Saturday, 1 August 2015

Fun and hard work with friends

When I started writing this we were at the top of the Hatton flight of locks, moored up with Mick and Julia in a sort of glade.

It has been a great few days with them. We met up at the top of the Calcutt flight in pouring rain, had lunch on board Waka Huia and then went down those locks and the Stockton flight. David and Julia locked, Mick and I steered. We had intended to moor up across from the Blue Lias pub but there are very few moorings there, so we carried on down the last two locks and moored near the Two Boats pub.
Setting off from Calcutt and heading for the top lock. Mick in front in their boat named for the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. If you know the movie you will get the references in the boat name and canal carrying company. It's not visible in the photo but the boat was registered in Eastwood ...

And in the top lock.
Julia locking - David is also on lock duty but had to combine it with camera duty.

Lunches and dinners have been on our boat as we have a permanent table – and Julia has added a lot of stuff to the menu. I had cooked a chicken curry for dinner that first evening, but the extensive nibbles meant the curry got put away for the next evening. Good when that happens as it feels like there is a night off cooking! Other culinary delights have been cassoulet cooked by David, and toad in the hole and brown onion gravy cooked by me. As always seems to happen, toad in the hole is on the menu when the weather is very warm!
Friends reunited - Mick and Julia are favourites with Mel. Visible are the remains of extensive nibbles which obviated the requirement for chicken curry ...
After 15 years of losing touch, seeing photos of the kids is in order.
See Lesley, Mel is quite the intellectual with his specs. And people do appreciate his viewpoint.

We had very short days of boating apart from Thursday's Hatton experience, considering our joint past performances! Of course we were much younger then and often only had a week or fortnight on board. However we are extremely efficient at the locks where Mick and I either go in to the locks side by side or with half a boat length between us. Julia is an absolutely ace lock wheeler, she sets the lock opens the gates, heads up to the next one to get it going and comes back to close a gate behind us and open one paddle, let us out and on her bike she gets again. Meanwhile David closes the other gate, opens the other paddle and then clears up after we leave. Julia does a fair distance over the course of a flight – I know I could work it out mathematically but it’s too tiring to contemplate!

There were lovely moorings to be had with plenty of space for us to moor in line – made the journeys back to Unknown No 3 much safer … Between Radford Semele and Leamington Spa there is a lovely straight with Armco and wide open aspect – on the towpath side it is bounded by a nature reserve and on the offside a farm. There’s a small road in the distance so it is pretty quiet. 
This doesn't do justice to the mooring but the light in the evening was lovely.

The day we moored there was particularly short cruising-wise, so Julia and I went off for two hour walk using the OS map on the phone – I mistook the blue dotted lines for paths (actually boundary lines) so a few hundred yards was added as we walked up the road to Offchurch and the beginning of the path. We then followed the map well until we got into the nature reserve where we went off piste and thought we could wing it. Ah, no! The small river that was between us and the canal towpath had no bridges in the direction we were going – we could occasionally see where we were moored (well, Julia could given she’s tall) but we couldn’t get to it. We had to retrace our steps and find the bridge - I should have expanded the view of the map on the phone and I would have seen that 30 minutes earlier! Still and all, it was a lovely walk, and was much better for us than having a nap!

We had left Mick and David doing jobs. Both of them had intended a short nap as we had rather over indulged the night before. But Mick was inspired to complete a number of tasks on our boat – generated by his helpfulness and desire for order, I think. So the multi box (trailing socket) is now fixed horizontally on the wall rather than draped over a convenient screw, the table top no longer needs two G-clamps to stop it tipping up, the gizmo that increases the wi-fi and phone reception is on hooks below the gunwale and the cable is secured discreetly instead of being draped over the radiators to stop it dangling on the floor. One thing he hasn’t yet solved is the oven door, but maybe there will still be time while he waits for the locks to empty as we head down Hatton …

Yesterday we had a rest day. The only boating activity was to turn Waka Huia around for the trip down the locks today and be moored out in the sun for the panels to do their work. We went into Warwick by train, had lunch, a few beers (two chardonnays for me and a cup of tea, shandies for David – we are wimps) and back on the train.

The day before had been a long one: we had cruised from Radford Semele with a short stop at the Cape of Good Hope pub to visit Liam (whose grandmother is our friend Rachel back in Waikanae) and on to the top of the Hatton flight. 
Liam, from Russell NZ, working in the Cape of Good Hope pub. A nice young man.

Because of his poorly foot, it was decreed that David would stay on board the boat, the boats would be breasted up (we tied them together in the first lock and then I got off) with Mick steering Unknown No 3 with Waka Huia going along for the ride, David would cook dinner, do the washing, and generally look like he was assisting with the steering if there were any gongoozlers about. Julia was head lockie on the bike, as noted before, and I was the trailing lockie. Fortunately at about 5th lock a guy appeared on his bike and wanted to help. Andy was on holiday from Wales and loves doing locks, so he helped me. That was good for me and for Mick who, to assist me had been getting off his boat as they entered the locks, so he could close the gate.Somewhere near there, nb Are and Are arrived - I recognised Barry from photos when he arrived to help at the lock, and then he spoke - I KNEW it was him then... A brief meeting and quick hello with Sandra and then I had to head off to the next lock to fulfil my duties - would have got the sack otherwise!

The breasting up worked a treat and we were on track for a record breaking time of 2.5 hours up the flight. We were thwarted at the lock third from the top which has a gate that won’t fully open and the boats got stuck. David and Andy had to flush them out and Mick and I untied and went in singly. The last lock we cruised in breasted up without being roped together to keep the efficiency level up. So it was 2.75 hours for the flight. Very good going we thought. The breasting up, and the setting of the locks ahead makes it fast as well. Cycling between them is a good move, but for some reason Julia isn't keen to let David do that ...
Look, Mum, no hands on the tiller of Waka Huia
And heading for the next lock
If you look carefully I can be seen a long long way from the tiller - a rare shot!
Another rare shot!
David is at the tiller, but only there for decoration ...

 The following morning was calm and peaceful at the top of the locks - a good day to have off. But more about that later. I was only out of bed at that time to make a cup of tea!

Mist on the water early in the morning.

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