Monday, 3 August 2015

Hatton Top to Wigrams Turn

Friday was our day off after our sterling flying trip up the Hatton flight the day before, and into Warwick we all went on the train. David and I were shouting Mick and Julia lunch and would have eaten at any decent hostelry or restaurant. But Mick was on a mission to demonstrate Wetherspoons to us. 

We saw this plant on the way and wondered what it is - does anyone know?

Lovely old buildings. We turned right into that street, as down hill was not what we wanted - means coming back up ...
Mick was a traditional slater, so is the man to ask about old building methods. David asked and I was ready to keep walking ...

Does my bum look big in this?

After a fairly long walk we found it in the town square, and ate and drank. (However, if I had seen the Thai restaurant across the square before we ordered food  Wetherspoons would have had to wait for me to venture in.) Prior to that we had passed the bus station and ascertained that we could catch a bus back to the station - that was to save Mick's knees and David's foot and allow an extra beer ...

On Saturday we were on the move before 8am so that we could have a quick trip down the Hatton flight before the expected but non-materialising stampede of boaters. Mick and Julia did the locking to help us down, travelling between locks on their bikes with Julia doing the to and fro-ing (Mick was on one of Julia’s bikes and he informed us that the saddle is not appropriately shaped …); David’s job was to close the gate behind me, and for the first time I used a rope to hold the boat into to the lock side. We opened one gate and paddle at each end, and still got through in 2.5 hours. Not bad going and very likely a record. If not a record, it is a personal best for all four of us. It wasn’t that we were racing, but we** were being efficient – economic with gates and paddles, and the effective use of a cord with hook to hold the other gate closed as I was exiting. **Mick and Julia were very efficient, but David was distracted with his phone and I was scoring between +10 and -5 for my proficiency at entering the locks without nudging the offside gate. I didn’t keep a tally as I was too embarrassed …

Mick holding the gate steady, me steering in as slowly as possible, Julia cycling down to join us having closed the previous lock's gate. She had the cord with hook in her hand ready to tie the offside bottom gate and make sure it doesn't drift open. They are very clever those two!

It was really very kind of M&J to help us down the locks – so we rewarded them with a beer at The Cape of Good Hope pub (run by NZers and with the aforementioned Liam, Rachel’s grandson and trainee chef from Russell). Before the pub opened (we were there well in advance) I fed them on cheese tart which I’d cooked on the way down the locks, and gave them a smaller version to take away with them. Then they helped us down the two Cape locks before heading back on their bikes to their boat to move it closer to Hatton Station and thence by train to Wetherspoons in Warwick for an afternoon of, as they describe it, slurping.

At the Cape of Good Hope pub - I had tried to give away to Julia that hanging pot that I have made into a hat but Mick won't have it on their boat - not traditional enough ...

David was taking ages to take photos so Mick started playing silly buggers with a plant pots and I decided to go incognito.

Meanwhile we moved further down and moored on the straight between Leamington Spa and the Radford locks – almost where we moored a few nights previously, but not quite as other boaters had got there before us, dammit! This time though our view of the church and houses wasn’t hampered by the barns … Getting into the side was a trick as we got caught by the wind. Fortunately a boat came past at an opportune moment and his wake pushed us in.

Given we had eaten rather a lot of cheese tart late morning (it’s a no fat diet food – cheese, eggs, onion, milk, pastry – what is fattening about that?), we supped on baked beans on toast – that was also because I was too tired to consider what else to cook. David sent M&J a message asking them to come back as the food had been better when we were travelling together …

Yesterday was a fasting day on our 5/2 diet, so a small brekkie and then water, water, tea, water for the day, until dinner at night. There were ten locks (Radford, Fosse and Bascote) to do yesterday and we were on our own in them. The new-to-me habit of using the rope to hold against the side was in full play – I throw it up to David as I enter the lock and he passes it around a bollard and drops it back to me. I have always been too proud to do it before, thinking that if I was accomplished enough I shouldn’t need it. The efficiency aspect has inspired me to use it – no more faffing in the lock to get on the right side for a one gate exit. Why it took me so long to realise that I don’t know – doh! We have tried all sorts of things to keep me on the side but none of them work all through the filling/emptying of the lock as well as the rope trick. 

At one point for two locks we were three in a lock - a whole new experience in a canal lock! The two smaller boats could fit on one side. It took me a while to realise they were holding the lock gate open for me ... Doh!

At the bottom staircase lock, David had gone to check if there were any boats coming down (having at the previous one changed the lock on a descending pair of boats - nortee smacks and big apologies all round) and so I walked along the gunwales with the rope and bravely climbed the ladder. That’s my first ever go at that. However I could not bring myself to climb on to and walk along the roof and step on to the ladder from there – the 12 inch gap paralyses my legs … Olek had tried to persuade me to do it when he and I were out on our own but I just couldn’t do it.

Talk about thwarted intention and unfulfilled expectation for today – we were ready to leave our mooring near Long Itchington at 5.55am with the notion that no one else would be mad enough to be boating at that time – wrong!!

By contrast with Saturday’s efficiency, this morning we did the ten Stockton Locks in 2.5 hours with a single hander who had a set way of doing things and did not want to deviate from it. And then we did the three Calcutt locks which took well over an hour. We shared with a guy who was all over the cut when we followed them from near Stockton Top where we’d stopped for brekkie. He managed to spread himself all over the lock entrance each time, and I totally messed up getting in to the bottom lock. That was a -5. The others were better though and scored 10 and 7. It was hilarious below the top lock – two boats coming down (one owner, one hirer), two boats up (inc us) and waiting in the pound, one on the pump out (owner), one (owner) in the second lock wanting to go over to get diesel. I would have to say that the hirer got the worst of it – he was being very considerate but his partner in the lock took no account of him, and nor did the boat coming up wanting diesel – just cut across in front without any communication.

We are now moored back in ‘our’ spot at Wigrams Turn. We are hooked up to the national grid, the washing machine is on and we are about to get the boat sparkling clean in preparation for David’s sister and husband coming to visit next week. Well, that’s the intention. It may turn out that the mind is willing but the flesh is weak when it comes to sugar soap and application thereof.

Tomorrow we have friends Mairi and Alex from St John’s Town of Dalry calling in for lunch onboard on their return from a London trip and the following day we are off down to Surrey – David’s niece’s wedding and seeing my rellies – that will be lovey!

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