Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Hawkesbury Junction to the top of Hillmorton Locks

The beginning of blackberry picking at the junction. The lock is parallel to the canal we were moored in
On Sunday night after dinner we went for a walk down to the junction, partly because it was such a beautiful evening and partly so I could check out the opportunities for mucking up steering out of the Coventry and into the Oxford. It turns out it is two right-angled turns, i.e. essentially a 180. As we were walking along I noticed that the hedgerows were full of blackberries, so I asked a boater near the stoplock for a plastic bag. On the way back, I picked heaps of berries (there were lots well out of my reach but anyone over 5’1” would have got far more) and David took various photos. 
See info below
I do like this shot of David's - a beautiful full moon that night in a clear sky meant a chilly start to the morning

Moored up near Hawkesbury Junction
He headed back to the boat before me (did have to come back to me to get the key …) and offered to make me a chamomile tea for my arrival. Half an hour later, when it was practically dark and I could no longer see clearly which berries were ripe, back to the boat I went. Was there a chamomile tea? Three guesses and the first two don’t count. He said he got distracted … However the tea did arrive after a while.

We had agreed that on Monday morning we’d leave by 7am to rendezvous with Ed at Ansty. David was reluctant to get out of bed at 6.30 so the duvet had to be ripped off him. Reminded me of when he was working and he wanted a ride to work with me (I didn’t mind if he was catching a bus) – and that shows that at least my long-term memory is still fine as it is more than 10 years since he retired. A cup of tea and plate of cornflakes, then on with the gloves and my silk scarf, and we were off into the mist. The mornings are getting chillier but quite beautiful and crisp. As predicted,  I did make a pig’s ear of the turn into the Oxford – didn’t touch the sides anywhere but I didn’t do it in one move nor did I end up smoothly at the lock entrance.

The journey down the Oxford was peaceful – it isn’t the prettiest part of the canal – too many pylons for that within cooee of the junction, and the M6 is audible for part of the journey. We were quickly near our destination, and stopped for water first – all of a sudden, Piccadilly Circus with a boat reversing up for water, another boat approaching and us waiting to move off the waterpoint. We found a mooring exactly where we had wanted one – right after the bridge which would give Ed easy access close to us with his van. While waiting for him, I cooked breakfast, and we saw the beginning of a huge number of boats come past. We think they must have come from the festival up the Ashby. It has been the busiest today on the Oxford than on any canal we have been on this year, and probably most other years.

We hauled one boater over and back to tie up beside us as he’d picked up something on the prop and had no propulsion. When he looked down in to the weedhatch, he hoiked out a huge piece of canvas. Which David then threw across our boat and on to me. B*stard. But revenge will be sweet and will not be exacted anytime soon. He needs to suffer the anticipation of the revenge to be exacted, never knowing when and how it will strike!
The offending canvas - not pleasant around their prop or around my shoulders ...

I went for a stroll down the cut to look for bags of rubbish the canvas woman had told David about. I didn’t find them, but I did see lots of blackberries within my reach. So back I came to get a container. I managed to fill it within 5 boats of ours – yay! There are heaps there for people taller than me, so if you are near here and over 5’1” come down and do some picking. I have a blackberry crumble in the oven waiting to be cooked, and the rest of the berries are in a saucepan to be cooked, cooled and frozen. Free food is always a bonus!

Apples in Ansty
We also walked down the road to buy some Worcester Pairmon apples from outside a house. Bought 3 bags at 90p a bag (2 for us, 1 for Ed to take home). Bargain, and quite yummy, although not a patch on Braeburns.

Ed has done the Webasto conversion, so the bottom shelves in the kitchen cupboards were emptied into large plastic containers, and the framing that covers the radiator piping along the boat was taken off. The job went well with David and Ed bleeding the radiators of air once the pipes were all joined up to the Webasto and disconnected from the diesel stove. David enjoyed being the apprentice and the boffin, working out with Ed what was happening – I sat with the kindle and left them to it. The installation went fine, but there is a problem with the heat exchanger which gets extremely hot in some areas and stays cool in others. That is going to be sorted with Ed on Thursday. He is brilliant and gives such good service.

The canal, while close to the motorway and railway in parts, is rather pretty and good cruising. We did go under the M6 - I have driven that piece of road probably 60 times and never noticed the canal below me.
Under the M6 - ten columns in each set supporting the bridge

As David said:sublime to the ridiculous in terms of transport methods

The trees are starting to turn and the countryside looks lovely

The Kiwis mooring up near Rose Narrowboats
As we were slowing down to pull up at a waterpoint (we get water every day or so and stop whenever we see a waterpoint, as it’s a bit like buses, none for ages then 3 at once) we saw a hire boat of kiwis – glad to see the colonisation of the waterways is continuing… We moored up for the day soon after not far from the village of Brinklow. Lovely moorings and quite peaceful although the motorway was faintly audible.

Newbold Tunnel, 208 yards: nice; Harecastle Tunnel: 10 times that length: nasty

This morning we set off and got caught behind two boats moving like the proverbial snails who were sleep-cruising. What should have been an hour and a half was over two hours. We finally got to Rugby town moorings beside the park and I dashed off to Tesco, towing the granny trolley. I found the lime and elderflower cider that David has taken a strong liking to and bought all 6 of the bottles they had, completed the rest of the
Moored temporarily at Rugby

shopping, packed it all in the trolley and back to the boat – took a wrong path and ended up at the back of Tescos – doh!! J&D had arrived, so off we went for lunch at the Harvester, then back on board to move along and drop them at Clifton Cruisers boatyard where they now have their boat moored for the rest of the year.
Leaving Rugby moorings and heading for Clifton Cruisers. I had just extricated us from the off-side - I was too close to the towpath and got pulled across by the wash of another boat coming towards me. Steering takes constant concentration ...

Into one of the Hillmorton Locks
We have moored up at the top of the Hillmorton Locks in lovely sunshine. Batteries are fully charged at last – these short boating days make it difficult to get the leisure batteries up to 100%. No dinner required so it’s a quiet and relaxing evening ahead – I sense a snooze coming on …


Mary said...

Oh you are now in parts we are very familiar with. We have friends with a boat moored at Rugby. (Harrier : Montagu Family) They have taken us up to Coventry twice and last year to Bosworth, the site if the battle where Richard 3rd was killed. That was up a side canal on the way back from Coventry. Previously they were moored at Crick and we did trips out of there with them as well.

steve spencer said...

hi from lindsay and steve on edna may

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Mary, Lovely to know you have done some of the canals we are traversing. It is lovely fun, isn't it? We are heading now for the places we went with Tim and Kirsty way back in 1990, so I expect a fair amount of nostalgia - and complaints from David that Kirsty (as a 13 year old) made the locks look too easy ... Mxox

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hello, you two! So lovely to hear from you!!!
How and where are you? I do hope you are avoiding the badger cull ...
We are heading for Braunston and then on down the GU tomorrow. Will we see you before we head back to NZ for more spring/summer and autumn weather?
Marilyn & David xox