We were up and about early this morning since we wanted to get close to home before the temperature drops in the next few days. A few months ago! we found out the hard way that it is not possible to wind Caxton at Wash Lane in Nuneaton so it was on to Springwood Haven before we could turn and head for home.
It was 10 am before we returned to the spot where we had been moored for the previous two nights. We turned on to the Ashby just before 11am and cruised northwards in the sunshine. It was cool and windy but under blue skies, our journey was very enjoyable. We pulled up opposite the Lime Kilns pub where we have moored for our last evening out on Caxton. The wind is forecast to drop overnight so first thing in the morning we will return to our berth in the marina.
Happy New Year everyone!
Our sympathies are with those in the north at this time, here in the midlands we are just on the southern edge of the ravaging effects of storm Frank so we have a lot to be thankful for. Overnight, the wind picked up to gale force levels but with Caxton secured on springs fore and aft, all that we knew about it was the odd creaking of the mooring ropes.
We awoke to an overcast morning but the wind was still blowing hard so we had a slow start to the day. After showering, we walked into town and couldn’t believe how strong the wind was as it helped blow us along our way.
We were on a mission to visit one of the local carpet shops so that we could order some flooring for the hall in the apartment and we just managed to do this and then walk to the local Wetherspoons before the heavens opened.
We had lunch in the Lloyds No1 pub and then watched the rain pour down outside for a couple of hours. Sue took a short shopping break and after returning to the drinking den, we made our way back to Caxton (in the rain of course!) where we have once again settled in for the evening.
The wind has already dropped so tomorrow we plan to move on, turn around and then return to Hinckley or at least somewhere near there.
We didn’t travel very far today, retracing part of our trip yesterday as far as Marston junction and then on to Nuneaton where we have moored until Thursday so that we can sit out tomorrow’s storm. Today’s weather gave no hint of what is on its way and we enjoyed an excellent cruise under blue skies and sunshine. We only encountered one boat but that provided plenty of entertainment when it was driven at full speed into the bank on a right angled bend. The crew seemed unhurt with perhaps the only damage being done to the steerer’s pride. Once we had passed him it was easy to see what had happened, he had been blinded by the low sun and its reflection on the water’s surface and hadn’t seen that there was a bend!
We tied on the visitor moorings and after a shower, walked into town where we had lunch here at Saints Bar. Afterwards, we ambled back to the towpath where we have settled in for the evening on board Caxton.
It has been seven weeks since we were last out on the cut and Oh! how we’ve missed it. My little girl Amy (OK she’s 24 years old but she’s still my little girl) told me that she misses the blogs so this one is especially for her!
We did have a bit of a boating fix last weekend when we visited Joe and Lesley on Yarwood when they were moored at Aynho. We had a fabulous afternoon with them, enjoying lunch in the Great Western Arms followed by coffee so good that we have indulged ourselves by buying a Dolce Gusto machine so that we can recreate Joe’s magnificent cafe con leche.
So with the country sitting under an area of high pressure for the time being, we decided to escape for the weekend. I finished work at lunchtime on Friday and met Sue in Hinckley where we had a drink outside the Hansom Cab before going home to prepare for the trip. While Sue gathered some bits and pieces, I went to the marina and released Caxton from the clutches of its mooring. A few minutes later and I was picking Sue up from the towpath near our apartment, one of the benefits of living next to the canal.
With the full crew now on board, Caxton slipped through the water as far as the visitor moorings opposite the Lime Kilns pub on the A5. After securing our mooring we sat out on the front deck and savoured the late afternoon sun, a bit of a rarity for October. On the spur of the moment we decided to have dinner at the pub and then embarked on one of our shortest ever cruises, yes we untied and pushed Caxton all of twenty feet across the cut to the pub garden thus saving the walk there and back. Lazy or decedent- you decide!
No complaints about the food, drink or service, everything was excellent and we only had a two minute walk to get back to the boat.
Saturday dawned and we set sail just after nine with the intention of turning left at Marston Junction and going to Hawkesbury for the weekend. By the time we reached the Coventry canal we had changed our minds and headed north. An hour later and we were tying up in Nuneaton, a town often maligned by boaters but we think unjustly so. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the home of George Elliot before returning to Caxton and moving on to Boot Wharf where we blocked the canal as we shoved 180 litres of diesel into the tank. Fortunately we only inconvenienced one boat for a couple of minutes before we set off again and made our way to Springwood Haven where we moored for the night. After dinner we settled in for the evening and I was asleep before nine o’clock. Like the evening before I slept for eleven hours – proof positive that I sleep better on the water than anywhere else.
The fire was still lit when we got up on Sunday morning so the inside of the boat was still warm and toasty. It wasn’t too cold outside either so we untied and set off, turning in the winding hole just beyond the marina. We had a pleasant cruise back to Hinckley in the autumn sunshine passing a few boats along the way, including Phil on nb Mister Pip and Stuart & Treena on nb Carpe Diem.
The wind had picked up by the time we got back but it did not hinder our entry to the marina. We had enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to end the trip with lunch at the Marina pub; Sunday roast for the crew, Chicken and Ham pie for me. Suitably refuelled we walked home and reflected on our wonderfully relaxing weekend.
Our plan for this trip had always been to get into Braunston for Tuesday 13th May and then I would go back to work the following day. In getting to the top of Atherstone locks last night, the run back would be simple enough, Hawkesbury today, Newbold on Sunday, Braunston on Monday.
It was bright and dry when we got out of bed although it soon became apparent that there was a strong wind blowing. We untied and set off just after nine o’clock, heading towards Nuneaton. Sue posed the question as to whether we had time to “nip up” the Ashby to Hinckley and collect a couple of chairs from home that would fit in the cratch. There would be time but I had other ideas, I suggested that we could stay on the Ashby for a few days and as long as we were near home on tuesday, I could use Sue’s car to go to work with mine being parked up at Braunston. On Friday we would recommence our journey south to Braunston. Sue agreed with the suggestion and rewarded me with a breakfast sandwich of bacon and black pudding!
It’s two years since we were last on this stretch of water and we were surprised to see just how much housing development has taken place on the outskirts of Nuneaton. The trip through Nuneaton was fairly quiet with not many boats on the move at all. The rain behaved itself with the odd shower now and again but the wind wasn’t so benevolent, particularly in the exposed areas. The turn at Marston junction on to the Ashby was a bit of a challenge but we made it. The second challenge came at bridge 5, an awkward one at the best of times but today we met a convoy of three boats and had to try and hang about in the wind as they each came under the bridge. Half way to Hinckley we found our old friend Jim moored near the corner at Burton Hastings where we faced our third and final challenge of the day. As we went into the corner the wind kept pushing us towards the line of long term moored boats, the end one, Carpe Diem owned by Stuart and Treena coming closest to getting clunked. In the end, I wrestled Caxton around the corner to safety and we continued on to the Lime Kilns where we have moored for the rest of the day.
It didn’t takes us long to walk home and pick up the chairs and a few other bits and pieces before returning to the boat where Sue quickly rustled up a chicken curry.
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