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Monday, 17 May 2010

2010 cruise May

11th to 16th May 2010

Much later than last year we set off after a wonderful winter seeing people & going places, more of that later perhaps.

So at just before lunch we set off with full water & fuel tanks & empty loos, plus a new drive belt to the domestic alternator that should see the end of our problems with this device, plus with two hydraulic pipes replaced to stop the annoying little leaks in our drive system, all should go well. We had to stop at Br 61 (we always do) where we had a long chat with Mary Matts plus another couple Carol recognised. It turned out they were friends of friends to whom we had been introduced over tea to hear about their experiences of living afloat in the early ‘90’s as we were then thinking about it but were far from sure we would take to it. You can guess what they told us!

We eventually left, had a late lunch & popped up Foxton Locks with no-one either way. The weather was fine but cool winds, but not cool enough to stop Carol wanting one of the delicious Bennetts ices from the Top Lock Coffee Stop, and I had to keep her company. All this hard work meant that about a mile further on we tied up just short of Laughton Lodge, one of our favourite spots. The chap on the boat in front came over to ask why, with all 2000 miles we chose to tie up just in front of him, but he was soon appeased with my explanation (or was it my smooth tongue?).

12th to 14th May

It was cold overnight & we had to bring in our bedding plants overnight, Carol wants to plant them out but I can’t get all the troughs on the front deck so they stay in their seed trays. Morning dawned bright but soon clouded over and then started a slight drizzle, but as we exited Husband Bosworth tunnel it had turned to rain, and with the cold wind we got thoroughly chilled, so much so that as soon as we had passed the Welford Arm we stopped, tied up on the Avon embankment and put the boiler on & Carol cooked a lovely meal from a new recipe she had just picked up & couldn’t wait to try out, lovely!

So in 2 days of cruising we have managed 10 locks and about 9 miles, gosh this is hard work. When it warms up I’m sure we will be better but Thursday was bright and cool and yet we only got as far as Crick, all of 10 miles, where we went to the Red Lion to eat.

Yelvertoft marina is nearing completion but I bet they are concerned that they already had a small landslip on the bank down to the basin.

As to the Red Lion be aware if you eat earlyish like us, the pub didn’t open till 6.15 and kitchens until 6.30. I had a weird “bitter” by Cameron brewery that was as pale as a lager shandy......and I have to say I struggled to drink it but I never throw beer away, even lousy American beers. Others have told us they enjoy eating at this pub, certainly it is a lovely & popular place, but we will not chose to eat there again.

We popped into ABNB to have a chat with Barry Watson who used to moor alongside us at Debdale. Good to see him again & interesting to hear that they are selling boats very rapidly at the moment, though only when owners sell at “realistic” prices, though who says what is realistic?

Crick tunnel on Friday was wet as ever & we followed a boat not showing any lights & crossed another, must have been interesting for them with the boat we were following, and went straight down Watford locks.

The lock keeper was bored so had got out his strimmer, though I’m sure there are contractors supposed to do this. Bright day but wind still cold. Dredging below the locks.

As we approached Buckby Top lock 2 boats exited including the smartest working boat I have seen, Scorpio, with a brand new paint job & the hold freshly painted too. So at least the top lock was set for us, but every other one was both against us & with bottom gates open! We saw the culprits as we reached the bottom as the crew of the BW boat Pochard crossed the gates, having tied up, you guessed it, on the lock moorings, despite there being plenty of moorings available. I have notified BW, but I doubt it will do much good.

We stopped at Whilton having managed 14 locks & about 7 miles.

Sat 15th & Sun 16th May

Well we really worked hard on Sat, moving just over 2 miles before stopping short of Weedon on a bright afternoon and watched qualifying for the Monaco GP. The forecaster on Friday night said he was pleased that the weather was now warming up & that he would be moving his bedding plants out, so that was good enough for Carol to get her troughs done.

Whilst she did this I went for a walk around Weedon to sort out somewhere to eat with Sally, John & kids on Sunday lunch. I reckon I walked the better part of 5 miles before deciding on using the Waterway at Stowehill Wharf. During my walk I walked away from the A5 and into Weedon proper and was pleased to find the old Royal Ordinance Depot as mentioned in Nicholson. No wonder I hadn’t been able to see it from the canal as it was hidden by the railway. These are interesting buildings from the early 1800’s, still with water in the canal arm between the buildings, but currently unloved and by the looks of it being used for storage. A sad end for the location that the Royal family would have removed to had Napoleon invaded Britain. Look at this site for interesting info.

Sunday saw us tootle along the 2 miles to stop just short of Stowehill and had a lovely meal before we did a short cruise to & fro before a typical Carol Sunday afternoon tea followed by Rummikub session. A lovely day, and warm weather forecast. Fortunately we were able to record the GP and watch it without knowing the result & without interruptions.

So what a busy week. Any problems? Well our water tank gauge has packed up again, I think this is the 5th, though the last one in November was ruined by water leaking from the water pump. We have twin pumps & both failed within short order, still pumped water but leaked, I found they had leaked when I pulled something from our under-floor storage place in the stern to find it wet, so water was all through the boat. I found the source, ordered a new pump plus a repair kit, and found the repair kit didn’t work as well as being quoted as the same price as a complete pump……it went back. I then found that by using a really superb glue I was able to seal the two halves of the pump together, but wonder how long they will last. We now have 2 pumps working & 2 spares!! As to the gauge I’m wondering if to replace it with the sort of sight tube I had on the previous boat & which always worked & didn’t leak!

Our plans for this Summer are down to the Fens. We have been to Peterborough but not onto the Ouse which Mo & Vanessa on nb Balmaha ( ) reckon is lovely. We are away from Lily for just over a week at the end of the month as our daughter & son-in –law both want us to spend a longer period of time with them. We have just heard we can tie up for this time at Fox Narrowboats wth power so now we can go down the Nene.

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