Monday, 14 September 2015

Friends to lunch

Leaving Shardlow reasonably early on Saturday morning wasn’t a struggle – we had a short trip to get water and ate breakfast while waiting. We had pigged out the previous morning on pikelets, so I wasn’t feeling like having a lot to eat – a good thing as the tap was very fast!

The locks between Shardlow and Swarkestone are quite difficult – the gates are very heavy and the flow into them from the gate paddles is extremely strong. The latter means that, as we were going up, I had to keep well back in each lock so the front of the boat didn’t get swamped. But even with holding on to a rope looped over a bollard, I could not hold the boat into the side!

At Aston Lock, I think. The sky was looking quite threatening ahead and it wasn't warm.

This church looked lovely across the fields. Quite unusual architecture with those bits** on top of the walls. **Don't know what they are called.

Our third lock of the day was the one which brought back memories of our first day’s cruising on Waka Huia last year – it was where we lost the domestic electrics as the batteries had been wired up incorrectly in series rather than as a bank and with a switch that should have been 250amps but was in fact rated at 100amps. While I couldn’t have told you before we arrived at Weston Lock on Saturday without looking it up on the blog, I remembered it immediately we came into the lock …

And not far after that lock last year was where we had to stop as we got about an hour’s worth of black plastic rope (a dead and discarded bow button, we think) around the prop. The hour was how long it took David to remove it, head down, bum up. 

Fortunately this time through, no electrical mishaps and no prop fouling - see, lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice ... 
Saw this boat moored on the offside not far away from where we are now - this photo is for my sister Dee and her friend Sarah who has a daughter called Louise. I see that one owner's name is Denice - not spelt the same as my lovely sister's name, but close enough ...

Over the last few days we have thought that the good weather is packing up and leaving for the winter. Saturday was alternately warm and sunny, and cold and windy. So the fleecy was on/off/back on and the coat came into play a couple of times too. But the boating was lovely and, apart from a bit of swerving across the cut instead of steering a straight course, I can robe/disrobe on the move. But I don’t take off more than the top layer, as it is important not to frighten the natives.

But I complain about the weather prematurely – we expected it to be damp and a bit cold yesterday, and as we had friends coming for Sunday lunch, on Saturday when we moored up at Swarkestone, I had prepared pear and parsnip soup to be our first course, to scare away the prospective chill. However we woke yesterday morning to a sunny day, so the soup was set aside, and I made a cheese and onion tart, mushroom salad, green salad (with Adair’s dressing) for the first course, and baked chocolate custards (Alison and Simon Holst recipe that I had to remember as I couldn’t find it on line or in my recipe folder) accompanied by blackberry couli (well not quite - I didn’t get rid of the flesh or the pips, but mashed it all up – best not to waste them) and cream.

Promptly at noon, Paul and Chrisi arrived accompanied by Echo, the guide puppy-in-training. Paul is an NZer, and an organist. He does an annual European tour which is coming to an end in the next few weeks. Chrisi and he worked together in the travel industry over here when Paul was doing his extended OE some years ago.

Chrisi’s husband Colin was meant to come yesterday too but was poorly. We decided that it was fortuitous that he didn’t come (not fortuitous that he was poorly) - he would have been uncomfortable on the boat as he is 6’4” and the headroom on Waka Huia would not have allowed him to stand upright. We did send home a chocolate pudding for him so that he wasn’t totally neglected.

Lunch was fun, two bottles of sparkling wine were consumed (one prosecco and an Oyster Bay Rose), almost two bottles of sauvignon blanc, and a goodly portion of a bottle of chardonnay … Considering the two main imbibers were Paul and me (Chrisi was the driver) we did pretty well. Oh, and I forgot the two glasses of port after we got back from a walk…

The disused/filled in Derby Canal has a good sealed walking path beside it so we took some exercise (Echo needed a walk as did we), and went to, what I gather from a chap this morning, is the Bonnie Prince estate – so called I guess because Swarkestone (acc to the Nicholson’s Guide) is where Bonnie Prince Charlie (why is he called Bonnie?) gave up his attempt on the throne of England in 1745.

(Short composition break to cut David’s toenails – I know, I know … Why can’t he do them himself? Because he can’t see them well enough and because I am a kind wife. Stop laughing!)

Toenails cut, hands washed, and I am back!

If we had been keen, apparently we could walk all the way into Derby along that path.

No dinner needed last night, by me anyway, but definitely needed an early night. And the nights are drawing in – it’s dark before 8pm now. David was much later as he spent a couple of hours researching flights back to the UK for us in May next year. Given it is cheaper to buy flights in the UK, we purchased the NZ-UK leg this morning and will buy a UK-NZ-UK when we are back next May.

When I awoke at about 3.40am, I wondered about staying here at Swarkestone today to put the primer on the spots we rustproofed at Shardlow. But when I really woke up a few hours later, it was wet, and got wetter and colder! The painting is going to have to wait.

So I moved the boat along while David did the flight bookings, past one boat that was between us and the waterpoint, filled with water and tossed up whether to move on to Willington in the misty, chilly rain. The casting vote was David’s and it was a decisive NO. Given I am an obedient wife (as well as kind) we moved about another 100 yards up the cut, away from the 48 hour moorings that we would have exceeded if we’d stayed there past about lunchtime, and we are moored up, warmed up and having a blobby day. The weather seems to have lightened a bit, but too late! We are staying put even though several boats have gone past in the last hour.

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