Sunday, 7 August 2016

Braunston (camping in the Yorkshire Dales and meeting boating friends)

22 of the 29 of us on the annual family camping trip to the Yorkshire Dales

The last fortnight has been really hectic, and hardly any of them boat related, so we were hoping for a quiet and relaxing weekend.  The stretch of canal where we are moored on Braunston is one of the busiest in the country with boats passing in what seems like a constant stream.  I was talking to a lovely lady in a boat who has been moored next to us for the last week and she seemed even more obsessive than me – she said she counted 112 boats passing on the previous Sunday – 60 in one direction and 52 in the other!

Dodgem boats in Braunston

Wednesday was the start of dry days again and many butterflies were out on the wing.

First brood Comma butterfly – this is a pale form called Hutinsoni

The underside of the Comma butterfly clearly showing the comma punctuation mark

Karen’s son, Matthew, and Marie came over from Norway on Wednesday for a short stay with us and to join in with our annual family camping weekend in Yorkshire.  The weather was still kind for them so they spent plenty of time in the kayak.

Matt & Marie on their way back from the pub

Steve, my middle son, joined us on Thursday and then later in the evening Jake, my youngest son, and his girlfriend, Dommie, came up as well.  Thursday was a busy night on the boat with seven of us sleeping over.  We haven’t had that many people for a while and the children had a great time catching up with each other.  We were up early on Friday morning and headed off for Malham in the Yorkshire Dales at 5.30am.

Unfortunately our shower had developed a leak on Thursday but it had to be left until we got back from camping before I could fix it.  The base is a rigid plastic one rather than porcelain and it had developed a crack in one of the seams so was now unusable.  For those of you that know me, DIY is not one of my better skills, so I was dreading getting back from camping and fixing it.  As it turned out I managed to fix a new shower tray but it took a few days before I could stop the associated pipework from leaking!

We had a brilliant time in Yorkshire with eight of our children and their partners, and with various brothers, sisters and a cousin there were 29 of us.  As usual we managed to get all our tents together in a circle in Gordale scar.

Our view from our tent when we opened the door each morning

Dommie and Jake building a dam – one of the most popular pursuits of children and adults

Karen, as usual, arranged all the food for the four days and went on a massive supermarket shop when she picked up Jo (her youngest) from Skipton station on the Friday afternoon.  Jo had shopped around and got a ticket from Edinburgh for just £9 – it still amazes me the enormous difference in ticket prices for the same journeys.

Picking up the supplies for the weekend – luckily Karen had Jo to help her

Although we are all adults now, the children still assume the parents take the adult roles on holidays.  For example Karen’s brother in law, Keith, and I did nearly all the cooking.  We had a good laugh though in a kind of ‘bake off’ way.  To be fair, the children took it in turns to do the washing up.

Me and Keith starting breakfast for 20+ people

Camping breakfasts go on for a couple of hours or so.  Croissants when people first get up followed by cereals and then a good fry up.

Early risers having their first breakfast

Camping next to a beck has its advantages; not only is it good to go to sleep with the sound of babbling water it can be used to keep our liquids cool.

Beer, wine, milk and soft drinks fridge (and, yes, it was all removed before we left)

The first contingent to get back to camp in the afternoon have raided the drinks fridge

Most years we take a five mile walk around the waterfalls of Ingleton.  Some of our group hadn’t been before so off we went on the Saturday:

Some of the 'children' behind Thornton Force, one of the waterfalls at Ingleton

Steve and Lauren with their Dad

Traditional family games on Gargrave village green

Another tradition – all our children and their partners on the stepping stones for a group photo (with my parents this year)

We were so fortunate with the weather and it only rained when we came to pack up on the Monday.  We keep most of the camping gear at my parents’ house just down the road in Gargrave and the sun came out when we arrived, so we spent a couple of hours drying things out before storing them away.

Drying day in my parents’ cul-de-sac

On the way back home I dropped Matt and Marie at Liverpool airport (I always find it weird that it’s called John Lennon airport) for their flight back to Norway.  Buddy and I had an awful journey home to the boat from there as the M6 was closed and we got caught up in it.  It took us eight hours and the poor boy did really well but was quite traumatised for a day or so afterwards.

One aspect of renting out our house in Kent is that we have had to put most of our possessions in storage.  The plan had been to buy a flat and use that to store the furniture and also be somewhere to meet up with the children.  We have bought a flat in the middle of Aylesbury overlooking the canal basin and it is nearly ready to move into.  We have recently realised that we won’t really use it as a family so decided to let it out.  As it is new and large compared to most two bedroomed flats in the area we found tenants very quickly.

Of course this means we have to keep the storage option.  I have been shopping around and storage solutions in the Midlands are 1/3 to ½ cheaper than in the South so Wednesday was spent moving our stuff from Maidstone to Redditch.  Not only is it cheaper, it is a lot closer to home and makes it easy to put more stuff in or take it out.

Buddy and I found a new circular walk on Thursday which was all going well through alternating wheat and hay fields until we came out on a field that had just been ploughed.  The footpath hadn’t been trodden out and (being map-less at the time) we had no idea which way to go.  I found it hard walking on the fresh soil as I had sandals on and Buddy wasn’t finding it easy either.  In the end we walked round the perimeter until we picked up the path again.

Freshly ploughed field thwarting our walk on Friday

Open access area where we are moored – very unusual to see these signs outside of National parks

When we got home I realised I had lost my boat keys so we started retracing our steps.  Fortunately the first part of the walk was along the tow path and past a chandlery.  We went in on the off chance the keys had been handed in and to our luck they had been!

A cow and Buddy staring each other out on one of our walks

Les, a good boating friend of ours, turned up in Braunston on Friday and he and I went for a few beers at lunchtime.  Not something either of us do very often as it knocks you out for the rest of the day but we had a good old chat.

In the evening, after Karen and I had finished yet another barbecue, Les turned up with his dog Pepe.  He stayed for a glass or two of wine whilst the dogs tore around together.

Buddy and Pepe relaxing for a rare moment

Reminiscing on the towpath (Karen’s lager, not mine!)

The boat behind us in the picture above was a hire boat with six adults on it.  This was their first trip on a boat and they were quite nervous about where to go and how to handle locks etc. It was really nice to chat with them and help them out as they were really appreciative.  It’s so much better all round when we ask for help, rather than pretending we know it all in new situations.

The good weather really brought our flowers on last week:

Nasturtiums that Karen grew from seed

Sweet Peas that we have to pick every day - brightening up the boat

The Admiral Neslon pub in Braunston runs a music festival every year and we have never been so this year we made sure we were in the area so we could go. We met up with Les again and also many other people including Nicola who lives on her boat Martha.  It was great fun with a really friendly atmosphere.  It’s a good venue for local bands to get some experience and show off their talent.

Enjoying the atmosphere at the Nelson music festival

We didn’t stay into the evening but went home and cooked some trout on the barbecue.

The evening view for the last fortnight – lit up spire of the church in Braunston

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