Tuesday, 6 September 2016

21st Week (W/e 29/8/2016)

Week twenty-one of our boating journey and we are still enjoying the time onboard Captain Hastings. We have our moments personally and every now and then we need time alone, but overall we get on with enjoying our early retirement and each other’s company famously.

So how did this week go…..?

Tuesday was another warm and sunny day; we left our rural mooring spot and headed for North Kilworth Wharf where we moored opposite on the tow path just before lunch. We had already contacted the owners of the Wharf and were pleased to find that they had a super mooring spot along the canal with full services available from the 1st September on a permanent basis. We agreed we would take this after checking it out – it was ideal, one side of the boat facing straight onto the canal – a linear mooring, just what we had been looking for. We were going to moor at Debdale Wharf Marina the other side of Foxton Locks, but this new mooring ticked all of our boxes. We had arranged for Sandra’s car to be parked at the wharf to give us the opportunity to drive ourselves to and from our destination, so although our mooring spot wasn’t available yet, we still had use of the car. We decided to drive over to see Emily which took around 35 minutes and spent some quality time with our daughter who was still on her summer break from school. We got back to the boat after 6.00pm, tired as we had helped her sort her house out ready for her baby, painting, putting up pictures, shelves and so on. When we settled we just couldn’t be bothered to cook, so we had a sandwich and soon we were in bed fast asleep.

Wednesday we awoke to glorious sunshine, one of the hottest days yet. I messed around with the TV aerial and realised after a little further investigation on the internet that we were in a very low TV signal area – this meant getting TV channels would be difficult; our normal digital aerial would not cope sufficiently. We would have to sort something out as Sandra just wouldn’t be able to live without her daily shot of Emmerdale. We reversed the boat and then moved over to the Wharf side of the canal to the service bay. Our toilet which is a macerator style with a holding tank at the front of the boat needed emptying. We don’t have a gauge to tell us this, but we can tell by the sound of the flush. Rachael the owner did our pump out and thank heavens we did it there and then as we were very full indeed. We filled up with water and were pleasantly surprised that she charged us mooring rate at £9.50 – what a star! Soon we were off on our short journey heading towards Foxton on the upper Grand Union. We went through Husbands Bosworth tunnel and were for the first time happy to be protected from the sun as the temperature had risen to 31 degrees. We decided after the tunnel that we would find a shaded mooring spot, rather than go straight to Foxton. This is what I like about our style of boating – we can please ourselves when we stop – we have no time agenda. We found a super mooring spot and the rest of the afternoon we chilled out, Sandra completing her needlework – she is amazing at knitting and quilting, in fact crafts are her forte. The solar panels were working amazingly well, this summer they have certainly started to pay for themselves. Later we opened a good bottle of wine and ate alfresco!

Thursday was a cooler day which we were pleased about as we were heading for Foxton and would be going down the flight of locks there. Before going I did my normal engine check and decided to fill the grease tube. The TV signal was still playing on my mind, so I did some research and found that I would probably have to purchase a larger aerial with a bigger ‘gain’ I ordered one from Amazon. We were slowed down somewhat on our journey by Pheobe our long legged Jack Russell dog – whilst out on her walk she had been stung. We have learnt to use ‘human’ medicines on here and soon after anti histamines and sting spray, her tail was wagging again. We set off for our two hour journey, taking it really slow to take in this wonderful stretch of rural countryside – absolutely stunning. At 2.15pm we got to the top of the flight and met up with a couple on their boat in front who we had met twice so far on our journey – once in Stone and the other time near to Yelvertoft. I saw on his roof a TV aerial, so immediately I was trying to find out as much information as possible. He suggested that I get an aerial with a good amplifier. As we had to queue a little, we decided to have a late lunch and headed for the little café at the top of the locks, unfortunately we had to eat our hot sausage rolls on the boat as we were soon descending. We were soon at the bottom; we find the Foxton flight one of the easiest as there are usually many volunteer lockkeepers to hand. The only thing you have to aware of is the many gongoozlers along the way, which can be embarrassing if you mess up the steering on the boat! We decided to turn the boat around at Debdale Wharf turning hole so we were facing the right direction for our next journey. We also moored up just before the main visitor moorings, as previously the damn cyclists had gone by the boat so fast that the stones had hit the boat paintwork. We cooked a nice meal on board and decided to have a TV night with no alcohol!

Friday was another gloriously sunny day, so we decided to go for a nice long walk. We stopped half way at the little café at the top of the locks again and decided to have breakfast there – a bacon and a sausage sandwich and two coffees. We were both shocked when we had to pay £10 for the pleasure, clearly someone is profiteering. Wouldn’t have minded but the fillings were cheap bacon and cheap sausage, shame really as we won’t use it again. On the way we got chatting to a guy who owned a boat who was a judge at county shows for pigs, really interesting and originally from New Zealand – we chatted for ages and put the world to right! When we got back to the boat, I decided to try out the Kipor generator as Sandra wanted to do use the washing machine which is an energy guzzler and I wanted to use some electric tools to sand down the rear deck to repaint it with non-slip paint in readiness for winter. For the next few hours both of us were engaged in our activities. Funny a year earlier I wouldn’t have thought to do this, I would have had someone in to do this. Just shows how life changes (for the better), early retirement allows you time to learn, often by mistakes, new skills. At around 6.00pm we both needed a drink, so we decided on a couple of large gin and tonics with plenty of ice, wow, they went down so well we decided to have another couple! Later we walked to Bridge 61 one of our favourite pubs, met up with a couple we have socialised with before and when they left were please to be joined by Emily and Elliott. Elliott was really keen to tell me how his new job was going and how much he was enjoying being one of the top men in a company, much different than when he was an accountant working in the film and media sector in London. When these left us, we decided to have another drink and then try and find our way back to the boat. Back on board we warmed up a super pasta meal Sandra had prepared before we left and soon we were both comatose in bed!

Saturday we woke up to a cloudier and cooler day which we were pleased about. I was able to carry on with the rear deck. I managed to get another coat of the non-slip paint before it started to rain lightly. As we had the generator going, I was unable to go with Sandra for lunch with her sister Elaine and Robert, no rest for the workers! By the time all four of them returned along with their grandchildren, the rain had stopped and I was able to chat for a while. It’s always great to see these two as they have helped us so much in the transition from full-time work to full-time retirement. The only mess up I made was when I turned the generator off and put it away, I forgot to switch off the electric emersion heater – I watched in horror as my battery gauge went from 92% to below 70% in a matter of minutes! We decided to get on with our jobs once our family had left and like most days, time just flew by. Soon it was teatime and we were getting showered ready for the evening. Tonight was a TV night as we both, for some unknown reason, enjoy X Factor!

Sunday we moved from our mooring spot and stopped to fill up with water near to Foxton Lock basin. After we booked our slot to go up the locks and soon we were going through the first gate. Today was particularly busy with gongoozlers and I found myself waiving and answering the ‘normal’ questions – do you live on the boat? Does it have a toilet? Etc. Part way up I got chatting to a guy who was from Italy. He and his family had just re-located to Market Harborough the town where we used to live. I told him earlier in the year we had spent some time in Italy, our second visit there and had really enjoyed the food and the wine. He immediately told me his name, Stefano, and that he had no friends and would we like to come around his place for dinner. How friendly. His younger son was standing close by and I asked whether he fancied having a trip on the boat to the top – he definitely wanted to, and from there on he and his wife followed Captain Hastings to the top. As we left the lock he handed me his business card telling me to please get in touch. I concluded form this that it is not only the boating fraternity which are the friendliest, but also possibly the gongoozlers!! We headed towards Husbands Bosworth and soon after lunch we moored up in a rural mooring spot, just before the tunnel which was an ideal spot, where I finished off touching up the paint and washing and polishing the boat. In the evening we had a cosy night in, with a nice glass of red wine!

On Monday we got up a little later than usual to a wet, damp and cloudy day, however, the mooring spot we had chosen was still beautiful, with open countryside. I checked over the paintwork and was pleased that the non-slip paint job looked good and it worked well. We wouldn’t be slipping off the boat in the winter for sure. As we were entering the tunnel another was almost out, both of us went by each other very slowly. Since catching the rear side of the boat in a tunnel earlier, both Sandra and I are quite apprehensive when going through tunnels. Once through we carried on our short journey only to find a hire boater coming full pelt toward us on our side of the canal. I hooted and waived for him to move over to the correct side and fortunately he realised his mistake. Our boats both ‘kissed’ each other at the front; I had gone into full reverse and was lodged up against the silt. As he passed, he never apologised but instead asked if I know where the nearest shop was as they had run out of milk. I could do nothing but smile and pointed him in the right direction. We finally moored opposite the service area at North Kilworth Wharf again. We later got into the car and went for a ‘food shop’ in nearby Lutterwoth. We shopped at Morrisons and Waitrose – good shops, but expensive compared to Lidl or Aldi, which since taking retirement and living on a pension we have got quite used to. We picked up a lovely beef joint and headed for Emily’s place so we could have a family meal. I left Sandra to cook the meal whilst I headed to Kettering where there is a Maplins. I managed to get some bits for the aerial which I had pre-ordered from Amazon the day before which had already been delivered to Emily’s. Soon we would have a good TV picture to enjoy. We had a super meal, only spoilt by the lack of Elliott’s company; his golf day had gone on a little longer than he had anticipated. We got back to the boat around eight, full to the brim from the traditional roast we had really enjoyed.

So, although we didn’t travel far this week, we still had a busy time getting prepared for the winter months and our new mooring at North Kilworth Wharf. Next week we will be able to take over the mooring for good.

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