Monday, 5 April 2010
Regular blog service, whatever that is, will be resumed in a few weeks. Bella is due a beauty visit to the sheds. She'll have all the red bits sanded down, primed and repainted, the green bits repaired, new paint to her stern, new blacking, new vents on her roof and other various body maintenance things done. She'll be a new Bella! Well not quite, but we'll be thrilled. While she's in, we'll be out, wandering around from one conference to another. Here's to Bella! We can't wait to show you the pics of her new self.
We set out from Braunston whilst having breakfast, eager to get moving again! We didn't go far, mooring up opposite the Boat House. This was for Elizabeth to get on fatter band to deal with the back blog, whilst our friend collected Pete to go get Reg.
We set out again to guess what? Cloudy threatening sky!!! Harumph. Only a little mizzle though, but lots of wind. We pulled back into Blue Haven to guess what? Sunshine!! (how typical).
Easter 2009 we were moored in Blue Haven and took ourselves off to the inspirational Coventry Cathedral. This Easter, we walked up the hill to All Saints, Braunston. We loved Coventry Cathedral with its trumpets and stunning stained glass, yet we really loved being able to walk up the hill and to worship in a local community. As we walked up the hill, we saw the quintessential European scene of the church spire above the green hills against the clouds. As we walked down the hill after a very moving service, we saw Bella nestled in the cut on the canal side of the marina.
The evening was beautiful. Life is good.
We set out bright and early to a day threatening the rain it never delivered. Thank goodness! It was a treat to cruise in the dry. We did the top lock, stopped for Elsan with Elizabeth at the helm for mooring. Sweet.
Setting out, the traffic started to hot up with boats everywhere for the Easter weekend. We spotted these two dogs having a great time on a roof just before we travelled the Braunston tunnel. This time, Pete was on the tiller and Elizabeth was on deck. She LOVES tunnels and the magic of the feeling of being in them with the light dappling the old brick lining. But she is dazzled by on-coming headlamps and can't see to drive. Not a good plan for tiller person (she's tried). So Pete is helm-ing and not really liking tunnels at all. In the past, he's been on deck, she's been inside sulking. This time, we were both out. What a result! Her gushing enthusiasm lightens his dislike. Hey presto! Tunnel done in no time.
Tunnel in no time, Braunston locks the longest time ever! There were SO many boats with each lock full of boats every time it emptied and filled, boats waiting in the pounds between and queues at the top and bottom. We got quite confused with crews, each boat having a tiller person and dumping the rest of the crews lock side with windlasses. We had great conversations, quite a few laughs and an odd moment of a boat going downhill getting caught on the cill. The tiller man sounded his horn, bottom paddles were quickly closed to stop water leaving the lock, top paddles opened to get the water level back up, the boat righted and all was fine. All in all, an eventful journey!
We moored up as soon as we saw a free mooring, our usual routine. We were east of Bronny centre just free of the lock flight and hire base in what we now know is Butlers Bridge area. We walked up to Braunston shops, then down the hill through the sheep, the to the pub and then home again. The candles are our nightly ritual - each one stands for someone or a situation and when we blow them out after we've had our meal with who they represent, we send light for that person or issue. For us, it is the light of God, for others it can be light into darkness. It's just our thing. And who knows - you who read may be one of the ones we send to.
We set off in the morning, having reversed over to just outside the wharf deisel point for two nights. We managed to get five loads of laundry done, borrowing the leccy and water. Marvelous!
We set out just in time to move out of Oxfordshire Narrowboat's way, as they prepared to turn around 4 boats for new hire. Alongside Rugby Boat Sales at Stowe Hill Wharf, Oxfordshire Narrowboats (from whom we bought our Bella) now has one of its hire centres.
We moved east, found the winding hole and Pete did a TEXTBOOK turn. Just awesome!! Along the way, we noticed the range of fowl in a local garden - chickens, Mallard ducks and Canada geese. Lovely. We passed Stowe Hill again to wave goodbye to mates and set out northwest toward Weedeon, then Whilton.
Just as we set out, it began to mizzle and by the time we were working the Whilton, then Buckby flight, we were drenched!!! We moored up below Buckby top lock this time in the meandering pound by the fields, just as the rain stopped (!) then happily watched the sheep opposite.
As we watched out the hatch, we noticed a brilliant boat, Beatrice, glide by us. She was driven with a steering wheel, handled by an elegant woman in a wheel chair. Beatrice had been modified so that Ms Beatrice could roll on, lock her chair in to place, drive Beatrice, then lower her chair into below decks. Elizabeth gave her an enthusiastic thumbs up as she passed and Ms Beatrice grinned. What a brilliant sight! Boats are not out of reach for anyone.
The night closed in with one of our wonderful views and one of the reasons Elizabeth likes being on the cut - the peaceful reflections in the water.
We stayed in Stowe Hill for a few days, thanks to our friends helping us get Reg for road travel. Elizabeth had a working day in Oxford as Pete worked from the home office. On Wednesday we were both aboard and and the fun of watching the Dutch Barge Union Wharf being lifted from the canal and placed on a flatbed lorry for its travel to its new owners. What a sight! First, the wheel house had to be folded flat. Then, great stirrups were laced around and under Union Wharf. A trial lift indicated that she wasn't quite level, stirrups were adjusted, then she just flew! The crane swung her round and she was placed on the flatbed as delicate as a feather. Amazing.
We set out just after breakfast and a lazy morning, went down the 6 more locks of Buckby then Whilton flight. One of the locks had a feature we so enjoy. Often, but not always, the dates of work or repair of the locks are etched into the wood, iron or stone used. Here is a corner of a Buckby flight lock where we could see 1881 on the wall side and 1992 on the gate. 100 years between, but still travelable.
On the open canal past the locks, we passed a sinking narrowboat, then moored up literally above the Church in Weedon, Northamptonshire. It's a strange feeling looking down on a Church spire from the canal! We arrived in Stowe Hill and moored opposite and just east of our friend's brokerage. There was some rain, but mostly it was an easier drier day. By the time we moored, the sun shone! Ah.
Sunday, 4 April 2010
We set out on the 26th of March to a cloudy but dry day with patches of sunshine. 2 pics are of Elizabeth, then Pete at Braunston middle lock.
Travelling toward the tunnel from the locks, we passed Braunston's major engineering works. The original line of the canal is being restored, drains are being installed in the towpath and the whole slope near the tunnel entrance is being reformed. We reported the landslide at this point last year, but are sure that we weren't the only ones to inform BW! The many pics are for those of you who enjoy watching how all this canal stuff is done...
Finally, there is a pic of Pete on Bella whilst moored up at Buckby Top Lock. And sorry the pics are all over the place! Blogspot is not the most sophisticated of web programmes.