Phew... It’s been a rough few days weather-wise. Luckily, the worst of last weekend’s storm conditions hit us when we were moored up snugly in a small arm, off the Grand Union in Warwick, so we were not cruising.
Anyway, friends, family and followers, we soldier on and having studied the weather forecasts for the week ahead in some detail, we decided that our best chance of making good progress was to go for it last Thursday, so with the suburbs of Birmingham behind us, we set off early to tackle the Hatton Flight of 21 locks, that descend over two miles into Warwick.
We are now back in “wide lock” territory and I didn’t want to tackle this flight on our own particularly. Having gone up and down the Hatton flight on one our “Big Chins*” weekends I knew how heavy the paddles were to raise and thought, if the worst came to the worst, we would do five locks each and change over. So, we hung around the top lock and waited for a boat to join us. We have not experienced a lot of traffic on this part of the canal system so we expected to wait an hour or two, but after 20 minutes or so, Alan and Geraldine chugged up in their new boat, and we went down with them. What a great day. The weather was... hot. Yes, friends, I was down to a T-shirt for the first time in over a month. With a third member of their crew setting the locks in advance we were down the flight in just over three hours. To finish the day off we went over to the Cape pub in Warwick and had a good scoff on a table overlooking the cut and a couple of pints of “Hooky”. (Note to self: must stop banging on about beer.)
|Just about to pass two boats coming up through the Hatton Flight of 21 locks|
|Just to prove I don't stand on the back of the boat all of the time.|
Pat has gone all “crafty” over the last few weeks and has been crocheting like mad to make a throw for our couch. It’s nearly finished and I hope to include some pix in this blog. Next she is going to make some seat covers for our bar stools. I must say the results are very impressive.
|Pat's "Crochet Creation"|
So we were in Warwick for four days and I can’t say that either of us were that taken with the place. Of course, its dominated by the Castle, which let’s face it, is now little more than a theme park and cost around £25 to get in. I have visited the castle before in my previous existence with John Lewis, when we were looking at ice rinks, so have been round the place, and would have gone again, but the first mate was not that keen. There are lots of independent shops in the town centre though, so Pat was able to get some more wool for her creation.
The mooring was run by a trust and included electric hook up. What a luxury. The water point was about 3 metres away and we were able to dispose of our rubbish, and empty our loo there as well. So it was bliss. Opposite us were moored two hotel boats, that decamped a load of North Americans for a few days to take in the delights of Warwick and Stratford-On-Avon, which is close by. I checked their prices out on the internet and for a week it’s around £750 each. We could do it for half that price!
|Our hotel boat neighbours at Sandsiford in Warwick|
The place also had a laundry which has been a real boon as our washing machine will only work on shore power. The boys at Kingfisher are working on the issue with Zanussi.
On Monday we cruised for a couple of hours into Leamington Spa, or should I say Royal Leamington Spa. I had great hopes for Leamington and was not disappointed. This is definitely a posh place with lots of manicured lawns, overflowing hanging baskets and grand arcades. The architecture is late Georgian and Victorian and the town centre has not the makeovers so often suffered by other towns and retains its “Spa” character.
The only thing that really annoyed me was the amount of “chuggers” about: those young twenty-something charity collectors who approach you in the street. They were everywhere.
We have now completed over 400 miles and been through 250 locks. I will have to carry out our first oil change over the next week or so once I can source the correct oil filter and oil. Pat was keen to let an engineer do the work but I don’t think she realised the costs involved with labour and VAT. The engine, and more or less everything else, apart from the washing machine, is all working well, and we got 10 weeks from our last bottle of gas, which is somewhat better than the week I got out of the first one!
We reckon we will be in Banbury on the Oxford Canal sometime early next week.
*BIG CHINS (Boating Interest Group Chasing Herons In NarrowboatS
(Roger, Roy, Malcolm, Paul B, Paul H, Mark W, Mark (the pig farmer), Barry )