Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Old friends and New

Sunday morning dawned blustery and damp but we were commited to make our way into Braunston by lunch time. We had an appointment in 'the Boathouse' for Sunday roast.
Our friends, Della and Gary on board NB Muleless had already made thier way in and had a table booked. Joining us were the crew of NB Inca, along with thier guests. We had not met them before but knew about them through facebook. As with most boaters, after ten minutes it seemed like we had always known them. It was quite a noisy gathering with plenty of the red stuff consumed. A great afternoon.
Returning from the village on Monday morning we spotted another familiar boat at the water point. NB Yarwood, who we have not seen for over a year. We spent the afternoon catching up over a pint in the Plough, a dog friendly pub in the village that welcomed their two beautiful black labs, Floyd and Fletcher.
We have been looking to top up with fuel for a few days now so, getting wind of the fuel boat 'Callisto' passing through Braunston today, we contacted him to arrange for a delivery this morning. After Muleless and Yarwood had been topped up  we took on 80ltrs of diesel and 8 bags of coal. We always try to use the services of the fuel boats when they are around. They are a feature of the canals which add a lot to their character. It's always exciting to see them come alongside, so much easier than trying to get near the diesel pump at most boatyards which are usually obstructed by moored boats.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Thawing At last.

The ice that has held us fast all this week at Hawksbury Junction finally started to release its grip on Thursday. Not quite enough to let us go though. Nothing for it but to spend another afternoon in 'The Greyhound' and treat ourselves to a ploughmans. Being an old canal workers pub, maybe they should have called it a 'boatmans lunch'.
During our enforced stay I have started a project. I have been knitting squares to make a blanket for our boatmans cabin. Those who know me might be suprised to hear this but, yes, I can actually knit.
Friday dawned warmer but, predictably, raining. Still, we were eager to be on the move so off we went. The rain petered out during the morning and it turned into quite a good day. There was still a fair bit of ice around but not enough to cause a problem. Three hours later we moored up at all oaks wood near Brinklow. With the back cabin stove lit, we stayed in the boatmans cabin to quaff a couple of glasses of wine and keep up the 'happy Friday' tradition started by our friends in Aston marina.
Early start this morning. We wanted to get to Braunston today and it was a superb day, clear and bright. Suprisingly there was still some ice in places but you couldn't ask for a better days winter cruising. We passed our friends on NB Muleless at hillmorton locks around lunch time. The plan is to meet for sunday lunch in 'The Boathouse' in Braunston tomorrow. I just hope there is a mooring space for us when we get there!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Stopped by the Ice

well, we really enjoyed the snow on Sunday. The first we've seen this winter. When we looked out the porthole yesterday morning, there it was, gone! Not a trace. The sheep opposite,  so frisky the day before, were back to their usual selves. Following each other around like, well, sheep.
Time to move on. It was a still day and the trawl through Nuneaton was not unpleasant. As we crept into Hawksbury Junction we found a mooring just near the water tap. It was lucky we filled the water tank then because the temperature plummeted overnight. We were woken by the sound of ice cracking all around as a coal boat moored near the turn made its escape.
After a leisurely breakfast the ice appeared to be thinning, so a decision was made to move off. After making the turn in front of the Greyhound pub it became clear that the ice was much thicker beyond the stop lock. After some debate, and some coffee, a decision was made to try it and see.
We are now moored just past the lock, with the ice getting thicker again in the clear night air. Still, it did give us an excuse to visit the pub this afternoon and try a pint or two of  'Northern Light', from the Orkney brewery. Mmmmm! As we were enjoying our second pint, the staff appeared with the largest log i've ever seen destined for the open fire in the bar. It took two of them to get it on there. They were predicting it would burn for at least two days. I hope the ice doesn't force us to find out if they are right.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Winter is Coming!

yes, in the words of Ned Stark (Game of Thrones) winter is coming. After escaping from Stone we have had a good couple of days cruising. From Great Haywood we moved on as far as Rugeley, where we stocked the freezer in the canalside Tesco's and visited the local 'Spoons' for steak club. The days have been getting noticeably colder as we moved to Streethay (Wednesday) and Fazeley on Thursday. On Friday morning the ice appeared, making the operation of Glascote locks a little slippery. It has been our goal to get through Glascote before Monday, when they are closed for maintenance work.
Yesterday morning we set off to tackle the eleven Atherstone locks. The sky was clear and the frost thick on the ground. We were breaking ice all the way to the top, but it was a great run up and good to be out on the move. With snow forecast, we carried on to a mooring  near Springwood Haven near Nuneaton to see if the weather men had got it right.
Eagerly looking out this morning we found the landscape transformed to a white wonderland. The canal was once again frozen and the sheep in the field opposite were gambolling in the snow like spring lambs.
Like kids, we tramped up and down the towpath enjoying the wonder of it all, before settling down back on board Oakapple in front of the stove for coffee and, later, a proper Sunday roast.


Monday, 11 January 2016

The Great Escape?

Yes! We have escaped from Aston Marina to spend the rest of the winter cruising. It is so easy to get seduced by the company of our boating friends and the convenience of plugging into the mains power, but, with work starting on the locks at Tamworth next week, it is now or wait till March.
We have spent the weekend getting Oakapple back into cruising mode, (you would be surprised how the, place for everything, regime slips when in a marina), and this morning we slipped away from our pier and headed south. With only Gordon from 'Ewn Ha Cul' to wave us off it was a quiet parting but good to be on the move again. Since the Captain has been recovering from a hernia Op in November we have not been as active as we should be so it will be good to start working the locks and lose a few of those Xmas. Lbs! (That's the theory).
It was a very quiet run down to Great Haywood, passing only a couple of boats on the way, but it stayed dry and at one point the sun almost made an appearance. Still, true to form, I can hear the rain pattering on the roof as I write this. Someone told me it was forecast to snow on Wednesday. I won' t hold my breath.