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Archive for May 19th, 2014

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2014 – Day 11

Posted by indigodream on 19 May, 2014

Please support us - even a tiny donation can put a smile on a retired greyhound's face..

Please support us – even a tiny donation can put a smile on a retired greyhound’s face..

Sunday 4th May

Long Itchington to Saltisford Arm

The floating off-licence - I wonder what dodgy brews he's got going in those demi-johns?

The floating off-licence – I wonder what dodgy brews he’s got going in those demi-johns?

For the first time in a week I actually woke up and DID NOT feel dizzy – hurrah!

But I still had a relaxing morning while Richard did the car shuffle – he cycled back to Bridge 104 and drove back to the Cuttle pub while I fed the hounds. Herbie was still suffering with his foot so we did the absolute minimum. I was busy making their breakfasts when two dogs appeared in the pub garden. At first I thought they’d come from the boat next door, but they were running loose and barking wildly – had their owner been on the boat I didn’t think they’d be so unsupervised. Now I had a problem, I couldn’t let the greyhounds out, even on lead, with these two in the garden. I went outside to see if I could find out where the loose dogs had come from. They were a german shepherd cross and what looked like a husky/collie type cross – they barked like mad and were obviously suffering from fear aggression – I didn’t push them! I was worried that the dogs were strays and would find their way onto the road, but I found out later that they belong to the pub landlord. Hmmm, if that’s the case, I’d have liked them to be a bit better supervised and/or trained. It did seem a bit surreal to be trapped with the hounds on the boat until the residents wandered off.

Despite the fact that it seemed to take an age for the strays to wander off, Richard seemed to come back with the car  in no time at all! But we were still slow to start – we got chatting to our boating neighbour. Luckily we weren’t in any hurry – we’ve done a lot of chatting on this odyssey 🙂

We eventually set off late morning, noting, in passing, the vast row of boats moored along the towpath – Long Itchington is a popular spot. One boat caught our eye – an off-licence boat with a set of glass demi-johns on his roof bubbling vigorously  in the warm sunshine. Hmm, we’ll have to sample his brews next time.

More companionable cruising....

More companionable cruising….

We soon got to the first locks of the day at Bascote. There was a pair going down in front of us, but then a boat came up behind us, so we travelled down with nb Stretton Serande??? alas, I didn’t write the second part of the name down, They’d bought the boat 6 months earlier and said they still felt like canal newbies – yet the lady was doing the skilful driving (great idea!) and they were very competent locking partners. This was a good thing – after Bascote you have a “typical” stretch of the Grand Union with locks randomly spaced at around half-mile intervals – just close enough for Richard to lock-wheel but only because he’s having a keep-fit campaign at the moment!

Our locking companions were going down to Radford Semele, where they’d turn and head back for another night at Long Itchington. They’d had a good night there on Saturday and recommended the Green Man pub – one to try next time!

It was another lovely day and the locks soon passed. The hounds were absolutely flat out – the lady of our companion boat loved the greyhounds and was offering cross-deck fusses – but even Archie was too tired to stand up for an extra fuss.

We were pleasantly surprised to see that the colony of boats above Radford Lock had moved on – the last time we came through we felt a bit uncomfortable – they’d colonised the towpath as well as a big chunk of the woods beyond and it felt as if we were encroaching on their private space. The greyhounds came off for a bimble above Radford Lock and enjoyed a little rummage in the woods; but I bundled them back on board when some lockside gongoozlers put a very tiny baby down for a crawl on the grass right by the lock edge – gulp! The infant was within the mum’s grabbing range but I wouldn’t have said it was the safest place for a baby to crawl!

Anyone for a run? a walk? Ah, that would be a "no"...

Anyone for a run? a walk? Ah, that would be a “no”…

Once we got through Radford lock, we did the final car shuffle of the day – Richard cycled the 5 miles back to the car and then had a trip up to what used to be a boat-based bike repairer. Tiller Cycles is now shore based – a long sad story of hassle with roving business mooring licences but the service and skill remains absolutely excellent. Richard left his bike there for a bit of TLC (it’s been creaking under the strain of bumpy country towpaths, the hub was making funny noises not helped by a spoke breaking).

In the meantime, I bimbled along the canal, which became increasingly urban as I passed through Leamington Spa and Warwick. I’m told that they’re both fine places to visit, but the canal always feels a little bit down-at-heel and they’re not my favourite cruising spots. There are long stretches of very fine, but unoccupied mooring rings – I wonder why other boaters haven’t taken these towns/cities to their hearts?

It seemed to take an age to get to Kate Boats – my first target. We’d hoped to buy a week’s mooring there, but, unusually for a boatyard, they were shut on Sunday. I moved on towards the Cape locks – noting, in passing, bold rats scampering along the towpath in board daylight – I couldn’t take a photo as it was on the 90 degree turn by Tesco so I had to concentrate!

My mission was to see whether there were any likely moorings below the Cape Locks where we could leave the boat for a week. I was little bit uncomfortable – there were no moored boats along the stretch and although there was one boat moored comfortably just below the locks I just wasn’t sure. The moored boat was locked up and looked undisturbed but it all depended on the attitude of the local youth from the nearby housing development. We were a bit skittish as Warwick is one of the few places where Indigo Dream has been molested by drunken youths overnight – all be it many years ago.

Oh Archie! He must be really tired if he's not posing beautifully :-D

Oh Archie! He must be really tired if he’s not posing beautifully 😀

Richard came back to the boat and we took the hounds for a quick bimble on the adjacent common land – we still weren’t sure! In the end, we decided to move through the Cape Locks and see what there was above. We shared locks with nb Tansley – they recommended the moorings at the Saltisford Arm so we gave the Canal Trust a ring, not really expecting an answer late on a Sunday afternoon. To our delight, they did answer and, although they were quite full, were able to accommodate us with a canalside mooring where we could offload the dogs. By chance, the mooring was also near to the road gate so it couldn’t be more perfect!

We haven’t been down the Saltisford Arm before and I was surprised by how long it is. It’s a quiet haven of a mooring and now I understood why it’s so popular. We waved “hello” in passing to Jo and Keith on nb Hadar. These popular working boaters have had a hard start to the year with Keith now on the mend after a severe illness – it was a great joy to see them sitting in their deckchairs looking fit and relaxed – great stuff.

We had to wind (turn) Indigo Dream and reverse into our spot – the space available was precisely 60′ long but she came in nicely and we were soon moored up. Richard recovered the car while I packed up and fed the hounds – the last meal of the cruise is usually very special as there’s all the left-over cheese and ham from the fridge to be consumed!  Herbie was still hopping, so we had to put sheepskins on the gravel part of the towpath so he could walk to the grass with minimum discomfort! To save him the angst of getting back on the boat, we bundled them all into the car (conveniently parked by the gate) while we just finished off in the boat.

We were soon good to go and had a very good trip home – it’s a bit easier now as we can go down the M40, which is much nicer than the M1 – there’s no avoiding the M25 though…

Photoblog:

Some Butties (unpowered craft) are designed to be towed, but this one slots neatly only the bow of the narrowboat and is presumably pushed - neat!

Some Butties (unpowered craft) are designed to be towed, but this one slots neatly only the bow of the narrowboat and is presumably pushed – neat!

A close-up to show the join - it was really clever but I didn't get a good photo :-(

A close-up to show the join – it was really clever but I didn’t get a good photo 😦

 

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