Jim could cope with the cold; I was more worried about his uninsulated companion. However, he managed fine, with a little help from whichever of us was dogsitting at the time.
|He had his winter coat on underneath too|
I went to Braunston first, lit the fire and (with Pete's help, sweet talking no longer working and my arms being slightly too short effectively to operate the start button and the decompressor silmultaneously; must do something about that) got the engine fired up. The plan had been to move the boat onto the towpath but we decided it would be easier to load luggage on Pete's mooring, moving across only to load man and dog. Once the fire was going and the cabin tidied, and Pete paid for his fabulous work, I drove over to Alvecote to meet Jim. It took longer than I'd expected - I don't know why, I've done it often enough - and we then had to wait a while for our lunch there. So it was later than I'd envisaged when we set off back to Braunston. Jim then got into an argument with the satnav that resulted in our travelling from Alvecote to Braunston via central Coventry, which was interesting. When we arrived, Ryan on Southern Cross was just about to tie up, and he came bearing cake, so we stopped for a cup of tea before finally departing. In one final communication breakdown, I winded the boat and got onto the Midland Chandler's mooring expecting Jim and Ricky to embark there, only to discover that they'd gone all the way round to the towpath, so a bit more reversing and wriggling was required before we finally set off with about an hour of daylight to spare.
There was still ice on the canal but it was already broken; by the morning it was almost entirely gone. On Friday we were at Hawkesbury by about three, and I made the executive decision to stop there and take advantage of the pub's light and heat for the hours between dusk and bedtime. This meant a bit more of a rush to get to Alvecote by Saturday night, but despite slow going through Atherstone we made it in time to stop on the towpath if not actually get into the marina. In fact this had always been my plan, as unloading the boat, clothing it up, and getting Ricky off would have been nigh on impossible once on the cheap and cheerful historic mooring behind the pub. As it turned out, there were four other boats there already, meaning Chertsey is once again adjacent to the slipway, but the boarding plank had by this stage metamorphosed back into a top plank, so the only way off was to climb across four joshers (Greyhound, Jaguar, Northolt and France, in case you were wondering. And not all facing the same way) Which I am getting quite good at, but Ricky isn't.