Battling to Bosworth

 

Wednesday – time to move on. Take on water at Sutton Cheney – had to double up as Muppets insist on mooring at water points! Time for a shower too, as, unusually, these are excellent facilities. Probably more to do with the pricey cafe next door. The canal is a bit shallow around here so we chugged slowly on, past Ambion Wood and the battlefield centre, past Shenton – the start of the heritage steam railway line (Shenton-Bosworth-Shackerstone) and on to Market Bosworth.

  

Quite idyllic, rural and peaceful this section. Also in need of tree tidying. We saw water voles last time we were here with John & Christine but, alas none to view today.

More flora – this time purple loosestrife.

Another bridge 42 (for Lucia!) and the entrance to the Market Bosworth marina.

Our spot. Not a lot of room here but adequate for the town. Met a nice single-handed lady(Linda and her dog, Mollie) on Kanbedone II.

There’s a slightly longer but much prettier walk into the main town about a mile away, over bridge 43 and over the railway bridge. Then across a rather odd site – an unused golf course plus a runway!  Meanwhile, here’s yet more flora – woody nightshade or bittersweet. Toxic but not as deadly as the er, deadly sortand the stems were once used in medicine.

The weird golf course – went bust apparently, and now bought buy the guy in that distant cottage, who also has an aircraft hanger and his own runways.

About half an hour bimble into town. Not a great deal to offer – no post office but a post box and telephone, cash point (HSBC), a few mediocre pubs, excellent butchers, gift shops and a co-op.

The excellent butcher!

And an example of the smashing flower planting around the town – this one advertising the local chippy “The Batter of Bosworth”, geddit??

Below is a pic of the newish marina.

The canal from bridge 43 – our route tomorrow.

Oh, I did go up and look for trains but only saw a pathetic little, two carriage diesel effort! Barely visible here. And they charge £12 for an adult ticket, £2 for the dog. So that would be £26 for a 2 x 20 minute return then?  I think we’ll wait until we get to Shackerstone and visit the twee Victorian cafe on the platform.

 

Still in Stoke Golding

 

Well, the fete went well and the weather held off. Monday came and went – so did Mark on Tamsin. We walked the hour to Sutton Cheney Wharf and had lunch, then the hour back! Tuesday – Viv had some eye trouble so took the bus to Nuneaton to get it looked at – all seems OK. And tonight is Steak Night at the George (they do this just once a month, so serendipitous that we are here then!).

Our mooring for a few days – the new cratch looks good.

Mark’s boat behind us.

The fete behind the George & Dragon . . . tombola, alpacas, hotdogs, cake stand, bric-a-brac, live music and a wandering magician, John!

He spent some time with us doing the magic 5 rings joined or not joined together!

Here’s our mate, Mark – with his winnings. I got lots of jewelry and soaps, why did he get all the booze?! And of course the pub bar was in full swing with lots of staff on. Still got the eight beers . . . wonderful.

The Monday walk – it was supposed to be cooler but the sun came out again and we got a bit singed again! Still, it was a lovely walk, with stunning scenes, like this one – should have the The Big Country theme music to go with it.

Today, I be mostly . . .  taking photos of plants . . . here be sloes

Here be “arty sloes”

Viv was getting, by this stage, “are we there yet?”, to which I kept replying, “it’s just round that next bend”.  It wasn’t.

But we did get to see Viv’s boat!

The objective reached. Sutton Cheney wharf and tearooms. Very nice end to the walk but a bit pricey (£17.60 for two jacket spuds with cheese & beans plus a pot of Earl Grey tea).

Continuing the plant-by-the-canalside theme – I think this is a Rosebay WillowHerb

And this is vetch (above)

And this is meadow sweet – used in olden times for scenting floors etc

Probably used when your wet dog came inside! Well, we did promise Toby a swim and he was well tired and hot n bothered.

Struggling here but I think this is Great Willowherb.

And this pretty one is mimulus or monkey flower (thanks to Viv and her collection of books!).

 

Marston Jabbett, Burton Hastings and Stoke Golding

 

Sounds like a cast list from an Agatha Christie novel. Well, the Ashby is definitely otherworldly and so much quieter than the last week. Yes, there are boats and boaters – some not all that great but then you meet some lovely people (such as a nice couple on Iets Groter – which means slightly larger, which their boat was). We stayed another day. Entertaining Mark and his dogs, Layla & Pancho. Always good company. We had made a huge tabbouleh (as Mark’s a veggie) with finely chopped onions, pepper, cucumber, fennel, tomatoes, celery, carrots and a mix of quinoa/bulgar wheat plus spiced up with the last of our Sicilian olive oil and a good splash of Harissa. Nice. After that Cava, white wine, brandy . .  Friday just came and went. Saturday we moved further on . . . one slight incentive was that our favourite pub (perhaps ever) only does food Tues-Sat and only at lunchtime. So we had to get to Stoke Golding by 12 ish and we did.

Narrow cutting from bridge 5 – weather turned out quite good.

Beautiful stone bridge all the way. We left at No 5 and were heading to No 26

I remember these diddy pylons from last time.

Very quiet and ruralated.

Yes, Viv’s in the middle of the picture . . . shiny boat.

Journey’s end, for today. Here’s one for Gail – a boat called Wild Otter, pulling into Stoke Golding wharf. Toby’s heading for the pub!

The area is famous for the battle of Bosworth. Stoke Golding seems to have more than its fair share of blue plaques and also I don’t think they let you live here unless you have a personalised number plate. Never mind. Top of the hill and there stands the George & Dragon. The first pub owned by the Church End brewery and stocking a lot of their excellent beers . . .

Our tongues hanging out?

Eight, yes, eight of their beers on! We know most of these except the last two which we had to try and jolly good they were too. (WTFH stands for What the Foxes Hat, yes, you say it out loud!). Stout coffin is one of my favourites.

As is their homemade, shortcrust pastry pies. Very thin pastry and stuffed full of beef & ale. No surprise air pockets or gristle here.

We stagger back (all downhill) a different route – past one of the best churches in Leicestershire (one for Jenny?). Must have a look inside over the next few days.

With rain due tonight and all day Sunday we stay put. Viv did her snack tea of seafood sticks with chopped spring onion, ginger and soy sauce plus another of her refrigerator cakes  . Yum. The George has a garden party tomorrow:

Unfortunately, a lot of rain is due but we’ll make an effort (the other six beers?)

 

And on the Seventh Day, they entered the Ashby Canal

 

Yea, verily, after a long six hour cruise, we made it to bridge 5 on the Ashby canal. Said goodbye to Rugby, Newbold, Brinklow, All Oaks and then the Hawkesbury Junction, up the Coventry for a bit and then Marston junction. 0915 to 1530. A long day for us but our old mate, Mark on Tamsin, was waiting for us there and we had a cold bottle of Cava that needed sharing (again).

Viv steers over the aqueduct . . . and past (not in this time) M&S . . . .

Busy, busy but no boats behind . . . a very scenic and much cooler day

Past Lime Farm marina

Here’s one for Stephen & Lucia . . . a bridge 42

At last, Toby, happy to be asleep on the rear deck. Not much room here but a happy-ish and a very tired dog . . . Are we there yet??

You can tell the temperature has dropped to near normal, as we’re eating soup again and very nice it was too.

This place in Bedworth is still for sale . . . nice if you’ve a million to spare.

Marston junction – tricky to get in but we do.

Welcome to the Ashby Canal

A notoriously shallow (in places) canal but very rural and peaceful

 

Day 6 – Rugby

 

Well, it did chill down a tad. From around 30 degrees to 22-25? I still got a bit singed on the back of the boat. Viv drove through Hilmorton’s three locks and then we tied up, took on water and then went to the twee cafe for lunch. On our return we chugged the 48 minutes further on to the visitor moorings at Rugby – the town is actually a fair way off but the shopping centre is nearby – so a Tesco shop is in order.

Sheep on the bridge

Steve works the locks

Hilmorton VM where we take on water at a very slow water point.

The inside of Canal Chef – a very quirky little canalside cafe, full of canal memorabilia.

After stuffing ourselves with 8 oz burgers, chips, jacket potatoes & beans (and beer), we staggered back to the boat and wearily did the last stretch to Rugby.

There’s a big building programme, where they are putting in a road bridge to lead to a huge housing estate that runs all the way along the canal right back to Hilmorton.

Mum’s boat!

Extremely busy moorings here – despite CRT putting in dozens of new mooring rings. It was stuffed but we found one spot, opposite the water point. Noisy but we can cope for one night.

Meanwhile, I took the dog for a walk along the old disused Brownsover arm.  Quite a surprise – it went on for miles and passed by a hotel and Swift Valley park – a hidden gem.

 

Days 4/5 – Wallowing in Willoughby

 

Well, the ¡Ola de Calor! (heatwave) is due to calm down from Wednesday, so we have decided to wallow here in Willoughby for a few days. It’s still pushing 30 degrees in and outside of the boat. Leaving the bedroom around 28 at night – it does cool to 22 later but it’s still “all-too-much”. Where are we? Just a mile or so outside Braunston on the North Oxford canal – very ruralated. (That’s my new Pam Ayres-like new word)

As you can see, we started in Yelvertoft and have almost doubled back on ourselves to Willoughby. Tomorrow, Hilmorton locks (busiest on the whole system), take on water then either stop there or move on to Rugby, I think Viv wants to visit M&S at Idiot’s, sorry, Elliot’s Field shopping complex but it needn’t be. We will then head for Hawkesbury junction (or Sutton Stop) before entering the Ashby Canal. Making a b-line for Stoke Golding and our favouritest pub of all time – the George & Gragon – owned and run by the Church End brewery.

The other night we moored up fairly early on – just behind these guys

And the next day, they carried on with their pile driving – putting in new Armco. Good to see them doing this and an interesting bit of kit. Noisy though.

After the long day coming thru Braunston, we had earned ourselves some Cava but it wasn’t chilled enough, so we used our frozen granite cubes to help plus Steve’s science idea of making a freezing mixture (ice & salt) and it seemed to work, although the cubes did make for nucleation points, increasing the amount of bubbles and flattening the Cava – better drink it quick then and lo, we did.

An evening visitor in the adjacent field, just yards away. A Hare-y moment! And two more from Viv: Hare today, gone tomorrow . . . + Hare’s to the next time . . . (Henry Hall’s theme tune)

So we shuffled our boat along from the workmen, to a quieter and more serene spot.

Toby always seems to get in the shot! Bliney, 29.3 inside the boat Roll On deodorant.

 

Day 3 – That tunnel, those locks & Braunston

 

Yes, the well trodden route – back to Norton junction, down thru Braunston tunnel – 3 or 4 boats met us, including an old boat with a dazzling headlamp and no leeway given. Luckily we shared all the locks with a nice group on their timeshare boat from Gayton (Malvolio) and as it was so busy, we had lots of boats coming up, so all the locks were ready for us. A brief stop for lunch and we decided that it was too busy & noisy here. We likes it rural we does. So, on to Willoughby – a regular stop. Under some trees and it was pushing 30 degrees – again!! Here’s some graphs from the weather station (faithfully erected everyday):

This shows the outside temperature from June until today (max was 33.1)

This shows days of sunshine plus how many hours! Most astonishing for Britain.

Some fairly recent babies . . .

Big, old and heavy gates but we did have lots of help. Just six to do.

Under some trees and that’s it for the day. 1300 and time to stop – easy life, eh?

Strange pose from my crew member/admiral? Speak no evil? The herb planter is looking good – thyme, savoury, mint x 2, parsley and marjoram! Plus the two pepper plants are now producing fruit.  Not surprised in this tropical Summer.

A beef tagine has been cooking on the slow cooker – with apricots, chick peas and ras-al-hanout spices. Should be good.

Meanwhile, here’s the techy bit for today.

Steve’s new toy – the Victron BMV-712, battery monitor (with bluetooth – so you can see it all happening on your phone!). That’s the grey round dial. The Smartgauge, next to it is very good but it just gives you the %, which is nice but % of what exactly? Aha, the new gauge tells me how many amps have been eaten since we turned the engine off. Yesterday it was 36Ah and the Smartgauge said down to 91% – Oer, so that means, roughly that 100% should be about 370Ah? Hmm, our batteries are 3x200Ah=600Ah. So a fair bit down then, if this new bit of elastic trickery is to be believed.  Still, the lights stay on and we can also watch TV, DVD player & sound bar . . . but I feel a new set of batteries will be due soon.

 

Day Two – Watford Gap

 

A quiet night in Crick then up earlyish to bimble on to the Watford flight of locks. Just as we set off another boater quickly cast off and pushed in front of us – now is that rude/not part of the boater’s code? He also zoomed into the Crick tunnel, even though a boat was almost out. We waited. Saves the stress of going into a tunnel – for us and the outgoing boat, too. And down at the flight of locks was our old friend Adrian, on duty.

They do keep these locks looking good – with lots of flowers and even a batch of herbs.

Viv is driving this time and Steven does the locking – with help from the volunteers.

Bit of a nervous first one (does it show??) but after that Viv does well.

Seven locks and a drop of 16 metres – staircase locks in the middle – meaning, you can’t pass other boats!

Does she have her eyes closed?

This pic shows just how deep these locks are, as the top gate is also the bottom gate of the next lock, if you see what I mean.

The locks are not interconnected – instead you open the paddles (red ones then white ones) which allows water to flow in and out of the side ponds.

We did have a bit of a wait – about 2 hours before we even got into the locks but they let us down and by this time Viv had mastered the art of getting a 65 foot boat just 6’10” into a lock just 7′ wide – that’s just an inch either side!

And on to our mooring, just 20 mins away, past the Watford Gap services, outside Weltonfield marina. Quiet & scenic.

 

And very rural too but still bl**dy hot! 29 degrees in and outside the boat.

Cratch cover looks good. Better this burgundy than the old black one.

We did see dozens of narrowboats going to and fro – well it is Saturday, in August, darling. But this was a new one (tender to a widebeam, Great Escape)

 

Cruise #2 – a wee start

 

Well, after 17 nights in Whitstable, helping Mum to sorts all things out (she did make a huge list!) it’s back on the boat for our second cruise of the year.

A nice half pin of Oatmeal stout in the Tankerton Arms on Sunday.

Yes we did a fair bit of cooking and drinking! A nice lasagne – several portions still in your freezer Mum!

Well, the open (water) road is a calling and it’s time to be off . . . .

Not before the doggy gets his swim (and then a good shower afterwards) – when will it ever cool down???

Tha boats all polished. The fridge & larder is all re-vittled. Dog food collected and so we chug off at 3 ish, just an hour away, no sense in rushing, stands to reason. In fact less than a mile, as the crow flies from our mooring. To Crick and some shade.

Tomorrow – through the tunnel and down the Watford flight of locks to a quiet and shady mooring near Welton. Plan A is to head to the Ashby canal, as, well, it is August and the schools are out, holiday hirers will abound and the traffic will surely increase. So find us somewhere quiet and lovely and well, good pubs and what better pub than the George & Dragon in Stoke Golding.

 

Time Out – Visiting Whitstable

 

We’ve finished the first cruise of the year and before we  think about the second one, we’re off to Whitstable to visit with Mother.

Meanwhile here’s a few odd ones left over

The carp resurface in the Summer for food – some really big uns too

A brief clip of our resident Reed Warbler

It was getting so hot on the boat that we decided to take the boat out to bridge 27 and hide under some trees! Gail went too and we also saw Simon there later.

The above pic reminds me of the Windows desktop!

Tried to keep the boat cool but it still got up to 30 degrees inside. At least we can sit in the shade.

Simon & Charlie came by. They are now free and off on their continuous cruising. Although not quite continuous as they had a few teething troubles on what is their sea trial stage. Here’s a pic of the Rushton two cylinder engine.

We had to be back soon as Karl (KC Canopies) was coming over to fit our new cratch cover. Made in this new fabric “Top Gun” and in a stylish burgundy with grey edging. Very nice.  Highly recommended.

With our trip to Mum’s imminent, it’s time to clean the wooden floor, again and put some Osmo Polyx oil on – you can see the before/after scenes here:

Quick change of scene and we’re in Whitstable. Having crawled along the M25 for an hour.

It’s still touching on 30 degrees down here, so, Toby gets a swim and Steve gets his trunks wet.

A brisk day for sailing

Nice view of Seasalter beach

 

Meanwhile, back at  Swallow Avenue . . . here’s Mum

Next day . . . Tankerton Slopes

Something’s going on . . . down on the beach

They’ve discovered a 16th shipwreck . .

See the BBC news item

I was asked to mind these objects for 5 mins!  Lots of bits of wood salvaged.