Thursday, 1 October 2015

Darby and Joan - all alone ...

Yesterday we came up from Hillmorton and I was so stressed before we left. Not sure why. It may have had something to do with having to sort out getting a replacement credit card - it appears that about 4000 GlobalPlus customers have been affected by some kind of fraudulent activity (maybe the database has been hacked). What that means is that our current cards have been blocked and we have to get a replacement card - and we are 13,000 miles from home and we don't have an address over here. David did think he would get it sent to our son Tim's place in Scotland, but that wasn't going to be useful as we need the card when we go to pick up the hire car down in Leicestershire. Fortunately our friend Emma came to the rescue and we are having it couriered to her place in Market Harborough. Here's hoping all goes well on that front!

Still and all, that wasn't a good reason to be feeling so stressed, even though it meant two long phone calls by David to the BNZ and then the people here in the UK to arrange delivery.

Maybe it was an over-indulgence in gluten over the last few days. That is never good for my equilibrium. As Lesley said to me 'so why do you eat it?' Because I like it actually, but still it's a bit dumb!

So after a tantrum because the water flow was so slow and then an extension to said tantrum when the hose was difficult to wind on the reel, I finally set off towards the locks. Lesley had decided discretion was the better part of valour and walked along with David. At the second lock things were a bit strange in two ways. I waited on the curve for a boat to come down rather than getting David to empty the remains of the lock-load of water in the offside lock. But once the gates were opened, the guy wouldn't move. I was too close apparently to allow him to come out straight and turn after more than a full boat-length, and he wouldn't come out until I moved back. I could see that he had plenty of room, and because I had moved back and was still a bit grumpy, I dug my toes in and waved him assertively on. He came out with miles to spare and I couldn't for a wee while work out what his issue was. Then I realised - his boat was very bright and clean with lovely new paintwork. Waka Huia is none of those things. We must have looked like the riffraff of the canals and we would indubitably scratch his boat ...

However there was no time to worry about that. When Lesley started to close the lock gate, thinking it would be as heavy and tough to shift as the one on the first lock, she leaned very hard with all her weight to make it move. And move it did, so easily and so fast that she fell - her feet couldn't keep up with her upper body, and she landed heavily on her right arm and shoulder. As they were both already very sore from her over-indulgence in sanding and painting at her place and then exacerbated by cleaning the cratch cover, she was not in a well state yesterday.

One effect of her fall was that I cheered up. I'm sorry- I know it wasn't kind to laugh, but I didn't see the fall, just her lying on the ground under the lock-arm, and to be fair, she was laughing at that point too.  She wouldn't lie still for me to get a photo though ...
Back on her feet and pushing.

The cruise between Hillmorton and Braunston was quite lovely - very few boats, apart from the one that, naturally, Lesley met in the bridgehole on a corner, dammit. All four of the people on that boat were drinking and it was only about 11am, and they stayed firmly in the centre of the cut, meaning Lesley had nowhere to go apart from very very close to the bank. She then declared she wasn't steering again as she was damaging the boat. DAMMIT, if they hadn't been drinking those people would probably have taken a bit more responsibility for where their boat was positioned. OK, rant over.

I enjoyed reminiscing as we came towards Braunston - it was there last year that we reconnected with Mick and Julia again, and it was also there that we had Neil and Neill on board with us. And out first day of this boating season was from Barby to Braunston. That was just over four months ago but it seems ages!

We got to Braunston in good time and found a mooring just in front of Inca. Gary came along to help us tie up and Carolyn arrived shortly after on her return from walking Hamish. Onboard Waka Huia for a cuppa and whiskey cake - well, a biscuit for Gary, as cake isn't allowed for him, poor man!

As always seems to be the case, when we need to connect with Tim to organise a rendezvous point, the phone service on the canal is appalling. (Crick was the last example - OK, so it's a sample of two, but you get my drift ...) David cracked it though with the cellular repeater and we then had excellent service. Tim has a funeral to attend this arvo near Leicester so came to stay with us overnight. It was just great to see him.

We had a full roast beef dinner, Lesley made the yorkshires (practice, practice, practice) followed by brioche and butter pudding with figs soaked in port plus lemon curd on the brioche. I got the recipe some years ago from our friend John, but couldn't find it yesterday, so had to make it up from the recesses of my memory. He usually uses raisins (but as we didn't have the requisite number of virgins - read Christopher Hitchens for the reference) figs were deputised as the onboard substitute.
Successful (and big) yorkshires

An early morning walk in the mist around Braunston village for Tim and me today.

Near the church is what I think is a former windmill.

Misty sky over the canal on the way down Nibbits Lane

And then brekkie - we bought some of the thin sausages (same recipe as Braunston Bangers - very yummy) at the butcher's as we passed this morning, so they were cooked along with bacon and eggs. Tim was keen to help with the locks, so I drove his truck from the pub carpark to the bottom lock and met them all as Tim steered the boat towards the lock.
Tim and Lesley in the lock

We came up two locks to the Admiral Nelson with Tim and Lesley on board and David and I doing lockwheeling. We decided to moor up which was not particularly straightforward, mind, as they were too close to the lock mooring to be comfortable - but a win: as Tim was trying to get off the boat to hold the rope, Lesley HAD to steer the boat - YAY!!!) and here we are. So that deadlock is over ...

Moving the boat back past another moored boat so we are in the sun! Doing it by middle- and stern-hauling as the breeze was up and reversing in breeze isn't fun.
David makes progress

Tim is in the lead
And he hauls on the rope to keep me in line - I had the easy job!

On his way (well, a slight deviation) to the funeral, Tim has driven Lesley back to her car at the Greyhound Inn at Hawkesbury Junction. Before she left she checked out on her sat nav how far it was from here to the car - 26 miles - a whole week it's taken us, although to be fair, we did spend two days going in and out of Coventry. So five days to travel 26 miles - that's not bad! My hunch is it took Tim about 30 minutes tops in the Hilux ...

So we are alone after a week with Lesley on board. We miss you, ODS!

But fear not - an invitation to drinks and nibbles has since occurred. I was sitting at the dinette and saw a boat I have never seen before, but that is very familiar to me - I have read their blog since before we came over last year - nb Chance with James at the helm floated sedately past, so out I leapt, introduced myself to him, and then to Doug. Upshot: we are going on board Chance this evening.

So this last 24 hours has been splendid - our son Tim has been with us, we met Gary and Carolyn from Inca, and now we have met James and Doug, and I understand we will meet another crew this evening as well.

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