Sunday, 23 August 2015

Late in blogging - family and friends are lovely distractions

I am way overdue with blogging as it has been a very busy time recently.

We’ve had family and friends to stay and it has been lovely.

After Ginny and Graham left, we had a couple of days on our own as we made our way from Wigram’s Turn (just outside the marina were Jaq and Les who had to be roused out of their nightwear to come onboard Waka Huia for their early morning [9.30am] lemon and hot water).
A summer's morning at Wigrams Turn ...

and on the way to Braunston the same morning.

We went on to Braunston that morning and stopped early as it was raining steadily; then we went on through the tunnel the next morning and up the Leicester Arm through Watford Locks (slow) and on to Crick. 
Once we got into the staircase it was quick, but we waited for well over an hour in the bottom pound for the backlog of boats coming down.

The view from deep in the lock - I was about to hoik out the reeds that were floating in each lock of the staircase.
Watering up at the top of Watford

Just before Crick Emma and her three children came on board for the journey through the tunnel and a couple of hundred yards on to where we moored.

We waited there for Tim and Olek to arrive in the middle of Saturday night and in the morning moved on to between the Kilworth bridges where we moored up for Mick and Julia to join us for nibbles and a few bevvies.
Three generations - Tim, Olek and David

Poppies in the field - Tim and I went for a walk before brekkie
Flowers growing on the bank

The next day it was on to and down the Foxton Locks, where Olek did all the paddles bar one with David keeping a close eye on him given the distraction of heaps of gongoozlers. We spent the downwards trip (Tim steering, me on the gate opening and closing) with Ann and Keith (nb Oakfield) who were moored up at the bottom. 
The best lock wheeler in our world

And he hasn't lost the knack learned back in 1990 when he was nearly 15 either ...
A panoramic shot of the field next to where we moored below Foxton Locks

We didn't drink in this pub, but I did like their signage ...

Who's stuffing this chicken? It's David, of course! Cream cheese, coriander, red pepper. Should also have had garlic, but he missed out on reading that ingredient ... Still yummy though.

Once we were moored it was off to Bridge 61 for a drink together before coming back to the boat to assist two separate hire crews who were steaming (at tickover) past us hoping there would be moorings closer to the locks – ahh no! So back we bowhauled one boatload of two lovely women from Dubai and their extremely rude (to them) sons; we helped them moor up while the sons were extremely critical of their mothers and did bugger all to help.  The second family had 3 kids – a baby screaming in the front cabin, a 4 year old who was clamouring to walk along the gunwale (Mum, can I yet? Dad said I could when the boat stopped, can I now, Mum? X 10), and a very helpful and polite teenager. So getting them moored up safely and peacefully was important.

In the morning we moved on to Market Harborough but Tim biked back to Crick on Olek’s BMX to collect the car. Later that day, after a lovely lunch at the Wharf Café Tim and Olek headed back to Scotland. It was sad saying goodbye to them, even though we will see them again in less than 6 weeks.

The following evening we had Richard and Emma to dinner on board – Richard and I worked together in the Home Office, with the lovely ODS (aka Lesley, if you have forgotten).   
Richard and David

As we were heading out to shop for some of the dinner ingredients earlier in the day, we met another David and Marilyn – an English couple who are back on holiday from NZ where they live in the Coromandel – a beautiful part of the country.

Back we came towards Foxton on the Thursday, and we moored out of the village and had a lovely walk around it. It is a very pretty village with, as Mick told us, no streetlights. On Friday arvo Mick and Julia came to visit, and while Julia read the 5:2 diet book on my kindle, the rest of us went down to the shop/pub and got the cord and hook for using to hold the lock gate closed when there’s only one boat (us) in the lock and we only open one gate. Sam who drives the trip boat was co-opted to splice the hook on for us – very professional job done extremely quickly.

Later that evening Barry and Pauline arrived, and we have had a great weekend. A short day’s boating yesterday, but a lovely afternoon. We moored by Bridge 70 in lovely sunshine to have lunch and decided to stay; David and Barry faffed with David’s new bike, and Pauline and I went for a walk to Smeeton Westerby. 
Smeeton Westerby has some lovely gardens

This was replicated on the other side of the path. The lady told us she did it because it was easier than taking care of an ordinary garden - she trims it once each year, in June.
There were allotments too, and this one was full of dahlias.

Dinner had been prepared beforehand (Jamie Oliver’s beef Kofta curry with veges added, plus a mistaken tsp of cumin seeds …) A few wines on the towpath which is rather wide at that point and ideal for table and chairs, and we were all very nicely thank you. Dinner on the towpath too as it was so warm and balmy. I had bought a Tesco’s gluten free chocolate cake and we had half of it for dessert – very yummy! (The other half was consumed the following day, so £3 for two days' desserts for 4 - a bargain!)

The bike had its first airing yesterday at Bridge 70

He cycled successfully past our chairs and table on the towpath and didn't hit the boat either

Today we have done 12 locks and navigated through very shallow pounds. David biked between them.
And off he goes. If you look carefully you may be able to see the windlass sticking down behind him under his shirt.
Barry and Pauline at one of the locks - David has gone off on the bike

The farmer was cutting and baling beside one of the locks so David went for an up close look - those bales are rather tall!

Barry biked back to Foxton to collect the rental car and got thoroughly soaked (so had a hot shower on return). We are moored up opposite the Navigation Inn at Kilby; it started to precipitate heavily as we arrived and moored up – perfect timing! Now it has stopped raining and is very calm. I sense we are going to have a quiet night – well, I am hopeful!

It has been a wonderful couple of weeks – exactly what we dreamed of when we decided to buy the boat – a lovely mix of family, friends and being on our own.

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