- Mac & Jacquie Court
- 70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Jacquie accompanied SKYY back to Braunston Junction before walking back to collect the car and driving to Wigrams. It was a beautiful morning in contrast to the miserable drizzly weather that we had suffered for the last three days and I fully enjoyed the return cruise, looking forward to lighting the fire as soon as I got back.
That’s exactly what I did, having of course read the instruction booklet, the fire was instantly blazing away and soon, the paint fumes coming off the stove set, off the smoke alarm, reassuring to know that that works OK, the instructions did warn of this, but said the paint would soon cure and I am pleased to say that now there are now no smelly fumes, no matter how hot the stove gets.
The stove is very controllable, maybe it has something to do with a quality fuel, each load lasts in excess of five hours, in total that’s about a scuttle and a bit a day and it is easy to get the temperature just right without having to throw open doors to bleed off excess heat. I can also, easily get it to go through the night, which is more than I can say for me.
It now looks as if the stove and its surround have always been there, and just in time especially as the tax situation on red diesel changed on November 1st, increasing the cost substantially. We will now be able to keep SKYY at a constant temperature for about a quarter of the cost of using the diesel fired central heating. Many thanks to Phill and Justin for their excellent work.
Justin’s turned up with the cut and welded stove pipe, all nicely blacked and soon the stove was bolted down on the hearth and the pipe elegantly exiting the roof at exactly the right angle. The smart black and chrome chimney was the crowning glory. Unfortunately Justin warned that if we w ere sensible we wouldn’t light the fire for twenty four hours, to allow the mastic and fire cement to properly set, so another night listening to the diesel boiler ticking away. All that remained was to settle the bill for the work, plus a coal scuttle, also in black and chrome, a little companion set, an Eco Fan and a couple of bags of PureHeat. Job done.
Phill was on and off the boat all day. First the base tiles were glued down and then the screw holes in the timber work were plugged. Later, when the tiles had set, a very pungent sealing fluid was applied. Another hour or so Phill returned to trim off the wooden plugs with a neat Japanese flush cut saw and then grouted in the tiles, now it really looked good and only a final polish of the tiles tomorrow was required. In between Phill had been making up an oak ring to finish off the hole in the ceiling lining, it was the perfect finishing touch.
Phill’s work was now complete and it only remained for Justin to fix the stove and pipe in place tomorrow.
Justin from JG Marine came on board to check the alignment of the flue pipe and then set about cutting the hole in the roof. He made it seem so easy, a jig saw and a metal blade made short work of it and the collar was a perfect fit. A long strip of board, the same width as the pipe, with a shorter length pivoted at one end enabled Justin to get the angle and position of the bend were the pipe would exit through the roof, just right, it was important aesthetically, that the pipe followed the same line as the cabin wall, Justin went of to do a bit of pipe bending confident that it would fit.
As we prepared to leave the boat for the rest of day, Phill said that he should get the fire board fitted and the tiles laid. We had chosen a natural stone tile that was in a small brick format on a mesh backing. Phill had said he was happy to lay these but it would take more time.
Phill came on board with the ash edge that would finish off the low level bulkhead that he was going to construct as part of the stove surround. We had particularly wanted a curved edge to this bulkhead to match the other curved tops and cabinet fronts. Phill had laminated up from mu ltiple strips of ash veneer this capping edge to exactly the right curvature, very clever.
We left the boat in Phill’s safe hands and headed of the Leicester to do a bit of Christmas shopping and see the latest James Bond film. A successful day. The new High Cross shopping centre is very attractive and the cinema is conveniently situated right alongside.
We arrived back on SKYY concerned as to what we would find, but were delighted in Phill’s progress, the plinth and bulkhead were in place and the Becton Bunny stove was standing on the hearth, it looked great.
Monday was the day that Phill from Wharf House Narrowboats was to start constructing the plinth for the stove. It was a miserable day, but it made sense to head for Braunston today to be in place for work to begin early on Monday. Jacquie saw us safely to the marina exit before jumping ship to drive to Braunston, I cruised on single handed and arrived nearly two hours later, cold and wet. Jacquie had checked in with Phill at the Chandlers and confirmed where we should moor the boat and then walked up the cut and jumped back on board just before the twin bridges at Braunston Junction. We moored up alongside a new boat that was being fitted out and warmed ourselves up.
Saturday, 8 November 2008
The snow had almost completely disappeared and gradually the sun came out as we cruised back to Napton.
Penny, who had, the day before, likened crossing the Bay of Biscay to moving about on a canal boat and feeling sick, had definitely found her canal legs and Paul had a go at steering the boat and I think, given enough time and more bridges to aim at, would become a natural.
The good news was, that our brief relationship with the tyre did not seem to have caused any damage to either the engine or propeller and shaft.
Another quayside fond farewell and we then settled back down to there just being the two of us.
The previous evening Paul & Penny, Jacquie’s brother and sister in law had arrived in a blizzard. The earliest winter snow since 1936. This morning, though, was just magical, scrubbed blue sky and pristine white snow covering everything. With the sun so bright we knew that it wouldn’t be long before it melted, but we had a substantial breakfast to fortify us against the cold and then, as last time we took off towards the Folly Pie Pub by Napton Bottom Lock. The views were wonderful and although Paul & Penny who spend much of their life in Southern Spain and were not really prepared, clothes wise, for snowy conditions, we had enough spare warm clothing and they really enjoyed the short trip.
I turned the boat in the winding hole and took no notice of the old car tyre that floated past the stern. Mistake!! After a lot of juddering SKYY continued to turn albeit much more slowly and with a lot of clanking from the prop, but more to the point the old tyre had disappeared and I good idea where it was hiding.
We got the boat alongside the towpath and as soon as I removed the weed hatch and plunged my hands into the icy water my worst fears were realized. The tyre had wrapped itself right around the prop. My attempts to prise it off were useless. I tried cutting through it with a junior hacksaw, knowing, as I started, it was wasting energy. I then thought RCR, the RAC of the canals, I am a member so lets see what they can do. A very cheerful lass said I would receive a call back within half an hour with an ETA for their attendance.
We retired to the roaring log fire and a drink at the Folly Pie pub and within 20 minutes I had a call saying they would be with me, within an hour and a half and the they were. There were two of them, one was an apprentice and it was he that was nominated to immerse himself up to his armpits in the icy water, however he first donned a pair of thick black rubber gloves that did reach his armpits. Within a few minutes the tyre bobbed up at the side of the boat and was removed from the canal with the boat hook. I think the apprentice will go far, he had obviously mastered the technique of tyre from propeller removal, not such an unusual occurrence and made it look so easy. A super service and I can well recommend River Canal Rescue.
We stayed where we were for a late lunch and forty winks for Penny and me, and then decided to stay put for the night. The clocks had gone back at the weekend and by four o’clock it had clouded over and was getting dark.
Barbara and Jim slept soundly and after a hearty breakfast we headed back to Wigrams. The sun again shined brightly, but the wind, stronger than the day before, drove us down the cut and sadly I slightly misjudged the turning back into the marina, but I got it just right getting onto our pontoon.
B & J said goodbye, having enjoyed their time afloat and relieved, that apparently, neither Jacquie or I were suffering any hardships in out floating about life, quite the opposite in-fact. Thanks for coming to visit us, lovely company as always.
Long time friends of Jacquie and now mine, Barbara & Jim, had driven up from Devon on Monday, overnighted in Stratford -upon-Avon, before arriving early in the morning at the marina on a cold, but bright & breezy day. They had been following the blog of SKYY, but were anxious to experience first hand, what I was making Jacquie suffer, so that I could indulge myself with living on a boat. After coffee we set off for a short trip, just down to Napton Bottom Lock, before turning round and stopping for lunch. A walk up to the locks allowed Barbara and Jim to watch a couple of boats work there way up and down. We then cruised back to the Bridge Pub for dinner. The moorings near the pub were all taken, but helpful moorers happily adjusted their mooring lines to make room for us. Thanks Guys.
We all dined well at the Bridge. I had the water buffalo steak pie, an unusual offering, apparently there is a herd of buffalo locally, the texture is like steak, but the taste is a little stronger, a good choice.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
The good news is that Jacquie is feeling much better and when I tied up at bridge 58 in Rugby, she trotted off to the very convenient nearby Tesco Extra for some essential stores. Just three locks at Hillmorton and Jacquie was happy to take the boat in to them as I operated the locks. We finally arrival at Wigrams Turn at 4.30 and the sun had shone for almost all of the way. A tiring but invigorating return journey.
We don’t expect to be doing much cruising over the next few months, but if and when we do, I will again post our adventures on the blog.
Another early start, through Nuneaton and passed the junction with the Ashby Canal where we spent some time back in May. I left the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Junction for the Oxford Canal, with Rugby as tonight’s target. Nineteen miles but only one lock and I tied up the boat at seven pm. At Newbold on Avon, just short of target, but it was getting really dark. Nearly home.
The forecast good, and a early start was planned, but not before a quick visit to the local stores and the chemist for some more jollop for Jacquie, who was beginning to feel a little better, but was still confined to the cabin.
It was a long day, twelve miles and sixteen locks, the sky was clear blue and so many people helped me through locks that I just whizzed through Tamworth, Polesworth and Atherstone, to eventually stop by the delightful BW Hartshill Yard. When we came this way last May, I didn’t stop, but this time I was able to take some photos of this atmospheric working yard.
An extremely wet morning with a forecast for better weather after midday persuaded me to delay departure until that weather arrived. It did eventually, but only left me a couple of hours to reach Fazeley Junction. We had been through this junction before, on our way back from Birmingham, but coming in from another direction it looked quite different. It provided a quiet, attractive mooring, right in the centre of the town opposite Peel’s Wharf, named after Robert Peel, who transformed this area and was the father of the Prime Minister. Another point of interest is that Cash’s name tapes were and are still made in the canal side mill, I am sure that we have all had those tapes sewn inside our PE kits in the past.
Jacquie woke feeling decidedly unwell, so I said I would press on single handed to get back to Napton as fast as possible so that Jacquie could visit her own doctor.
My first time working the boat single handed and I was overwhelmed by the help that was given by other boaters as well gongoozlers. The first time was through the last lock immediately before the junction and the very nice lady also opened and closed the little swing bridge for me, many thanks.
The wind and rain hit hard by early afternoon so I stopped just before the Wryley and Essington Canal. A main railway line passes over the canal here on a brand new bridge, in fact the whole line and other visible bridges all looked brand new. There was a yellow contraption on the track which stopped every few yards and made strange noises before moving on and repeating the process. I assume that this is a new high speed track but has anybody got any ideas where it might be going to and from.
Apologises for the long delay in starting to get the blog underway, but there has been a lot going on, but here’s hoping I can remember what we got up to each day, here goes.
First of all, thank you Martin for your comments, I now know what drinks to avoid in my little protest at Coors decision to close the visitor Centre.
Our destination for today was Fradley Junction, where the Coventry Canal leaves the Trent & Mersey and heads back down south. We passed on route, Branston, where the famous pickle comes from and we also realized that Marmite, that ‘Love It or Hate It’ spread, is made in Burton from the left over brewer’s yeast, of which there must be plenty. In fact we have only just seen on the TV program ‘How Do They Do That’ how in fact they do, do that.
We stopped off at the very smart Barton Turns Marina for the usual services and although it was extremely windy, we entered and left the marina without disgracing ourselves.
The final approach to Fradley Junction is rather strange as the lock gates are immediately behind a very narrow bridge and gives the appearance of the canal coming to a complete end. The junction is very attractive with a BW yard with crane and the popular pub The Swan. A good place to stop for the night.
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Another sad farewell as K & J’s taxi picked them up, to whisk them back to Barrow-upon-Soar, before their onward car journey back home. At least they left some chocolate behind!!!
We walked back into Burton town to buy me some PJ’s this time, and paid more attention to the buildings, which are universally related to the brewing industry, which was started by some clever old monks way back in the thirteen hundreds, because of the suitability of the well water, which has a high gypsum content.
A very well placed Lidl store enabled us to shelter from a sudden squall as we wandered back to our now empty boat, but at least there was still chocolate to comfort us in our loneliness.
The short run to Burton wa s in bright sunshine, but as we crossed over the River Trent on an aqueduct, alongside an old road bridge, the wind was getting up and on the way we came across a strange object in the cut, which turned out to be a large parasol floating stem up, my attempts to recover it, were to no avail, as the wind kept blowing it further across the cut.
By the time we got to Burton, the North wind was really strong and when I jumped off the boat at Shobnall Fields to moor up I was losing the struggle to hold the boat against the bank and it needed John’s additional strength to get us moored up securely. This is a lovely mooring, alongside open playing fields with oak trees lining the canal side; fortunately they looked sufficiently robust not to be blown onto SKYY.
We set of to visit the Burton Brewery Visitor centre and museum. Strangely the whole of the landscape was dominated with red ‘COORS’ signs, atop of the hundreds of brewing vats and again when we arrived at the Visitor Centre and Museum, the COORS logo was very evident. It was closed!!! The adjoining Tourist information Centre was open and the helpful lady said that Coors had decided, 3 months previously, to close the centre and museum as they weren’t prepared to fund it. There is no other industry at Burton apart from brewing beer, what a mean spirited and short sighted decision, as I for one will be making a substantial dent in their profits by boycotting all of their products.
Instead we headed into the town centre, which has nothing much to commend it, except a Primark store where fleecy PJ’s were bought by Jacquie in readiness for cold nights ahead.
Russell, another of Jacquie’s cousins, but from her Dad’s side of the family, popped over for coffee, he lives at Sawley, just five minutes away. I had spoken to him on the phone, but had never met and Jacquie hadn’t seen him for six years, but it was understood that when we reached this area, we would meet up.
We moved on about midday and compared to the excitement of yesterday, today was without major event, we were back to single locks, which are much easier to operate. Our destination was Burton, but we stopped for the night a little way before Burton, at Willington and another fine, onboard dinner.
We entered the first of the canals double locks and waited whilst a CanalBoat Hire boat struggled to come in alongside us. It was skippered by a relatively capable older lady, but her elderly husband didn’t have much of a clue. She said that this was their first full day of their holiday and their son, who had been reluctantly persuaded to come on a canal holiday, had already fallen in the cut and had confined himself to the cabin, saying, “I want to go home”. This lock was leaking a lot of water through the top gate and as their boat had gone to far forward; water was cascading into the front well, until John shouted for her to move the boat back. Her husband was rather ineffectually pulling on the mid rope from the top of the lock and then I saw that the boat was canted over as he had got the rope locked around the central bollard, as the boat continued to rise it tilted further and further. I jumped over onto their boat and tried to release the rope, but it was locked tight around the bollard. I shouted out for the top paddles to be shut and then I grabbed a windlass and reopened the bottom paddles and eventually as the water dropped, the boat leveled and the rope was released and we proceeded to lock up. I suggested that they left the lock first so that we could keep an eye on them, but the lady said that they had caused us enough of a nuisance and I guessed they decided to tie up and reconsider their options. It really is a worry that such inexperienced people can take out sixteen tons of canal boat with so little tuition and get themselves into so many dangerous situations so quickly.
We continued to the delightful community of Shardlow, this was a very important wharf and warehouse centre in the past and we moored up right along side the road with a choice of two pubs within twenty yards. Brian and Anne joined the party in the afternoon, they live near Nottingham, and so had no excuse not to come over. They visited us in March last year and have had canal holidays themselves, but have also owned a proper sailing boat and have seriously sailed the oceans.
We went to the Navigation Inn for our dinner, a little further away than the two local ones, and had seriously great service and food. For John and me, it was Pie Night; the steak pie was superb, followed by equally yummier apple pie. However it has to be said that John had bought and cooked the previous evening, fillet steak and that was the best steak, Jacquie and I had eaten in a long time.
We staggered back to the boat and said goodbye to Brian & Anne and we collapsed into our beds.
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
The weather was indifferent, but I noticed in my canal guide that Loughborough boasted a steam railway museum with eight miles of Main Line to steam up and down, so off we headed. I have to say, arriving in Loughborough by canal was not inspiring, but having moored up, at what appeared, to be the closest point to the Great Central Railway Museum (WWW.gcrailway.co.uk) museum, John and I set of, not expecting too much, the girls headed for the shops. As we approached the Loughborough Central Station we could hear and then see a band playing, on the platform, this looked promising and I called Jacquie and said maybe they would like to join us, as they hadn’t found any shops yet, this seemed like the best offer they were going to get.
The station was trapped in a 1950 time warp and could have been the setting for ‘Brief Encounter’, old luggage and milk churns etc. we were all entranced. The real ale beer tent made the situation complete as far as John was concerned. The real magic was, that today, was the inaugural passenger journey of the Tornado steam train, John knew all about this, but it was news to me. Apparently this was the first, absolutely, brand new steam locomotive to have been built since 1961, in England, sadly the boiler had to made in Germany, as there is now no ability in the UK to manufacture a boiler of this size. Whilst we were querying the cost of a return ticket, the train chuffed into the station. The band played and elegantly attired people queued for the Pullman restaurant car. We purchased four return tickets and ensconced ourselves in one of the first class carriages. The only downside was that not one of us had brought a proper camera; fortunately out mobile phones were up to the job of capturing this great moment. However I was set up for the last of the photos shown here, 'Mac Letting off Steam' or 'A Right Geyser' Ho Ho!!
Our journey to Leicester North stopped of at little stations on the way, all of which gave the authentic feel of the 50’s, fabulous. Along the track there were photographers capturing this momentous occasion. On our return to Central Station we wandered down to the loco sheds and marveled at the stripped down engines and the beautifully restored Oliver Cromwell that was in for a service. Health and Safety would have a field day with unprotected pits under the huge engines, but let’s hope they never get their hands on this great experience.
Having congratulated ourselves, for the fortunate timing of our arrival in Loughborough, we returned to SKYY and cruised onto Zouch where we stayed the night.
Jacquie went to the butchers and I changed the oil and filter, having purchased the correct filter yesterday. Whilst I was down the engine hole, I decided to lift the weed hatch and check the propeller as I thought that there was unusual vibration at low revs. I was right; a substantial length of blue mooring line was tightly wound around the prop shaft. My trusty diving knife made short work of hacking through the many twists of the rope and apart from a cold wet arm, job done, that was the first real work that my diving knife had ever encountered, never having been attacked by a shark.
A beautiful day, and after we cleaned the boat we went for a walk along the river bank, filling in the time before K & J arrived. We just hoped that the good weather would stay for their visit. They arrived in good time, just before it got dark and we spent the evening with the customary excess of food, booze and chocolate.
Sunday, 5 October 2008
We decided that Barrow-Upon-Soar would be a good place to meet up with K & J and as Anne & Tony where also expecting friends for the weekend, we again enjoyed the companionship of travelling together for a while. We stopped to take on fuel etc at the boatyard just beyond Sileby lock. As we would be venturing out onto the wide, River Trent, Jacquie thought we should buy an anchor. Father & Son who ran the yard were extremely helpful, and spliced up loops to the ends of the rope to attach it to the anchor chain and the boat, Life jackets were taken out of the lockers and the lifebuoy put on the roof, just in case.
First thing in the morning, after several cups of coffee, we visited the massive covered market, Jacquie stocked up on some excellent value fruit and veg and I thought I could be Colonel Pickering, from ‘My Fair Lady’ as I listened to the rich sounds of the market traders calls.
Anne & Tony from England’s Dreaming agreed to accompany us out of Leicester. We very soon came across a, just floating, settee, but that didn’t stop us reaching our destination for the evening which was just before Junction Lock, some seven miles and five locks away. As we left the warehouses behind we passed some splendid riverside houses and gardens on the way, a few were a little over the top, but top marks for effort.
At Birstall, just North of Leicester, there is a large Somerfield supermarket, a few minutes walk from the canal and we filled our cupboards in readiness for Kim & John joining us.
We caught up with Anne & Tony, who had selected a superb location for the evening. A gentle weir bubbled away, leaving the river right opposite our mooring, it looked like a Constable painting, so very beautiful.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
I went to discover the delights of the old pumping house that pumped Leicester’s sewage sludge way out of the city. Four huge and ornate beam engines occupy what looks like an Elizabethan stately house. Redundant now, as the sewage is sent on a different way and gravity does all the work, but they are still able to be steamed up on special occasions and the whole exhibition is fascinating. The Space museum has been built in the huge sludge holding tank, but I passed on that as I prefer old stuff to new.
Jacquie went on an exploration of the shopping centre and in the evening we joined up with Anne and Tony and headed off to The Black Horse pub, for real ale, and a quiz night. The ale was good, but we didn’t win the quiz, we thought they both looked and sounded quite bright and they were, but that didn’t compensate for our uselessness.
Back to SKYY for coffee and wine and probably our latest night or earliest morning. Thanks Guys. Most enjoyable.
We set of for Leicester City, with a formidable number of wide locks to negotiate, but by the time we arrived at the first lock, Anne & Tony on NB Englands Dreaming had joined us and although the weather was wet and windy the journey was very enjoyable with their company. Industry did not intrude very much as this area is mainly residential and many home owners had made the most of their canal-side gardens, There was only one lock from which Anne and Jacquie had to recover a load of plastic barriers that some little twit had thought fun to lob into the cut.
As we joined the River Soar, passing Leicester City football ground, the final approach to the city centre, was rather elegant, with several attractive ornamental bridges to pass under. We both found space on the pontoons at Castle Gardens. There is only room for four boats, two already being tied up, but with a little adjusting of their mooring ropes we fitted in. It is obviously OK to moor, up to three abreast in busy times, as the river is still wide enough for other traffic to pass.
There are plenty of moorings on the tow path side of the river, but any old Tom, Dick or Harry can access your boat there. The pontoons are only accessible through locked gates from Castle Gardens and the garden is locked at night, but can be unlocked with a BW key. The city centre is very close, but we had an undisturbed night, which was very necessary as the whole journey had taken over six hours, which was the longest time we had been on the go for a long while and we were knackered.
The BW yard at Kilby Canal Bridge boasted an immaculately kept sanitation block, which we put to good use as we decided to spend the day here before venturing into the bandit land of Leicester, and the uncertainties of the River Soar. The wonderful weather of the weekend had disappeared, but how pleasant for those Monday to Friday workers, like M & B to have had a descent weekend.
Another perfect day and we retraced our footsteps passed the not so lonely church. Brian said he saw lights shining through the windows very late last night; I immediately start remembering the Denis Wheatley books with wicked doings in deserted churches!! But no signs of any dead chickens and Pentecostal rings as we passed by. There is farm craft centre just up the road at Wistow with some interesting shops and a dinky little model village, complete with canals and locks, castles and a railway, charming but sadly looking a bit derelict. There is also a hugely amazing, Maize maze, but we resisted the opportunity to get lost in there, instead heading back to SKYY and moving on to Kilby Canal Bridge, this is just on the outskirts of the suburbs of Leicester and was a good place to say goodbye to Marilyn and Brian, but not before a final meal and a drink in the Navigator pub whilst waiting for a taxi to return M & B their car at Foxton.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Indeed the weather was perfect. We spent most of the morning showing of to Marilyn and Brian the wonders of the staircase locks and the Inclined Plane. This was their first sight of a lock of any description, as the last time they visited us, it was on the lock free Ashby Canal. After ice creams all round we visited the museum, well worth the £2 Old Codgers Special price. Lets hope that the ambitious plans to reopen the Inclined Plane come to fruition.
We pulled pins after lunch and very soon we passed through Saddington Tunnel, Supposedly there are bats in this tunnel, but we couldn’t see any. Five locks follow in quick succession, a quick learning curve for M & B, they acquitted themselves well, and diplomas will be sent on in due course.
We moored for the evening in a lovely spot, just north of bridge 78 and after wandering across the field to visit the lonely little church, we were entertained by a wonderful sunset.
We cruised back up to Foxton and moored up very close to the Black Horse pub, which was a good spot for our chums Marilyn and Brian to leave their car when they joined us latter that day. M & B arrived at 8.30pm which wasn’t too bad considering the slowness of the M25. How soon we forget the horrors of the motorways!!
A good meal on board and an early night with the promise of good weather for the weekend.
Jacquie took the opportunity of the excellent, half hourly train service to London, to visit her Dad and meet up with Ashely; I took the opportunity to be very lazy.
I had every intention not to be lazy; in fact I intended to change the engine oil and oil filter. I already had the oil, but needed the filter, after I left Jacquie at the station I walked on to the local branch of Halfords which fortunately was just behind the railway station. I strolled in with the part no from the carton of the last oil filter used, but of course Halfords have there own range with completely different numbers and silly me I thought I would be able to identify the correct on by eye, but there were dozens of different sizes I cursed and bought a newspaper instead.
I met Jacquie at the station in the evening and we enjoyed an Indian meal on the way back to the boat. I suppose I walked about six miles all together that day, so not so lazy after all.
Jacquie felt that a swim would be beneficial, so we stepped out the mile and a half to the leisure centre and by the time we arrived I felt that a muffin and coffee would be much more beneficial, but Jacquie went straight off for a half an hours swim, saving her coffee and muffin for after her swim.
Wandering back through the town, imagine our surprise!! Outside a bar was a poster saying “SKYY Vodka served here” this is the first time we have ever seen anything regarding the American brand of vodka. I naturally had to go in and see if I could blag one of the posters. Unfortunately not, but even the better, the owner gave us a SKYY ice bucket and an empty blue SKYY bottle, I would have bought a bottle but as they only sell it in shots, a full bottle would have cost over £40, this confirms what had always been considered, Mac is a cheapskate. Now all that remains is to decide how best to display our trophy.
Market Harborough is indeed a delightful town, with plenty of independent shops. The museum in the Council Offices is certainly worth a visit. These offices now occupy part of the massive factory that produced the famous liberty bodice, along with the majority of all corsets worn by fashionable ladies in the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. Examples of the corsets are displayed and a very accurate rebuild of the old cobblers workshop are all to be seen in the museum.
The Old Grammar School, right in the town centre, set up on its timber posts, ‘to protect the market folk in times of wet weather’. It is amazing that it has survived from the sixteen hundreds.
Enough lazing about, we are now heading towards Market Harborough, a delightful couple of hours cruise, passed some magnificent bank gardens of equally magnificent houses. A good thing that I washed the boat first, as we understood Market Harborough is rather posh.
We decided we would like to stay here for four nights, so we went right to the end of the Canal Time who operate this basin. A strange arrangement, a BW owned basin operated by a commercial boat hire company, but the staff were very helpful. Nearly all the moorings were occupied by CT boats awaiting their new hirers and we waited about two hours for a berth to become available having agreed on the £5 per night fee plus, and extra 50p per night for electrical hookup, now that is a bargain, batteries charged, hot water via the immersion heater and both electric heater running early morning and evenings!!
The basin has been well restored, but all the old and new buildings are now private apartments or offices, but it looks good, particularly at night with the lights glowing on the still waters of the basin.
We checked out where the supermarkets are and decided that Sainsburys was about a mile away, just the other side of the town. Jacquie’s was delighted to find that there was not only Sainsburys. But Lidls and an Aldi, spoilt for choice. We opted on Lidl and filled our two wheelie M&S shopping thingies to overflowing, but a taxi soon had as back at the boat, the thought of dragging that lot back by foot was too much.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Another lazy day, the sun shone brightly after a murky start and we only started the engine to charge the batteries and heat the water for the weekly shower, joking, but I have at last managed to get the blog right up to date.
After a post pm nap, a stimulating walk balanced another couple of those delicious ice creams, and Jacquie took some interesting pictures.
Wow!! The sun is still shining, We cast off quite early for us and got to the Foxton Flight about midday. The same procedure as the Watford Flight, you sign in with he lock keeper, a very friendly guy, the big difference is that you can buy, really lovely, Italian style ice creams at the top lock.
These stair case locks are really easy, you just move from one lock straight into the next, provided you open the paddles in the correct order, all is easy peasy. One of the two paddles are painted red and the other one is white and this is where the lock keepers rhythm come in handy. “Red before white is all right. White before red gets you a knock on the head”.
When we got to the bottom we had a sharp right turn to get into the Market Harborough arm, via a brand new swing bridge. Unfortunately in my haste I gave Jacquie the wrong key to unlock and then open the bridge. In the meantime the turning area was very congested with boats waiting to come up the flight and I just managed to get the boat pointing in he right direction without looking to much like a rookie hirer to the many assembled gongoozlers.
I had to pull over so that I could get off and use the correct key to open the swing bridge, which left Jacquie to bring the boat through and then pick me up after I had closed the bridge. The girl did well and we quickly found a good mooring with for once, god TV reception.
We had a two hour walk around the village of Foxton and the site of famous inclined plane, which worked for just 11 years from 1900 to 1911, fascinating. We decided to save a visit to the Foxton Museum until Marilyn and Brian join us next weekend. We obviously didn’t put them off, last May when they previously visited.
The sun shone, so I decided to give the boat a bit of a clean, as tomorrow we would be tackling the Foxton Flight and we wouldn’t want all those gongoozlers to think what a mucky boat Skyy was. I didn’t get much done, as I soon got chatting to Alan, from NB Jeeves, Alan’s wife Viv came to find out why their boat hadn’t been cleaned either, Jacquie then returned from the post office and the tales of boating disasters really flowed.
Boat finally spruced, we shoved off just as the un-forecasted rain started, we ambled along until just before bridge 52 a nice straight stretch of Armco seduced me to stop there. Armco is so much easier to moor to, you just hook your special Armco thingies into the barrier and tie up nice and tight, no sore thumbs from banging in the pins.
It was still very windy, even in our snug mooring the boat was being gently banged against the side, so we decided to stay put for the day and go for a ‘Welford Walk’, one of many walks that were so well illustrated by a substantial, covered set of information boards at the end of the basin. The history of Welford, particularly relating to the canals was also very clearly shown, good effort Welford.
The occasional, grand houses looked out of place in this farming village until we realized that Welford was midway between Leicester and Northampton and was a wealthy and totally self sufficient, staging post, long before the canals arrived.