Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Send the sea sick pills please !

For the first time ever on the boat, I was sea sick one day last week and then again a few days later!   Bucket at the ready - better to be safe than sorry, but thankfully it wasn't used!   We were rocking about like a cork in the ocean ….and then of course, the rain, rain, rain.   However we are quite safe and sound and the only issue we encountered was having to move a couple of boats length on the main canal by Saltisford Arm in Warwick.    Got up last Sunday morning to find the towpath underwater - poor old Foxxie wouldn’t jump off - canal one side and no see-able towpath the other!    We could see the towpath further up so we just pulled Jandai along - Foxxie’s relief was quite noticeable.

I got quite excited last Friday - “proper” supermarkets right by the canal between Leamington Spa and Warwick.    We haven’t seen one of these for 43 days when we were in Loughborough.   Major stockup; first at Lidl and then at Tesco.   Of course we will trundle down towpaths with our Grannie Trolleys but there is a limit as to just how far you can do this!   Couple of miles is about ok but dragging full trolleys any more than that is a test of strength and stamina I really can do without.   So since Loughborough we have just been buying the absolute essentials (like milk, eggs,  fresh veg and meat) from little village stores.    However, now the stock cupboards are full again - yes!

Had a walk around Warwick town centre - it’s a lot smaller than I remembered from when we were here 2+ years ago.   Of course it’s famous for its Castle but, honestly, the shopping is a bit limited.   Apparently everyone goes to Leamington Spa for real retail therapy but all boaters we talked to and CarT men and a policeman advised not to moor there.   It’s ok in the summer when there’s safety in numbers but not to be done in the winter months.

After a walk so far up Hatton Locks, Dai spotted a load of very recently felled trees right by the towpath - so guess what?    Yes, we moved up 3 locks and he was able to spend 2 happy days sawing and stacking.   It broke his heart when the roof was full to over-flowing and there was just no point in sawing anymore.    It must be the first time we have ever left behind a bounty of wood!!

Today we have come up the remaining 18 locks of Hatton Flight and are moored between bridges 57 and 58 close to Shrewley Tunnel in open countryside.   Another boat happened to come by just as were up-ing pins ready to rock and roll.   It makes it so much easier to do these double locks - still with those blasted candlestick paddles! - with two boats.   You find you soon get a system going with two steerers and two doing the locks that you lose count of the number of locks ---- but glad to be in the last one!    Took us 3 hours which is pretty good going as all but 2 locks were set against us.

Then, once moored and relaxing inside, disaster struck!   Dai was mending the fire and then suddenly, I heard a lot of blaspheming (wot, from Dai?…. Surely not!!).   Somehow the glass door on the fire shattered.    Temperature outside plummeting as we are forecast below freezing tonight and we have to let the fire go out.   Thank god (well,  thanks really to Ian and Irene off NB Freespirit blogging about their fire glass shattering) we had a spare since Braunston (remember me ranting about “gold plated cardboard” a few weeks back?).   After a hour or two, Dai managed to lift the door off its hinges and put it outside to cool down quicker, which it did, but then one of the fixing bolts seared off!
To cut a long story short, Dai did manage to wrangle it so the glass went in and, in fact, the door back on the fire before it went out completely!    So now, we need to source a new door but at least it will do its job until then (fingers crossed!!).

Going to stay put for a week or so now (got plenty of wood, coal, full water tank and 3 empty loo cassettes).    Will see what the village of Shrewley has to offer in the way of fresh veg and meat, but if nothing, Hatton train station is only a bridge or 2 away so I can get into Warwick if necessary - Happy Days!!

Do hope that anyone reading this who has had (or having) flood problems, that you are OK now ---- no more rain forecast for immediate future, just freezing temperatures!

Since last blog we have done … 8 miles and 23 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 2065 miles and  1701 locks  

this was towpath side
as Foxxie couldn't see the towpath
(and probably remembering the time she jumped into the
canal from the wrong side)
she wouldn't jump off for her early morning ablutions
pound between Hatton Locks 33 and 34 empty
quite a mystery as therewas more water than the sea
cascading over the bywash.
We discovered the next day that CART men had drained it as
the house right by the lock was in danger of being flooded
wood bounty
CART are doing a lot of tree felling on Hatton Flight.
They know that if they just leave them, they won't be
there very long.   We boaters are very happy to shift them!
a nice towpath walker informed us that they were ash willow

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What will be dangled in the Cut next?

Quiet week as we still on “go slow” because of winter stoppages at Lapworth lock flight and Camp Hill (we could go either way into Birmingham from here) which are both due to open on December 7.

Moved from Long Itchington down through Bascote 2-lock staircase and the 2 “normal locks” fully intending to then moor but - as is a constant problem at this time of year - nowhere to moor unless we wanted a mud bath every time we ventured off the boat!  Not a problem really for us but Foxxie does get a very dirty undercarriage!    So we carried on and stopped just above Lock 22.    

All the way down these “candlestick” locks (as I call them, Dai calls them lolllipops) there is the usable wide lock with the original single lock blocked off and used as a bywash.    So we moored in front of the old single lock well out of the way of the double one.   There was a little fishermans tent (ar, well, the tent was little I mean!) pitched there but no-one around.  No worries, he’s probably gone home for something or even perhaps inside fast asleep.

Guess what greeted us when we got up the next morning?    No, unfortunately not a frying pan full of fish - or even a solo tiddler - but a chappie washing his feet in the canal !  Now its middle of November and was blowing a gale strong enough for me to send out urgent requests for seasick pills.   I so wanted to take a photo but dare not as he was obviously a crazy man.   But you know how you want not to look at something but for some reason you are mesmerised?    So it was - I was just wondering what he would be washing next !!     But no, he just put his boots on (I bet the socks walked away by themselves) and then his 2 mates arrived.   

They were OK and didn’t bother us but got louder and louder as the contents of the White Diamond bottles reduced and even, at one stage, started fighting and then suddenly all went quiet.   It was too dark by now for Dai to check how many bodies were in the cut, I was just glad they had shut up because naturally by now, Foxxie was getting a bit vocal.

Dai was woken up this morning by arguing so I guess they had just passed out last night so we decided we would up pins and move.   However, it then started teeming down and as all was quiet on the western front, we stayed warm and dry inside.   The rain stopped about 2 pm so we decided to move and just went down 2 locks and are now moored in open countryside just before Leamington Spa.  

Since last blog we have done … 5 miles and 9 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 2057 miles and  1678 locks

I tried it but my legs are too short!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

34 degrees and rising

…. Well it was inside the boat the other day when we got back from a 2 hour walk!!   When we opened the back door, the heat billowing out was like when you get off an aeroplane somewhere like Madrid in the middle of summer …. Oh boy, we had to rush in and open all the windows before it was safe enough to stay in and breathe at the same time!     

A coal/wood fire is not easy to control unless you damp it right down like we do just before we go to bed.   Trouble then is during the day when you are just sitting in the boat at this time of year, you do need a bit more heat than during the night but then it gets soooo hot, all the windows are open and I‘m down to my thin cotton nightie which must look a bit odd (and “odd“ is only as far as I am prepared to go!!) when those lovely people walking the towpath “glance“ through the windows!   

When we had Jandai built, we also had gas central heating fitted as we think it is essential to have more than one source of heating just in case one breaks down or it gets mega mega cold.     We have only ever put the central heating on twice in the bedroom for about half a hour.

We came down the 10 wide locks at Stockton yesterday - all set against us and no-one else in sight!    Hard work.   I’m trying not to think about the upcoming Hatton Flight which is I believe 21 and we’ll be going up!!     Plan is to lurk at the bottom and wait for someone else to share the locks with!!

So we are moored now at Long Itchington with its 6 pubs - unbelievable as it‘s only a village with just one shop (little Co-op with Post Office inside) so how does it support 6 pubs??    Last time we were here in 2010 there was a big sign on the road as you entered the village boosting about the number of pubs but it’s no longer there.    Perhaps some villagers aren’t as proud of this fact as others!!

Went a nice walk today along a disused railway track - these tracks are great and it does make a change to walk without the canal on one side!      Dai is out with Foxxie foraging for wood even though I don’t know where he’s going to put it - the roof is just about full !
Ah well, keeps him amused and gives me a bit of peace!

Since last blog we have done … 4 miles and 13 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 2052 miles and  1669 locks  

"candlestick" paddles on the GU
there is the "nut thing" hanging on the chain
 that you fix on when you've
wound up the paddle to stop it closing
Lias Line Cycleway map on the disused
rail track at Long Itchington
where's yer bike Foxxie??
This is a Cycleway - so the info board tells us
Found some - I'll have that ....
and come back for the rest
Bit too big a stick for Foxxie !
although she was pestering Dai for him to chuck it for her!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gold plated cardboard

After reading Ian and Irene's blog entry of 29 October, we thought we’d better get a spare glass door insert for our fire and, as it happened, we were in Braunston for a long weekend so walked up to Midland Chandlers.    I really must try and keep my mouth shut in shops these days!  Okay, so nearly £50 for a bit of glass measuring about 7 inches square - cool.   It wasn’t that which was so expensive, it was the cardboard protecting it at about 2 foot square as, hopefully, the glass will sit in there for ever being protected as we’ll never have to use it.  £50 for peace of mind - okay, can live with that (ha ha).

So, first frost Monday night - Fritz (our weather boy) recorded a night time low of -1.8 degrees.   Lots of rain this last week too and the towpath in Braunston was like a quagmire.    We came down the locks and I stayed off the boat then to find a mooring spot and, to be honest, think it is rather disgusting that the towpath is left like it is.   For some reason (unknown to me) Braunston appears to be “one of those canal places you must visit” so is very popular with visitors who then must spend money in the village shops and pubs - so you would think they could do something with the towpath.    I expect it to be left to nature in the countryside - and, in fact, want it to be, but really you would think that these canalside villages/towns would go everything they can to attract boaters to stay a night or two.   Eventually I found a mooring not quite as knee deep in mud as others so we were lucky.   I wonder how many other boaters went through the village and onwards taking their money somewhere else.    I better shut up about this subject, else I will be on a bigger soapbox than I am already!!

Good general store in Braunston with post office and brilliant butcher.   Also a chippie although don’t know if any good as it appears to only be open for short times.    Two pubs on the High Street; big Marston’s pub/eatery by canal (although it is on offsite so you have to walk up the hill to village, along the road and down the hill !!) and the Admiral Nelson by Lock 3 ---- which reminds me.   We would have eaten there but no way prepared to get muddied up to the armpits trying to get there.

We left Braunston yesterday and are now moored just before Calcutt Top Lock.    Now that half-term has gone and winter stoppages started, the amount of boats we will see is vastly reduced - just us hardened continuous cruisers enjoying the winter solitude!  

Since last blog we have done … 10 miles and 6 locks  
Total since Setting Off ….. 2048 miles and  1656 locks

sorry no pictures - internet connection off and on, off and on