Thursday, 16 March 2017

A micro cruise

Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10-12th March

We have had a week of mixed emotions.  After the joy of meeting our new grandson on Wednesday, we spent Friday in Berkshire on the sad occasion of the funeral of a close family member, Dave's brother-in-law.  We returned late to the marina, well after dark, to discover at the gate that we didn’t have the security code to open it.  No-one was about – the drive to the mooring areas is very long, and anyway most of the boats are unoccupied at this time of year – but I managed to squeeze through a tiny gap and went back to Chuffed – nearly 700 yards! - to find the code.  But it wasn’t on the boat either.  So I had to find an occupied boat and get the code from the rather surprised occupants before Dave could bring the car in.

On Saturday morning we got on with a few jobs, and considered how to spend the weekend.  The water to the pontoons had just been switched back on after the winter, so we could fill the water tank which was getting very low.  After an early lunch we made our way up the first two Calcutt locks and refuelled at the wharf before continuing up the top lock and on to Napton junction, where we turned left.  There were a fair number of boats on the move – must be springtime!

We didn’t go far, just to bridge 107 where we winded (turned) and came back to a stretch of piling where we moored.  We were sitting having a cup of tea when the ‘shed’ boat we had seen on Thursday came past.

1 shed boat on tow

Apart from needing a change of scenery, we wanted to go out to try and get a decent internet signal.  Although Calcutt has Wi-Fi, we can’t access it on our pontoon and even outside the boat the phone signal is weak.  I managed to get a signal while we refuelled, so I could confirm the arrangements for Tuesday, when Tim Garland is coming to measure up to make us a new cratch cover.  But the signal was too weak to do much else.

2 mooring near bridge 107

It’s grey and chilly but at least we’re out of the marina.

The signal where we moored was barely enough to get the weather forecast for tomorrow, and nowhere near enough for posting or catching up with blogs. No TV signal either, so we’ll have to give the England - Scotland rugby match a miss too.  But we were pleased to be out of the marina and away from the Canada geese which live on the marina and continue to call right through the night at this time of year.

On Sunday the rain which had started yesterday evening was still falling.  So we spent a relaxing morning reading and nearly finishing the Guardian crossword, which is quite an achievement for us.  There was a fair bit of traffic this morning in spite of the rain, which was not really surprising considering this is a busy stretch of canal.  At least the view was pleasant ….

1 better view than marina unlike the constant reminder greeting our eyes in the marina! 5 view from dinette in marina

When we emerged into the brightening morning to start our return journey, I noticed some unusual rubbish floating around by the bow.  On our last trip we had passed a boat moored near Napton Narrowboats with several books floating in the water around it.  We couldn’t imagine what might have happened.  Perhaps someone was having a clear-out and thought they would sink out of sight.2 floated down from bridge 109

‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott must have gently floated about a mile in the last four weeks.  I haven’t read it since I was a teenager but I don’t think I’ll bother to keep this copy, even though it’s got pictures!

3 little women

Into the rubbish bag it went.  Then we pulled in just past the next bridge, where we had passed some rubbish dumped in the hedge on our walk on Thursday – a trolley without wheels and a bag of kitchen rubbish.  Rather too much to carry for another few miles walking in the mud, so we left it where it was.  Obviously it hadn’t been collected in the meantime so ….

4 rubbish retrieved from bridge 108

it joined ‘Little Women’ in the well deck.  We pulled in above the locks for lunch and succeeded in getting a TV signal so Dave could watch the Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Milwall.  I took the rubbish over the top lock and to the skip in the marina, and Meg, wearing her special Spurs collar, did her duty as the Lucky Dog.

1 lucky dog with spurs collar

At half-time, with the score at Spurs 3, Milwall 0 we went off for a run.  When we got back both teams had doubled their score (6-0 in case you’re not mathematically inclined) and Dave was very happy!

TV aerial stowed, we shared the locks with a couple of new owners on their maiden trip. After spending just one week on a hire boat last year they were smitten with the canals and had collected their new boat the day before from Whilton marina, only a few miles away.  So they were still very much finding their feet with locks and very pleased to have company.  Then for us it was straight into the marina and our berth.

6 locks, 1 and a half miles over the two days.

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