - I wonder what the crew of the boat in front thought this was when they returned
 Of course you and I know it's just Muttley that's been scalped - I know it could still turn cold but his coat was so tangled and muddy, he really doesn't feel the cold and we have lots of dog coats and jumpers if necessary
 and he doesn't seem to be holding a grudge
 Baxter's coat desperately needs doing to0, but he does feel the cold and doesn't move a lot so we'll just have to keep de-tangling him until the spring

We moved on into Crick today in intermittent rain and treated ourselves to lunch at The Red Lion; well kept beer, great home made food (all at £5), good service and dog friendly. Then a trip to the Co-op for fresh veg and milk before an afternoon snooze - it was too late to move on really and we don't need to be in Market Harborough until 21st