After last week’s grueller, we decided to get back out on Friday afternoon with a relaxing cruise. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low twenties when we left Hinckley and turned towards the top of the Ashby. We tied up two hours later by bridge thirty five and had dinner, a couple of pizzas! Saturday morning brought more sunshine and after breakfast we chugged on to Market Bosworth, just an hour away. After tying up we walked up the hill into the village, did some shopping and then we found our way to the patio at the back of the Black Horse. After a couple of drinks, we headed back to the canal, calling at The William IV pub on the way, purely in the interest of consumer reasearch. Happily both hostelries have passed the test and are worthy of future visits. After we get back to the boat, we start to wash her down, getting rid of the dust and bird muck that has accumulated over the last few weeks. We soon get talking to Dave and Margaret who own a boat which is moored a short distance away. Their boat is styled on the old working boats of the Grand Union and is superbly finished. Dave demonstrates a polish that he uses by rubbing it on our boat, what a finish! We will be taking his advice and wise words when we get our boat repainted. Eventually we turn in for the night after watching a bit of Saturday evening television. Easy start on Sunday, shower, breakfast, set off for the next winding hole, pass Dave polishing his engine. Turn around, through Market Bosworth and down to Stoke Golding. It is important that we review the Stoke Golding pubs so we tie up just after bridge 28 and walk into the village. First stop the White Swan, clean, friendly, good selection of beers, lovely garden. On to the Three Horseshoes, no beer garden so not reviewed this time. Next door into The George & Dragon (too many obvious jokes to mention). Beer garden is part of the car park so just ok, good choice of beers, looks clean but a big jar of dog biscuits on the bar, presumably other snacks are available! So it looks like the White Swan wins but we call in on the way back just to make sure .
Back to the boat and a bowl of pasta for lunch eaten on the benches next to the canal. It is now getting on for three o’clock so we untie and head back for the marina. The weather has been glorious and I have a new name for Susan on account of the colour that she is now turning – “Pikey Sue “. All too soon and we are back, it is a bit windy in the marina but nothing serious, we tie up, clear the rubbish out and walk home. The weekend has been just as we planned it, easy going, plenty of sunshine and fresh air and we are back home refreshed and relaxed. Perfect!
Friday The forecast is good for the Bank Holiday weekend, so we are off! Leaving Hinckley just after two o’clock, we head for Marston Junction, destination Ansty. As we pass The Limekilns pub, we see Jim sitting at one of the garden tables near his boat. He asks us where we are going and we tell him that we are hoping to reach Napton, he tells us that he is heading in the opposite direction, up the Ashby to Shackerstone. We pass “Little England” but there is still no sign of the owner. The journey to Marston Junction is pleasantly uneventful in the afternoon sunshine. As we approach Hawksbury we are aware of a cruiser behind us which is getting closer by the minute, we are on tickover as we pass moored boats on both sides so it will have to wait. Round the corner and through the stop lock and then it starts to rain but we press on anyway, Ansty is only an hour away. The rain only lasted for twenty minutes or so but we have to change plans when we see that there are no mooring places free at Ansty. We carry on for another hour and a half before finding suitable moorings near bridge 26 which is about a mile away from Stretton stop. The time is now just after seven thirty so we have some dinner and a drink and then watch the sunset from the rear deck before retiring for the evening.
Saturday The sun is shining already as we have breakfast before setting off at half past eight. Through Stretton stop and past Rose narrowboats twenty minutes later, we pass Ian Birks on board nb “Nobby” before we reach Newbold on Avon. A few minutes later and we are beyond the furthest point that we have previously cruised to. The canal runs around the outskirts of Rugby before reaching the locks at Hillmorton. We take on water before negotiating the locks and Sue starts chatting to the crew of the boat in front, ten Australian girls who have hired for the weekend. They say that it has taken three hours to get here from Rugby and as they pull away towards the locks, it is easy to see why! At the first lock, Sue meets Ben who offers to assist us up the flight. Teenager Ben explains that he has been fascinated by the canal and the locks for years. He helps people through the locks and by being rewarded financially has raised hundreds of pounds for charity. We are grateful for his help and tell him that we will see him the next day on our way back. The weather is still good, bright, some cloud cover and warm. The canal soon opens up into the long straight stretch at Barby, a few bends then straight-ish for a while before approach Braunston. We have been to Braunston a few times by road and walked along past the marina, however today we will be turning before then on to the Grand Union (Oxford section). We reckon it should take about two hours to reach Napton Junction so we expect to be there before six. We pass a lot of moored boats near Braunston and then it is out in the open again. The sky is darkening and pretty soon it starts to rain heavily, we are still about an hour from Napton but with the length of time we have already been travelling today and the fact that there was no compelling reason to get to Napton, we decide to tie up for the night just beyond bridge 102. The rain only lasts for an hour so after dinner we sit out on deck again, thank goodness we have a boat with a cruiser stern.
Sunday After a solid night’s sleep we have breakfast and set off for the turning point at bridge 107. It is windy today, as forecast but the turning point is very exposed and as soon as we turn into the winding hole, the wind just takes us sideways. After a couple of minutes being heavy handed on the throttle, the boat comes around and we are off again. The trip back is fairly uneventful, we are encountering more traffic today but nothing serious. A few light-hearted moments when we encounter an oncoming boat under a bridge on a bend when Sue tells the helmsman that his friends sitting at the front of the boat had said that the encounter had been his fault because he was inexperienced! He took it in good part and agreed that it was because he had only been doing it for thirty five years! Ben helped Sue through the locks again which was much appreciated and we then head back for our next stop which we have decided is going to be Newbold again. We have been here before of course during the winter months and we are looking forward to mooring early enough to take a walk to the shops and sample the local pubs. After collecting some groceries from the Co-op we head towards the first of the local hostelries, take one look in and turn around. Next on the now shortened tour is the Barley Mow. It looks a bit more promising so we buy a couple of drinks which are very expensive and sit outside on the terrace. Soon we are joined by a group of youths having a playful fight which is rapidly getting out of control. Another customer then says hello but he is a weird character so we finish our drinks and return to the boat. The boat behind us is owned and occupied by Amy and her dog Dylan. Dylan is a collie who was rescued and just wants to play. Amy it would seem has rescued herself from her own entrapment and just wants a peaceful life. We spend half an hour chatting and throwing sticks for Dylan while having a glass of wine before we have our evening meal. As for Newbold on Avon, we are disappointed and will not be hurrying back.
Monday The last day of our journey dawns bright and clear and we head for home, it will be full day’s cruise from here but the sun is out and the forecast is for the same all day. By the time we get to Hawksbury we are tiring, a combination of the long hours we have been cruising and the exposure to the sun is making us give consideration to the idea of stopping now and finish our journey in the morning. In the event, we push on. As we get into the last half an hour of our trip, we catch up with another, smaller boat travelling quite slow. This isn’t a problem since we are passing a lot of moored boats, with two boats behind us we now have a convoy. Entering the stretch between the Limekilns and Nutts lane, the boat in front speeds up a little but is not doing much more than we are doing on tickover. With such a short distance to go to the marina there is no point in attempting to pass it. The boat owner behind has different ideas and signals that he wishes to pass and as he draws up alongside he mutters something about sitting behind the slowcoach in front. A few seconds later and he starts to drop back, presumably he grounded himself in the shallows. Anyway the convoy continued with the boat in front also turning into the marina before us. We are both shattered and agree that we will need to be more realistic with the hours that we cruise in future.
We had decided not to go out on the boat this weekend because the forecast had been for cold days and freezing nights. Sue had the makings of a stinking cold brewing up so the prospect of a chilly weekend on the canal wasn’t so appealing. Saturday brought unbroken sunshine and after a lazy start to the day we went to find a farm shop at Stoke Golding, a village just a few miles away from Hinckley. After buying some meat from the shop, Sue suddenly declared herself fit and suggested that we go straight home, pick up a few bits and bobs and aim to get out on the cut by two o’clock. In the event we were heading north on the Ashby by ten to two, enjoying the fresh air and warm sunshine. There are still very few people out on their boats at this time of year but we soon saw Jim, one of our mates from the marina, heading in the opposite direction. An hour later and we passed a boat selling coal and diesel to boats which are permanently moored near to Stoke Golding. The boat, an old working boat was piloted by a dreadlocked hippy bloke. I did consider trying to barter with him, offering a bar of soap for a bag of coal but decided against it because although I would know what to do with the coal, the middle-aged soap-dodger would not have known what to do with his side of the bargain!
One of the good things about narrowboats is that each one is different, no mass produced stuff here, I’m pleased to say! As a result, every boat passed gets checked out in the few moments that it takes to pass. Some boats are unremarkable it’s true, however there’s always something to look at; the colours, the style, the signwriting and so on. As we approached Sutton Cheney Wharf, two hours from Hinckley we spotted a beautifully painted boat, deep red with cream contrast. As we passed, we noted the name, “Nobby “, I suddenly realised that this was the name of the boat belonging to one of the regular contributors to Canal Boat Magazine, the latest copy of which, we had on board. A quick check later revealed that the boat belonged to Ian and Allison Birks who travel the canal system on a permanent basis.
The third and final hour of our journey to Market Bosworth saw the temperature drop quite dramatically as the sun started to set. We took on water before finally mooring near the turning point just outside the village. We had been running the central heating for the whole of the trip so it did not take too long to heat the cabin fully once the fire had been lit. The rump steak that we had bought at the farm shop earlier was as tender as fillet steak and with some home made chips, a fried free range egg and some mushy peas, believe me, it doesn’t get any better than this.
The heating had been set to fire up if the cabin temperature dropped below 12 degrees, the outside temperature was probably about minus six so the heating was on for most of the night. We got up about eight o’clock, revived the fire and had a cup of tea before showering. We could see that the canal was frozen over but we were as warm as toast and with the sun now shining we set off and walked the three quarters of a mile uphill to Market Bosworth. Apparently boaters have christened this hill, “Heart Attack Hill “. The sunshine and the brisk walk meant that the cold temperature went unnoticed. Market Bosworth is a lovely little place and somewhere that we have visited and eaten in before. Today, however saw us visiting the paper shop and the local co-op before walking back downhill to the boat. After a leisurely breakfast we turned around and headed back for Hinckley. The boat that had moored in front of us the night before had already used the winding hole and had, with some difficulty, broken up the thick ice on the surface of the water. It was almost midday when we got properly underway but with the sun not setting until about 5.30, we knew we had plenty of time to make the three and a quarter hour journey.
Despite the fact that we had set off about fifteen minutes after our overnight neighbour, we caught him up about half an hour later, he was making heavy weather of the ice but we figured that it was better to slow down and let him do all of the hard work, rather than pass him and take on the role of ice-breaker. The ambient temperature was about five degrees but because we were facing the sun, the day was very pleasant indeed. We saw many people walking, particularly between Bosworth battlefield and Sutton Cheney. At one point, when we had caught up with Captain Icebreaker and I was watching some ducks skating on the thick ice, I wondered why I couldn’t attract Sue’s attention. When I turned around I saw that she was closely watching a couple walking their dog along the towpath. “It’s him “, she said, “The bloke from the magazine “, she continued. The slow progress of Icebreaker meant that we were travelling slower than the pedestrians but the man and his dog certainly resembled the cartoon image printed in the magazine and they were heading in the right direction. We spotted Nb Nobby as we left Sutton Cheney wharf and could see Ian’s dog and then the man himself as we got nearer. Everyone says hello to everyone else on the canal, and that is a good thing, a return to values now seemingly lost in this country. The owner of “Nobby “ was polishing something as we passed by and probably only expected to exchange pleasantries with some passing boaters. Perhaps he was surprised when Sue first of all complimented him on his latest magazine article, telling him that it been the reading material of that morning. On asking whether his picture looked anything like him, she then told him that he was much better looking than that and as his grin broadened, she told him how fabulous his boat looked. And then we were gone, motoring on down towards Hinckley.
Taking your own boat down the canal when there are people out walking the towpath is great fun. Everyone says hello or waves to you, they smile and there is a general feeling of happiness. Perhaps they have a little daydream about owning their own boat, perhaps not but do they know that the boating fraternity call them “Gongoozlers “? As we pass under a bridge near Stoke Golding it is our turn to be told that we have a nice boat by some teenagers and that makes us feel good too.
A little further on and Sue spotted a terrapin that has perished in the freezing water. We had been told that there were terrapins in the canal, presumably pets abandoned by bored owners. Most of the year they probably can survive but they are not native to these shores and it is a great shame that they are left to fend for themselves in this inhospitable environment.
Half past three sees us back at the marina and we decide to diesel the old girl up so that the next departure will be a quick one. The freezing weather has meant that the water has been turned off to the pontoons, so the residents are having to replenish their supplies by travelling to the edge of the marina – result? A traffic jam in the marina!
There is little wind today so the navigation back into our berth is easy, as usual Jim is out to take the front rope and bring us in. How does he know that we are there? dunno! After we clear the boat out, we sort out a small bag of peat and present it to Jim to burn in his fire. I’m sure that he will appreciate it, burning peat produces such a wonderful aroma.
And that’s it, another weekend on the water, done at short notice. The fuel cost for both this trip and last week’s jaunt to Atherstone was only £20, not bad considering that the diesel is used for heating as well.
The forecast is showing good clear weather for Saturday and light rain for Sunday. We decide that we will go to the end of the Ashby canal today and back tomorrow, stopping overnight in either Snarestone at the top of the canal or Shackerstone on the way back. We go to the marina for 8am and while I check the water and oil, switch on the immersion heater and set the fire, Sue cooks us up a delicious cooked breakfast. At 9am we chug out of the marina and head in a north easterly direction towards the top of the Ashby. We have gone partially in this direction twice before, but never all the way. The canal passes between a Tesco distribution centre and the Triumph motorcycle factory before it is bounded on both sides by open countryside. After bridge 21 there are a number of boats in a private mooring, the first turning point is just after bridge 22, only 45 minutes from the marina. The next time we see boats is soon after when we encounter the home of the Ashby boat company with its hire fleet, resplendent in its red and cream livery. On to Sutton Cheney wharf with the Bosworth battlefield on the right hand side of the canal. The tea is flowing well until we reach Market Bosworth, when at midday it seems fitting with the sun firmly over the yard-arm to have a glass of wine. Do narrowboats have yard-arms? Of course not but it seems like a good excuse. All too soon we reach Shackerstone where the canal crosses a river and brushes close to the preserved Battlefield Line Railway. We reckon that it will be about another hour before we reach the end of the canal at Snarestone. We pass some more private moorings just outside Shackerstone including one with a sign on the bank proclaiming that it belongs to PhoenixIII. Was this a previous mooring for our boat? Or is there another PhoenixIII out there somewhere?
Shortly afterwards, the engine stops for no apparent reason, the first time since we bought the boat. Although this is a concern, it cranks over and starts again after a few minutes. We carry on without trouble until we reach the 250 yard tunnel at Snarestone. We have no trouble in the tunnel but the engine proves troublesome when we turn round at the end of the canal, not exactly welcome since the wind has strengthened and the tight turn is made more difficult by the positioning of some privately moored boats. We tie up briefly to check the boat before venturing back into the tunnel. Everything seems in order so we pass through the tunnel under the village of Snarestone before mooring up close to The Globe, the village pub. Needless to say it seems rude not to visit the aforementioned hostelry and we are not disappointed. The pub is in new hands, we get a friendly welcome and enjoy a couple of drinks in front of the open fire in the lounge, good luck to the new owners!
Just after four o’clock, before darkness falls, we return to the boat, light the fire and have dinner. We have moored near the tunnel mouth and as a result cannot get television reception so we settle down to watch some dvd’s from our collection before turning in for the night.
We’re awake about 7.30 and get washed and dressed before breakfast, another “full english “. I make a mental note to check out what a “full english “ actually entails and decide to compare the “full english “ with the “full scottish “ and the “full irish “.
We set off just after 9am all goes well, we pass a group of miserable fishermen and just as we clear their little group, the engine dies. We get it started again but it dies after another 25 minutes. This pattern continues until we reach Market Bosworth at which point we tie up, have a cup of tea and decide what to do. The options are to either try and limp back to Hinckley or get a taxi back from Market Bosworth and get someone out to look at the problem. After another cup of tea we decide to press on and try and get the old girl back home. The engine conked out pretty much every twenty minutes or so all the way back, the added complication of the strong wind meant that it was a difficult trip with the boat being grounded on more than one occasion. Eventually we made it back to the trinity marina, the strong wind made it difficult to get back on the berth but we did it in the end.
There is no doubt that we have to sort out the engine problem that we have, it’s probably the fuel but we will get the engine serviced and take out RCR cover, the canal equivalent of the AA.
We had hoped to be able to take the Phoenix out for Christmas, however an unexpected heavy cold threatened the trip. Saturday morning and feeling slightly better, we decided to venture out. Most of the provisions were already on the boat so by 10am we were ready to go. Two days earlier we had drained the water tank, only to discover that due to a frost we were unable to replenish the supply on the berth. As a result we had to fill the tank at the same time as we filled the diesel tank and so it was nearer to eleven when we finally got underway.
At this time of year, unsurprisingly, the canal is very quiet and we made the journey to Marston Junction in the usual two hours. Another hour brought us to Hawksbury Junction which was negotiated with ease. We decided that we would tie up at Ansty, which we did at around 3pm. Within minutes of mooring, the heavens opened and that was us in for the rest of the day.
Sunday morning and it feels quite cold, a glance out of the window reveals that the canal is frozen over. The ducks are skating around and as we throw them some bread, the results are quite funny. Fortified with a cooked breakfast, we decide to press on, break some ice around the bow and then set off. The sound of the ice breaking is terrific, not what you might expect at all. Rather than a smashing sound, the ice parts in front of the boat, but the sound is a shrill one from where the ice meets the banks of the canal. This continues for a couple of hours until we meet another boat breaking ice in the opposite direction. Although the boat has handled almost as well as under normal conditions, once we hit water where the ice has already been broken, the passage is much easier. There is a freezing fog which the sun is unable to burn off and as a result, cruising is not the most pleasant of experiences. We come to the decision that we will not travel further than Newbold on Avon. We know that there are moorings near the village, so we manage to get tied up just after one o’clock. Originally we had hoped to go further on this trip but to do so now would take the fun away, we will turn around in the morning and head back.
Today is completely different, warmer and clear, if a little cloudy. We turn around at the next winding hole and then re-fill the water tank, it’s amazing how much we have used in just two days. The provisional plan is to return to Ansty, however the canal is so quiet and the weather kind enough that we press on and eventually moor near bridge three on the Ashby. The journey has been pretty uneventful except when we saw the Welsh cheese boat, in hindsight we should have stopped and bought some but it was getting dark and I’m sure that we will encounter them again in the future.
The shock of yesterday’s events is still with us but by midday we are back at the marina to clear the boat out. Everything is different, the sun is shining and there are a lot of people milling about. When we unlock the boat, it looks like the Marie Celeste must have done to the people who found it abandoned with dinner plates left on the table still with the remnants of yesterday’s meal. Thirty minutes later and the boat is clear, clean and tidy. We bump into the unofficial lifeguard and present him with a nice bottle of 12 year old single malt. A little embarrassed and releuctant to accept, we feel that he realises how grateful we are for his help.
It seems such a long time since we had our last cruise, our trip to Atherstone at the end of October. We’ve been busy nevertheless and now the interior of the boat is complete. A quick walk through from bow to stern shows a variety of improvements; new carpets, curtains and cushion covers. The kitchen area has been re-tiled and an inverter fitted to power up the television, DVD, satellite system and hi-fi. Other electrical improvements include a new mains inlet, new lamps fitted throughout and additional 12 volt sockets inside.
Holidays, work and bad weather has prevented any more cruising since Atherstone but hopefully the weather will be kind enough to let us out for a few days at Christmas, sheer madness of course but the desire to get PhoenixIII out again is overwhelming.
The dark evenings are quite limiting as far as work on the boat is concerned so we have been busy with other things and one of them has been to design some PhoenixIII branded goods. We ordered some items for ourselves and were pleased with the quality so now we have some nice T-shirts, baseball caps and coffee mugs. We also got the boat’s mascot, a teddy bear with a printed shirt and because we were unsure of a name to give him, we decided to run a competition to name the teddy. What we didn’t realise was that in Sudan, a British teacher was in a spot of bother for the doing a similar sort of thing, therefore the competition has been cancelled and the mascot is called Ted!
We were keen to get back out on the boat this weekend after the success of our last trip. Our opportunities are going to be limited as we head into winter, work and holidays will take up five weekends, the days are getting shorter and of course there is the weather. The forecast for this weekend indicated that there would be rain on Saturday afternoon but otherwise dry and cloudy. We provisioned the boat on Thursday afternoon ready for a quick getaway on Friday, unfortunately in our haste we left some food in the car! We left the marina by ten to four and cruised to Burton Hastings before mooring up about an hour later. Dusk fell soon after and by the time we had eaten dinner, it was completely dark. A game of dominoes and a dvd before retiring to bed at 10 o’clock finished the day.
We awoke around 7am and got dressed before having breakfast of bacon sandwiches and tea. The trip to Marston Junction took less than an hour but seemed quicker, probably because the route is already becoming familiar to us. Turning right at Marston is a lot easier than turning left, however a feature of today is the wind which meant a bumpy passage through the narrow exit from the Ashby canal. The canal passes through countryside before reaching Nuneaton, Sue has lived in this area all of her life but is surprised to discover a boatyard in the town centre. This surprise was nothing by comparison to the moment that we emerged from under the bridge next to the home of Nuneaton Borough football club ~ it had gone! All that remains is a building site, another bit of Sue’s past has been demolished, all that is left is the memory of the day her Dad took her to see a match there and all that she and her brother were interested in were “pop and crisps”. Before the urban landscape of Nuneaton gives way to countryside again, we see the strange volcano shaped spoil tip next to a granite quarry, a very deep quarry. There is hardly any traffic on the Coventry canal so other than the odd solitary fisherman we don’t see many people at all as we pass through Hartshill yard on the way to Atherstone. Eventually we reach the top lock at Atherstone where we turn around and take on water. We could have gone through the locks but with the short days and impending rain, it would only be doing it for the sake of it. Instead we tie up and head into town, doing a bit of shopping before making our way to “The Library” in the Red Lion on the main street. An enjoyable couple of hours with the papers and a bottle of wine is very much in keeping with the slow pace of life that canal cruising brings.
We return to the boat before the rain comes and while Sue prepared the evening meal, I set up the satellite dish so that we can watch television. The rain fell but we were snug inside with the tv and a well stoked fire, the clocks go back tonight but we’re so chilled out that we can’t be bothered, in our world the clocks will go back when we decide, which will probably be when we get back tomorrow.
The weather forecasters have got it wrong and it looks like the rain will happen today, this isn’t a problem since we both have wet weather gear on board. A breakfast of bacon, egg, beans and toast along with the obligatory mug of tea is first on the agenda. The eggs came from 19gales, a farm shop in the middle of Atherstone, they are free range, the yolks are orange and they taste like eggs used to taste like! Soon after, we slip our mooring and start the return journey home to Hinckley. The sky looks heavy and sure enough it is not long before the rain starts, the wind is even stronger than it was yesterday so the steering is difficult as the boat acts like a large sail in the crosswind. The weather is no deterent because we are prepared with waterproof clothing, as Billy Connolly once said; “I hate all those weathermen who tell you that rain is bad weather. There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.”
There are lots of fishermen along the towpath today, I’m sure that they would describe themselves as being serious but they just seem miserable. Perhaps they are resentful of boaters interrupting their fishing but do they ever ask themselves where they would fish if British Waterways didn’t maintain the canal? I can’t imagine that the fishermen pay the same money to BW as the boaters do.
All too soon we reach Marston Junction again and the start of the home run. We stop at the place we moored at on Friday night for a spot of lunch, a couple of pasties from the farm shop and they are delicious as well as filling. After setting off again, our thoughts turn to how we are going to get back into the marina on such a windy day. In the event, we make it relatively easy, mainly due to Sue’s expert efforts with the barge pole. I can see her working a Gondola in Venice in the near future.
Back home for two o’clock and we can then join the rest of the country in turning our clocks back to GMT
It is now two weeks to the day since we took ownership of PhoenixIII and today we embarked upon our first weekend trip away. Straight after work we headed off to the marina and took the necessary clothes and food.
Stopping to pick up a new gas bottle and a tankful of diesel on the way out, we headed in the direction of the Coventry canal. Mindful of the sunset, we had only planned to go the short distance to bridge 15 next to the Limekilns, a pub that we have visited many times in the past, but not this evening.
We moored at about 5.30, giving us about another half an hour before dusk gave way to night time. After a meal of steak pie and new potatoes, we discuss the following day in more detail over a glass or two of wine before retiring to our cabin.
The plan is to start as soon as it is light at 8am. The forecast for the weekend is clear and bright, maximum temperature about 14 C, overnight frost. More important for this time of year is knowing when the sun rises and sets each day. At the moment the sun rises at 8am and sets at 6pm giving us ten hours of daylight cruising on a good day.
We awoke at 6am, it was dark and cool, the heating has been on all night at 15C so the chill is off the boat. This is one of the things that we will be setting up to suit ourselves this weekend. Daylight seems a long time coming so we fortify ourselves with bacon sandwiches and tea and wait for the light. As the sun comes up, we can see just how cold it has been overnight, it is misty and although we are only half a mile away from home, it seems like we are at the dawn of another world.
Amy stayed overnight last night at the house and today we took a trip down the canal to Marston junction. We attempted to leave at ten o’clock, however a light wind presented some difficulty in getting out of the berth. Further difficulty leaving the marina itself provided a couple of onlookers some early morning entertainment. Once underway, we didn’t encounter many boats as we made our way to Marston, a couple of hours away. We turned around at the junction and stopped at bridge 5 on the way back. Lunch was one of Sue’s tasty cottage pies, delicious and very filling! Amy did some design work for college along the way as well as getting some steering practice. It must have been exhausting for her because she spent the last half an hour asleep in bed! We arrived back at the marina just after 3pm, about twenty minutes after the rain started but we were berthed before it became too heavy.
10 am and we board PhoenixIII for our first trip. This is really just a chance to take her out to see how she performs. We are joined by Rebecca, Daniel and Rachel for the day and within minutes we are manoeuvring out of our mooring, through the marina and out on to the canal. A two hour trip sees us heading in a north easterly direction towards the top of the Ashby canal, reaching our turning point at bridge 34, Sutton Cheney. On the way we pass through Stoke Golding where a couple were sitting on the banks fishing and six year old Daniel wasted no time in telling them that there was a no fishing sign on the bank. A short stop for lunch before we turn the boat around and head back for Hinckley. The Phoenix continues to handle faultlessly and we are soon back at trinity marina where we get tied up in a few minutes. All in all a good trial run for us and PhoenixIII. We are now planning our first “proper” trip in two weeks time.