Friday, 28 November 2014

Decision day

Mizzle again on Wednesday morning but we thought we would move on as it was forecast to be a dry day.  Karen put the bread maker on as we were running out of bread and we set off.  The tow paths in this area are particularly muddy at present and not a lot of fun so Karen and Buddy only walked about three miles and then joined me on the boat.  By lunchtime we reached Weedon Bec, the bread was ready and the sun was out.

After lunch we went to see the Oakcraft boat builders in Weedon.  We have always felt that if we are going to continue to live on the boat that we would have to buy a new one.  As much as we love Chalkhill Blue, she is old and therefore has poor insulation and single glazing etc.  Having had her for five years, at least we would know how we would design a new boat.  We know that most boat builders have waiting lists of at least a year so visiting one now was sensible to get to understand all the logistics in the boat building process, from the build of the steel shell to fitting out and then painting.

We were interested in Oakcraft as we were really impressed by Mike and Aillen’s boat Quaintrelle and they were very happy with it too.  Also we were going past the boat yard.  We met Jim the boat builder, a lovely chap, and he showed us round a couple of boats that he had built and the owners keep them in the marina next to the yard.  We were very impressed with his craftsmanship and we left with a lot of food for thought.

When we got back to the boat we had some decisions to make as we were shortly coming up to some junctions.  As we have said before we have no real plans other than to visit Nottingham to see Catherine and also go to places such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Lancaster, Leeds, York and the Peak District.

We are only six miles from Norton junction.  North heads direct to Nottingham to Leicester; the last few miles on the River Soar.  West takes us a few miles to Braunston junction where you either head for Birmingham or Coventry.  Two things impact the decisions: winter stoppages and river conditions.  As we have to go back to Kent for the children for a couple of weeks at Christmas we don’t want to leave the boat on a river in case we get lots of rain.  We have had enough of being stuck because of high water levels in the past.  We also need to be wary of leaving the boat for two weeks in places like Birmingham.

We decided to head west at Norton, north at Braunston and then take the Oxford canal to its northern point, head north a little way up the Coventry and then go on the Ashby canal which has no planned closures over the winter.  The Ashby is also very rural and we are bound to find places we can leave the boat for two weeks.  When we return after Christmas we will then decide which route to take to Nottingham.

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