If your are enjoying yourself the weeks go fast – and that’s what seems to be happening on Captain Hastings, it only seems yesterday when I was writing last week’s blog, yet seven days have passed by. This week we have enjoyed some amazing boating weather and it really has been a joy continuing our journey along the various waterways.
So how did this week go?
On the Tuesday we awoke early and peered through the windows, it was a dull day. There had been no interruptions to our sleep at the Coventry basin other than a police siren going past us at around 4.00am in the morning. Being in a city we quite expected this, indeed we thought it might be even worse, especially as one of the main ring roads are almost alongside this part of the canal. We had both decided to spend some time in Coventry, we like the diverse cultures it offers and wanted to visit the indoor market to purchase some herbs and spices. On the way we had been advised to also visit the automotive museum which we did. This was amazing and showed how cars have developed over the last 100 years or so, from pedal power onwards. We really enjoyed this, especially when one of the halls contained a range of cars our grandparents and parents had driven. It was a very nostalgic experience for us both indeed. At the end of the visit there is a simulation ride which shows what it is like to ride in the fastest car in the world, for £5 each this was well worth the treat. After the museum we headed for the market and were not disappointed, the colours of the unusual fruits and vegetables and the amazing smells of the herbs and spices were really breathtaking. We duly filled our shopping bags with goodies, ensuring we got extra to take back to our ‘brick’ home to share with our daughter and her husband Elliott, who we were meeting later on in the week. The only moan we have living on the boat is the hassle of carrying bags of shopping back to the boat. We really do miss our cars! When we got back to Captain Hastings, we headed off towards Hawkesbury junction in weather we hadn’t been expecting, torrential rain! Luckily there are no locks until the junction, so Sandra was able to keep dry. Fortunately she had the sense to put on the heating so when we finally moored up at the junction before you turn onto the Oxford Canal I was able to get dry and warm reasonably fast. British weather!
On Wednesday we headed off along the Oxford canal after going through a lock which drops and rises by only a matter on inches! The Oxford canal is very beautiful, even in the cold and windy weather we were experiencing. We both wrapped up and enjoyed the trip, it had been almost 8 years ago since we last did this stretch of water and there were changes, one of the pubs had now closed down and been converted into a fashionable canal-side property and one of the bridges (we think) was no longer there. We had arranged the previous day to moor the boat at Clifton Cruisers as we were going to our other home for a few days before heading off north to a friend’s wedding and staying a couple of days in a hotel. When we arrived we were shocked not to find a marina, just a row of boats along the tow path. We moored up at the services pontoon and were told to reverse into the only available vacancy near to the cafe. We had stipulated we needed electricity, as our batteries would soon deplete without the engine running and our solar panels would not be sufficient, running an AC fridge and freezer which we have on board. The owners connected us up to the land-line, we had no idea where this went to, but once plugged in everything worked – we had AC. These particular linear moorings were not ideal and you could tell they were for temporary boats and at £40.00 for four nights were not cheap. We were told the gates locked at five and there were no spare keys – so we called Emily our daughter who managed to pick us up with 15 minutes to spare! We left, both anxious for the safety of our beloved Captain Hastings. It wasn’t until we arrived home we realised they hadn’t taken our name, address or telephone number! What had we done!
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, we enjoyed family time and attended a beautiful wedding celebration of one of our dearest friends.
On Sunday we soon found ourselves heading back to the boat, both worried. On our arrival Emily and Elliott helped us to unload the car and take the bags to the boat, to our surprise Clifton Cruisers had moored another boat alongside ours – great business sense, two incomes from one spot! We were not happy and just couldn’t wait to get sorted and on our way. When we had unpacked and said our farewells, we sat down for a quick cup of coffee, only to find we had no electric, not only that the freezer had started to de-frost! Their land-line had tripped and they hadn’t re-set ours. Fortunately this must have only happened the previous day, or we would have been throwing out hundreds of pounds of spoilt food. Fortunately the batteries had remained at 100% due to the solar panels, I saw the owner who apologised and offered us an extra night free of charge, needless to say I declined his offer and was quick to exit, never to return. Shame really as we were going to fill up with diesel and get a pump out - a little more customer service would have been to his benefit in this regard. We were soon on our way heading towards Braunston, beautiful sunny day on a lovely canal, what more can you wish for. Needless to say, Sunday brings out the boaters – and it was very busy. As we passed one boat the owner shouted out ‘Captain Hastings – keep up the blog, love it!’ which was a little surreal. Sandra quipped – ‘well you have one reader at least!’ we carried along our relaxing journey until we saw a tree obstruction, we slowed down and suddenly the boat which should have slowed down to let us past (as it was obstructing his way) came across and clipped the rear end of the boat. He shouted, you should have been going faster! I replied that he should have been going slower or even reverse, rather than hitting my boat due to his hurry. Instead of apologising he shouted ‘I hope you boat doesn’t get a hole in it!!’ to which the both of us shouted back ‘so do we’ waived and burst out laughing. There really are some unusual characters to say the least on our canals just lately. We found a mooring spot soon after and a couple of hours from our original destination, it was hot and sunny and we fancied a break from everyone. However, just as we came into the moorings (reversing again!) we got something wrapped around the prop – I looked at Sandra, it was too hot to sort it, so we glided into position and both decided to sort this out the following day. We had found a rural location in the middle of nowhere – ideal, we could charge our batteries and recover from the last few days of our hectic lifestyle. We had no mobile signal, no broadband signal, no TV signal – heaven!!
On the Monday, first thing I was in the engine bay with water up to my armpit as I tried to untangle the debris from the propeller. This time it wasn’t an old coat or indeed a fender wrapped around, this time it was rope, string and some form of red shirt fabric. Needles to say we set off a little later than anticipated, noticing the power the Solar Panels were delivering, and the sun really does make them work well. It’s a shame that as soon as we start the engine and the alternator from the engine kicks in, the Solar panels become redundant – all that wasted power. We could have remained where we were without a worry about batteries 93% full!. However, today was our wedding anniversary 35 years, and although we would have preferred an Indian meal (our absolute favourite food) we realised the best we could hope for was a pub meal of some type. We were soon on the Grand Union (Central) canal and to our amazement we found a super mooring opposite the ‘Mill House Pub’ a typical food pub, not one for the traditionalist however. We arrived there at lunchtime, re-positioned the Solar panels. We then did what boaters do, messed around tinkering, washing the boat, shining the various bits and just chilling, well almost! In the morning our beloved dog woke and couldn’t walk on one leg. I told Sandra it must be a bite, Sandra (half-glass empty!!) thought it was arthritis, possibly cancer!! After rubbing the leg with deep heat, germolene and dosing her up with anti histamine, the poor dog slowly recovered and after lunch she was her normal troublesome self! A guy passing told us we could get the pub WiFi from where we were moored, so I was very happy, electric – free, WiFi – free, dog sorted (Sandra happy and not stressed) and we realised that at the pub opposite you could get two meals for the price of one! Later at around 4.00pm we headed for a meal and a few beers – what a life!
So, another great week, a bit of time spent off the boat but still a really enjoyable week for us two.