Sunday, 31 August 2014

Beer Fest. at Hawksbury.

We have finally left the Ashby Canal and the wars of the roses behind us. It was quite cool and breezy as we left Hinkley but the sun soon made an appearance and we had a good run down to Hawksbury. I stepped ashore at the narrows and walked over to the lock. As usual there were crowds of drinkers outside the Greyhound waiting for a disaster at the turn. With one boat coming out of the lock and a hire boat moored on the lock landing, (why do they always do that?), I kept my fingers crossed that the Captain wouldn't t disgrace himself. I needn't have worried. Oakapple negotiated the turn superbly and the drinkers returned to their pints with disappointed faces. Mooring up on the bend, it became clear that there was something going on. It was the summer beer festival with music and , of course, beers. Well it would be churlish not to take part so we hotfooted it to the marquee where the band was playing. Didn't catch their name but they were quite good, although soul music isn't really our thing. Most of the beers on offer were from Mr Grundy's brewery, with a ww1 theme, with names like, Red Barron, Lord Kitckener and Over the Top. There was even one called Big Willie, which I believe was a large gun on a railway wagon. Well, I hope it was!!!
After partaking of the beers yesterday we had a quiet day catching up with some cleaning (boring!) today. Opened the last bottle of wine on board to have with our lunch. Surprised to find it had a cork! Quite a rarity these days.
Just as we were putting our feet up this afternoon we heard the unmistakable sound of a Bollinder engine and out of the stop lock came the superbly turned out ex working boat 'Emu' , loaded down to the gunwales, just the way the Captain describes seeing working boats on the Grand Union in the early sixties. (He was quite a young boy then )

Friday, 29 August 2014

Visiting the Last Plantagenet

We moored at Stoke Golding around midday and had a stroll up to the village. It was at Crown Hill where Henry, the victor at Bosworth was unoficialy crowned after the battle.
Moving on yesterday we managed to catch up with friends on NB Muleless who we knew were heading up the Ashby Canal.  After coffee and a chat we carried on to Hinckley and just squeezed onto the last space near the wharf before walking into town to find Wetherspoons and Thursday's curry club.
Today it seemed like a good idea to catch the bus to Leicester to investigate the last gasp of the wars of the roses, first visiting the Cathederal where Richard 111 is to be interred next March. There is a lot of building work going on in preparation, including two new stained glass windows to be installed. There is a new Richard111 visitor centre close by, however, at £7 a go, we felt there was not much new to be learned. By now it was mid afternoon, and, feeling peckish, we sought out one of the three spoons in Leicester, for some fish and chips. This particular pub is called 'The Last Plantagenet', after King Richard, who's demise led to the founding of the Tudor Dynasty. We felt this rounded up the whole Battle of Bosworth thing, and we are now fit to move on to pastures new.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Revisiting the battle of Bosworth.

We have spent the last few days enjoying the area round Sutton Cheyney. We moved on to the wharf ready for the bank holiday weekend on Friday 22nd August which was the 529th anniversary of the battle of Bosworth. The occasion is always marked by the laying of red or white roses, depending on which side of the conflict you favour. The white roses are usually laid by the Richard 111 society who seem to be in the majority. Part of the sundial memorial on the top of Ambion hill incorporates three seats. One for Richard, one for Henry, and one for Lord Stanley, who allegedly held back his men until it was clear who was winning, before joining in for end game. Richards seat was covered with white roses. Henry's seat had just a few red ones, Stanley the cad obviously has no admirers.
We have had a quiet weekend, strolling round the Battlefield centre and visiting Shenton station to enjoy the steam trains running over the bank Holliday.
Raining today, ( what can you expect on August BH Monday ), but we have  moved towards Market Bosworth for a last meet up with our friends before heading back to the Coventry Canal.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Catching up with old friends.

After our busy day on the railway we have moved on to Shenton where we planned to catch up with friends. The first leg was from Shackerstone to Market Bosworth. A relatively short run, but we wanted to walk into the village to visit the Co-op for supplies. After filling the shopping trolley with some essentials, we were drawn into Ye Olde Red Lion to sample some of the real ale on offer, settling for a pint of Harvest Gold, Mmmm!
On the way back down the hill to the canal we spotted an effigy of a World War 1 soldier lurking amongst the flowers in the garden of a superb thatched cottage. Obviously part of the 100yrs anniversary commemorations scattered around the village.
Our friend from NB Faith visited in the evening, bringing a few beers to lubricate the conversation.
Yesterday we had an even shorter run. After filling the water tank we set off for the mile and a half to Shenton to join NB Faith where we were welcomed with coffee. Everyone knows the Ashby is a slow canal but there is always an arse who can't leave the M1 mentality behind. On this occasion he came racing up behind us and after shouting for us to move over, (almost impossible on this stretch), roared past us like he was in the outside lane.   Sad but fortunately very rare.
Evening saw the three of us driving down to Long Itchington to meet up with our friends Colin & Katie from NB Fratie. After inspecting the progress of their new wide beam, we assembled in the Two Boats pub for an excellent meal followed by a superb apple pie on board NB Fratie. We got back on board our boats well after midnight. It was a clear night and the stars were very bright in the much cooler sky. There seems to be very little light pollution around the northern end of the Ashby Canal.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Chuffed to Bits.

We left Market Bosworth hoping to meet up with NB What a Lark. Be careful what you wish for. Just poked the bow into a bridge hole and another boat appeared from the other way. Yes, you guessed it, what a Lark. After a few minutes of the boats sniffing each other like two dogs meeting, we extracted ourselves after much reversing and bow thrusting and managed a brief catch up before moving on. Hope to meet in a better organised way next time.
On to Snarestone and the terminus of the Ashby Canal. We were surprised at the progress of the restoration since we were last here in the spring. A fairly lengthy section looks to be lacking only water and maybe getting as far as Measham is not so unrealistic as it once appeared.
Yesterday we moved back as far as Shackerstone, where the Battlefield Line steam railway starts. It's a job to separate a man from a steam train and the captain is no exception. We have had a great day going up and down the line just revelling in the sounds and the smell of the engine. I think the Captain sometimes thinks he is on the footplate when he winds up our Gardner engine. You can certainly see parallels in the 1950s technology.
We did manage a walk up to the battlefield centre, hoping to see some of the events for the anniversary weekend, but were disappointed that the field round the new memorial had been turned into a temporary car park. It rather spoiled the atmosphere of what can be a very evocative area.
Hopped back on the train and we are now on board Oakapple writing this blog. The rain has just started. Today has been quite good weather. Hope the rain clears by the morning.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

My Kingdom for a Horse?

Yes, we are at Bosworth field. After moving on from Hinkley it was a slow trip as far as the visitor moorings at Sutton Cheyney. Luckily there was only one boat on the offside jetty which is our mooring of preference when we visit the battlefield centre. Of course we all know now that the battle actually took place a mile and a half away, but, hey, let's not spoil a good story with the truth! We always enjoy the walk round the site, and invariably visit Shenton station for an ice cream and, if it' s the right day, a sight of the steam train. Unfortunately yesterday was a diesel, but there will be steam at the weekend, especially since they will be commemorating the anniversary of the battle.
Today we moved on and caught up with NB Faith near to Shenton. Over numerous cups of tea we enthralled him with tales of our travels over the last few months and arranged to meet again next week.
We reluctantly moved on mid afternoon and bagged the last mooring space at Market Bosworth where I am writing this blog over a sundowner and a tub of Pringles. (Not the whole tub ! )
Hoping to catch up with NB What a Lark who is down here somewhere. It's a dead end. They can't escape!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Onto the Ashby canal

We are back on board after a 24hr delay on the strength of the weather forecast. Seems Hurricane Bertha failed to live up to expectations. Still, we are here now. We left the mooring this morning in very breezy conditions but the wind caught us just so and we shot out of the marina onto the canal without touching the bow thruster. Once on the canal the wind seemed to evaporate as it usually does and we had a good run up to Hawksbury junction. After some debate we resisted the temptations of the Greyhound pub and made the tight U turn, heading past charity dock (scruffy as ever but still makes us smile) and turned onto the Ashby canal.
This canal is known to be shallow and needs some dredging, but it's a shame it was being done today. The man operating the dredger waved us on through the gap and we ended up firmly aground. It was only with some very determined effort with the pole that we managed to get off and on our way again. Hopefully it will be a bit deeper by the time we return.
We had hoped to catch up with a friend of ours on board NB Faith who is generally moored in the area, however, no sign of him yet. Maybe further on towards Bosworth.
We decided to stop at the Lime Kilns moorings for the night. As I write there are still boats passing looking for a mooring. Looks like the Ashby is the place to be this summer.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Crossing the Solent?

Crossing the Solent? No, not in Oakapple. We are home for a few days before returning north on Sunday. We have managed to catch up with the rest of friends and family that we missed last time. First of all our motor homing friends, Pete & Sheila who were away last time, and yesterday the Captains brother who lives on the Isle of Wight in Newport. The ferry was a bit of a trial, what with the school hols. And also being Cowes week. Very crowded but it was a great day. We tried the new Spoons in Newport which is in an old church and is called The Man in the Moon. It is an excellent conversion and well up to the standard of Spoons buildings. One corner has four very ornate carved oak chairs which a framed notice informed us were used in the TV series of the Tudors. As great fans of the series we just had to pose for a picture like Henry and Anne. (Captain had better not be inspired to emulate Henry's shenanigans!)
The return crossing was much more civilised with a lot fewer passengers on board. We could see the hovercraft wizzing back and forth across the Solent. I believe it is the only scheduled hovercraft service anywhere in the world. Got back into Portmouth just after dark and managed to get a pic of the Spinaker tower lit up over Gunwharf quays.
We are now eager to continue our travels in Oakapple next week.

Monday, 4 August 2014

A Gathering of Barnowls

Thursday evening we had a gathering of Barnowls. Not the feathered variety but owners of boats built by Barnowl Narrowboats. On my last post I mentioned our evening with Joe & Lesley from NB Yarwood and our encounter with Sue & George on NB Caxton. So, Thursday we all met up at the Old Plough in Braunston for a meal in their restaurant. We all had a great time, scoffing and quaffing, and comparing notes about our three different boats. Thanks all for a memorable evening.
Late morning on Friday we moved on down through Braunston to water up and turn round before heading up the North Oxford towards Rugby. We moored up late PM at the popular prison moorings near Onley, opposite the splendid new gate on the path to the prison. We saw several people come through it and jog off down the towpath. Perhaps the prisoners are escaping? The moorings were quite empty when we arrived, but soon filled up as evening approached.
Saturday morning saw us going on to Brinklow Marina for a short stay. Just as we reached Newbold the heavens opened, as usually happens as we reach the tunnel, and we entered the marina in quite a damp condition.On Sunday the Captain decided the Gardner needed a good buffing! No, not a euphemism for something Lady Chatterly might do on a wet afternoon, but a general polishing of the yards of copper and brass pipes used in the installation of the engine. A job that was a bit overdue but the Captain claims that "if you can't see the difference it's not worth doing!"