Day 3 - Wolseley Bridge - Huddlesford
Day 4 - Huddlesford - Alvecote
Day 5 - Alvecote - Hawkesbury
Day 6 - Hawkesbury - Braunston
It says a great deal for this trip that the most memorable thing has been marvelling at the wild flowers, especially the roses, growing in such glorious abundance. We've not been seriously aground once; the worst incident was getting stemmed up yesterday on a bend having been put off by a pair of plastic cruisers moored on the outside - not wanting to plough into them, losing the line of the channel, and ending up with the front of the boat stuck in mud on the inside of the bend. It should have been easy enough to reverse off, especially as I realised what was happening and went into reverse straight away. It took a while though, until I dared put a LOT of revs on, and then it pulled back off, and Jim shafted the front round to save it happening all over again. Lesson from that: don't be afraid to give it lots of welly. The most galling thing was that was we went by, a woman in one of the plastic boats leant out and waved - having stayed well hidden all the time we could have done with some help. I have been miss congeniality all this trip, even with the most egregious halfwits, but I'm afraid she got a Hard Stare.
People mooring on bends and too near bridgeholes is still the bane of my life. Although I'm getting better and better at working round it, it soes make life difficult. BW haven't helped by designating visitor moorings right up to bridgeholes - there was one very bad example which I made a mental note of, but I've lost the note...
As I get more experience I am starting to be able to think through and articulate some of the issues that arise with a big boat. For example, if a full length boat is passing you coming the other way, unless it's a long straight stretch, don't expect them to move over and carry on in a straight line parallell to you until you've passed eachother. Think instead in terms of passing the front and the back of the oncoming boat in two separate operations. If I am approaching you, you may well think I'm heading straignt for you. But I need to point my fore end towards you in order to be able to swing it out at the right moment. When I do, and a gap opens up at the front of the boat, move into it and keep moving! I need you out of the way of the fore end so that I can swing it in behind you and so swing the stern out of your way, and thus we get past each other without anyone getting stuck in the mud/on the rocks/in the bushes. So, please, when passing oncoming boats, keep going and don't be afraid to pass close. It is not necessary to be able to get a double decker bus between us. Six inches is plenty. Here endeth today's lesson. And of course it doesn't only apply to full length bpats; they're just the most extreme case. It applies to all the boats that are passing you too, and what you wish they would do in an ideal world.
Anyway, back to the travelogue. We stopped at Alvecote on Tuesday to meet up with No. 2 Son after his event in Tamworth, and were were also joined by Phil and Ros, whose boating on Warbler has been sadly curtailed by injury. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their ownership of Warbler, which is certainly cause for celebtation. We had a nice meal in the Samuel Barlow and were able to enjoy the football with the sound off.
The next day we decided to press on to Hawkesbury regardless of the cat's complaints. We were stuck behing a very slow couple going up Atherstone, whose response to any suggestion of more effective ways of working was 'but that's dangerous!'. Fortunately there was another couple between us to share the pain - Alison and Charlie on Pendragon, an immaculate Hancock and Lane boat that's been in the family since Alison's father bought it new in 1979. We got on so well with them that we spent the evening in the Greyhound with them, after an excellent meal. The food at the Greyhound has always been good in my experience, but this time it was even better. Most of the menu was on the dearish side but my 8oz rump steak at £9 was the bargain of the menu, coming with lovely chips, a grilled tomato and herb crusted mushrooms - and no pathetic little 'salad' getting in the way.
We weren't planning to push on all the way to Braunston yesterday but were going to stop a couple of hours short. However, the sun came out just as we came up Hillmorton, so we thought we'd go for it. With Fenny hot on our tail and a very speedy hire boat in front as pacemaker, we fairly flew along the last bit to arrive in Braunston in time for tea (well, late tea/early supper, or what I, with my southern lower middle class roots would have called dinner), followed by a lovely evening on Owl with Jim and Sue and family, making serious inroads into their wine cellar.
Today dawns damply, but who knows what the weekend will bring. We are currently tied up in the arm, adjacent to the marquee, in order to unload the shop. I don't know whether we'll be staying in the arm after we've done that. As a nice shiny GU boat we would probably be a good candidate, but I worry that it might be hard to get out for the parades.