Saturday 18 July

We were up just after 8am and stripped the bed ready for next week’s crew.   James & Ali texted to let us know they’d be arriving about 11.30am and so we had a leisurely cooked breakfast and then took Max for a walk.

Isn’t Sat Nav wonderful – they were so punctual!    After unloading their car and stowing bags on the boat, we sat down for a chat over coffee before we reloaded their car with our stuff.

We left them at 12.30 and headed for the M42.  James had warned it was busy but we weren’t expecting almost stationery traffic.  Eventually, after over an hour, we made it to the M1 and at 1.42 as we crossed the River Trent and waved at Pip & Mick on NB Lillyanne (part Wasp) who we knew were passing under this bridge sometime today.

The rest of our journey was uneventful. The 50 miles/hr speed limit in place for most of the journey home didn’t worry us too much as it seems so fast after travelling at less than 4 miles/hr.

Our floating voyage will continue next Saturday, 26 July ….

Advertisements

Friday 17 July

After a good night’s sleep despite the proximity to the railway line, we showered and sat down to a cooked breakfast, before moving off and heading north along the Grand Union.

When we passed this way two weeks ago we’d spotted the ideal place to rendezvous with James and Ali, who are coming tomorrow.   It has easy vehicular access to the towpath and easy to find from the M42 motorway.

We motored as far as the Black Buoy Cruising Club, winded and moored up outside the Black Boy pub. The moorings here are for patrons only so I suppose we’d better pay them a visit later!

At the other side of the bridge there are some 14 day moorings which the pub manage which is worth remembering for the future.

I spent the afternoon having a really good sort out and went through each cupboard and drawer thinning out what was no longer needed on board. I was quite ruthless and adopted our original mantra; ‘if it wasn’t useful or beautiful’ it had to go!  I am now feeling quite smug as I’ve created quite a bit of space and thrown out loads of rubbish and we have a pile of rags from clothes that we’ve worn out.

As we’re driving home by car this time, we have the ability to take stuff back with us – I’ll just have to make sure we don’t bring any more back.

 

Thursday 16 July

We left Wootton Wawen. (I’d like to say ‘wending westwards’, but it isn’t – it’s north!).

IMG_1498

Shorn, Shaun or maybe Sian, the Sheep?

I left on foot with Max and after two miles we arrived at our first lock of the day and did our bit for water conservation as there was a boat coming down and so we waited for them to descend.  After we’d done that lock Max and I continued our walk and did six locks before getting back on board for a brief period before arriving at Lock 32.   We did that lock, and then stayed on board until we pulled in for water at Lowsonford. There were two boats ahead of us waiting for the lock and as the water pressure here was good, by the time we’d filled with water it was our turn for the lock and we had our second encounter with Gormley’s sculpture.

IMG_1500

Max and I then walked on to Kingswood Junction, doing a further 7 locks. We got help though with these as there were some lovely Year 10 youngsters on a week-long end of term canal trip who were keen to help us. They’d taken seven hire boats out from Wootton Wawen and were on their way back.   They were a credit to their Cambridge school.

We were glad to reach  our last lock of the day at Kingswood Junction where we were serenaded by an alpine horn.

IMG_1503

We turned off the Stratford Canal and moored up just round the corner, but a little bit too near the railway line.  We hope the trains stop at night.

As I write this, after walking 6 miles and running around while I work 18 locks, Max is fast asleep at my feet.  I think I might sleep well tonight.

Wednesday 15 July

Last night we managed to reverse the boat back onto the aqueduct to fill up with water and block the canal for 15 minutes.

IMG_1471

Looking down at the road below!

IMG_1464

Today we stayed put as my sister Ruth and her children, Lucy & Jack, are coming to join us this afternoon. They’re part way through a tour of friends and family in England from their home in Edinburgh.

First task this morning – I had a chocolate cake to make as I knew this would go down well with them. Then I needed to pop into Wootton Wawen for some fresh strawberries and some cream with which to decorate the cake.

The highlight of the morning was that Max had his tummy tickled by Noddy Holder.   He had just got out of a van at the farm shop and Max wasn’t too proud to lie down at his feet and roll over onto his back.   In my teens I might have done the same as I had several posters of him on my bedroom wall.    Anyway I behaved myself today and just exchanged a few pleasantries about Max and then continued on my way.

The highlight of the afternoon though was seeing Ruth, Lucy and Jack and the kids enjoyed playing with Max while we adults spent a good five hours chatting. They left just as the sun was setting and it was such a shame that you can’t take photographs looking into the sun as it was a lovely sight.

IMG_1476 IMG_1477

Tuesday 14 July

First a walk with Max to the village shop for some tomato puree and an I, before returning for breakfast.

After that we were making preparations to leave when my phone rang and so Storm waved cheerio and headed off along the towpath with Max. I finished my phone call, untied the boat and motored on after them.

There had been a steady stream of boats passing us before we set off and Storm rang me to say that I needn’t rush as there was a queue of boats at the lock, so I slowed down to tick-over.   I crossed back over the Edstone aqueduct and had time to take in the view.   We’d passed under it yesterday on the train and it didn’t look as impressive from below as it does when you’re on top. From there I could see the queue of boats ahead and so I knocked the boat into out of gear and just drifted. There wasn’t a breath of wind and so the boat maintained a straight course.

I popped down below and washed up the breakfast pots whilst keeping on eye on where I was in relation to the canal side out of the window. Job done, I went back up on deck and waited my turn.

As Storm had got to the lock well ahead of me, he’d got involved in helping three other boats up and one boat down. After he’d emptied the lock for the fourth time it was my turn.

Storm said it had been like United Nations this morning as English had been the second language for everyone else.

Anyway, Storm and Max got back on board and we continued on to Wootton Wawen where we filled up with diesel at the Anglo Welsh yard there, having reversed back onto their fuel jetty. We needed to fill up with water too but as our tank is at the front of the boat our hose wouldn’t reach.

IMG_1461

Tap on the fence just after the white sign …

IMG_1459

Room to fill up with diesel today as most holiday boats have gone

 

The CRT tap here is in the daftest place as it is actually on the edge of the aqueduct that carries the canal over the Stratford Road. This means that whenever a boat stops to fill up with water they close the canal for all other boats. As we have quite a big water tank we decided to wait until this evening to fill up when all boats have stopped for the night rather than incur the wrath of impatient boaters. Instead we pulled on to the 48 moorings just beyond.

This afternoon I cleaned the inside of the boat as rainy days, muddy towpaths and an enthusiastic Cocker spaniel, don’t do much for cleanliness.

 

 

Monday 13 July

A wet day as forecast, so having exercised Max we headed to Wilmcote station in our waterproofs and caught the train to Henley in Arden, a town known for its variety of historic buildings.

IMG_1450 IMG_1451 IMG_1452 IMG_1453 IMG_1454

We walked its mile long high street passing more than 170 listed buildings adorned with flowers, bought an icecream, and caught the train back.  A visit to this pretty town is recommended.

 

 

Sunday 12 July

We’d looked at the weather forecast for the rest of the week and today looked like the best day for starting our journey back. We planned to travel the four miles and up  16 locks to Wilmcote.

Before we left Stratford I popped to Morrisons with the bike to pick up a few things I’d missed off the ASDA order. Storm set off in another direction as he wanted to go to Currys to look for a hardrive to store our photos.

Our shopping expeditions were both successful and we arrived back at the boat within seconds of each other.   We untied and moved into the basin and winded and headed back onto the Stratford Canal.   We were thankful that as it was Sunday there were quite so many gongoozlers watching us.

It was my turn to do the locks today, with Max’s help. We pulled in for water after the first four locks and just as we stopped we were caught out by unexpected torrential tropical style downpour. It lasted ten minutes and then the sun came out again.   It was just as if our turning on the tap had caused it to rain!

IMG_1445 IMG_1449

The rest of the afternoon was glorious sunshine and we worked our way steadily up the flight. There was a volunteer lock-keeper on duty and he was busy helping those with crews of two or more coming down the flight.   At least all the locks were set in our favour. We did find descending crews closing gates behind them even though we were approaching – they were holiday boaters who were only obeying the instructions on the lock gates that say ‘ensure all gates and paddles are closed as you leave”! We’ll forgive them this time.