Thursday, 23 June 2016

11th Week (w/e 20/6/2016)

This week has been another great week where both of us have enjoyed ourselves doing what we like doing best – boating! The only down side has been my reoccurring back pain, which was caused by lifting a generator off the boat. It just goes to show you have to be mindful of lifting things. I spoke to a nurse friend of mine who said there isn’t much you can do other than keep moving and then rest – and take tablets! So that’s what I have been doing with Sandra supporting me (in her own way).

So how has this week gone……??

On Tuesday we left our lovely rural mooring spot and started our way towards Foxton. This stretch of water is 23 miles of lock free canal and it meanders through open countryside with the odd village here and there. We moored up for lunch as we were in no hurry, we were ahead of time and it was nice to relax. In fact we did contemplate whether to stay there for the night and to be honest we should have. As we set off the heavens opened, for once the weather forecast was right – heavy rain! It rained and it rained and I got absolutely soaked, fortunately Sandra had switched on the heating, so when we finally moored at one of our favourite mooring spots which we had moored at many times before (at the junction of the Welford arm) I was able to get out of the clothes and get warm, in fact I stepped out of the clothes and straight into a hot steamy shower. On Captain Hastings we have a super double sized shower with an extra powerful shower and soon I was refreshed and warm. Sandra had draped the damp clothes around ‘Big Bertha’ (Aga) and I was soon drinking a hot coffee. We settled down for the evening, Sandra is hooked on two television programmes – Emmerdale and an American TV show – CSI Miami. Unfortunately the TV signal was terrible – so we reverted to our DVD collection of CSI Miami (2800 hours worth in fact!) only to find that the JVC combined LED TV and DVD wouldn’t work, well in fact the DVD part wouldn’t. This was not good news – Sandra was well mad! Fortunately we also have a digital TV recorder so we switched this on and watched a film – sorted!

On Wednesday after a good sleep, other than that Sandra had been awakened by a noise she couldn’t really describe during the night!! We headed off on our journey. We passed through the edge of North Kilworth and reminisced of the times we used to moor our boats at the small marina there. It was here that we experienced boating for the first time some 20 years ago! We also marvelled at the new marina being developed to on the left – opposite. It is here where we have secured a permanent mooring which we will have sometime in 2017. It is owned by Mike Goole who we have known for years and who also owns and operates the Debdale Wharf Marina complex. Soon we were entering North Kilworth tunnel, and just as we entered another boat was coming out, no problem we were experts!! After the tunnel we had another few miles of meandering canal, really enjoyable with weather not too hot, but nice – ideal boating weather. We arrived at Foxton locks around lunchtime, there were lots of reserved signs for trading boats etc, in readiness for the festival scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday, Sandra commented that she thought it was not necessary to stop all mooring so early in the week. We passed a couple of old working boats and moored up ready to go down, one boat in front – or so we thought! A couple came by and told us quite directly that they were before us, to which we replied – no problem, we are not in a hurry! I think the Lockkeeper heard and soon he was chatting to us, laughing at the colour of our boat and also quizzing us about the canopy – as he had just ordered one similar for his own boat. He told us the wait would be 45 minutes – which was fine with us. Sandra cooked us a small brunch of Bacon, eggs and black pudding and just as we had finished the Lockkeeper came back to us and said we could go down, so long as we didn’t mind stopping in the pontoon half way down, he said this was quicker. We said we were happy with this, he then followed us down the locks and we chatted. He retold me a number of stories of some of the nice boaters he has met whilst working at Foxton and also some of the ‘not so nice’ people!! We were soon down the locks and to our amazement found a superb two day mooring (£25 for every day thereafter) just past the first bridge (bridge 61) on the right. There is a great boaters pub at Bridge 61 – in fact we know the father and son who opened this up when they had a row with the then British Waterways and had to leave the leased pub across from this (which is now a typical eating establishment!!!!) we were pleased they were making such a great success of this, and as we passed we could see they had now developed the outside space to cater for more customers. We decided to visit the pub, one of my dear old school friends known locally as ‘Bob the Log’ (he used to cut trees down for logs and sell them to fellow boaters) lives on a boat at Foxton and we were hoping to see him. Around teatime we left for the pub, Sandra had already prepared a salad (salad – my worse food) for when we got back. Unfortunately, Bob had already left the pub after having started his daily intake of beers at lunchtime! We sat outside and watched the last few boats come out of the bottom gates of the locks. It was so relaxing and as usual we were soon chatting to other boaters and it wasn’t long before there was a group of us. As it was getting colder we went indoors only to be joined by a group of folk singers and musicians. We had an amazing night and left for the boat around 11pm – wrecked!! We both couldn’t remember eating the salad.

On Thursday we awoke a little later than usual and thought it might be better is we head towards Debdale Wharf Marina - as this was where we were going to moor for a week, to allow us to meet up with friends and family. On route we decided to go past the marina and turn at the turning point a few miles further down, just before Saddington tunnel near to Fleckney. As we went along I saw an amazing mooring spot, really rural, probably the most rural we had ever seen, and still in walking distance to Debdale. So we turned the boat around and soon we had secured the boat. We decided to have a walk to the marina to pick up our car, which friends had dropped off a few days earlier. It was weird sitting in a car and driving at such speed – Sandra told me I would have to go faster as I was only going 20 miles an hour!! We drove to Market Harborough where we had lived for 20+ years and did some shopping in Sainsbury’s and Argos, where we purchased a small DVD player – Sandra was missing her CSI Miami!! On our return we settled down for a cosy night, I set up the DVD whilst Sandra prepared the Indian meal we had purchased – needless to say, after the night before, alcohol was off the agenda!

On Friday, we decided to return to Foxton, to give the boat a run, we passed Debdale Wharf marina which is only 15 minutes boating from Foxton. As we came into Foxton, yet again we were amazed to find excellent mooring just passed the water point, so we turned the boat around and decided to have another day at Foxton. When we were settled we went for a little walk, my back was giving me a great deal of pain, so we took it steady. We stopped at ‘Bridge 61’, not for a beer, but for an ice cream as the weather was glorious. We sat down and did what we like doing best, boat and people watching. Yet again it wasn’t long before we were chatting to the ‘Dragon Fly’ woman, a name we had christened her as she had a trading boat called the same. She was a continuous cruiser, trying to make a living from selling T shirts and knitwear. We headed back for late afternoon, and I had to, for the first time give into the back pain and had a lay down. After which the pain subsided somewhat. We decided to stay on the boat that night and not be tempted by Bridge 61, especially as we had Emily (our daughter) and Elliott (son in law) visiting us the following day for the Foxton Festival along with two of their friends. At 6.00pm Sandra’s brother Jason and his wife Glenda called in to see us as they only live a short distance from Foxton. It was great to see them both, especially Jason who was looking so well after completing his sixth session of chemotherapy. He told us the future looked good and that the prognosis was positive. We enjoyed a good night – drinking tea and coffee. No alcohol again – was this a sign of us becoming boring?

On Saturday we got prepared for family and friends, Sandra did her catering bit! And soon we were joined by Emily and all. They had a few beers (Emily did not as she is expecting our first grandchild in October) and all six of us had a really good laugh. We had already arranged to move from Foxton to Debdale Wharf Marina that day, as it was the first time Emily’s friends had experienced a narrow boat. We boated to the marina and soon we were moored, where our boat would be for the next seven days. We connected electricity, turned off the inverter and all headed for the car (fortunately a 7 seater) and off to the Festival. The festival was great, lots of old boats and trading boats and a field full of various attraction and events, dog show, singing competition and so on. There was also a fun fair and two large areas (one indoors) for live bands to perform. It was a well organised event and were pleased to be joined by other friends and family. We lasted until around 6.30pm and decided to say our goodbyes. We got in the car and both of us decided we could do with a beer! It was our first alcoholic drink for a few days. We headed for Market Harborough where not only did we have a beer, but also picked up an Indian take-away, from quite seriously our most favourite restaurant (and we have travelled a lot – including having many holidays in India). We walked in and was greeted by our first names from the owner –soon we were back on the boat eating a delicious meal – Lamb Tikka Dansak vindaloo hot for me and chicken Tikka Bhuna for Sandra. We enjoyed another drink and were both in bed for 10.00pm.

Sunday we awoke to birdsong early in the morning which was not a good thing as both of us had not had very good nights sleep – eating a heavy spicy meal late on in the evening is not a good. I had suffered from indigestion and me getting out of bed at 2.00am to find a Rennie – had disturbed Sandra and once this happens she cannot get back into her deep sleep pattern. We busied ourselves during the day, Sandra cleaning and getting the washing sorted and I arranged for us to go to a great Steak Restaurant in a place called Western by Welland. A pub we have been to before. As it was Fathers Day, Emily was also coming along – with Elliot going off to be with his father. When we got to the pub we realised that going to a popular eating place on father’s day isn’t the best of decisions. It took us a while to get a seat and then we had to wait for nearly an hour to receive our food! Fortunately we were in no hurry and we chatted and chatted. The meal was thrown together, but to be honest it was incredibly good – I had a real succulent 12oz steak – faultless.

On Monday we decided to have a day off the boat, so we went off to Market Harborough and did a little shopping and couldn’t believe how much the town had changed. We had previously lived here for nearly 20 years, and before moving north for a decade or so, Market Harborough had been our home. It now very much resembled a London suburb, lots of designer shops, coffee shops and more. We looked through the window of an estate agent and were surprised how costly houses were becoming – being 55 minutes from London by train has a distinct advantage. We were pleased that when we moved from the north last year that we had purchased a house only 4 miles away from this town, a little cheaper than Harborough – but like all places close enough to the ‘hot spot’ resulting hopefully in a house that should increase in value substantially. Mind you, living on our boat as we do and enjoying it so much, the thought of returning back to bricks and mortar – being the last thing on our minds. Later we returned back to the boat and had a lovely walk around the marina. Debdale Wharf is an unusual place, it’s a real working boat yard where they fix manufacture and stretch boats as well as maintain and repaint boats – it feels as if the moored boats are an ‘add on’, but already we had witnessed a real community amongst moorers. We nipped into the office and picked up a book and also 'The Canal Times' monthly free newspaper, which is really popular by boaters - and were really pleased to see that Sandra and I along with our boating history were in it on a two page feature, also including our Blog!! Pleased with this we treated ourselves to a lovely meal and a nice bottle of wine (wine time again - I can hear you say!) and retired early, ready for the week ahead.

Next week, how do we survive being marina based for a week?

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