Saturday, 31 October 2009

"Dingley Dangley for the Doobrey"!

Well, that's what the lovely Mrs Elliott calls it! Everyone else calls it a "Tiller Tassel"!

Anyway, John has fashioned a new one! Business opportunities?

It is the first day of November tomorrow and we are back on the Leicester Line where we were this time last year. The boat is going into the dry dock for blacking in a week's time and I am going back to Staines for a while. We have organised a Winter mooring for December, January and February in the marina.

This time last year things looked quite rosy. Our Annual Income appeared to be adequate and I remember saying "Well, at least we don't need to worry about the kids. They are both happy and settled." Me and my big mouth!
What a difference a year makes!!

2009 has definitely been our "Annus Horribilis". I can't wait to see the back of it. I look to 2010 with renewed optimism.

Our cruising this year has covered 750 miles of waterway and we have gone through 520 locks. We have been through some very pretty countryside and places and met some lovely people on the way. For canal centred businesses it has been a very good year but insufficient Government investment in the infra structure is now beginning to show.

So what happens now?
Well, we will "sit it out" at Crick over the next few months and, hopefully, have the opportunity of catching up with family and friends. I would also like to see the sea - I miss it! Plans for next year's cruise are already being formulated and will involve being on the River Stort near Harlow at the end of May for a fantastic event:- a Clayton wedding! We will set off again at the beginning of next March - watch this space!

Thank you to those who have loyally followed this Blog, posted comments or e-mailed. I have enjoyed doing it and tried to vary it's contents so as not to make it too boring! I NEED contact with the outside world and a constructive reason to write! xxoo

Monday, 26 October 2009

Weird Noises in the Night!

Well, actually it was 6.30 in the morning but ............ yes Lynn, yes Gloria - to me, that counts!!

What IS that strange noise? It's not the ducks or swans pecking along the side of the boat - that happens all the time.

It's not Halloween for another week so what is it?

Is the level of the water in the canal falling? No! It must be my imagination!

I got up to investigate and .................... all was revealed.

Superior Slurping Award.

This was one of many but they did spread themselves out along the bank and they did take it in turns! The noise has to be heard to be believed!

The more we get to know Braunston the more we like it. There's always something going on in and around the marina basin and the village is very active too. We have discovered some brilliant walks across the fields to take Maggie.

Moving off today, however, up the Braunston lock flight and through the tunnel to Norton Junction. As it is Half Term, there are loads of boats on the move - both private boats and hire boats.

Here followeth a "waxing lyrical" moment:-
Trade and work generated by the canal system is the life-blood of some communities as proven by what happened this summer as a result of a serious breach in the Shropshire Union. Reading accounts of it, I have been staggered by the amount of money taken by pubs, restaurants, shops, marinas and boatyards over the cruising season. If only the Government would recognise the importance of the system both to the cultural essence of the country as well as it's economy and allocate sufficient funds for proper maintenance and restoration.
How Hum!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Back in Braunston

Day and night the spire of Braunston Church can be seen for miles around.

We have been back in the Braunston area since last Friday - 6 months after we said 'good-bye' to Ben and Becky there.

Gill drove up from Staines on Saturday and stayed until late Sunday afternoon. It was so good to see her. It was lovely autumnal weather and we had a good couple of walks.................. and a good old natter!

Gloria and Derek are coming to lunch tomorrow - we haven't seen them since we left the marina last March. We are going to throw around a few ideas for next year's extended cruise! We are all keen to go and explore what the Middle Levels have to offer but John and I need to 'take in Harlow' at the end of May because 'Baby Clayton' is getting married! FAB! All this will involve getting an expensive Gold Licence.

Rodney is driving up on Friday because "The Midland Swindler's!" (chandlers!) are having what they call a 'Mad Friday' - everything is 20% off and he wants to get a new multi-fuel stove for his saloon. We can help him choose one and then John can go to Crick with him and help him to get it in situ on his boat.

After that we will definitely get on our way to Crick where the boat is booked in for bottom blacking!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ostentatious October

OK, OK - I know but we had "Sunny September" so ...........................

According to the dictionary:-
ostentatious "showing off in a luxurious way intending to impress"

I think, therefore, that it is a good choice of adjective because this weather, for October, is unbelievably fantastic! Apparently, half term is looming up so ........... it will all undoubtedly change for the worse!!

I have been surprised at the number of boats still on the move - people making the most of the warm sunshine. That's just about all we've been doing for the last week really - nothing out of the ordinary to report. We are aiming to reach Rugby tomorrow to do some shopping. John has stripped the lacquer off the mushrooms, re-polished them in readiness to apply a fresh coat. We gave in a long time ago trying to keep them respectfully shiny without lacquer - you needed to clean them every few days! Other than that we have been walking Maggie and, as always, meeting some of the many other dogs living on boats or being taken for walks along the towpath and across the fields. My impression is that the majority of boaters have at least one dog and, generally speaking, it's often the dogs that get us boaters talking to each other.

Introducing Rosie (the very soft and soppy) Rottweiler:-

What a sociable, exciting life our Maggie now has! These are just a few of the others:-

There's -
Rosie* & Molly, Murphy & Alf
Jake & Taylor, George & Ralph
Bandit & Katy, Zeus & Minnie
Charlie & Trevor, Jack & Ginny
Bosun & Briony, Jessie & Larry
Chicco & Barney, Albert & Harry

and - Magnus the Mastiff weighing in at 11 stone!!

*(the Jack Russell)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sent to Coventry

Actually, we weren't sent - we came of our own choosing! Quite why I don't know because these days I'm positively in awe of large towns and cities. It's the number of people, the traffic, the noise ............... and I have to say, the mess that people create! Yet again, our approach was accompanied by graffiti on every possible surface! Not so much rubbish in the water as on the Paddington Arm though. Apparently a voluntary barge, skippered by a member of the Coventry Canal Society, goes up and down once a week scooping out all the debris - what IS the matter with members of the human race that this should be necessary?

The Basin is right in the centre of the city - it is only a five minute walk to a massive shopping centre. The Basin itself is clean and tidy, well lit and, apart from traffic noise, quite quiet. Tonight, including us, there are about ten boats here.

A statue of James Brindley in the Basin.
He's the chap who was the original engineer before he got the sack!
I think he spent too much of the allocated funding too quickly!
The Basin at night.

Yes, we are here temporarily but we definitely do not want to be given the cold shoulder (as in being 'Sent to Coventry') by those we know! We will not want to stay here for too long!!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Staying Put

We are still on The Ashby at a village called "Stoke Golding" where the villagers proudly say the Tudor dynasty began. They claim that Henry VII was crowned here having defeated Richard III on the battlefield. They have a very posh village sign.

We are awaiting a document to arrive for us at the local post office. The Post Office offer a service to travellers called Poste Restante - people can send us mail and we can go and collect it!
We are also waiting for a working boat called "Gosty Hill" to arrive - Ian & Alison travel this patch selling diesel and coal from their boat.

We are moored up near a picnic spot where we are surrounded by ducks! These ducks are VERY well fed! Children arrive to feed them - before school, at lunch time and after school and when the children are not there the pensioners are!!! Please note the drake mallard on the right above - I have never seen such a huge mallard (the Incredible Dulk!) - this is NOT the result of over-feeding - goodness knows what his parentage is!! He is, however, not at all aggressive like many of the others - not that we have seen any of them tangle with him!

Whilst here we have been to Morrisons twice. A five mile round trip each time and I'm sure most of it was uphill! To think that it has come to this! I used to have a lovely, lovely white 325I hatchback BMW! I keep telling John that it will be the end of me - the goods in the bags probably being more dangerous to my well-being than the cycle ride!

John has been busy doing some maintenance. He has painted and polished his bollards!!