Of course there is no such thing as “Typical Easter Weather” because Easter Sunday can be as early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th. When you consider that British weather is changeable anyway, with March and April being two of the more volatile months (the others being the other ten!), it’s hardly surprising that the Easter weekend weather is hard to predict.
There appears to be a move to fix the date of Easter because, in essence, it makes commercial sense to have it in late April. For centuries now, Easter has been defined as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox. This might seem unnecessarily complicated in this day and age but it comes as a result of mankind trying to figure out and mark the passing of time with cultures and religions disputing and compromising their beliefs. However, no matter what our beliefs are, we have always liked to mark mid winter, midsummer and both the equinoxes. We like the phases of the moon and the fact that we get thirteen full ones every year.
I quite like the idea that we have a special weekend whose date changes every year. I like the thought that it has roots in ancient Roman, Hebrew and Egyptian calendars and I am amused by the thought that we would benefit by fixing the date in late April. I am amused because I believe that it would make little difference commercially, adding nothing to GDP or whatever other spurious measures the bean counters dream up next. There are are only four facts to consider:
1. In Britain the weather is likely to be shit at any time.
2. Weekend weather is more likely to be shit than weekday weather.
3. Bank holiday weekends are more succeptible to shit weather than any other weekends.
4. Despite the weather, British people still go out to enjoy themselves on bank holidays!
Anyway, I’m writing this after travelling from Market Bosworth to Stoke Golding this morning where we moored up just as the rain came on. We’ve watched boat after boat crewed by people wrapped up against the elements but determined not to let the weather spoil their “enjoyment”. It’s now raining heavily and the wind is so fierce that there are actually small waves breaking on the surface of the Ashby canal.
Happy Easter everyone!
As expected, it was damp and drizzly when we awoke on the morning of Good Friday but we had no intention of hanging around for the day so we got up and were underway by nine o’clock. We passed a few boats heading towards Snarestone for the Easter weekend event as we made our way to Hinckley. Sue nipped home for some cough medicine for me while I bought some diesel and coal at Trinity marina. We had a brief chat with old friend Jim who has had a winter mooring there before setting off again. We were photographed by the crew of a tug heading north who told us that the pic was one for the first owners, we presume that she meant Lesley and Joe so maybe our mugshots will appear on another blog somewhere. The drizzle persisted for a while but it wasn’t like travelling in the rain and eventually we reached Marston Junction at the end of the Ashby where we turned hard left.
Sue rustled us up some soup to keep us going until we reached our stopping place for the day, the seven day moorings on the approach to Hawkesbury junction. Along the way we had our photo taken again and later appeared on this guy’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CanalSideArt?ref=ts&fref=ts
No sooner had we gone through all of the normal mooring procedures than the heavens opened, we had been lucky again with our timings but would there be a window of opportunity to nip to the Greyhound for a pint?
Of course there was, we toddled off down there during a dry spell and not only did we have a drink but we had haddock & chips too! Suitably appropriate fare for Good Friday.
With the Easter weekend finally upon us, we took up residence on Caxton on Wednesday evening in preparation for our weekend break. While I worked on Thursday, Sue worked her magic cleaning Caxton thoroughly so that when I returned, our her boat gleamed in the early April sunshine. All of my regular chores had been done for me so all that was left was to untie and escape!
We edged out on to the Ashby just after four o’clock and headed in a southerly direction on what was to prove to be a pleasant sunny afternoon. It was lovely to be back out on the water again, in the fresh air and watching the wildlife in action. We saw a couple of water voles, a moorhen on its nest and a swan starting to build a nest before we pulled up at “duck bend” near Stoke Golding. Once tied up, we sat down to dinner, home made lasagne for me and home made spinach and ricotta cannelloni for Sue, she does love her “meat free Maundys”!
I don’t mind mistakes as long as lessons are learned.
The sky was blue and the sun was shining, there were odd patches of snow but in essence the day had the makings of being a good one for cruising. The first thing I did was to wrap up warmly from the outset, adding yet another layer than I had had on the day before, this was lesson one! With the usual checks done, we were off into the sunshine once more. Sue was working away inside Caxton and soon produced a sausage sandwich for me and a mug of tea to wash it down with.
The entire Ashby fleet was present when we passed through Stoke Golding wharf and we only passed two boats travelling in the opposite direction before we reached Trinity Marina at Hinckley. Every so often in a boater’s life, there comes that dreaded day and today was that day, yes the filling of the diesel tank! We took the opportunity to do the other services while we were there in the hope that it would take my mind off the fuel bill but 220 litres of diesel is 220 litres regardless of the price of a barrel of Brent crude!
Everything done, we pootled on to the mooring opposite the Lime Kilns, passing Stu and Treena on Carpe Diem along the way. Jim was tied up outside the Brewers Fayre but was nowhere to be seen.
Once secured, I remembered my second lesson and sorted out the satellite dish before fixing the canvas cover over the rear deck of Caxton.
The fire had stayed in overnight so the inside of Caxton was filled with a gentle heat. The Met office had issued a yellow weather warning but admitted that they weren’t sure where snow might fall or even how much there might be – what use is that? Market Bosworth sat under blue skies so we decided to untie and venture out. Except for the boat that appeared behind us minutes after we had emerged from the marina, we saw nothing else on the move. The boat behind pulled over at Sutton Cheney, probably for the services and we were alone again, except for those trying to walk off the excesses of Christmas Day.
We pulled over at “Duck Corner” near Stoke Golding and I tried to get warm in front of the fire. Stupidly, I had not started the journey with enough layers of clothing on and despite the fact that I eventually added a big coat, a hat and gloves to my heavy golf jumper it was too late, I was chilled to the marrow!
The rain started within the hour, heavy and noisy but I didn’t care because the fire was doing a great job of thawing me out. The covers were all secure front and back and then I remembered that I hadn’t set up the satellite dish – Oh bugger! Eventually, the noise of the rain subsided so I decided to venture out into the cold, except that the rain hadn’t stopped, it had turned to snow – double bugger! Eventually, I did get out and made a hasty, half-hearted attempt at aligning the dish, getting a weak but watchable signal. After an hour, the signal went, probably due to the wind and rain which continued to batter us. Fortunately, I had swapped the television a couple of weeks ago so we had DVD capabilities and a few films that we hadn’t watched and that was it, we just dossed in front of the fire for the evening, listening to the storm and wondering what the landscape would look like in the morning.
We were up at seven this morning and on our way for quarter to eight. As I thought last night, the boat moored 100 yards down the towpath was nb Muleless. There were no signs of life as we crept past on tickover on what was a slightly misty morning. Forty minutes later we pulled up at Sutton Cheney where we did all of the services needed before we set off on what would be the final leg of the trip. Once underway, Sue ‘phoned Chris Hubbard the marina manager and gave him an indication of our arrival time. By the time we reached bridge 42, the last one before the marina entrance, the early morning mist had gone leaving only blue skies, sunshine and a few fluffy white clouds.
Chris stood by the marina entrance to welcome us in and pointed out our pontoon which was easy to see since he had placed a high viz coat on the end. The pontoons line the ‘L’ shaped basin and ours is positioned near the corner so that manouvering is very easy. In fairness, the pontoons are so well spaced that there should be no difficulty for anyone moving their boat around the basin. We backed into the space reserved for us and where Chris was now waiting to grab the centre line and gently pull Caxton on to the full length fixed pontoon. We chatted with him for a few minutes before letting him get back to work. We then secured front and back lines and carried out a few checks. Mobile internet is a good connection, the satellite dish has a clear sky and the view from the cratch is an uninterrupted expanse of water, perfect.
All that was left to do was to go and get the car so after lunch – pale green soup today, we walked up into Market Bosworth and caught the bus to Hinckley. It wasn’t long before we had returned to the marina and parked up. We are staying here for the weekend and intend to visit the Shackerstone festival but not by boat of course!
By now you will have read from Sue’s posts that I am in a bit of a sorry state. Yes, I should have done what I was told and got to the dentist sharper than I did. I didn’t though and as a result had one of the roughest night’s non-sleep that I can remember.
Back to yeserday though, we left our mooring at the Hawkesbury engine house and after filling the water tank, made our way to Marston junction where we made the wide sweep necessary to gain access to the Ashby canal. This is only the second time that we have been along here in Caxton but it is a trip that we made many times on Phoenix III. After three hours travelling, we pulled up outside the Lime Kilns on the A5. After making my dental appointment, we walked home and then drove into Hinckley to do some shopping.
On returning to Caxton, we just hung around until it was time for bed. Sue prescribed some codeine tablets that she had for the pain that I had. I notice on her post that she says I was a bit spaced out. Far from it, the effect was horrible, how anyone gets addicted to them is beyond me and I’ll never take them again.
Anyway after the rough night, we went home again to kill time until the dental appointment and when we returned to Caxton, we set off again for the short hop to Stoke Golding where we have moored outside Nigel’s Ashby canal centre marina. As we tied up, another boat was doing the same just a little way in front of us, I suspect that it is nb Muleless by the look of the bow and ordinarily I would have gone to say hello as I read their blog but with having a badly swollen face and a bit of a miserable outlook today, I’m not in a sociable mood. Maybe tomorrow, if the swelling has subsided, we’ll see.
A number of working boats passed us by in the evening as they made their way to Shackerstone for the festival this weekend. Just before ten, we heard the unmistakable sound of a Bolinder engine, we could see his headlight but when it passed by it was too dark to identify the boat.
The high winds of yesterday had been subsiding before we went to bed last night and by this morning they had all but gone with just the odd gust remaining. We were boating by 7.30 and pulled up at Sutton Cheney Wharf where we did our chores just over half an hour later. On the way, we saw nb Sunny Brid which belongs to one of the team who electrified Sue’s heart at Glenfield Hospital a few weeks ago.
We attempted to buy some coal from the fuel boat that was tied at the wharf but there was no one board when we called so we had to pass on that one.
We only passed one more boat on our trip to Market Bosworth but despite the cool, dull weather it was a pleasant enough journey. When we reached the site of the new marina we could see that the contractors were preparing to remove the clay plug from the entrance and connect it to the canal. We passed through and winded just beyond bridge 44. This of course was the first time that we had turned Caxton since we left Stone almost a week ago. There were no issues, in some respects, the move was easier in the longer boat because the bow had to be touching the bank and then it was a matter of pushing the tiller over and leaving the rest to the prop.
Half an hour later and we were back near the visitor moorings where we tied up and headed of into town for some lunch and to do a bit of shopping. We had a belated birthday lunch for Sue at the Black Horse before returning to our mooring. After we deposited our shopping at the boat we walked over to meet Chris Hubbard who is the new manager at the marina and he gave us a private tour of the site as well as explaining about the facilities that were being installed there. We returned to Caxton at four o’clock and five minutes later the heavens opened! An hour later and it was a different day altogether, Sue sitting in the cratch with the windows open and the canalside covers up underneath blue skies and full sunshine.
Tomorrow we will need to head back to Hinckley for a few days before resuming our journey to Braunston at the weekend.
Strong winds continued to blow during the night and then we had torrential rain in the early hours of the morning. We considered our options and then decided to stay put for the day, the wind then dropped and the sky brightened so we changed our mind and set off. With the wind being not as strong as yesterday, progress was quite good despite the odd showers that came and went.
We were surprised to find the visitor moorings at Stoke Golding completely deserted so we moored there and phoned our boat painting friend Cliff and his partner, Liz. They visited us for an hour and we gave them the grand tour of Caxton, both were suitably impressed of course.
The rain had gone but the wind had picked up so we spent the rest of the afternoon just lazing around indoors.