Sunday, 23 September 2018

7% chance of rain - what a load of rubbish! 22 September

Saturday 22nd September 2018
Cape Moorings to Tom 'O Wood Moorings
7 miles, 21 locks

The day dawned dry, if not bright and we set off around 09:30 to travel the three quarters of a mile to the bottom of Hatton locks.  The washing was in the cratch hoping it might dry. We are nothing if not optimistic or maybe foolish for believing the weather forecast.  We entered the first lock at 09:40 having had to wait for a boat to come down.  The spirits lifted in that as we thought that might mean that the locks would be in our favour.  They were dashed when they told us there was a single boat about 3 locks ahead.  Sadly we never saw them and they did not spot us, so we were on our own all the way up.

To start with the locks are quite well spaced - too close not to walk, but it doesn't half add to the days step totals

One and a half hours after we started that 7% chance of rain became 100% and it never stopped!

After lock 36, which is the half way point, the locks do start to get closer together and boats started to come down, however on two occasions boats coming down carefully closed the lock gates behind them!  These locks are leaky, so some winding to empty them again was required.

The weather was too murky for a good shot down back to Warwick today.

Despite the weather there were lots of walkers around.  I got chatting to a few (as you do!).  One couple are going on a trip along the Canal du Midi in a couple of weeks.  It transpired that the route they intend to take covers some of the places we went through 2 years ago, so I was able to pass on some observations.  If you see this, the French blog was written in May 2017.  The book we used was Canal du Midi Waterways Guide - see here.  The gloves I use are Lomo short finger gloves - click here.  I hope you have a great trip.

When you arrive at the C&RT offices at lock 42 you know you are within spitting distance of being able to collapse in a heap!

Over the road and on past the Welcome Station - the doors were open and a volunteer was snug & dry inside.   To be fair to her, I suspect they always have one volunteer in the office to answer questions, but oh boy did I envy her the cup of coffee, not to mention the biscuit!  I stopped to report a broken 'heel stone brick' at lock 35.  Whether anyone will do anything about it is another matter.

Signs of Autumn and storm damage are rife at the top

and then joy of joys I spotted a working volunteer lock keeper who opened the last three locks for us.  To say I was  grateful would be the understatement of the year.

We stopped at the water point emptied and filled as required. I went and bought a BLT from the cafe. Suitably refreshed we continued on in the rain to moor at Tom O' Wood moorings - a new one to us. I had noted in our book that it is noisy, but as I type with the doors and windows shut and the fire going for the first time for months, it is warm, cosy, quiet, dry and just perfect!

Kiera really enjoys the fire and luxuriates, whereas Monty tends to take himself into the bedroom where it is cooler.  That is probably just as well as Kiera decided she needed both beds to herself!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Change of Plans - 21 September 2018

Friday 21st September 2018
Leamington Spa to Cape Visitor Moorings
3 miles, 2 locks

Having been buffeted about quite a bit of the night we decided to double check the forecast for the next few days.  Our original plan was to have today off and to explore a bit of Leamington Spa, then move on to Cape moorings tomorrow and tackle the 21 Hatton Locks on Sunday.  We even had a friend lined up who had volunteered to help.

However, having checked the forecast and found that Saturday is likely to be dry and not too windy, whereas Sunday is going to be very wet with gusts up to 50kph, we decided to push on today and do Hatton tomorrow.  There are quite a number of boats around, so hopefully we will be able to share the journey.  We are sorry we won't see John, but will arrange to meet up with him and Helen once we are safely back home.  Please feel free to volunteer next time we come this way!!

So off we went, through bridge 41 where there is this mural on the non towpath side - I am not sure why the grim reaper??  From then on it so exceptionally slow going!

The sun was shining as we prepared to leave, so why was the journey so slow?

A boat had passed us shortly before we left, but we caught it up in no time at all - they were going so slowly we were in tick over and even then, Chris had to reverse every now and then to stop hitting them!  At one point she did wave to us to pass, but she kept to the centre line of the canal and there really was nowhere safe to make such a manoeuvre, so we just plodded along behind.  Eventually she did pull over and we went past.  This was just a couple of hundred yards or so before we were going to stop Tesco.  It took us 35 minutes to travel 1 mile!  We have to hope we will not be going all the way up Hatton behind them.

 We travelled across two aqueducts today - first the railway

 then the River Avon

The burning question when you approach Tesco is 'will there be a mooring'?  There was - more space than we have ever seen before.  Tesco's raided, we continued on to the two Cape locks.  There was a boat filling with water and so we were able to share the locks with them.  For the first time for a while we are going downhill  uphill again.

 We moored just below the bottom Cape Lock.  This is a new spot to us and we like it.

The dogs and I walked the three quarters of a mile to Hatton bottom lock.  We have rubbish for the bin that we thought was in the car park opposite lock one.  I put the dogs in a 'sit stay'

and went to investigate.  There is nothing in sight, so maybe it is further up - we will find out tomorrow.  The good news was that there are four boats moored below the flight, but three are not going until Sunday and the fourth is not the boat we were stuck behind this morning.

It is a lot quieter tonight, so it will be an early night and hopefully a fairly early start in the morning to make our way up the Hatton flight to then find somewhere safe to moor to sit out 'Bronagh' on Sunday.

Friday, 21 September 2018

At last we meet! 20 September 2018

Thursday 20th September 2018
Radford Road to Leamington Spa
1.25 miles, 0 locks

Way back on 18th April, fellow bloggers Pip and Mick on nb Oleanna went past Tentatrice as they headed to Tardebigge top lock.  Chris was reversing out of the Crafted Boats yard and I was at home waiting for a taxi to take me back to the boat so we could set off on our summer cruise - so near and yet so far!

We have been aware for a few days that the two boats were not far apart and that we might just be in the same place at the same time.  On Wednesday evening, via our blogs, we discovered we were moored three boats and about 200 yards apart, so a morning meeting was on the cards. The dogs and I went for a rather wet walk.  Pip and Mick arrived whilst I was closeted in the shower - and no they were not unseemly early - I just decided to shower mid morning after the wet walk!  Chris put the kettle on and I joined them pretty promptly despite being a bit damp round the edges.  It was great to see them both and to learn more about Pip's current and past theatrical enterprises.  We both hope all goes well at Chipping Norton for you this year.

The rain stopped and after a quick lunch we set off past Oleanna

Pip and Mick came to say farewell (I was walking the short distance to Leamington whilst Chris followed on behind).  Sorry I got you with your eyes closed Pip!  No sign of Tilly though.  Maybe next time.

I think we intended stopping after bridge 41 in Leamington, but I got confused and we pulled up before it by the water point that was not in service last year, but

is now!  Some negotiations must have taken place between Alumno and C&RT

Someone has tried to cheer this bit of towpath up with a kingfisher mural on the bridge

and a bit of garden running up to the bridge.

The area was quiet and safe enough, we were on rings (with springs at bow and stern), but the buildings seemed to act as a wind tunnel - it was a bit of a rough ride.  We will definitely go the other side of the bridge next time we come this way.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Spitting Feathers! The Rudeness of some folks is almost unbelievable - 19th September

Wednesday 19th September 2018
Long Itchington to Radford Road
5 miles, 10 locks

As you can probably gather from the title, today was not our finest!  We knew it was going to be windy, but tomorrow is likely to be worse, so we set off as planned towards the first four locks at Bascote.  The first two are a staircase - there was no sign of anyone coming up, so I filled the lock and we were about to go in when we spotted a boat approaching - our hopes were raised only

to be dashed when we saw another on their tail

The boat in front was a Black Prince hire boat (Myra - they will appear again later on).  I asked the lady if they were travelling as a pair.  They weren't but had done Stockton together, so she felt she should ask the other boat whether they minded them going on with us. It was a private boat and they told them to wait, so we were solo.  Luckily for them we are fairly efficient, so we did not hold them up.  What was really annoying was spotting that another single boat had arrived to do the flight just after they had started, so we effectively wasted 3 locks of water at that flight alone and potentially two more further along.  I honestly think with the number of boats moving even when we were travelling with Cleddau we would have split up in case another boat came along, but there is no telling some people.

Anyway we made it through those four locks

to find as we emerged at the bottom that the canal suddenly is very overgrown and narrow.

Two more locks before lunch and at one there was one boat coming out as we approached.

 and one wanting to enter as we left - always a bonus

 The biggest problem we were having with the wind was lock gates opening when they should have stayed closed!  We were glad to stop for a lunch break and we set off again around 13:30.  As we got to the next lock Myra turned up, but on her own this time.  They were a lovely couple who have done several narrow boat holidays before.  They were accompanied by their 13 month old dog, Poll.

We stopped after the first lock together (Fosse Top Lock) for water and to use the elsan disposal point.  That was a big mistake - if you are coming this way do not stop here during the blackberry season!  The ground is covered in them and we both ended up with very dirty shoes.  Also the water pressure is low, so it took an age to fill what was not a very empty tank.  Myra and crew were very considerate and were waiting for us at the next Fosse lock.  As we left the third and last Fosse lock there were two boats approaching.  Chris had to pull right over to the towpath to let the second one through.  The water level was low and we grounded.  Myra went past us and we hoped the movement would pull us out, but no luck and then Myra got stuck as well!  We did both manage to escape and went on through the bridge where we saw a sight that was almost unbelievable and where I started to spit feathers!

This boat looked as though they might be untying.  To start with we didn't think they could be as surely no one could be that rude.  Sadly they were.  Myra and Tentatrice both had to slow almost to a stop.  Looking at the photo - the lady on the towpath is from Myra - now surely if someone walks past your boat with a windlass in their hand that might just be an indication that it might be an idea to look behind you!

you can see here that Myra is almost abreast of him, but still he kept on going.

He was going so fast to try and get ahead of us both that he pulled the bow pin out of this moored up boat.  No photos of the rescue as I was just a tad too busy!  Chris let me off with the mallet.  I climbed aboard and edged my way gingerly along a very narrow gunwhale with very little to hold onto on the roof to try to retrieve the pin and bow rope.  Myra's helmsman did an excellent job of gently pushing the boat into the bank, so I could get off and bash the pin back in.  I am not sure how long it will last, but I did my best.

I am not going to name and shame the boat, but we know who they are!  It was in the lock by the time we both arrived and Myra went in with them.  I did go and ask the helmsman if he had not seen us before he pulled out in front of us.  His answer 'No not until I looked round and by that time I was nearly at the lock'.  The photos prove otherwise.  I said he was not near the lock, he said he was and I am afraid I repeated my comment and then walked off.  My mother taught me that 'Manners maketh man'.  Sadly this boater's parents did not instill good manners into him.   I wish I had been quick enough to suggest he might need to go to Specsavers if he really did not see us!

Myra and crew made it through and we wish them both well for a great holiday and maybe their own boat one day.

The wind was really blowing with branches and leaves falling all over the place as we waited to go down what would be our last lock of the day.

Last year at the bridge below Radford lock there was a manikin

this year she is looking a little the worse for wear, but she has gained a friend who is wearing her sunglasses!

The decision we had to make was whether to stop in the shelter of the tree lined part of the cut or continue on to open land.  We chose the latter - we are safely moored up on ARMCO with no chance of a tree or debris falling on us.

Just as we moored up a short sharp shower arrived, so at least we got something right today!

I have just checked last year's blog for this stretch and it appears we had a pretty frustrating time then - SEE HERE if you are interested.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Lady luck was with us again - 18th September

Tuesday 18th September 2018
Gibraltar Bridge to Long Itchington
2 miles, 10 locks

Wind was forecast and they got it right.  We were both aware of it blowing during the night, but we needed to go come what may.  The dogs and I walked most of the way to the first lock past this boat which must be a permanent fixture as we certainly passed it in the same place last year.  It comes complete with cages on the tow path for his three ferrets.

on past the Boat Inn, Birdingbury Wharf

with the gypsy caravan in the garden

 There was no one in sight when we arrived at the top lock which was full ready for us, we went in and dropped down and proceeded to the second of the 10 locks in the Stockton flight.  As we approached I spotted what I though might be a boat approaching the first lock.  We were lucky it was, so we waited for them

and shared the rest of the locks.  They even had two lock operators, so with three of us working we whipped through in 1 hour 25 minutes.  It is so much easier with two boats in a lock.  Even better at the third lock we crossed with a boat coming up, so most locks were ready for us.

On past the Blue Lias

and finally we were approaching the last lock

where we came upon a couple of C&RT employees examining what used to be a single lock - I did not find out what they were looking for,

 but they did warn us of a large piece of plastic in the canal - definitely something to avoid as it would cause havoc if it wrapped itself around the prop.

We moored up in Long Itchington

Once we were done we noticed that Kiera had had enough!

We were very lucky to meet 'The Bowman' as the next boats to come down the lock did not pass us for 2.5 hours after we had moored up!  Quite a shock to have so few boats moving after Braunston where they passed every 10 to 15 minutes.

Well that was mooring number one - we moved again mid afternoon just in front of the boat ahead of us - why you may wonder?  It was to escape falling apples that were regularly banging on the roof! We are a bit nearer to the pub, but there is no live music on tonight and we are fairly sure that a Tuesday evening should not be too riotous!