Saturday, 29 November 2014

Now that's what I call a Snowman!

We had a wonderful few days away with our children and grand-children and now we're back we've started cruising again. I don't like being in a marina and just pottering about killing time was really boring, but now we've got a plan and are heading to Braunston for the weekend to meet up with friends. Next week we're heading to Rugby and then onwards to spend some time on the Ashby Canal.  It seems like the Ashby may be quite busy this winter as almost all the continuous cruisers we've spoken to recently are heading that way too.

Coming up the Buckby flight of locks yesterday we came across this huge snowman.

At first glance he appeared to be in the middle of nowhere but as we cruised past we could see that he was in the car park of a pub/restaurant and was actually a bouncy castle. There were a couple of young men inside having a really good jump around too!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Still Killing Time

We've just been pottering slowly along for the past few days as we don't need to be in the marina until tomorrow ready to go away for a few days.

On Friday afternoon we moored at Cosgrove to go to the Barley Mow pub. To get to the pub we needed to go through the horse tunnel under the canal.

It's very narrow and quite low but an excellent short cut when you've got a bit of a thirst.

The pub is quite quaint and we were expecting to have a few beers followed by a nice meal but it wasn't to be.

When we walked in there were quite a few locals at the bar, who stopped talking and turned to stare at us as if we'd interrupted something important. It was a bit like walking into one of those old "yokel" film sets!  The bar man wasn't interested in serving us as we were obviously interrupting his conversation and served us cider when we'd ordered "Tiger". He wasn't happy when we pointed out his mistake either. The locals returned to their conversations but the language was absolutely disgusting! We used to run a construction company so I'm well used to men swearing but this was awful. Every other word started with either F or C!!!!   We took our beer into another room and left as soon as we'd finished it which was a shame as it was really on form too.  It was their loss of two meals but I'm sorry, I don't expect to pay good money to listen to that sort of language.

On Saturday we carried on up to Stoke Bruerne, sharing the first 5 locks with a small boat whose owner told us he was stopping to fetch his van and then carrying on later to go through Blissworth tunnel when it was dark as he didn't like meeting other boats half way through. We moored up in the village well before dusk and expected to have a nice peaceful night but once it had gone properly dark the traffic started coming up the locks and 5 boats went past us in the pitch dark and gathering fog. The first one was the little boat we were expecting, the next 2 were speed boats with only tiny headlights which were obviously not good enough to navigate by as they both came extremely close to us, despite us having all our indoor lights on and the blinds still up. They certainly couldn't say we were inconspicuous, the canal isn't particularly narrow at that point and we weren't moored on a bend, they just couldn't see where they were going. The next one was a well known blogger who I won't name, who bumped into the side of us as he tried to moor up in front of us. The fifth one came past at 9pm again going far too fast and with only a tiny feeble headlight on, obviously on a mission. Considering that the last time we moored in Stoke Bruerne we were rammed by the wide beamed boat it's obviously just "one of those places" and is now on my list of moorings to be avoided.

The good thing about travelling slowly is that I've had plenty of time to make things for our grandkids and my crochet needle has been going like the clappers!

It's been a good excuse to use up some of the stash of wool that lurks under the bed. Only trouble is now I need to go wool shopping again......and I know a really good on-line wool shop with fast delivery.............don't tell Roger!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Its Blowing a Hooley!

We were going to move today but the weather has taken a decided turn for the worse and it's wet and VERY windy so we've stayed put. There have been a few boats going past, including MAFFI, and the steerers haven't looked happy at all.

I've recently updated my winter footwear and have invested in two new pairs of boots.  The first is my "bargain" pair of waterproof, thermal boots that I bought on-line from Regatta Outlet. If you're interested the link is HERE. I like the Regatta Outlet as you can get some real bargains on boots, fleeces and waterproofs.

At only £24 including delivery they're comfy, waterproof and very warm but despite having good soles they are a bit slippy.

The other pair that I bought are something I've lusted after ever since I saw them a few years ago. As I've fallen & slipped a few times recently I finally used that as an excuse to indulge myself in these Doc Martens.

Not only are they perfect for boating as they're sturdy and extremely slip-proof but they're pretty cute too. It seems I'm not the only one who likes them either, as a woman came up to me in Aldi the other day and said how much she loved them and then the same thing happened again in Leighton Buzzard shopping centre. I worried about them being uncomfortable as I'd heard horror stories about having to "break in" Doc Martens and about them causing blisters and bruises but I have to say I'm really impressed. I wore them around the boat for a few days before going out in them but now they're as comfy as slippers!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Just pottering

We've got a couple of weeks to kill before we put the boat in a marina and head off "up north" for a hospital visit and a short family holiday, so we're just pottering about here on the Grand Union. We've both been very pleasantly surprised by this canal and have been mooring in some beautiful spots in the middle of nowhere.  It's obviously a very popular canal for winter moorers as there are LOTS of boats setting up small communities, many of whom have paid for the winter mooring permits which allow them to stay in a certain area. Of course there are still the huddles of "pikey" boats that moor together and don't show either mooring permits or C&RT licences. Once we get back from our holiday at the end of November we'll be carrying on cruising properly, although we haven't yet decided exactly where we're going.

Yesterday we had a visit from our old friends Martin & Maggie who came to stay for the night.

We had a really good meal in The Three Locks pub, which as you might guess from the name is beside Soulbury Three Locks. The Hobgoblin ale was on top form too.  Maggie is a vegetarian and usually struggles finding good pub meals but we both had the butternut squash and halloumi kebabs with rocket and parmesan salad and sweet potato fries and I can honestly say that if all veggie meals were that good I might be tempted to turn to the green side..............until the next Sunday roast that is.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Indian Summer - long may it last

The Indian Summer is still with us and we're still wearing T-shirts although it's not quite warm enough to dig the shorts out of their winter hiding place.

The Grove Lock pub still has some lovely hanging baskets outside.

I particularly liked the fancy brackets

Stopping for water above Slapton Lock showed just how poorly made these new fangled water stanchions really are. This one is held together with Gaffer Tape and both padlocks have been "removed" possibly to be used on one of the many "pikey" boats that are permanently moored round here.

We'd planned on staying for the weekend on the visitor moorings just above Slapton Lock, but the wide beam boat in front of us had a huge mastiff type dog that was a bloody nuisance. As we were mooring up it came bounding along pushing me and trying to grab the rope and it's owner looked really put out when I asked her to call her dog away. It then kept trying to get on board, much to Chico's disgust. It was allowed out unsupervised to do it's business so we had to be very careful where we trod and it's owners never took a lead with them when they walked it and seemed quite happy to let it run up to and jump up at walkers.  When they let it out to amuse itself again this morning I decided I'd had enough so we turned round and started heading back down the locks again.  We haven't gone very far, only cruising long enough to run a load of washing. The solar panels are still working really well so we didn't need to carry on running the engine after we'd moored up to charge the batteries.

Here's a little tip for you - whenever I run a wash load I always do an extra spin cycle after the main cycle has finished. This gets so much excess water out of the laundry that it dries much quicker. Last week I forgot and instead of a load taking 1 hour to dry in the dryer it took 2 hours.

The pound between Grove Lock and Church Lock was very low and we crawled along the bottom all the way. There was no obvious reason for the low level, the lock paddles were all shut and we didn't see any signs of a breach.

When we came back today the level had risen about 3 inches but we still had trouble finding somewhere deep enough to get in to the side to moor up.