Friday 31 July

Last night we revisited the Cape of Good Hope and enjoyed another meal there. This is our fourth visit to this hostelry over the years and it hasn’t disappointed yet.   The pub looks very inviting from the canal but from the roadside looks nothing special.

This morning we popped into the shop on the Saltisford Arm and picked up a copy of the August edition of Towpath Talk, the free newspaper for boaters. We also made a donation to the Saltisford Trust even though it is free to moor there overnight. The residents we met on site all smiled and passed the time of day, although there was one guy who lingered as we left and who then followed us on foot down the arm and watched us turn towards Royal Leamington Spa from behind the security mesh as though making sure we’d actually left.   We wondered if we’d omitted to do something expected of us but as he didn’t call out we carried on.

We passed Kate Boats where we hoped to pick up a new gas canister, but we were surprised to find that their yard was closed today.

We were running low on groceries and decided to call at Tesco. We’ve shopped at this store twice before and it never ceases to amaze me that this store has made absolutely no provision for passing boats other than to provide some mooring bollards. The moorings are screened from the store by unkempt trees, and it is impossible to get a shopping trolley of groceries anywhere near a boat as the store has installed some mechanism that locks the trolley wheels making it totally immobile about fifty feet short of the canal.

My Knight in shining armour came to meet me to help me carry the bags and after we’d had a quick bite of lunch we moved off again.   We passed LIDL who have provided excellent moorings for passing boats and a bit further on we discovered that it is also possible to moor up adjacent to Morrisons and a new pedestrian crossing means you no longer get mown down by traffic.   We wished we known.

We moored up in Royal Leamington Spa, leaving Max on board, and went off to stroll around the town and visit some of the more unusual independent shops. Had money been no object we could have spent a fortune. Leamington Spa is well worth a visit as this town is very picturesque with its regency architecture. It is a shame that it only shows its shonky side to the canal as I’m sure many boaters just pass through.

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Thursday 30 July

We got married 34 years ago today! After an exchange of cards, coffee in bed and a cooked breakfast, we made ready to set off towards the Hatton flight.

When we arrived at the top of the flight all was quiet, with the locks set against us and so we decided to wait and see if anyone else turned up. While we waited we filled up with water and offloaded our rubbish.   Just as we were putting the hose away NB Lynn G joined us. Lynn, Dave and Boxer Dog George were happy to share the locks down into Warwick.

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We got into a nice rhythm. After the first lock Dave walked ahead to set the lock and open both gates ready for our arrival. Storm stayed back and closed the lock after Lynn and I had steered the boats clear. Lynn was a bit nervous steering so she left each lock first and I moved the boat over in the lock so we only needed to open one gate making it easier for Storm. Dave met her at the lock ahead and helped pull their boat into the side and I then manoeuvred in beside and closed the gate beside me, by which time Storm had caught us up. After the first lock it was nice to see two boats coming towards us as this meant that the remaining locks would be set in our favour.

The only hiccup to our rhythm was when a volunteer lock-keeper emptied a lock ahead of us as he was helping a boat up the flight and hadn’t spotted us coming down.

It was really nice sharing the locks and having someone to chat to. After 21 locks they gave us a cheery wave as we went our separate ways; Lynn & Dave continued on and we pulled into the Saltisford Arm in Warwick. We’ve been to Warwick before but never moored in the arm as we had thought it was full of long-term moorers.

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We edged our way down the arm, winded, and were asked to reverse back up the arm to breast up beside another boat. Sammy Jo was happy for us to moor alongside. Thank you NB Lillyanne for recommending this really nice place.

We spent the afternoon listening to the cricket, which as I type is looking really promising for us this time.

Our phone call finally came in today and that too was good news.

Tonight we’re going out for dinner to celebrate.

Wednesday 29 July

We woke to a warm summer morning but this was short lived as the sun and showers took it in turns throughout the day to turn the temperature up and down.

Storm spent the morning tidying the engine bay. I stayed close by to be on call to hand things to him, as once in the engine bay it isn’t easy for him to climb in and out.

While on call I spent time pottering and doing various household chores and dealing with some admin matters. We’re still waiting on that phone call and so didn’t go far from the boat.

Max had a couple of walks and sat on the towpath making eyes at dogs that walked by and fending them off his water bowl. Pedestrians were invited to tickle his tummy as usual.

Last night The Home Brew Boat moored nearby and Barry was keen to let us taste his wares.   He offers a full brewing kit for £80 and you can decide whether to brew wine, beer, or spirits. He assures us that good results are guaranteed. We didn’t invest with him yesterday but we have his card and may order something from him in the future, as the sample we tasted was really good.

By evening, both our telephone and internet signals had disappeared again – can anyone explain why it fluctuates so much?

Tuesday 28 July

There was a strong breeze this morning, albeit a cold one, for drying washing and so I hung out yesterday’s load of bedding.   It had been out about an hour when I spotted it was raining and rushed out to rescue it as by this time it was nearly dry and just needed a couple more hours over the indoor airer.

It was only a short-lived shower and it was time for us to move on. The signal strength at Kingswood Junction is intermittent and we’re waiting for an important telephone call so with phones in hand we set off and pulled in again as soon as we had four bars and a 3G signal.

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We are now moored on an embankment near Rowington from where, over in the distance, we can see aeroplanes lining up to land at Birmingham International airport, hear the roar of traffic on the M40 and trains from Leamington Spa to Birmingham Snow Hill, but other than that it is a beautiful unspoilt rural setting. When we first moored up we were all alone but this evening we’re surrounded.

This afternoon Max and I went off together to explore the area and we ended up at Shrewley Common. We’d hoped to be able to walk away from the towpath and perhaps tackle a circular walk, but there was no way off the towpath, even though at one bridge we spotted a public footpath finger post the exit was barred by a huge metal grill.  The hedge beside the towpath was quite dense and we only got one chance to look at the view beyond – a fantastic display of Christmas trees as far as the eye could see.

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The towpath took us through (or should I say ‘up’) the unlit and a little scary Shrewley towpath tunnel and it was quite a surprised when it brought us out in the middle of the village high street with houses either side.

There is a village shop here that might have been useful for supplies if we’d brought any money with us.   As we hadn’t we just turned back.

 

Monday 27 July

We woke early to a dry morning and decided to leave Stratford and make some real headway as the locks were set in our favour. We were away by 7.15am and reached the midway point of Wootton Wawen at noon and pulled in for lunch having done a wash and filled up with water.

We set off again at 1pm and as Storm had done the locks this morning, I did the locks this afternoon.

The canal was amazingly quiet today with very few boats about and we didn’t have to queue for a single lock.

We reached Kingswood Junction by 5.45pm having travelled 13 miles and done 35 locks.   It’s a long time since we’ve had such a full day of boating.

 

Sunday 26 July

With rain predicted to last all day we stayed put in Stratford.

As we took Max for his essential walk in the park, we found ourselves watching a time-trial raft race being held on the river. The four man teams had launched their rafts 7 miles up stream of Stratford and by the time we saw them they were about 100 yards from the finishing line and were paddling like mad.

Despite the torrential rain, the teams looked as though they were enjoying themselves whilst they were in the water. By the time they’d got themselves and their rafts out of the water though and were starting to cool down they didn’t look quite so thrilled.

Back on board we dried out and as we couldn’t see anything through our condensation covered windows, we settled down to watch the film ‘Lawless’. We even had the central heating on for an hour to take the chill off. A duvet day!

 

Saturday 25 July

We’ve had a hectic week at home attending various meetings, as well as seeing our dentist for our annual check, and it was good to catch up with friends we haven’t seen for a while as well as our friends we see each time we go home.

James & Ali have enjoyed a brilliant week on the boat, taking it back to Stratford.   They’ve taken it in turns to steer, and do the locks, had a  train journey from Wilmcote to Birmingham, dined out at some of the many pubs along the way and the finale of their holiday was managing to get tickets to see Othello at the RSC last night, which apparently was truly amazing. Sadly we’ve been unable to get any tickets as it is fully sold out this week (well apart from some ‘executive tickets’ at £70 each that we can’t afford).

We arrived into Stratford at lunch time by car after a three hour journey. This wasn’t too bad considering today is supposed to be the worst day to travel by road during the Summer holiday season. The last 20 miles were the most congested and this took us over an hour.

We parked in the car park beside the Red Lion pub where James & Ali came to meet us. They’d had to moor in the basin when they arrived into Stratford on Thursday evening as all other moorings were full, but today the moorings beside the pub were empty so we moved the boat first out of the basin and moored alongside the pub to facilitate unloading the car as we’d bought groceries with us to see us through at least a week.

After an exchange of news, they left us and headed back home, leaving us to unpack, and spend a fairly quiet afternoon reading the papers. The peace was only spoilt by boats coming up from the river who’d forgotten that the speed limit when passing moored boats on the canal should be tickover as otherwise their wash causes our boat to rock and the drawers and cupboards to fly open.