This week has been a more difficult week for us on the boat, nothing to do with the lifestyle, the boat or even the lovely (and not so nice) people we have met along the way, it has been difficult because the two of us are not very good when we are not 100% in terms of health. We start to nag at each other or worse have episodes of quietness where we communicate very little with each other. Fortunately, having known each other for nearly 40 years, we understand the grumpiness of each other, but being on a boat and in a confined space it can be harder than on ‘dry land’. Sandra has had a mild flu and sore throat for 4 or five days and I have had a terrible back pain. However, as I update the blog, we are both recovering well and already I can see the smiles come back into our lives.
So how did last week work out…..
Last Tuesday we managed to get to Fradley (one of our favourite places on the canal system) and we were really lucky to find a reasonable mooring spot just past the swing bridge on the Coventry canal. It was on a slight curve so the front end of Captain Hastings stuck out a little, but we still managed to moor up firmly. The weather was amazing with sun and blue skies all day long and after our late lunch we decided to take the dog for a good walk. At Fradley there is a great nature park with a walk around a small lake, we walked the long way around passing over the 4th lock gates and walking back on ourselves into the park. When we returned to the boat we decided to have a cosy night on the boat, even though it had been a hot day, it was nice and cool as the sun disappeared. We decided it was wine time early and thoroughly enjoyed a good bottle of red wine. The fresh air and continuous activity seems to make us quite tired and around 10.00pm we were ready for bed – we both slept well.
Wednesday was a cloudier and colder day, I took a stroll up the cut and met up with a trader, he was selling a whole range of plants from his narrow boat, a really nice guy. He explained that his boat was very old – the hull being 110 years old. He also warned us of a despicable character further up the canal who during the night thieves things off boats. It will be a shame if the boating fraternity are invaded by this ‘low life’ scum! Our boat wouldn’t be suitable for plants, and neither of us have ever been ‘green fingered’ so we said our goodbyes and started are trip along the Coventry. Sandra was very quiet and it was soon apparent that she was not feeling her normal self. Her way of managing illness is to isolate herself from the world! Along the trip we passed Streethay Wharf the place that fitted our new battery bank (5 x leisure batteries). The Mastervolt system was now working perfectly so the planned visit to meet Tom, the electrician was cancelled. We looked for him to give him a wave, but the boat traffic was hectic. We went through Hopwas, where we have moored before and enjoyed superb meals at the canal side pub. We arrived at Frazeley in Tamworth around 3.30pm. Sandra had already prepared and cooked along the way a super beef casserole in the slow cooker, so as the weather wasn’t great we ‘cosied’ up to another night on the boat, a good film and a hearty meal.
Thursday Sandra felt worse than ever and had little sleep during the night. We decided to stay put rather than head off to Polesworth our planned destination. The benefit of cruising like we do is we can change plans easily, without stress! Sandra remained most of the day indoors keeping warm and unlike Sandra decided to have an afternoon nap; clearly this was more than a cold. Although we have a good electrical system on the boat, 5 x leisure batteries, Powerpack and 4 x solar panels we still purchased for emergencies a 2.6kw Kipor generator. I thought, as it was cloudy and the Solar panels were producing very little, that rather than switch the boat engine on to charge the batteries for the evening which would disturb Sandra, I would try out the generator for the second time ever. I lifted it from the locker and onto the grass at the side of the boat; it was during this I had a slight twinge in my back – later I realised I had pulled a muscle. The start of my misery began! Later on we both decided to have a walk into the town, we found a brilliant Indian restaurant which we had visited a few years ago who had a meal deal on a Thursday evening. We decided to try it out, even though we were both feeling less than 100%. By the time we had got back to the boat, we just couldn’t be bothered to return to the eatery. Another night on the boat, this time without a glass of wine and SALAD - this is my least favourite food in the entire world.
Friday was another lovely sunny day again, I was also happy that my new Facebook forum ‘Nature Followers Group for Boaters’ now had 220 members and lots of people were posting some amazing stuff on there, however, we both felt quite rough, Sandra was a little better, but I was suffering from back pain. Before we headed off to Polesworth we met up with a fellow boater and had an amazing half-hour chat, he was 75 years of age and he and his wife had been living on their boat for 14 years, it was a x timeshare boat and was exactly the type of boat we had years ago. He was a great guy and already we have ‘friended’ him, before he left, he warned us of a guy on a boat that steals things off other boats and in the middle of the night sucks out diesel from boat tanks – bad news travels fast on the waterways! We filled up water and headed off. Glorious boating weather and I could see this was doing Sandra good; she was starting to chat more. By the time we got to Polesworth it was nearly 4.00pm and we were lucky to find a spot where we have moored before – a favourite spot just before the town and very near to a pub and Indian restaurant combined. It was wine time at 5.00pm, so we sat out on the back and before long our neighbours from the boat behind had joined us for a glass or two. This is what you can’t explain to non-boaters, how we all chat, how we all make friends – you are never lonely in our community. After the 3rd bottle of wine and at around 8.30pm we all ventured for an Indian meal, especially as we had missed the one the previous night. It was superb (nothing like salad!!) - A good night was had and we all ‘wobbled’ back to the boats!
Saturday we chatted more to our neighbours and waived them goodbye as they went along their journey – to the nearest turning hole as they had to get back to their permanent moorings. Although a cloudy day, it was still warm and quite sunny. Our intention was to complete the Atherton flight of locks, but as the day passed the weather got hotter, so we decided to moor up after four of the locks. Not the best place to moor, near to a main road and also the field close by had just been ‘muck spreaded’. However, Sandra produced an excellent asparagus and cured ham risotto, another advantage of living with Sandra – she is a qualified chef! We decided that we would abstain from the drink for a few days so tonight was without an alcoholic beverage!!
Sunday we were off early and soon got through the rest of the locks, we filled up with water at the top lock and chatted for ages to the lock keeper (volunteer?) who was a font of information, Sandra also looked around the books and ‘borrowed’ one with permission. Soon we were heading along the Coventry passing the Ashby canal which we have enjoyed previously. Today was another hot day and great boating weather as there was a breeze in the air as well. As we neared our preferred mooring, we came across a boater who had got his boat trapped across the canal when he had tried to turn and realised to late he was too long with the fenders down. Once he had sorted this out we then had to follow him for nearly an hour on tick over and he was weaving from one side of the canal to another. In this situation we usually moor up for an hour or so, or slow down, but as he was on tick-over we could go no slower – for a change I hooted and gestured to him to let me over-take. He allowed me to do this. As we passed we were sure they were drunk, although one shouted out that he was teaching the other how to boat. If only! As we neared to Hawkesbury Junction where we hoped to moor, we saw a fellow boater in trouble. We slowed down and as I did I explained that I was unable to help him at all mechanically (being severely challenged regarding ability in this area) – but could tow him somewhere. He was pleased of the suggestion and we were soon in tow with another boat. Sandra remained vigilant at the rear with the rope of their boat in her hand ready to fling it far away from our propeller, should there be a need – the last thing we wanted was a prop problem caused by a tangled rope, especially with my back, which had, by the way, progressively got worse! We soon arrived at Hawkesbury and let the boat move to the tow path on its own accord. We were, again, really lucky to find a super mooring spot quite close to the pub. We decided to have a pub meal and few pints; we felt we had deserved it.
Monday was a cloudy and cold day, I did my weekly oil check, all good and spent some time refilling the Grease tube, I also noted the engine had now done a total of only 850 hours. She was still like brand new! Today we were heading for the Coventry Basin! As we left Hawkesbury the first thing we noticed was the change of scenery, we were now heading into a city we passed lots of streets of terraced houses and shop rears and factories, we both enjoy industrial landscapes, but we both dislike the griminess of the canal waters, strewn with litter, bottles, bags and worse. I was very guarded, no way was I going to put the boat in reverse which tends to suck up everything into the weed hatch and clog the propeller. We moved slowly along this stretch of the canal and as we entered bridge 7 the whole of the boat started to list at an alarming 45 degrees. Doors and drawers swung open in the cabin of the boat and for a split second we were both convinced the boat would tip over. Fortunately as the boat went over whatever was hidden in the water it righted itself and we were back on a steady course. We arrived at Coventry Canal Basin late afternoon and moored up. We were later joined by our boater friends Colin and Heather who had accompanied us for four days when we did our trip to Trevor in Wales. We chatted and laughed a great deal and when they left we decided to drive home, we had to, with Coventry being such a diverse place, try an Indian curry (you must have noticed this is a common theme among our posts!). We were not let down, although getting a delivery person to deliver to the bright yellow boat on the canal basin was fun, the meal was excellent, and as were the few beers we had to help it go down.
Another seven days over, although both of us not feeling a 100%, we still had an exciting and enjoyable time on Captain Hastings – our home on water.