Sunday, 17 February 2008

We know we're sad

Elizabeth is filling in Saturday's entry on the journey back to Hillmorton on the Sunday. She is at the desk in the office part of the dining room, logged on via mobile modem (which the media calls a dongle and which E thinks sounds rude). Pete yells out the bridge numbers and Elizabeth marks on the map with a highlighter pen. This will be "where we can find fat band on the Oxford" in the map key. We know. SAD.

Cap'n at Tiller

In case we ever thought our Bella was small, this shot from the bow of Captain Pete reminds us that she is anything but tiny. The smoke stack is near the middle, in the forward end of the lounge.

A few obstructions

Occasionally, there are more than just other boats to contend with. This is a section of the Oxford which is described as 'unstable'. We agree.

Other boats

This is to remind us, let alone our readers, that we are not alone on the canals :-) Often, our speedy 4mph is slowed as we pass by other boats - this one is approaching from our port side.

There is also the odd other kind of boat! Here are two in a canoe...

Fat band on the canal

Having been just far too excited by the ice and frost to stay put, we set out before breakfast with only a mug (well, three each, actually) of tea.

After the tunnel, the left hand pic is a view from Bella, back toward one of the beautiful iron bridges on the Oxford. The other pic is Elizabeth and Josie (tucked right up by E's left leg) otu for a stroll. We moored up here for some yummy mixed grain porridge. And, the best news, this is where we discovered we had FAT band (3G connection). Elizabeth is writing this from that very section on the return to Hillmorton on Sunday.

Our first Tunnel!

Our first tunnel! This is Newbold Tunnel, just northwest of Rugby. It had cool white and turquoise uplighters.... The image on the left is our start in the tunnel, on the right, looking back where we came from.

It needs to be said that this was not a long tunnel (!), but it was great to say we have done one now! Not at all terrifying, as Elizabeth had suspected. Rather as uneventful as our first aqueduct on the Kennet and Avon in 2006, but beautiful nonetheless.

Day Two has a frosty start

If you look carefully at the bottom of the window frame, next to the blue sticker, you'll see ice. On the inside. Outside the steaming window, is a field rich with white frost. Gorgeous. The canal is frozen solid. Well it was, until a boat came along and started breaking the ice. You can just see the broken ice at the bottom right of the canal shot.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Dusk on the Oxford in Rugby

Here we are. It feels like the first day of the rest of our lives, though we know that sounds so trite! But this is the first time we have taken our floating home for a journey. When we travelled from Oxfordshire Narrowboats to Rugby, it was a speedy journey and there was still so much to do to make the inside a home. (Curtains, fixing cupboards, hanging pics, etc). Now we've lived aboard for three months, we've got all the domestics relatively sorted. It is now truly our home. And we have wanted to take it with us as we travelled to new places. And here we are. The first taste of that new way of life. And this is the view from the side hatch, or from the Duck Door, as our Blue Haven neighbour calls it. We'll be moored up back at the marina on Sunday night, we expect, but this is now. And its wonderful.

Moored up for the Friday night

Here we are, moored in Rugby, Josie discovering the towpath and Elizabeth looming out of the stern doors watching. This is the first time Pete and Elizabeth have been out travelling together, just for the sake of it, since they moved on to Bella and moved to Rugby. The three Hillmorton locks were good, each in their own way. We were moving down hill, the Braunston to Hillmorton pound being close to the highest on the Oxford Canal (above Napton being the highest - the summit pound). The first lock was great and we took the northmost lock, Hillmorton being one of the few places on the canals where there are parallel locks designed to allow the maximum usage in the days of canals as commercial transport. The second lock had someone going south on the Oxford, so Elizabeth had to pull to towpath and hold Bella with the centre line while Pete worked the lock with the other travellers. We got through there fine, while Elizabeth took a call about Project Management while watching all the green gunge growing on the inside lock walls as she held Bella for the descent.

Lock three was interesting. This was the first time Elizabeth and Pete experienced the bow fender getting stuck on the bars of the forward lock gates. We have always watched out not to get the tiller stuck on the stern cill, but we had never really got entangled at the front. A loud, "reverse" from Pete was met with Elizabeth realising what happened and throwing the throttle back. Pete stopped opening the forward gate paddles to make sure the lock water levelled, then made his way to the stern paddles to allow more water back in to level Bella if necessary. But with a bit of a splash off the gates and back into the lock, all was well, albeit a bit sploshy fore to aft. Elizabeth held Bella free of gates at the front and free of the cill at the back and we were fine. Out through the gates, we enjoyed seeing a boat ready to come in the lock with three women out for the weekend. One said, "This is our first lock!!!" and looked slightly terrified. We reassured them a little and they moved on in.

This is where we found to moor. A whole new view of Rugby!

We're on the move! Sort of...

This is the view from the stern as we went out of Blue Haven Marine and headed northwest on the Oxford. Yes! We are actually moving, finally. At last we had a weekend with no commitments and a relaxing Friday and a work Monday which doesn't have to start at 9am. And the weather forecast is for sunny and cold, with little wind. So here we go! We're off to Hillmorton Locks, then we'll work our way out to Hawkesbury Junction just north of Coventry. We may get there - we'll all see!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Glad's now a little emptier

Here's Glad, owned by Bob and Jeanne, now on her way out of the slip and working past the queue of Grandad Dyer and Wells Fargo.

Bob then made his way to the opposite side of the marina to help us manage 69 feet of Bella in the strong winds! We were on our way for a diesel fill up.

Wells Fargo makes her way

Wells Fargo adds to the heap

OK, it's still John, but now on the bow of Wells Fargo, joining the pump out queue. He's left his Barbara on Grandad Dyer, now tied across moored boats to wait for Glad to move out. Barbara of Wells Fargo only just resisted the temptation to introduce John to the canal head first, but they are both managing to control both boats in the strong winds as the queue builds up.

Marina Day begins

This is Grandad Dyer (boat of John and Barbara), who is moored two boats away from us, on the other side of Water Troubador. John is at the tiller, making space for Glad to come back from the pump out station. She was the first of today's major move about!