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  • clivenmel

Dec 12th

Normal 0 false false false /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} This is going to be a very short blog today because basically there is nothing much to tell!  Apart from the fact that it is bitterly cold!  You will recall that we were moored out in the countryside last night, opposite a farm and in the shadow of a very large railway bridge  9I was wrong by the way, the trains DID disturb us, in fact they never seemed to stop, there was one hurtling past nearly every ten minutes � I woke up at ten to three this morning to the sound of a train!  Anyway, Clive went out to put the engine on for an hour (to charge the batteries) at about 9pm and was astounded to find that the canal was already frozen and in the light of the full moon everywhere was white!  He thought at first that it had snowed but it was actually a very heavy frost.  So, we weren�t surprise to find that we were ice-breaking yet again this morning!   Although I did feel a little bit guilty I decided not to join Clive on the stern this morning as I really needed to finish writing my Christmas cards!  (Yes we are sending cards out but of course we, being of no fixed abode, can�t receive them!)  So I stayed inside in the warmth writing cards and poor Clive was outside, freezing to death, steering the boat � bless!  However, my comfort didn�t last all day as we had locks to negotiate so finally I had to bite the bullet, get myself togged up in as many layers of clothing that I could get under my fleece, and go out and brave the elements � OMG it was cold!    The Hillmorton Lock Flight is a bit unusual as all three are duplicate locks - two locks side by side � we encountered them coming the other way of course, back in September.  They are very good actually, especially if it is busy and there are lots of boats coming through in both directions and you would think that wouldn�t be the case today, but you would be wrong!  We actually met two boats coming down, one of them was going through in the right hand lock as we went through the left at first of the flight and then as we were coming out another boat was just coming out of the next lock so we were able to leave the gates open for each other and do a swapsy!  Every little helps.   Not long after we had left the locks I saw a little bird in the hedgerow, which I didn�t recognise.  Clive managed to get a glimpse of it as well and he too wasn�t sure what it was.  I shot down to the saloon and our little library (all three shelves!) and got the wildlife book out.  We had thought at first that it was a Black Cap, but it wasn�t, the body was the wrong colour.  It turned out to be a Stonechat � our first!  Unfortunately, as usual, I didn�t manage to get a photograph � shame!  But we did see it, honest, you will just have to take our word for it.   Well we just kept going, but the wind was blowing straight down the canal and all we wanted to do was moor up and get into the warmth � needless to say, we couldn�t find a decent mooring!  We need a clear bank to be able to get off the boat safely in order to moor up and the banks on this stretch were really overgrown with reeds and other plants and you can�t safely jump off the boat because you can�t see where the plants stop and the bank starts and believe me I didn�t fancy ending up in the water today � I wouldn�t have lasted five minutes!!!  Fortunately at about 2.30pm we found a stretch of canal with good clear banks and managed to moor up � phew, not a moment too soon, we were both perishing!  The boat felt so warm after being outside and my glasses steamed up as soon as I got in!   So that�s it, here we are about a mile short of Braunston � we didn�t fancy tackling that today, there are six locks to contend with for a start!  Tomorrow we will pootle up there and moor up again as we need to go up to the village to do a bit of shopping and find the post office � to post my Christmas cards!  

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