Monday 2 September 2019

Socialising in Braunston and at points along the way

After chips and shandies at the  Admiral Nelson, and before Neil and Neill left and before Lizzie and Barry headed off on their speedy trip back to Dritwich Spa Marina, we had Wendi around for dinner. You will remember Wendi - she is the NZ woman we met at Campbell Park on our way down to Berkhamsted. That day she was very sad as in the afternoon she was having her old dog Bessie put down. Bessie  had trouble with her back legs, could hardly walk and couldn't get up and down the stairs, plus she was incontinent.

When Wendi told us about what was coming up that afternoon, I asked if she'd like a cup of tea. No cup of tea required. So I asked if she'd like a hug. Yes please. So in an instant a friendship among us was born, and she was invited for dinner on our return.

As we couldn't coordinate with her work schedule as we came back through Milton Keynes, Wendi came to Braunston. With Maggie the fox terrier who, however old she is (4, I think) is still very bouncy in a Tigger-ish kind of way.

While she was with us, Maggie managed to:
  • make friends with Kai and Enzo 
  • climb on the table
  • race up and down inside the boat, playing chasing with Kai, with the two of them very nearly bowling Enzo over in the rush. Did you know dogs find it hard to stop when running flat out on vinyl flooring?
  • fall in the canal off the towpath where the grass overhangs the cut and has no solid footing below ...
  • sit at the table with Wendi along with Enzo sitting with N&N during dinner... Kai stayed down in the saloon, even when David took away the barrier - who's the best dog, then?
  • avoid getting in the car when Wendi left - she's black and white, so not easy to see in the darkness of a carpark ;-)
For some reason I don't have any photos of Wendi, but there are photos of dogs ...
We must have fed them something - dog treats I think. Maggie has her bum to the camera ...
Neil has scooped Enzo up and off the table, and it appears we do have a partial photo of Wendi - her hand removing Maggie from the table! So who is the best dog who does not feature on or at the table?

Dinner was lovely - little Neill made a yummy chicken dish that had chorizo, potatoes, lemons and tumeric. I made a chocolate brownie; and there was wine and there were nibbles. No one went to bed hungry.

The following morning, before we scattered to the four winds, we had a shared breakfast with L&B, N&N. Then N&N departed - Big Neil had a practice session for the sea rowing (it has a proper name but I don't know it) that he does and he wanted to be home in time for that. L&B and we did the last couple of locks together, we moored next to the marina and they pulled in the have a final hug goodbye. Sadness ...
The last of Lizzie's selfies

And off they go - sadness.
It has been great boating with them.

And on our own again - we still have the dog though ...

We did laundry at the marina as there were 2 pairs of sheets, several towels and lots of clothes to be done. It was faster to do it there, but I did have to have a lie down when David told me it was £11 for washing and drying one load. And we did 3 ...

That day, Tim called to say he was coming to collect Kai. So more sadness as he drove away with our boat dog. We were being deserted by everyone!
Our beautiful boat dog - ours, I say!!

As it had been a pretty hectic few days getting from Berkhamsted to Braunston, we decided to give ourselves a day off and have a blobbing day. We started it by walking up to the Admiral Nelson for dinner - very nice even though the chardonnay had no oak.

On our way up, we made the mistake of being over helpful to a couple of hirers coming through the bottom lock - too much information provided and they started smiling at each other over our heads (we are short, they were tall). I noticed and hauled David away before we were both embarrassed...
We had never noticed these lovely gardens at the locks near the Admiral Nelson before
And we saw that they were planted and maintained by Neil Wolfe who trades from his boat selling wood. Aren't they fabulous?

We blobbed about in the morning, until Tim called to say he'd arrived - when collecting Kai the previous day, he'd asked if it was OK to spend the nights with us while he was working on a job in Birmingham which is not that far away.

I am not sure what David was doing when Tim arrived, so I went to meet him to help bring his stuff down to the boat. He was not impressed that I turned up with the granny trolley ... But it did come in handy for carrying his foam mattress, and Tim even towed it without loss of testicles.

We moved on that afternoon, and while we filled with water and went to the chandlers, Tim drove on towards Bridge 85, parked the van and biked back along the towpath to meet us.

We managed to moor pretty much nose to nose with nb Muleless just through Bridge 85 - it's a good mooring spot. Della and Gary used to blog so we had to have a chat as well as a cuddle and tummy tickle with their 4 month old staffie, Echo. He's lovely - a beautiful soft but deep grey.

We sent Tim off to work in the morning and we got ready for the day's boating to and through the Hillmorton Locks. While untying from the mooring, we were being come up upon by the CRT contract workers doing mowing and strimming. I signalled at them to pause while I was untying, and they did. But David didn't signal them and they kept on approaching him, mowing and strimming. They moved around him, still with mowers and strimmers going!!!

He was crouched down untying the rope and releasing the chain, and thought they would stop. But no! Maybe they thought that as a chap he would be able to cope - unlike his wimpy wife. Stupid arses! If any stones or sticks had been flicked out, David could have copped them in the face. And we have paid lots of money to have his right eye fixed - I'd have been ultra-pissed off if it was damaged or lost because of their carelessness.

Surprisingly David has not talked to CRT to report what is actually very dangerous behaviour and very likely is against the code of practice that CRT has with the contracting firm.

After the locks, while we were watering up, I walked ahead to see what the mooring situation was. I found a nice place and walked back. As I did I realised I had failed boat tying up - the stern was drifting out into the middle of the cut and the tail of the rope was about to slide into the water. A mad dash to rescue it, and a simultaneous shout to David to come and help. Disaster averted. Well, it wouldn't have been too bad, but it certainly would have been embarrassing ...

I read Al and Del's Derwent 6 blog that day and saw they were somewhere nearby, so messaged Al, and an arrangement was made to meet the next morning. To make sure they wanted to see us, I offered scones. Well, sometimes, it's important to make sure of your welcome, isn't it?

So I was up in the morning baking before we headed all of a mile and a half down the cut. But boy was that trip slow. Before we left, I waited for a boat to pass us. BAD mistake. It was the slowest boat on the network (seriously, I checked - honest 😆 ...). What I had taken as their politeness in travelling past moored boats at tickover, was their constant speed. The guy knew he was slow because he kept looking back at us. I was alternately in tickover and neutral. I would have signalled requesting to overtake, but as it was only a mile and a half, I decided to practise patience. I practised it and failed, as I haven't got either the knack or the gene for it.

And I failed mooring up, as we arrived behind Derwent 6.  I got the boat all over the place instead of tidily to the shore, dammit!
Del guarding the scones
Guard duty required more assistance ...
Del and Al in the middle - cheese scones in 4 tummies.
And we were off again. Boat is lower in the water due to scone loading ...

After scones and tea (all 12 scones downed by the four of us) and a sight-see though Derwent 6 and a sight-see through Waka Huia, we left them and headed off to Rugby.

We found a mooring in the shade - it was very very hot, and I wasn't feeling too well. David was dispatched (actually he volunteered) to the shops while I had a nana nap. It was valiant of David to volunteer to go shopping, as in spite of his eyes being improved, he still struggles in supermarkets - it's the trying to find stuff in an unfamiliar shop, so it takes him a lot longer than it takes me. It's not that I am always familiar with product placement, so to speak, but my eyes are sharper, I am more practised at shopping and I will always ask shop assistants or other shoppers where things are. While I fail at mooring and tying up, I very rarely fail at shopping ...

The next day, after a second shopping trip by David, we moved on to All Oaks Wood and got one of the last spots, which was a bit of a rumpty mooring with hidden holes and no armco. In went 6 pins, 3 sets doubled. Out came the plank - just as well, as if we hadn't used it this season, I am sure David would have wanted to give it away or leave it beside the cut somewhere ... We pinned it down on the towpath and tied it on the boat as there was plenty of movement with lots of passing boats, some slower than others.

When the people behind us moved on about 8 in the morning, we took their space (with armco) : David got dressed for the task, but I worked in my nightie and dressing gown - I was going back to bed, so why get dressed unnecessarily!?

And it was HOT, HOT, HOT that day, as it had been the previous day. And even though it was hot, we walked in the non shade into Brinklow for the Scarecrow Festival. Some excellent exhibits and people had obviously put in lots of thought and effort.

OK, that was Sunday. It is now the following Monday (2 Sept). I still have not caught up, dammit!!

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