We stayed an extra day in London and drove back home on Tuesday. The afternoon was spent doing all those things you have to do when you’ve been on holiday away from the boat. At least it was still secure outside Lidl, and nothing had been taken. I was slightly worried as it was here at last half-term that I caught youths trying to get into the boat.
In the afternoon, Matt and Wiz came past on their boat on their way towards the Ashby and the north for the summer. We wished them well and no doubt will be bumping into each other again during the coming months. We saw them again sooner than we thought as, after an hour, they came past again, in the other direction. They said that a lorry had hit a bridge up at Stockton and the road and canal were closed so they were going to head up through Birmingham instead.
About ten minutes after they left us, I got an email from CRT saying that the parapet had been made safe and that the way was now open for boats until the structural engineers had done a thorough inspection. My only contact details for Matt and Wiz were on Facebook so I sent them a message letting them know the bridge was now passable.
It was due to rain most of the day on Wednesday but as we have to get to the top of Stockton by Saturday morning for our course, there was nothing for it but to don the wet weather gear and get on with it.
Heading for the first lock of the day, Radford Bottom lock, in the pouring rain - two boats going into the lock ahead of me so I sheltered under the bridge
The bridge above is the one we use for our address at the GP surgery in Leamington – that will all have to change again now we are leaving the area. Blair and Liz live on their boat is on the right just through the bridge - it's a permanent mooring that wasn't occupied when we first registered the address.
Dave had been moored in the Warwick and Leam area for several weeks like us but was also leaving and heading to Coventry next.
We were now out in the country which meant Buddy could have the run of the locks. He gets off as we approach them and then has a good nose around at the side of the lock whilst I bring the boat through.
Skies clearing as we passed one of our favourite moorings, near the Offchurch Greenway (a disused railway bed that is now a cross-country path)
When we approached Fosse Middle lock the bottom gates opened, and two boats came out so I could go straight in without setting the lock. This was really quite fortuitous as the lock landing is notoriously slippery. Unfortunately, both crews were obviously going to leave both the gates open which meant I would have to close them both once I was in. I managed to get their attention before it was too late and they gladly closed one of the gates once they realised what they had done.
Before going through the top lock, I stopped for water and lunch. When I set off again I passed Jo on his boat, Pohutukawa, and we had a passing conversation about the bridge closure. I would have stopped for a longer chat, but the clouds were about to burst and there was a boat in the top lock waiting for me to come in with them. Sorry Jo ☹
Sure enough, the rain started coming down more heavily and the people I locked up with stopped at the top for lunch, so I went up the last two locks on my own. The first was Wood lock, one of the most rural locks on the Grand Union. Just before the lock was a new broadbeam - like most of them they look huge on this canal and your initial thought is how do they get through the bridges.
The last lock of the day was Welsh Road lock and I had planned to moor just above it. Luckily two boats were leaving as I neared it and one of the crew stayed back to close the gate for me and set a paddle going – most kind of him, especially as it was pouring still.
|Waiting for boats to leave Welsh Road lock|
Poor old Buddy had had enough and was sheltering against the wall of Welsh Road lock cottage:
As we left the lock, the rain stopped, so I was able to moor up in the dry.
Karen had taken the car to work in the morning as she knew I would be moving but had forgotten to wear her walking boots as she was parked in Lidl car park. The towpath was really wet and muddy, so I will walk down to meet her at the car with a pair of wellies when she comes home. In fact, when I took Buddy out for a walk later in the afternoon towards Bascote, I realised that the towpaths were muddier than we have ever seen around here over the last few winters.
When I made my lunch earlier I made Karen’s packed lunch for the next day as usual. It was then that I realised that that would be the last packed lunch I would make her as she stops going into the office on Thursday ☹ Well, I expect I’ll make her lunches again at other times but not work packed lunches 😊
Talking about her work reminded me that a colleague of hers has given her a couple more go kart tyres. These are earmarked for Chris and Sue, so we will hand them over when we see them at Flecknoe in ten days or so.
The other thing I realised was that our outside fridge is not working so well now the weather is warmer. A big advantage of the winter is that a lot of our food can be stored outside the boat as it is just as cold as being in the fridge. With summer approaching we will have to revert to using just the inside fridge.
Sitting in the boat during the afternoon, Matt and Wiz came by yet again as they realised from my message that the navigation was now open. They asked if I wanted to go up more locks with them, but I declined as six is enough for one day on my own when I haven’t done much locking over the last few weeks and I need to be kind to my back for a while😉
I spent a bit of time in the afternoon re-planning the next few months. As we are no longer going to Liverpool via Chester (because of the Middlewich branch breach), we will head to Liverpool via the Peak Forest canal and Bugsworth basin. When we were last there we took the opportunity to catch up with Cerys and Gemma who live in the village and also climbed Kinder Scout. That climb was one we will remember well as it snowed for a lot of the time and we took a very long route so were absolutely knackered once we got home to the boat. We want to climb up it again, but in the milder weather and it also means we can see our friends again too 😊
|Our new route until June|