Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Worth the Walk

If you find yourself cruising along The Leicester Line between Crick and Foxton and enjoy a good walk it’s worth stopping in the vicinity of Bridge 24 and going across the fields to the little village of Winwick – it’s just over a mile.  By car Winwick is only about three miles from Crick and makes Crick with it’s Co-op, Post Office and pubs seem like a veritable metropolis!  No pub or shop in Winwick – just a lovely old church and expensive-looking dwellings.  Good surrounding walks – The Jurassic Way long-distance path passes through it.

Here follows a ‘flavour’ of the area:-

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The Manor House

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The Church

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A special post box for a grand home – Winwick Lodge.

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Another grand home!

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Yet another rather special home!

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Just loved this old gate – makes me think of “The Secret Garden”.

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A pretty stream runs through the ‘High Street’

Nice walk!  We are now back in the marina and will be here for a while as we have ‘stuff’ to deal with.  Word has it that quite a number of boats are due to come here to moor temporarily until they can get into the new marina which is being developed at Cropedy.  That, due to all the rain we had, is unsurprisingly behind schedule.  What with that, getting “Ellen” blacked and witnessing preparations for the show at the end of May, time should pass quickly.   xxoo

Saturday, 27 April 2013

What T****R threw this here?

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So, how did this old washing machine come to be discarded here – in the hedge just North of Bridge 24 (a farmer’s bridge) on the Leicester Line?

Did a non-boater take the time and trouble to drive all the way over the farmer’s field to chuck it in the hedge?

Did a non-boater lug it all the way along the tow path from the road at Bridge 28 to chuck it down the bank at this carefully selected spot?

We can only surmise but ………….I THINK NOT!

Surely this has to be the work, transgression, nay, crime of a fellow boater?  It’s just this sort of thing that gets boaters a bad name. 



Litter is one thing – at least it’s not too difficult to pick that up but this?  Just how long will it be here for?  How long has it been here already?  It’s not the right thing to do but surely leaving it at some Biffa bins would be better than this.  At least, there, a scrap man might see/hear of it and collect it.  We’ve seen discarded cassette loos before – definitely down to boaters, we’ve seen discarded TV’s – could be anyone, we’ve seen discarded fridges – who knows - and now this – SHAME ON YOU WHOEVER YOU ARE!

Talk about taking the easy way out!  Whoever tossed this old machine in the hedge is clearly a right T****R!  They are irresponsible, selfish, have absolutely no respect for the environment in which they presumably spend a lot of their time and obviously no conscience either.

SHAME ON THEM WHOEVER THEY ARE!  Thank goodness boaters like this are way in the minority.

Here endeth today’s rant!  xxoo

Thursday, 25 April 2013

In the Heart of Rural England

The village of Welford lies on the border of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire and the sign on the road welcoming travellers to Leicestershire proudly states that the county is “the heart of rural England”.  Until we started cruising around on “Ellen” we knew nothing of either counties and both are really lovely.  Whilst moored at the end of the arm we made the most of the sunshine and went for a lovely long walk in said ‘rural England’ – acres and acres of rolling farmland with the very young River Avon flowing through part of our route.  The sun was a-shinin’, the ubiquitous lambs a-frolickin’, the buzzards a-soarin’ and it was truly glorious.  We were very surprised to come across some birds called wheatears.  The photo does not do the landscape justice.

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Moments like this underline to us the importance of doing this sort of thing whilst the knees and hips are still in agreement!  This week Sir Ian McKellen has been singing the praises of living one’s twilight years in a city environment because, unlike in the countryside, all necessary services are easily accessible.  This is very true.  More than once over the last few weeks we have walked 3 miles + in order to get a pint of milk and a paper!

The Wharf Inn, being a dog-friendly pub, we decided to go there for supper.  I armed myself with a new, tasty, irresistible, hard to devour dog chew (not for me!  For Lola!) and off we went.  What I hadn’t planned for though was the fact that there would be other dogs in the pub – all of whom ‘Madam’ wanted to get at and all of whom wanted to get at her tasty chew!!  Periodic chaos ensued!  Not the most relaxed supper we’ve ever eaten!

Back at the junction John was disappointed to discover that our top-box was in need of some urgent repair.  So, off it came for both clinical and cosmetic surgery.  Judging by the assorted splashes of colour on the concrete bank, here is a popular spot for boaters to do a bit of D.I.Y.!  This bit of rural England – now back in Northamptonshire – is also popular with wildlife.  We’ve seen another red kite, numerous buzzards, lapwing, a woodpecker, chiff-chaff, yellowhammers, hares and …………….. last night I caught sight of a badger!  At last!  The old adage says, “Everything comes to he/she who waits”  but we all know that nothing in life is that simple!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Spring 019


Nobody loves me.  Everybody chides me – think I’ll go dig worms.                  

Long, thin slimy ones.   Short, fat squidgy ones – how they wriggle and squirm!

Bite their heads off!  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Suck their juice out!  Mmm  Mmm  Mmm

Hide their skins (at the back of my bed) away.

Nobody knows how much I enjoy digging worms up every day.


How she’s growing and what a challenge she is!!  xxoo

Friday, 12 April 2013


We have jobs to do!  Mostly painting jobs!  These painting jobs were scheduled for last year but ……. continual rain put paid to most of them!  People have been known to say to me that now we no longer live in a house, there can’t be much to do in the way of decorating and maintenance.  Not so!  True, we no longer have grass to cut, hedges to trim and walls to paper but there always seems to be something needing to be cleaned, serviced, repaired, replaced or painted!

When jobs need to be done we like to find a mooring spot that has a good bank and is away from other people so that, hopefully, we don’t disturb anyone with either noise or clutter.

We have the time.  We’ve found the place.  BUT ……. today at least, rain has stopped play yet again!  However, canvas covers have been washed and re-proofed, secondary double glazing has been removed and put away (maybe a bit too soon?), cabin lace washed, cupboards cleaned and sorted and the rest of the roof has been scrapped and sanded and is now ready for an undercoat.

Moored at Smeeton Aqueduct                  Smeeton Aqueduct

We are moored at Smeeton Aqueduct and our only neighbours are sheep and cattle.  Well, there could be badgers on the other side of the canal – it looks like an active sett with a well-trodden path but, despite our surveillance at dusk, we have only seen a fox, rabbits and bats.  I can hardly believe that, at our ripe old age and living the life we now do, we have yet to see a live badger!  Very few boats seem to come this way.  When you look at all the surrounding countryside it amazes me that we are only 15 miles from the centre of Leicester.

Lola at least has been entertained exploring those holes!

          And what's in here?                So what's down here?              And down here is ...?

Fingers crossed for a some warm, dry spells at the weekend.  xxoo

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Amazing Delivery of the Long Distance Take-Away

What dedicated friendship!

Travelling for 2 hours and covering a distance of about 100 miles, a Take-Away-with-a-Difference was delivered by our friends Gill and Chris to n/b “Ellen” moored up at Foxton Village.  They came to see us and brought a fully prepared-by-Gill Sunday lunch with them – dinner, pud and wine!  There wasn’t even a delivery charge!!  Now that’s what I call real friendship!!

Gill and Chris come with dinner!

It was a bit of an impromptu visit by Chris and a nice surprise for us. She now lives with hubbie, Ray, in Cypress so we no longer get to see them as often as we would like.  However, Chris is over here for a short while on ‘mother-in-law-business’ and was able to hitch a ride with Gill.  It was really good to see her for the first time in nearly 3 years.  Said Mother-in-law is reaching the amazing age of 98 in May so hopefully, when they come over to celebrate that, we might get to see them together.

Thank you for all your efforts, Gill.  It was good to see you too and really appreciated.  We’ll do our best to make it up to you when you spend some time with us on board in August. 

We are discovering several different footpaths and bridleways in and around Foxton all making for some really good dog walking puppy-bounding opportunities.  This morning we went across the fields to Debdale Wharf.  Coming back along the towpath the horizontal reeds, which looked like solid ground to a certain little puppy, gave way under her weight and …… this time her head went under!!  Live and learn, Lola.  Live and learn!  We’ve also discovered another pub in the village called The Shoulder of Mutton.  As well as the usual, it advertises Chinese take-aways and B & B.  Next time then, if there is a next time here, we’ll provide the take-away!


Saturday, 6 April 2013

To Whom it may Concern …..

Just a bit of general information/opinion  that might be of some interest to somebody……

Kingfishers   The stretch of canal from Foxton to Market Harborough is, at present, popular with kingfishers.  Between the swing bridge and Market Harborough there are apparently three nesting pairs.  We had sightings at a) just as you enter the more urban run into the town, b) by the old bone works and c) by bridge 6.

Market Harborough   For boaters who may not have been before, Market Harborough is a really nice town.  There are still lots of independent traders selling all sorts of good quality merchandise (and in lots of cases things which are a bit different from the norm) tempting you to part with your cash!  Our resistance was non-existent!  The Skipper is now the proud owner of a new fleece, a new pair of slippers and a better-late-than-never pair of all terrain wellies!  I didn’t let him have it all his own way – I came back with a ‘different’ sort-of-sweatshirt.  On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays there’s a small under-cover market where there’s all manner of things – half the space is for foodstuffs and the other half for typical market stall items.

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It’s a bit of a hike from the basin at Union Wharf but well worth the effort.  If you are too loaded up to face the walk back, a local chap told me that the bus (I think he said X3) runs every 20 minutes from the town and stops by the wharf.  The wharf itself has been very nicely developed but mooring in the basin itself is somewhat monopolised by a hire fleet.  However, if there’s room you can apparently book to stay there and pay a daily fee.  For that you also have an electric hook-up!  Just outside the basin, along the towpath, there are good visitor moorings but these can get busy as Market Harborough is such a popular destination.  When we arrived we were on our own – but not for long!

Foxton Village   Since our last visit up this way a very community-minded and enterprising young lady has opened a village store in the old skittle alley of The Black Horse pub.  It’s well stocked and is a very good resource for replenishing cupboards and fridges if you don’t want to go into Market Harborough.  Between Crick and Foxton there are few opportunities to get provisions so this village store well deserves support from both the local community and visiting boaters and walkers.  We were told by other boaters that a bus runs through the village to Market Harborough on the hour every hour and that you catch it from the seat that surrounds the tree by the pub!

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On a more personal note, the sun is shinning at last and as I ‘do’ this entry, brass is being polished and windows are being cleaned.  Breaking news:-  Lola has learned how to escape through the barricade – on finding her missing from the cratch area where she had been put unsupervised for all of 10 seconds, we both thought she had fallen in and was trapped under the boat but, on blowing her whistle in panic mode, she came pegging it back along the towpath!  NOT good for our hearts!!  Modifications obviously need to be made and made post-haste!  We were talking to a lady yesterday whose cocker spaniel learned how to open and raid the fridge! 

‘Madam’ is growing so quickly and just loves being outside, especially off the lead.


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Fab-u-lous Foxton

Whenever we’ve come to Foxton it’s never failed to impress us.  There’s always lots going on - lots to see and lots to do.  The whole area is so well maintained and the surrounding scenery is just fab-u-lous.  It has got to be high on the list of the ‘Must See’ places on the system for all canal enthusiasts.

When we arrived at the top of the locks on Sunday afternoon there were already lots of moored boats – we just managed to squeeze on the end by the road bridge.  Several trade boats were established tempting the numerous passers-by with their wares – painted canal ware, antiques and collectibles, confectionary and pottery mugs.  Not everyone would agree I know but I quite like seeing the variety of trading boats out and about as I think they add interest for visitors and boaters alike.  Hire boats were also out in force – we saw boats from Calcutt, Wyvern, Canal Time, Viking Afloat and Anglo-Welsh – all going to prove just how popular the cruise is to and from Market Harborough.

Mick & Lynn joined us on Monday and they too really liked the area.  Tuesday morning, making the most of the victims help on board, we got in the queue to go down the locks.  It was very busy with boats going up and down and we had a bit of a wait.

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Once at the bottom it didn’t take long before we found ourselves back in Bridge 61!  The boys said the beer called “Inclined Plane” was very quaffable and, to all cider fans out there, I can recommend “Rosie”.  PROPER cider! Apparently they won’t sell more than 2 pints of it to the same person in one session!

It’s been a really good day.  The weather, despite the cold wind, has been dry and bright, the company fab-u-lous and Lola has been able to begin learning some social skills with both humans and other dogs.  Taking her out for a walk takes ages as anyone who likes dogs just can’t resist fussing a puppy.  John is making the most of all the attention he is currently getting from the ladies!  That’s not the only attention he got today – the lock keeper threatened to jump on board and kiss him on account of him being the only skipper amongst many who steered into the centre lock without hitting the entrance! 

Practise puckering up, John, in readiness for the return journey!   Mick & Lynn – thanks for a lovely time; see you in June. xxoo