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  • clivenmel

March 3rd

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* 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;} Well talk about best laid plans � only ours weren�t!  Best laid that is!  As you know from the previous blog we decided to have a little detour to Warwick by turning right at Napton Junction or Wigram�s Turn as its known to boaters.  Well having spent the night moored up at Stockton on Sunday night (by the way we never got our drink � by the time we got over to the pub it had shut!) we set off in bright sunshine and headed off down to the first lock in an enormous flight of 8 locks.  Well it looks enormous!!!  At the first two locks I opened both paddles at the rear gates to fill the lock and then both paddles at the front and I was absolutely exhausted already!  These locks, although they look big are actually not all that deep and therefore don�t take overlong to fill so I decided to try just using single paddles and it worked a treat, thank goodness for that, I�m not sure I would have survived the flight doing them all!!                                                         These are very different paddles as well, they take continuous winding and are just relentless, which is why I was getting so tired.  However it was the most beautiful day and there was no rush whatsoever so I just took my time, often chatting with the numerous dog-walkers up and down the towpath. We also heard a woodpecker drumming in the wood alongside the flight, it really is quite an eerie sound.  We never actually saw him though.   We had just come through the 8th lock and I was on my way down to the next lock, which is one of two single locks, when I got chatting to a couple with three dogs, in fact I asked them very nicely if they would give me one of their dogs as I would really love a ship�s dog!  They did offer me the smallest one, which they described as a Yorkshire Terrorist!  (It turned out to be her mother�s dog!).  Whilst we were chatting the lady said, �you do know that the next but one lock is shut don�t you � the front gates are off?�  Bombshell!!!   Oh dear!  I quickly said goodbye and ran back to the boat and told Clive to turn her around � fortunately there was a big enough area to turn in as there is a small marina here.  As soon as we had moored up facing back the way we had come we dashed inside to check the Stoppage list and sure enough, there it was!  The stoppage is from 3rd Feb to 13th March!  The simple fact is, we have been very carefully planning our journeys this winter taking into account all the winter stoppages, but of course we made a snap decision the other day to change our plans and it never occurred to us to check!  More fool us!!  We won�t do that again.   Oh well, we ended up moored right opposite � you guessed it � a pub!  This one has a very interesting name and pub sign.  It is called The Blue Lias.  The lock flight which we had come down is set in a belt of blue lias limestone in which the fossils of gigantic reptiles have been found � hence the curious name of the pub and its sign.  This place must be absolutely heaving in the summer!   We have had a big pile of wood on top of the boat, which I had augmented at the bottom of the Watford Flight the other day and knowing that rain was forecast for tomorrow we decided we needed to get it cut up and stowed in the cratch, we are also getting a bit low on coal and it isn�t warm enough yet to be without the stove.  So I got out the saw and had a go, it wasn�t as difficult as I thought it would be, the only trouble is we haven�t got any kind of saw-horse so you have to sort of hold the log upright and saw horizontally, which does make it a bit tricky.  I did some and then Clive came out and took over and we soon had a basket brimming with stove-sized logs, brilliant.  All free!!!   However we were both feeling a little dejected, me because I felt I had done all that lock work for nothing and both of us because it meant we couldn�t go to the folk club in Warwick after all!  So we decided to cheer ourselves up by going over to the pub for a drink and a meal, which we did and very nice it was too, if rather basic.  Still, it meant I didn�t have to cook for a change.   The rain hadn�t arrived when we woke up this morning, but it didn�t take it long!  We are running short on a few basic staples so decided to have an expedition into the nearest settlement, Long Itchington.  It�s not that far really, about half a mile, part of it along the towpath.  So we got togged up in our waterproofs and set off.  It took us about 20 minutes to get there and we soon found the village stores where we stocked up.  For all that Long Itchington isn�t a big place it actually boasts three pubs in the village itself and two more situated on either side of the canal!  Well, one can�t miss an opportunity like that can one!  The first one we called at, The Harvester, was shut!  The one that got our custom was The Buck & Bell which served guest ales, much to Clive�s delight and also had sandwiches on sale at the bar so we partook of the same!  Then it was back to the boat with the shopping.   The other interesting thing of note in Long Itchington is Tudor House, where Elizabeth I is reputed to have stayed.  It really is an amazing building and incredible that it has survived intact for over 400 years!    So, now what?  Well depending on how the day dawns tomorrow we may set off back up the flight and see if we can get up to Wigram�s Turn again before we moor up.  It will be a long hard day, but at least we will be back on track.  We need to be in Banbury by Tuesday night as we have booked a hire car for a couple of days in order to make a trip up to Huddersfield.  We will only be away one night so will abandon Lady Arwen on the towpath somewhere.   Good heavens it�s windy here!  It is now blowing a gale and the boat is being buffeted quite a lot � I hope Clive tied those knots tight!!!    

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