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Monday, 20 September 2010

A week of entertaining and a new canal

Monday 13th September and it started overcast and none too warm. During morning engine check decided to pinch up the belts on the domestic alternator & found the smaller engine alternator was loose. Lock bolt had broken & the adjustment bracket had sheared! Coventry used to be the centre of our engineering industry, but where is it now, & when tied up in a city centre where do you find and engineering supplier or even a hardware shop?

Good old internet & I found a place about 50 yards from Hawkesbury Jn where they actually make bolts & where they had some of the size needed. I rang Ashby Boats & they said they could weld the bracket, so all will be well soon.

On the way out of Coventry we stopped to reprovision for guests, and gathered a lovely bit of rag on the prop! We cruised on till 6, not having started very early with the problems, stopping by bridge 13 on the Ashby. Slight drizzle during the afternoon but a good mooring.

Tuesday 14th and a dull start & rain during day. Friends coming for lunch & tea so stopped at The Lime Kiln. 5 boats moored on the 48 hr moorings, I noted the numbers as it will be interesting to see if they are still there on our return.

We saw this painting on a boat, I asked the crew why name a boat with a pic of a Lancaster, but it was a hire boat with nothing on it to describe it as such.

Pleasant day & good food & cards before they left us at 5.30 & we cruised on a bit to tie up before bridge 22.

Wednesday 15th and dull with some rain and windy too. We had more guests arriving from Scotland & we arranged to meet them at Sutton Cheney. On way there got alternator bracket welded in Stoke Golding and tied  up3/400yds before the wharf, and a good job too as there was nothing nearer. Emma & Karen arrived around 3 & stayed the night, more catering by Carol.

Why do you only ever see one shoe or boot abandoned?

Thursday 16th a day of mixed weather, but above all a cold wind. We took our guests for a bit of a cruise to Shenton embankment where the winding hole was very silted up before returning them to their car before they set off to Oxford. We then cruised on to bridge 51 and rang friends who live nearby in Market Bosworth who came for a drink & a nibble at some shortbread & flapjack Carol had made. On the way we passed Cyril Blackford on Venone who told us they were opening a new bit of the canal on Friday, were we coming. Well we weren't before, but soon did!

I asked the owner of this boat if it was named after the bird or the beer, a few of which I enjoyed in NZ earlier this year. A friend sent her on of the brewery's flags.

Friday 17th and the navigable Ashby is now 100metres longer!

A lovely bright day, mostly sunny but a biting wind, arriving at Snarestone in good time to polish the brasses before the 2.30 opening. We were delighted to see that our IWA National Chairman, Clive Henderson, had been invited & I got a shock when he remembered me from our 2000 Harborough Festival......I must have misbehaved terribly! We both got another shock when off the official boat stepped the County Council Chairman, who used to be married to my cousin.

Anyway, appropriate words were said & then he helped Audrey Boston to swing the bridge across the junction, she having funded it in memory of her late husband, the Reverend Teddy Boston. Tea & bikkies followed along with nattering, with Carol ear bashing some BW types about the failure to cut offside trees & general shallowness of the canal.

When the great & the good had left we moved our boats into the new bit for the night & then had a barbie together. One of the boats there was Storm Petrel, a beautifully constructed Cowburn & Cowpar replica that had been fitted out by a girl I worked with at Blaby D.C. and her other half. He had only used hand tools, no power tools other than a cordless drill and they had done a fantastic job, and almost exactly the opposite of how Lily is. The engine was a lovely 3 cylinder Gardiner and the shell was incredible having been built alongside an original boat so all the "rivets" were in the right place. The shell was actually ordered & made for 2 IWA colleagues, Ian & Sue Caddick, but they moved on to other things allowing Rob & Eleanor to get started.

Saturday 18th and a call from my cousin (ex wife of the LCC chairman ) asking where we were to meet her? Embarrassed to say we had forgotten, but soon fixed for her to meet us at Shakerstone.

We moored alongside the farm there, the weather was warmer and quite pleasant, and in the farm yard was a tractor/tilling combination. Sorry, I should have snapped it, but it was quite the biggest tractor I have ever seen with twinned rear wheels & large powered front wheels & articulated in the middle. The tool it was hitched to was at least 30 feet long with discs and tynes and wheels. I spoke about it to one of the lads on the farm. The tool was converting freshly harvested grain fields into a planted oil seed rape field in one pass! Incredible, and the tractor, when working hard, will use 800 litres of diesel a day!

For some reason loads of sparrows were attracted to the towpath by Lily's bows.
It rained later but we had a pleasant day catching up on things.

Sunday 19th and a reasonable day of weather. We cruised to Sutton Cheney ready to pick up the friends due on Monday, he is not very mobile so we needed a good mooring. On our way there we stopped at Market Bosworth wharf so we could get some provisions. It is a pretty little market town, well worth a wander up the hill to get there. Alongside the wharf is the Battlebridge Line station.

As we hadn't seen anyone for ages(!) we rang two dear friends who lived reasonably close & who are in the throes of moving for the first time since 1976!! They joined us for bangers & mash etc (hell it's Carol cooking so there is always a big etc!) and it was great to catch up with them.

So a week of no locks and not a lot of cruising but a lot of socialising, lovely except that the canal is shallow. On several occasions we went aground just passing out-growing trees from the off-side, and this was with the canal right up to the weir height.

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