Tuesday 17 January 2012

Grand Union Canal. Warwick. (Still)

We did go to the Cape of Good Hope and, three weeks later, we’re still here.
This has been due to two fundamental errors on our part. First we’d innocently assumed that the British Waterways Lock Closures List would have referred to Hatton Bottom Lock as “Hatton Bottom Lock”, which is what everyone knows it as, what the sign at the visitors picnic site calls it and what BW’s own waterways map has it marked as. Calling it Budbrook Road Lock and closing it two days before we had planned to go through it was a masterstroke in deception and caught us completely off guard. Not just us it seems, there are now several boats hanging about, their crews raising their eyebrows at each other and subsidising the local pubs.

Our second faux pas was to expect it to open when the aforementioned list said it would - ie. Saturday - and on that basis arrange for a posse of willing helpers to turn up on Sunday, ready and eager to wind paddles and push gates in exchange for baked goods. This morning we went for a walk and, noticing that one of the gates was missing and the other was being attached to a crane, thought it might be prudent to have a word with one of the Day-Glo suited guys inside the temporary fencing.
“Do you think you’ll be finished on time?” we asked.

“The timber for the new gates only arrived at the yard today.” He said, “So no, not a hope.”

So here we are. Which is nowhere near as bad as it could be. Warwick is lovely, as is Warwickshire. There’s a very productive bit of un-managed woodland right next to the boat and a healthy stack of fallen timber is now residing on the roof and in the front lockers. There’s a water tap nearby, the sanitary station is less than half a mile away, the pub is OK and there’s somewhere to park the car, a local shop, even a place that sells gas. If we had to choose somewhere to get stuck we don’t think we could have improved on this. We’ve been for lots of walks; here are some photos of wintry Warwickshire.
The helpful BW guy we talked to told us that the lock closures on the Stratford Canal will probably overrun as well, information we are very grateful for as our intention is to go down there and visit Stratford next. We’re hoping that even with the delays we can still do that and be up in Birmingham by mid-April.

Sunday 1 January 2012

Grand Union Canal. Welsh Road to Warwick.

Well, that all went splendidly!
We did one of our famous whistle-stop tours of southern England with military precision. In fact it was a re-run of last year but without Ken or the snow. It’s so lovely to visit people at Christmas, the happy faces when they open their front door, their houses lit up and decorated and oozing excitement all over the place – we can’t think of a better thing to do!

We got back to legend on Christmas Eve with just enough time to get the fire going and the inside warm before Anne turned up. Perfik.

We were all awake at 6am with bulging stockings, acting like kids and giggling “He’s Been!” at each other. After a breakfast of mostly chocolate pennies we watched the sun rise.
Then, wearing Santa hats, or in Anne’s case her new hot water bottle cover, we cast off and dropped down the 6 lock to Leamington, wishing everyone we saw a Very Merry Christmas. Ann-Marie conjured up mince pies en-route while Anne threw herself into the role of first mate.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
We’ll make a boater out of her yet!

On Boxing Day we walked up to the two aqueducts, down the steps to the river and along the bank into Leamington where, along with lots of other happy smiling Chrismassy folk, we strolled around the Jephson Gardens.
This little chap couldn't have got any closer, then he posed for photos.

Anne went home in the afternoon and the following morning we did a very short move to The Moorings pub which was an easier place for the kids to find as they were visiting in the afternoon. Another batch of sausage rolls and mince pies accompanied more present swapping; people have been so thoughtful, we never knew how many small, useful things there were that we didn’t have.

2 days later we were off again, but again not very far. This time we took the boat across the aqueducts, and moored up behind Warwick hospital. As we were going over the railway a train was approaching so we waved like mad at the driver who made our day by not only waving back but by blowing his train whistle as he went underneath us! How cool is that?!

We had a mooch into Warwick between rain showers; it’s a lovely town with lots of old timber framed stuff to look at.
New Year’s Eve saw us up in Derbyshire in Buxton. We should have been there for a party last New Year but our host – Wiltz - had been rushed into hospital just before Christmas so it never happened. That made this year all the more special. Thank you dear friends, wild horses couldn’t have kept us away and we had a brilliant time.

We’re staying here for a while, till we either run out of water or firewood or get bored. We’re going up the infamous Hatton 21 in a couple of weeks, the Cape of Good Hope is between here and there; 2 locks, a pub and a water point beside a wooded bit. Mmmm. Might stop there.

New Haw Lock to Boveney. River Wey. River Thames.

After pulling the pins at New Haw we dropped down the last four locks on the Wey... Cox's Mill Lock Town Lock The final stretch of the W...