Tuesday, 12 July 2016

14th Week (w/e 11/7/2016)

We have had a quiet week onboard Captain Hastings this week, most of it at Debdale Wharf Marina, hooked up to electric and enjoying no cruising for a few days. This marina will be our boat ‘home’ from October, so it has been good to get to know some of the staff and other people that moor there.

So how has it gone this week……????

Tuesday we awoke on the boat with a heavy agenda in front of us. Emily our daughter was keen for us to meet up with her as she was not at school. Being a member of the teachers Union meant she was on strike, a good cause to try and get the government to fund schools more for the education of children. Rather than waste the day it was decided for us that we would paint her bedroom and help her get the children’s nursery ready for when she gives birth to our first grandchild in October. So for most of the day (except for a break of coffee and cake and a trip to a town to pick up a cot mattress!) all three of us got on with the tasks. It was a welcome change for Sandra and I and we really enjoyed the day and the evening family night together, along with Elliott our son in law. Needless to say when we returned to our boat we went straight to bed and both of us slept well.

Wednesday we left the boat early and headed for Stamford for me to attend a hospital appointment. This ended up being a total waste of time as our local doctor had made an error and this particular hospital was inappropriate. We both headed back realising that the NHS can sometimes be its own worst enemy in regards to managing financial resources and glad it wasn’t anything serious I needed attention with. Rather than going back to the boat we realised we still had most of the afternoon spare, so we stopped off at Corby the old steel town we had visited the day before. This town has had a real facelift and it was good to see the place vibrant and busy. We visited our favourite shop there ‘Home Bargains’ to buy soda crystals and a few dozen citronella candles to help keep the mosquitoes out of the boat and then exchanged the mattress we had purchased the day before, this time ensuring it was the right size!. We then headed off to Kettering where we took advantage of two tickets for the price of one deal (compare the market promotion) and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching a great film ‘Now you see me 2’. Afterwards we headed off to see Emily only to find the mattress was still wrong - too big this time! We chilled out with Emily who had just returned back from work after having a horrendous day with the teenage kids she teaches. We then returned back to our boat exhausted and already looking forward to the start of our next long trip to Oxford and beyond. We opened a bottle of wine and relaxed.

Thursday, we returned to Emily’s and finished off the painting the bedroom. I also decided to cut the mattress to fit, rather than take another journey to Corby which was quite a trek. It was a success and when Emily returned she was very happy with the result and really pleased with her and Elliot’s bedroom which was now finished in her desired colour. I also visited B and Q to try and get a perfect match for touching up the yellow on the cabin of our boat. All boats paint bleach in the sun and the spare paint I had was now too dark; I needed a slightly lighter yellow. Fortunately they were able to mix and match a Litre of external metal paint (gloss) to exactly the shade I needed, although costly at £27, well worth it, the little scratches and the small rust spots here and there would soon be history on the boat! Sandra and I felt really happy with ourselves and were soon back on the boat finishing off the previous nights bottle of wine. We don’t think ourselves as drinkers, but we do enjoy a glass of wine most nights – or gin and tonic, or a beer, or a larger – anything alcoholic really!

Friday ended up a frustrating day, we found that Debdale Wharf’s new marina in North Kilworth, which we were going to moor at, had decided to classify us as ‘heavy users’ and therefore we would have to pay two ‘service charges’ they levy. This made the new marina very expensive and as we intend to only be mooring there for around five months of the year in total, and then not ‘living’ on the boat 100% of the time whilst there, we felt this was a bit of a liberty. I sent an email to the owner and Manager highlighting our disappointment. We then met up with another person who moors at Debdale Wharf and they helped us make up our mind to remain at where we are from October on a ‘permanent basis’. This may seem to a lot of people a waste of money, especially as we will be cruising for most of the boating season, but Sandra and I just want to be able to keep close contact with Emily and Elliott and the new baby, and also to have a ‘home’ for our boat. Later I received an email from the management of the new marina basically telling me they may have made a mistake and could I meet with them to discuss the situation further. I replied back, we had made our decision! In the afternoon I tried out the new yellow paint – perfect match. Later on we drove to Emily’s to leave our car at the house in readiness for our forthcoming cruise down the Oxford and beyond. Emily and Elliott then drove us to a super little Indian Restaurant in the village of Fleckney (we had enjoyed a takeaway from there the previous week) and all four of us enjoyed a good curry, in fact we ‘pigged’ out and felt so full! They then dropped us back at the marina and we said our goodbyes.

Saturday we paid for our temporary moorings and double checked we had sufficient food stocks for the next few months, which did have. We then had a lovely full ‘English’ breakfast and then headed off for Foxton, one of our favourite places. We moored up and were pleased to be joined by Emily and Elliott and their friend in the afternoon, the weather was gorgeous. Late afternoon after they had left we ventured to ‘Bridge 61’ the boater’s pub at Foxton, which was surprisingly quiet, except for a birthday party which had booked Sam’s (the owner of the pub) trip boat. When they returned and the party goers exited, Sam asked me to get on the boat where he showed me his latest gadget – strips of LED lights which changed colours, ideal for a part boat. Afterwards we headed back to Captain Hastings excited for Sunday, when we would be heading up the locks and onwards.

Sunday was bright and sunny, we filled up with water and then booked our place to go up the locks, and we were pleased to be joined by Jason (Sandra’s brother) and Glenda his wife, who helped us through the locks. At the top we pulled in, not before the wind had pushed me across the canal, fortunately the bow thrusters enabled me to get the boat back on track. We were also happy when Emily and Elliott also joined us, just to say goodbye. We had an ice cream and Emily gave me my Birthday present for me to open next week on my 57th birthday. We felt quite emotional as we waved goodbye, but then realised that Emily and Elliott were joining us next week to show off their brand new car and for an evening meal in a canalside pub, and in the worse scenario we would only be an hour or so away as we head southwards! We left Foxton around 1.00pm and spent the next two hours really enjoying the beautiful Leicestershire and Northamptonshire countryside made amazing by the lovely sunshine. We went through the Bosworth tunnel without any issues and we were soon at North Kilworth Wharf, where we had arranged for a pump out and a fill up with diesel. This is the place we moored our first ever boat some 20 years ago, so it was very much like going home. Now under new ownership, we were more than happy with the superb service. We filled up our domestic tank of diesel (we have two on board one for propulsion and one for heating and cooking etc) and were surprised it took 173 litres. We decided to moor up just past the Welford Arm, the weather was still good, and so we touched up the black and decided that tomorrow we would give the boat a good wash and polish. Great, time for a BBQ and wine!

Monday was another bright and sunny day, Sandra did a spring clean inside the boat and I washed and polished the boat. The finished job was stunning, but how long would it look like this, especially with the Watford locks ahead of us! We decided not to rush and we took a very slow cruise down the lock free canal until we came to Yelvertoft, where we moored just before the marina. We managed to find a position in between two boats. We set up the TV aerial and searched for the signal and just as we were about to settle down for the evening we were knocked by a fellow boater, who asked whether we could tow his boat into the slip way of the marina. It was the boat directly behind us and of course we agreed to this. We then had fun and games pulling him the half-mile or so. Soon he was clear of our boat and being pulled up the slipway ready for the marine engineer to visit the following day. About an hour later he knocked on the boat again, a bottle of wine in hand thanking us for helping him, I told him it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted. Sandra re-tuned the TV only to find that due to the new location we could not pick up channels – no Emmerdale, not a happy person. We decided to watch a DVD and enjoy the wine!

So, an unusual week over and now back on our boating adventure. Next week we head down towards Oxford and join our friends Colin and Heather, with their boat Miss Lemon, for a couple of weeks.

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