Hurray! It’s Friday and time for us to resume our trip from Stone to Braunston. We boarded Caxton at half past two, completed our pre-departure checks and chores before leaving Trinity marina. Sue waited on the bank for me after she had returned the key fob to the shop. As I neared the exit, Sue informed me that there was a model boat stranded directly opposite the marina, that explained the concerned look on the face of the bloke standing next to her. I avoided smashing the model to smithereens but later discovered that the owner was hoping that Sue would somehow rescue it for him! Anyway, he had to walk over the bridge and retrieve it himself in the end. I picked Sue up outside the Brewers Fayre and then we exchanged pleasantries with Jim again who was moored nearby before passing under the Coventry Road bridge.
We passed nb Sunny Brid between Nutts Lane and the Limekilns so Sue was able to re-aquaint herself with the theatre assistant from Glenfield hospital.
We pootled our way down the Ashby to Marston junction in what we would describe as perfect boating weather; warm with cloud cover and only light winds.
At the junction we swung left towards Hawkesbury, when we used to do this with Phoenix III we could make it in a single sweep but it is a different matter with Caxton. We got around without trouble and carried on down through the Charity Dock and then passed what was once the Navigation pub and is now a beautiful house, well done to the new owners.
We hadn’t expected to get a mooring anywhere near Hawkesbury on a Friday evening and we were right so we carried on through the junction and stop lock. The turn was a potential source of entertainment for the many patrons of the Greyhound pub but they soon lost interest when it became obvious that we knew what we were doing.
We passed through the lock and then slipped between the boats moored on both sides of the cut. We noticed that the Elephant & Castle pub has gone the way of the Navigation and is also a private house now. A few minutes later and we reached our mooring for the evening, close to the M6 motorway but from past experience, a peaceful one.
We had a good night’s sleep on the visitor moorings at Market Bosworth, probably for the last time ever, the next time that we are here it will be inside the marina.
The sun shone and it was warm enough to get away with wearing a short sleeve shirt for a change. I have been wearing T-shirts all week it’s just that I have also been wearing a jumper or a fleece or both on top!
We met more boats in the first half an hour than we had done in the previous two days, obviously the sun was inspiring boaters to get on the move. Time really flies by when boating in this kind of weather and soon we were passing through Stoke Golding again. An hour later we reached Trinity marina where we filled up with diesel and paid for three night’s secure mooring. We have a few things to do at home and unfortunately I have to go to work for the rest of the week.
When we used to moor here with Phoenix III, it was very often difficult to negotiate our way around the marina and into our berth when it was windy. Today was easy because despite being a longer boat, Caxton has its bow thruster a.k.a girlie button. I reversed Caxton in through the marina entrance and then with a combination of throttle, direction control and thruster, popped the good ship in her alloted berth. We then went to the shop and settled our bill, emptying the wallet in the process. The dishwasher was still running so we decided that we would walk home and return later to check that everything was in order.
We went home, then went shopping and then walked to the Marina pub for dinner before giving Caxton the once over. All went well until it was time to leave for home again, Sue didn’t want to go and seemed to think that if she sat quietly maybe we would forget to go home! Unfortunately, she has to be at home from 7 am tomorrow to take delivery of some furniture and I need to be on a train at around the same time. It would have been possible to stay on board but it was more practical to spend the night at home. In the end I had to drag her by the hair, kicking and screaming like a prehistoric man dragging his woman to a cave – well, metaphorically speaking anyway.
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.
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 decided to bring the boat back to where we live at Hinckley last weekend and then we took her back this weekend in the company of our friends, Cliff and Liz. The adventure began on Saturday morning when we travelled by car to Braunston and headed off on to the North Oxford canal. The weather was glorious and we loved our cruise to Rugby where we stopped briefly to top up the water and make a short shopping trip to Tesco. We carried on and eventually moored between Ansty and Hawkesbury, benefitting from a clear satellite tv picture and a strong broadband signal.
Sunday brought another glorious day so we made our way to Hinckley and moored opposite the Limekilns on the A5. After tying the boat up we walked home and watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon – Hurray! We later returned to the boat and moved it on to the visitor moorings at Nutts Lane where we stayed for the evening. The following morning we walked back to the house and after a shower I went to work, later in the day Sue visited the Trinity marina and arranged a mooring for us for the rest of the week.
On Monday evening we made a trip up to bridge 22 before turning around and returning to the marina. Along the way we saw Treena from Carpe Diem waiting for her husband Stu to return to their online mooring outside the marina. Getting into our temporary berth was easy enough and after we had sorted ourselves out we just walked home.
The following Friday afternoon saw us leave the marina and start our journey to the boat’s home Braunston. We passed our old mate Jim near bridge 13 and then we saw Mamta Boy Lee near Bulkington a short while later. We were surprised to find that there were many spaces on the approach to Hawkesbury Junction and we availed ourselves of one of them before walking to the Greyhound where we had dinner. We decided to move on after dinner and following a short stop for water when we rounded the bend we made our way back to the place that we had moored the previous Saturday.
Saturday morning was yet another sunny one and we were on our way just after eight o’clock. We had a very enjoyable cruise in the summer sunshine and stopped again at Tesco Rugby where we stocked up for our meeting with Cliff, Liz and Lucy later in the day. After a short break we were on our way again and reached Hillmorton just before two o’clock. Cliff arrived on ‘Stonewall Jackson’ at half past five and we then all ate yet another of Sue’s delicious meals
Sunday morning was a bit of a lazy start for all of us and it was 9am before we ventured up the locks. With Liz crocked due to arthritis and Lucy generally disinterested, Sue worked both boats up through the Hillmorton flight in just under an hour. The run back to Braunston was a bit of a slog because we had a number of boats ahead but eventually we reached the marina just after midday. We walked back to the Boathouse pub where we met up with Cliff, Liz and Lucy who had walked from their mooring at bridge 89 and enjoyed a drink together. We left an hour later and returned to the boat before clearing our gear and driving home. Cliff and Liz are planning to go to Peterborough so we look forward to catching up with them at a later date.
So that was it, our trip from the boat home to our real home and back was over and we had enjoyed our time out on the cut along the way.
11th Sept Today, we looked at two narrowboats for sale on the Trinity Marina, Hinckley. One of them, “Phoenix III “, really caught our eye. A 52 foot 4 berth cruiser, she is 10 years old and is presented in a good, clean, well cared for condition.
12th Sept Today, we returned to take another look at “Phoenix III “ and we were not disappointed. As a result, we made an offer to buy her. Unfortunately, we will have to await the return of her owners before we can take ownership.
21st Sept So much frustration! The current owners of Phoenix III are unable to be contacted, perhaps they didn’t expect an offer so soon. Anyway, this leaves us in a sort of limbo, not knowing whether or not we are going to own this particular boat. In the meantime we walk to the marina, take a look at her and feed the ducks.
23rd Sept The sound of silence is now deafening. We understand that the current owners are abroad and that the man who lives on the boat when he works here will be returning to work on Thursday 27th. It still seems unbelievable that anyone would put a boat up for sale and then “disappear “ for three weeks.
28th Sept Well, Thursday 27th came and went and still no sign of the mysterious boat owner. A visit to the marina to see the broker reveals that there has been a mix up with the dates, the sellers are actually on holiday until the 29th! Let’s see what tomorrow brings?
UPDATE At ten past four we had a call from the broker letting us know that the owners had returned from holiday and have accepted the offer. Within ten minutes we had walked to the marina and paid our deposit! Hopefully we can take ownership within the next week or two. Afterwards we sat on the decking outside the Marina pub and had a celebratory drink. A boat passed by piloted by a couple who had been in the shop at the same time as us, “Which one did you buy? “, they called. “Phoenix III! “, we replied, “It’s in the marina! “. We got a big grin, a thumbs up and a cry of “Well done “, from the couple as they headed off down the canal towards the Limekilns.
29th Sept The weather today was pleasant, sunny and bright so we took a drive down to Braunston which is just under 25 miles from Hinckley. After a walk along the towpath to The Admiral Nelson, we sat by the adjacent lock, had a drink and watched a number of boats navigate the locks in both directions. Sue decided that she wants to be the lock keeper rather than steer the boat. We purchased a map of the Warwickshire Ring before returning home.
30th Sept Today was the big day! We visited Sam, the broker at the marina at 3pm. We have learned that we can take ownership this Friday, October 5th and we have now signed up for our mooring. Having handed over the necessary fees, all that remains is to insure the boat, transfer the BW Licence, see the owner for a handover meeting tomorrow and get the keys on Friday!!! Another celebratory drink at the Marina (how many more times are we going to celebrate buying this boat?) and then off home, happy!
1st Oct Today we met the current owner for a “handover “ meeting. Of course the real handover doesn’t happen until this coming Friday, however we had a chance to find out about the various pieces of equipment on board. As we first thought, this boat has been lovingly cared for by its owners. We also had our first opportunity to sit and relax in the comfort of the cabin, the rain was gently falling outside while we sat in the warmth provided by the stove. The boat has central heating, an immersion heater, a battery charger and a generator, so with the stove as well all forms of heat and light are on tap. Roll on Friday!
2nd Oct There’s not much left to do now except wait. We took a walk over to the marina this evening to have a look at how easy or more importantly, how difficult it will be to enter and leave the marina. After surveying the area from the bridge which spans the marina entrance, we were left with the impression that it should be alright if navigated with care.
5th Oct Mid afternoon and we’ve got the keys! We’re both pretty excited and pleased that Phoenix III is finally ours. We only spend about an hour or so, familiarising ourselves with the inside layout again. It is a beautiful sunny day and the temptation to take her out is almost overwhelming. However, we resist and leave our maiden voyage until Saturday.