Saturday, 26 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 9 (Day 1 of the Crick Show)

We had a very nice evening at The Moorings last night, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  This morning I was over at the show site early, and Andy the photographer and I started looking at boats well before the gates opened.  Getting a head start really helps.  In all during the day we looked at 19 boats, and we took Andy’s drone along the tow path to get some shots of the whole site.  The day had started very murky, but when the cloud broke at lunchtime it really broke, leaving us with a very warm sunny afternoon.

I also saw a good number of people, including Sue from No Problem XL looking exceptionally well, who was there with regular blog commenter, KevinTOO, whom we last saw at Mercia a couple of years ago.  This evening my cousin Catherine along with Nigel, Grace and Matthew came for dinner cooked by Adrian and another very pleasant evening was had.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 8

It rained a lot during the night, and was still raining this morning.  With only a few miles to do to get to the Crick Boat Show, we had a very relaxed start.  After breakfast we got the washing machine going (even though it’s hardly drying weather), and set off once the wash part of the cycle was complete.

It took around an hour to get to Yelvertoft, where we stopped on the water point to top up the tank.   Being at the show until Monday means we won’t have another opportunity to fill up for a while.  Setting off again, we completed the journey to Crick.  We knew where our mooring was, so I turned in the marina entrance so we were facing the same way as our neighbouring boat.  Once we were moored up, we wandered over to the show ground and saw a few people we knew.  In the afternoon, I went back and helped Pete set up some of the Canal Boat stand.  As I walked back, Sculptor, the historic boat from the Museum at Stoke Bruerne was just arriving.

Tonight we’re going to The Moorings restaurant for the traditional pre-show meal with the Braidbar bunch.

5 miles, 0 locks.  (74 miles, 41 locks)

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 7

This morning was overcast and decidedly chilly.  A coat was needed when we set off at a few minutes past 8 o’clock.  Just on the edge of Harborough is a big site that’s been cleared for building.  There will be lots of houses, and a small marina.

At the swing bridge which was broken the other day, Adrian got off to (he thought) press the buttons. It turned out the only electrified bit was releasing the barriers which pull out across the road; the bridge itself still needs to be pushed.  We held up a van as we went through.

When we got to the bottom of the locks, Adrian jumped off with a bag a rubbish to put in the bin, and went to see the lock keeper while I got the boat on the lock mooring.  There were a couple of boats going up, and then the lockie wanted to bring down a boat which had been waiting in the centre pound for quite a long time.  It meant we waited about an hour, in which time we put the kettle on, bought some postcards and stamps from the little shop we were moored next to, wrote them, and posted them in the post box by the pub.  I also went to the car park to see the new sign with the new CRT logo.  The logo itself I think is just OK, but the whole design with the two different blues is rather smart.

Once we set off up the locks, it took us only 45 minutes to get to the top.  We were the only boat moving, so we had the lock keeper to help.

By the time we reached the top of the locks the sun had come out and the temperature had risen.  We had lunch on the move, and went through Husbands Bosworth Tunnel.  There’s lots of lovely countryside around, with some far reaching views, lots of rolling hills, and some fields of barley shimmering in the breeze.

We moored up at 4pm at the same spot we used on Sunday night, just before Bridge 27.  This time, though, we were completely on our own.

19 miles, 10 locks.  (69 miles, 41 locks)

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 6

I’d managed to swap off my shifts on Monday and yesterday, but not today — so there was an early alarm and a walk down to Market Harborough station for the 0544 train to London.  When I bought the tickets several weeks ago, First Class was the cheapest on the way down, and that includes breakfast.

Adrian has spent the day restocking from the new Co-op just a little way down the hill towards town. It’s much more convenient that the other supermarkets.

Union Wharf at Market Harborough is really very attractive.  This was taken yesterday.

0 miles, 0 locks.  (50 miles, 31 locks)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 5

We knew the locks opened at 8, and we were pretty much ready to set off by that time.  We thought we’d probably be second in line to go down as a boat had arrived last night after the locks closed.  But as we moved round the corner, it was actually moored on one of the water points and didn’t appear ready to move.  We waited on the lock landing and the lock keeper came to see us, to say that at present he was the only volunteer to have turned up and he couldn’t open the locks until at least one more arrived.  More lockies soon turned up and we were on our way at about 8.25.

As we went down the top staircase a boat who’d spent the night at the bottom was also coming up the bottom one, and the idea was that we’d pass in the pound in the middle.  In the event, more that one boat was ready to come up, so we moored in the centre pound while three boats came past.

I used the pause to take rubbish to the bins, and the yellow water bottle to the Elsan for a good rinse out.  Soon enough we were on our way down the bottom staircase.  Yesterday afternoon there had been very little water in the flight, but this morning there was masses, and the lock keeper kept having to run some off.  With a clear run you can do all then locks in 45 minutes; today it took just over an hour and twenty minutes.  At the bottom, Adrian turned onto the water point so we could get the washing machine going while filling up with water.

When the tank was full we headed down the Market Harborough Arm.  We haven’t been down here since our Debdale days (I’ve just looked it up — it was March 2008; we also came on a hire boat, which must have been in 2006) and we really didn’t remember much.  The swing road bridge was being fixed by a CRT man, who swung it manually for us; the bone works next to the canal smells terrible; the mile posts are nice and simple; and the whole thing is pretty rural and attractive.

We did remember the back gardens on the final approach to Market Harborough. We’d passed a few boats going the other way, so we’re pretty sure we’d be able to find a mooring.  When we got to the basin we turned around and moored just outside, tucking into the very first space so the solar panel was in the sun.  It was lunchtime and we had nothing on board, so walked down the hill into town where we had a cheap lunch at Wetherspoons — where I ordered using the app for the first time, so you don’t have to queue at the bar.  We remembered the square with the old grammar school and the church.

We located the railway station for tomorrow, and went to pick up a parcel Adrian had ordered.  When we got back to Union Wharf the boat in front of us had gone, so we pulled forward a little bit so we’re no longer across a bend.

6 miles, 10 locks.  (50 miles, 31 locks)

Monday, 21 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 4

We both slept very well at our quiet and remote mooring.  This morning was another with plenty of sunshine, and we set off at a little after 8.30.  At Welford Juntion we turned left, staying on the main line, just in front of a boat coming out of the arm.  A little way past the junction bridge we passed Jubilee going the other way, with John and Jan on board.  Of course it happened on. Bend, next to moored boats, and with the other boat close behind us.  We’ll see them again at the Crick Show.

North Kilworth Marina appears to be open and full of water, but without any boats.  Just here we caught up with a hire boat from Weedon, which had waited for a boat to come through the narrows by the wharf.  Even after the wharf they continued on tickover, but soon waved us past on a long straight stretch.  A few minutes later we reached Husbands Bosworth Tunnel.

We passed a boat inside the tunnel, then carried on in lovely warm sunshine through very attractive countryside.  We got to the top of Foxton at about 1pm, and moored up on the 2 day moorings where there was plenty of space.  Since then, some boats have left but more have arrived so it’s pretty much full.  This afternoon we walked down to the locks to get an ice cream from the cafe at the top, then sat watching the boats.  There were four coming up.  The two staircases of five locks have a pound in the middle, which can have some unusual currents because of the lock water having just been emptied into it.  The first boat up came out of the bottom staircase with so littl power on that she nearly ended up across the pound.

Near the bottom of the site of the inclined plane is a bronze model of the area.

We walked back up to the top, talking on the way to the owners of an ex-OwnerShips share boat which is on its way to the Crick Show, then walked round the other side and over the bridge back to the boat.  Since then we’ve been lounging on the well deck in the sunshine.  The boat moored in front of us is called Gilbert the Pig, and hardly a walker has gone by without mentioning the name!

13 miles, 0 locks. (44 miles, 21 locks)

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Spring Cruise: Day 3

Another fantastically sunny day.  We set off at around 8am, with Adrian walking up to Buckby top lock to get it ready.  As we got to the top, a boat arrived to go down so we could leave the gate open for them.  Then it was along to Norton Junction, where we turned right onto the Leicester Line.

When we got to Watford Locks I went to find the lock keeper.  He had one boat going up the staircase and another to come down, so he said we should come up the two individual locks then wait at the bottom of the staircase.  It wasn’t long before the downhill boat emerged and we could set off up.

Crick Tunnel was as usual dry at the south end and decidedly drippy for the final few hundred yards at the north end.  We moored up and walked into the village to go to the Co-op for a few things.  One thing to note is that they no longer have a cash machine.  Setting off again, Adrian walked up the towpath to see where our Crick Show mooring will be.  All the name markers are already up, and he found our spot fairly soon, just opposite the middle marina entrance.  There were some mooring managers there, who seemed surprised we weren’t stopping — a few people are already in their spots.  Coming back on Friday will be soon enough for us.

The journey along the Leicester Line summit is very pretty.  Lots of it is remote, and all of it is pretty shallow and rather narrow.  The hawthorn blossom is particularly vibrant white at the moment.

We had lunch on the move, then moored up about 2pm just through Bridge 27, where we stopped a couple of times at the same time last year.  As the boat headed towards the towpath a green woodpecker flew off — I’ve been hoping to see him again, but haven’t so far.  We got the chairs our and sat in the shade on the very little-used towpath, with a slightly weaker G&T than yesterday.

10 miles, 8 locks.  (31 miles, 21 locks)