Saturday, 7 November 2015

Back at home-home

Why the double home? Bella is home, no question. But we have a home mooring, so together, it's home-home.

The weather forecast was showing a dismal morning with a drier afternoon, so we decided to set out in the dismalness, giving us a glorious afternoon. As it was, we reached the Braunston locks in just light mizzle and were pleased to be joined for the flight. Pilgrim's happy, confident, and relaxed boating crew were a pleasure to travel with, even to the point of entering locks at the same time.  We've done this with a few other boats, but each crew needs to trust the other. Brilliant. Not until lock 5 did the rain descend, and golly, did it ever. It stopped by the time we all got round lock 6 and then we were in the tunnel.

Coming out the tunnel felt like coming into a new country with it's blue sky and bright day. The turn at Norton Junction was again skillfully done, and it is always such a treat to see our mooring. Maxwell hopped off and immediately started barking at his tree. Here we are.

Friday, 6 November 2015

What, no pub?

We stayed home tonight. Who would have thought? It's Mr Well, you see. He implored us to protect him on the Friday after Guy Fawkes. The weekend nights after the 5th are full of pows and bangs. So we agreed, and though we're still on holiday, we stayed home. Happily. We both had a half work day in any case, so we were happy to remain on board.

Travelling tomorrow, and this time we promise to remember to tell you we got to home-home. We usually leave you in suspense and you don't know we're back at Weltonhythe until we tell you we're out again. Blog tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

So nearly not a pair

No, not E&P. The brandy glasses. They had a night of not being the pair they are now, waiting for the evening nightcap.

Last night, Elizabeth was doing her usual thing when we're all out. Sitting on the arm of the sofa, feet on the footstool, leaning out of the side hatch and soaking in the fresh air. With a drink on the gunwhales. Enjoying the atmosphere, the fragrance of the air, and the space. Said brandy glass, one of the pair, was on the gunwhale. She moved. She gesticulated. This is how we eventually lost a set of six champagne glasses. Yes, brandy glass overboard.

Oh well. Chase through umpteen charity shops to find the right size. (again). But no! Pete to the rescue. This morning, before we set out, he grabbed the grabber, otherwise known as a metre long pole with a set of moveable prongs at one end and an operating handle at the other. He leaned out the side hatch. An arm holding the grabber made its way into the canal (Warwick and Napton Canal to be very precise) up to elbows. Feet left the floor. Ah ha! Brandy glass found!

A grateful Elizabeth then put the glass in sterilising fluid. Hey presto, the team is back in action. Now it will be up to Elizabeth to remember that there is a shelf. Inside Bella. Close to the hatch. For drinking vessels. Hmmm.

Bronny, funny old thing

Or, Braunston, but it feels so familiar to us, a special waterway friend, that we have a special friendly name for this canal capital. We got here just before the heavens opened this afternoon, happy to moor just east of the gorgeous bridge at the opening of Braunston Marina.

We started by turning/winding again. This time, it wasn't in a pointy offside place, but in the very unpointy very packed Marina opening of Kate Boats (with their permission). Cap'n Pete did his usual of turning Bella into a bendy bus, managing to get us around in a very tight spot. We gently had a lean or two on the stern fender of one of Kate's moored boats, but no other aid was required.  With a few forward/reverse moves, the winding was amazing to behold.

We then cruised east, back to the Calcut locks flight of three, with all of them set in our favour. Wigrams turn was next, this time heading back north on the shared section of the Grand and the Oxford canals (which we call the Groxford),  coffee en route. And it mizzled. And Maxwell stayed outside the whole time, wet or not. Pete's company, of course.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Birdingbury Wharf/Boat Inn

We did it! We turned the way we planned! Wow.

First of all, we had to turn around to go back to Wigrams Turn. We have often blogged about turning around, or in canal speak, winding. Not wind like twine, but wind, like binned. Wind, as in moving air. And that's where the name comes from. In the horse towing boating days, boats would take advantage of the wind to push the boat another direction with the aid of a (wait for it), winding hole. Otherwise known as a triangle cut out of the offside of the canal.

The deal is this: point the bow into the point of the triangle, gently wedge the bow into the corner, set the tiller to make the stern move the desired direction, set the engine to slow ahead, then watch the boat turn. At a key point, reverse, letting the boat move back into the main canal. Don't bang the stern into the towpath side (!). Sometimes it takes a few forward and reverse efforts, but today, Captain Gray was at his most skilled. The pics show the routine.

Elizabeth descended back to the cabin to code data at the desk and Cap'n Pete took us back north on the Oxford, then west at Wigrams turn onto the Grand Union towards Warwick. Elizabeth emerged for the Calcut flight of three wide locks and we're now moored just short of the top of the Stockton flight.

A loveley Autumn day glows all around us.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

And now, Napton.

It was one of those moments. Standing at the tiller, the question just murmurs out..."Right? Or Left?". We had decided right from Braunston turn, winding our way through the countryside to Hawkesbury, or, the Greyhound pub. But the question arrived. It was answered...Left. OK then.

So here we are with the benefits of The Folly's WiFi having enjoyed a lovely Autumn cruise south on the Oxford. Past Wigrams Turn, or Napton Junction, we moored just down the hill from the windmill, short of the winding hole. So far, we have decided to turn, go north then west tomorrow. But one never really knows until the turn is made. 

We like Autumn cruises and, cruising the Oxford in November especially. It takes our minds back to 8 years ago this week when Bella made her maiden voyage as our home. Thankfully the learning curve has now leveled!

Monday, 2 November 2015

Guess what? Braunston!

Here we are again, a little week out. Pete says he's beginning to get on with Norton Junction with much more finesse. Sounded good! Clipped the juction just a tiny tad, but the wonky Braunston tunnel was untouched. We shared the locks with Emerson Speedway, a Canaltime shared boat with a much experienced crew.

The big news of the day was the fog. We realised that we probably had the best transport for such a day - no motorway issues, no airport closures, 4 miles an hour maximum. Pete says that he could see the bridge parapet before the bridge hole. It was so odd and oddly magic.

"Pete says" a few times tells the story that Elizabeth is on part-time holiday and spent the travelling times at the desk. Also magic. As Bella glided through the Autumn cool air, Elizabeth's cob webs cleared and the view each time she looked up was different than the last. From the same desk. Got to be magic.

Mr Well also enjoyed the trip, spending much of the time on Pete's feet. His very attentive face is because he's seen a moored boat. Which might have a dog aboard. Might.