Hatton bottom lock (what would we do without Wifi?)

When I moored up at the junction with the Saltisford arm on Monday I forgot about the strange phenomenon with broadband in that spot.  There are a lot of office buildings around and it seems that when they shut up for the day, at around 6 o’clock, we lose our mobile broadband.  I know that sounds absurd but that is what happens. 
As we are going to be here a while and also have no TV signal I thought I should reverse back to below the bottom lock on the Hatton flight.  I know it’s only a few hundred yards, but the internet signal doesn’t seem to fail there.

The cold snap meant we were iced in so first I walked along with the barge pole breaking the ice by the towpath so that our trip would be easier especially as it was going to be in reverse.  Goodness knows what the people looking out of the office windows at me thought I was doing - but it kept them amused.

Poor old Buddy thought we were going for a cruise and couldn’t understand quite what was going on, but he sat on the back as is his want, but looking backwards so he had a better view than usual 😊

We moored up where we were a couple of weeks ago and went for a walk up the flight.  The pounds were all frozen over and, with the water flow and wind, there were some interesting patterns on the ice.  My phone camera isn’t really up to it, so you can’t really see but you probably get the idea.

Work had started at lock #31 since we were last up here; the top lock gates and cill are being repaired.  Looking down at the lock the hoist for lifting the gates was already in place across the lock.



Contraption put around the balance beam to help raise the gate for repair  

We did get some snow during the day but only about an inch, so hardly disruptive.  As I sit here writing this morning I see it is snowing again, but I can see there are blue skies on the way too.  

Saltisford (hardly any snow here)

After doing a few chores and taking Buddy for a walk, we set off back to Warwick on Monday.  As I said yesterday, it’s expected that the canal will freeze for a week and, to be on the safe side, I wanted to get a pump out and fill up with water. 

The ice wasn’t particularly thick – about ¾” - but it still made that lovely noise as the bow broke through it.  Walkers and commuters on the towpath often stop to listen and exchange a few words in those conditions, and yesterday was no exception.

Breaking the ice can actually make it thicker which seems a bit obtuse.  As it breaks, large sheets come free and slide across the top of the unbroken ice.  This then doubles the thickness when it refreezes and then repeats when the next boat comes through.

As we approached Cape we passed some new houses.  I have noticed before that one of the houses has been building a collection of gin bottles on the fence that adjoins the cut.  They must have had a heavy Christmas because it looks completely full now.

When we reached Cape, I moored up to get the bottom lock set and saw that the next pound was completely ice-free.

No ice between the two Cape locks

Going up Cape bottom lock

It was bitterly cold, so I had put Buddy’s coat on him as he would be standing on the back deck for most of the journey.

Waiting at the top lock – no ice up here

I had lunch whilst taking on water opposite the Cape of Good Hope pub and then continued on to the Saltisford arm.  The cut was still ice-free and there were just a few bits on the arm itself.  When I pulled up at the jetty, Les was working on the pump out machine.  When I came a month ago, he had had a new pump installed and, on that day, it had broken down and the engineers from Leesan fixed it whilst I waited.  This time, it had completely failed and had just been taken away.  Les was getting his previous pump back into service and it worked like a dream.

When we were finished, I reversed out of the arm and moored up just past the junction in the same spot we had been in a week ago.

Before it got dark, we went for a walk up the Hatton flight and stopped to have a look at how the works were getting on at lock #27.  Stop planks were fully in place below the bottom gates and above the top gates and the water had been pumped out.  Work was now going on to repair the cill which is why the lock needs to be completely dry.


During the week the old balance beams had been put on the new bottom lock gates so all that needs to be done to finish them off is to put the handrails back.

Moored back at the junction – iced up with a bit of snow on Tuesday morning

We don’t seem to be getting the heavy snow that was forecast so it will be interesting to see what this week really brings 😊

Leamington Spa (will it be as cold as the scaremongers say?)

Coming in to moor after our sunset cruise on Sunday evening

As we’ve been moored in Leamington all week it’s been a chance to catch up on those things we’ve been putting off until we’ve been moored in a town.

You may remember that back in October, when we were last cruising through Leamington, I talked about the new water point in town.  Leamington has always been poor in terms of its services for boaters, i.e. none, but back in October I noticed a water point had been installed by the new student flats built alongside the canal in Old Town.  I moored up there then hoping to get water, only to find that the padlock was not a standard BWB padlock that can be opened by the BWB key issued to boaters.

One day, during this week, Buddy and I went down to investigate the water point.  There are now signs up indicating that it is not a boaters’ point.  Such a shame as we need services in the town and more boaters would stop for a while and spend their money locally.  I looked on the local site for the Leamington community canal group (local people who adopt a stretch of canal and keep it litter-free etc.) and found that they had ascertained that the point was for the gardeners at the new student flats.

The new sign

Our three neighbours have been with us all week, but I didn’t meet any of them to chat to.  On one day I exchanged waves with one of the guys who was off out in his car which he leaves in the Lidl car park.  He was moored here last time we were moored here and said that he’s never had any problem with leaving his car in their car park.  With our history of getting stuck in car parks we have always decided not to park in supermarket car parks, so we just leave the car in a side street.

Our three neighbours in front of us

On Friday it was off to the Yorkshire Dales for the weekend.  We were celebrating my dad’s 90th birthday and all his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were celebrating with him.  We had hired the youth hostel in Malham on an exclusive hire basis and, as there were only two dozen of us in a place that could sleep 47, we had plenty of space.  The only downside of staying in a hostel is that dogs are not allowed so, before we set off, we dropped Buddy off at a dog-walker in Leam.  

This was the first time he had stayed with Julie but he had a great time.  She and her husband were brilliant with him and we got constant pictures and updates throughout the weekend. 

Buddy fast asleep in his hotel – obviously relaxed and not feeling threatened!

We celebrated Dad’s birthday on Saturday morning in the conservatory of his care home.  Mum came too so it was quite an emotional event but it went really well and we all left happy and glad we had got together.  Matt couldn’t make it over from Norway so he joined in on a Facetime call with Dad so the whole family were there in spirit 😉

Mum and Dad and their family

In the afternoon we all went off and did different things and Karen and I walked up to the top of Malham Cove to visit the limestone pavement at the top.  We were last here in summer of 2016 and remembered that Dad was still agile enough to walk on the pavement and explained to his assembled family (as that was the last time most of us were together) about the clints and the grykes.  

Clear skies at the top of Malham Cove; the clints are the gaps in the pavement and the grykes are the blocks

During the week we had bought a new camera to replace the one we lost in the Coventry canal and our walk to the top of the cove was an ideal time to try it out.

Walking to the cove from the village – our first photo with the new camera

The picture above was the only one we have used so far; the rest are all from my old iPhone still

With hard frosts forecast for the next week or so I will take the boat back to Warwick on Monday to top up the water tank and also get a pump out.  I suspect it will involve some ice breaking but it won’t be too bad as Sunday night will be the first night when the water freezes.  I’d rather break a bit of ice now and be confident we are fully topped up etc. rather than try and get through really thick ice in a week or two if the weather gets as cold as forecast.

As we are facing away from Warwick I will have to turn the boat first which isn’t always the easiest thing to do in ice.  With that in mind I turned the boat on Sunday evening when we got home.

Setting off to the winding hole on our return on Sunday

Two of our neighbours had moved on over the weekend but the new Aintree boat was still there.  When we unloaded the car, we bumped into the guy who lives on it.  He explained that there had been a leak and a lot of the floor had been damaged and he was staying moored here until Aintree come down and fix it.

Coming into moor after our mini-cruise on Sunday evening