Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Dale Willoughby is our hero!

We are finally winding down, speed-wise and pace of life.

It is sort of necessary as we are having the chimney holes filled with steel inserts, welded and linished (I think that's the word Dale used, meaning ground with the angle grinder and smoothed out, however I will check).

Another factor is that we don't have to be in Rugby until Friday and we are in Braunston - it's 7 miles and 3 locks to Rugby from here, so no more than 4 hours of boating if we go really slowly, and take time out to have a pump out at Barby on the way ...

We have blobbed about, boating wise, in Braunston which has been lovely. We haven't usually stayed here long - enough time to go to the shop and the butcher's and perhaps a meal at the Old Plough or the Admiral Nelson.

But we arrived here Saturday morning and met Tim and the grandsons at the top of the locks - we waited for them to come and do the hard yards, as grandsons should even though they are 12 and 7.
I think David is a happy grandad

Karol has his lifejacket on and Tim is ready to get to work - having said he needed a rest, he couldn't resist lockwheeling with the boys and David.

Then it was lunch on board - cheese tart which I made while waiting for them to arrive.

We left Braunston then, and headed in the wind and some rain up to Bridge 103 on the GU - it's on the way to Napton, and involved going past it to turn at Bridge 107 and make our way back to a lovely sunny spot with a beaut view across the fields and plenty of warmth and light for the solar panels - strange how that has become part of our thinking about mooring spots now ...

It was special having the grandsons and the son on board - while I was cooking I could hear all sorts of shenanigans going on in the saloon with a great deal of delighted laughter. I'm afraid that the lovely Mel who lives on board and the visiting Pink Panther were being treated with less than the requisite amount of respect, although much of the hilarity centred on them being dressed in the contents of Olek and Karol's bag. Suffice it to say, I am sure photos were taken but were probably not suitable family viewing.

Dinner was late, and worth waiting for but late nonetheless - toad in the hole, brown onion and mushroom sauce (home made), broccoli, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes.
Karol is plating up - look at those veges!

All my boys! Karol IS there - he's jammed up against the side by Tim. Poor kid, but he seemed to survive and ate every scrap of his dinner.
Pudding was meant to be the left over rhubarb cake, but unfortunately it had been left over and left out for too long, so it fed the fishes instead. David was deeply disappointed, so it was out with the mint Viennetta icecream. Damn! When I was consuming fermented grapes for dinner on Friday, in the absence of any julienned carrots and red pepper (husband failure) and hummus, I was hungry and ate two helpings (generously sized) of said icecream and there was not a huge amount left. Not to worry, no one ever starved on board Waka Huia and that didn't start that night either.

It was lovely waking up to no traffic noise, just birds and the water lapping on the boat. The grandsons slept till after 8am which meant a lie in for us as well. Yay!!

After brekkie, we made our way back to Braunston slowly - I asked Tim to steer to give my wrist and arm a rest for a bit. For the first time in ages, I travelled in the cratch in the sunshine - pillow under and behind me, kindle in hand. Lovely. I want more of that, please!

Then David came down and told me that Olek was steering! And he was obviously doing a grand job as I hadn't noticed any strange manoeuvres.

Into Braunston and it was only as we came through the junction (nearly typed intersection - doh!) that he handed over to Tim and then to me as we came in to moor for water.  I was extremely impressed as wending your way in a nice steady course through boats lined up each side and others coming towards you is pretty daunting for the first several times.

He has been told that he is going to be Number One steerer from here on in, when he is on board of course!

Tim took us all for lunch at The Old Plough - yummy roast dinner, also lots of veges to keep children healthy! But before that they all went to the Braunston Playing Fields - almost out of town, past the school and down the hill. A fabulous local resource. When I arrived, having stayed behind to clean up the boat and get washing done, they were playing two a side soccer, which then transitioned to rounders played with the soccer ball and cricket bat. The rules seemed to be fluid and to evolve as the game progressed. But as the run around the bases was far too long for me, I made up my own running rules. And I tired before anyone else, so I was keen to head to the pub for lunch.

Which as I said, was yummy. I think I could get in to the tradition of Sunday lunch at pubs this season ... Their chardonnay wasn't bad either.

Karol's plate is full there, but he chomped his way through the lot!

Olek didn't leave anything either.
Tim and the boys left for Manchester straight from the pub and we headed to get some groceries and then back to the boat. Since then, the slow down has been dramatic. It started with a long nana nap that afternoon, no evening meal needed, and a long sleep overnight.

On Monday, to make sure we weren't slowing down too fast, so to speak, David got stressed about the cooling cycles of the fridge and freezer, and investigated new fridges (NO!!! NO!!! NO!!!), and we moved a hundred metres or so down the towpath into the sun. We also took washing to the laundry at Braunston Marina and sat in the sun while it did its thing. Back to the boat for a nap then a walk the length of the village.

Overlooking the old pumping station and the site of a hire base, plus on this side of the cut the Wharf Chandlers. Can't see it in the photo, but somewhere near the top of the hill there is a road. Traffic can only vaguely be heard.

The mill near the church now converted to a house. I think the hole in the side is where the spindle (correct terminology?) was.
At the farthest reach of the walk we ended up at Midland Chandlers and spoke to the lovely Ian - he who has previously been mentioned on this blog back in 2014 when he fixed a whole heap of stuff on board Waka Huia and in 2015 when he sorted more stuff there. Ian is now managing Midland Chandlers here in Braunston, and we asked his advice about getting the welding done.

His suggestion was that we speak with Dale at Direct Marine Components, who are pretty much next door to Midland Chandlers. We found him, we spoke to him and he came to visit us in the morning to check out what we needed. I gave him cheese scones to take back to his team. That arvo, after David had siphoned and sponged the water out of the bilge compartments, while dressed in the height of fashion in his onesie - otherwise known as overalls - we moved down to the offside mooring right next to his workshop, hooked up on his electric, and had the solars fill the batteries in the late afternoon and evening sun. Dinner then bed (it was a fasting day, and sleeping is a good way not to feel hungry in the evening).
David in the onesie, bailing. Such commitment and fortitude!

Three very curious cygnets have been trawling up and down the Braunston area over the time we have been here.

This morning I made a carrot cake for morning tea, and David had a quick sprint to the shop to get the cream cheese and icing sugar required to complete the creation.

Yum. And not much left as I have distributed it so that neither David nor I can be tempted by it. This quarter went to Midland Chandlers...

And just after I took it there, Carl the electrician from Braunston Marina arrived to give his counsel about the fridge - keep it cooling harder than we have been. Easy peasy! Sorry you missed out on cake, Carl.
A quarter of the cake remains. But the electrician is coming so maybe I can give it to him.
Since then I have completed and sent off a report for work (see, I am not totally idle) and then this novella here what you are reading ...

Dale has finished his expert work and we have moved a wee way out of town and moored up just out of town in the countryside - there are some sublime places to moor looking across the fields to the Braunston Church Steeple, and we have found one.

The view from our mooring. Now, how idyllic is that!?
So if you are in the market for steel work, you cannot do better than see Dale Willoughby at Direct Marine Components. He is a star - kind, helpful, an expert with metal. We will use him again and we cannot recommend him highly enough.

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