Oct 16th - Hopwas
Thursday Oct 15th – Atherstone
It was a horrible, drizzly, damp morning when we woke up – yeuch! Oh well – we donned our waterproofs and went out to face the day. Just beyond our overnight mooring was the first of the locks in the Atherstone flight, however we needed water and there was a water point on the left bank before the lock so we pulled in there first. It wasn’t long before we had the hose connected and started filling the tank but the water pressure was pathetic and we realised that it was going to take about an hour to fill the tank at this rate! So we abandoned the proceedings and decided to head down to lock 5 where there was another water point. Finally we put the boat in the first lock and started down the flight. There are some very leaky locks in this flight and even though a boat had only just come up some of the locks had already emptied themselves!
We arrived at lock 5 and tied up next to the waterpoint. This time the water pressure was excellent and it wasn’t long before the tank was full and we could continue on our way. It was still pretty miserable weatherwise. You can get just as wet in a constant drizzle as you can in a downpour and believe me we were very wet! However it did finally start to let up as we got further down the flight and eventually we arrived at lock 7 where we had arranged to meet Terry from Viking Hoods.
We moored up and gave him a ring, meanwhile I put the kettle on. We peeled off our wet waterproofs and hung them up to dry and we put the central heating on to warm the boat up. Before long Terry arrived and we invited him in for a cuppa and had a look through his swatches to find a fabric that matched our cratch cover. Once refreshed we all trooped up to the stern and Terry had a good look around and took lots of measurements. After a bit of deliberation and tapping out numbers on his calculator he finally came up with a quote, which we thought was very reasonable indeed. So now we just have to make the decision – do we actually want a pram hood! The thing is it would make a great deal of difference in very wet and cold conditions, however we also have to take into account that we would have to “drop” it every time we come to a low bridge and there are a lot of those on the canals! On the other hand there are very few low bridges on the rivers. It would also help to keep the boat warm in the winter as it would insulate the stern cabin to a certain extent. Also it means we can nip out and put the engine on without getting wet or frozen when the batteries need charging. It is just a tcase of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages and then making a decision. If we decide to go ahead, Terry reckons he could have it ready to fit by the end of November or early December but it would certainly be done by Christmas. We’ll let you know what we decide!
Once Terry had gone we decided that we just couldn’t face moving any further, although it had actually stopped raining it was still very damp and chilly outside and it was nice and warm and cosy on board so we stayed put for the night. I made a yummy spaghetti Bolognese and Clive lit the stove, we closed the curtains on the weather and settled in till morning.
Friday October 16th – Atherstone to Hopwas
Wow what a difference when we awoke this morning – blue sky and sunshine! We were soon off after breakfast and of course we were two-thirds of the way down the flight so there was a lock right in front of us! However one boat had come up just before we were ready to move so the lock was set in our favour. We only had three more locks to go before we reached the bottom and we met three boats coming up!
Once we got to the bottom of the flight it was plain sailing until we reached Tamworth and the two Glascote Locks. We met one boat coming up these too so we were through them in no time. A short while later we arrived at Fazely Junction and once again turned right. One of these days we will have to go the other way and explore in that direction, but not this time! We were now out in the open countryside again, it was lovely cruising along admiring the beautiful Autumn colours, which are quite spectacular at the moment. Fortunately we haven’t had any really strong winds to blow all the leaves off yet so the trees are resplendent in reds, golds, oranges and yellows, really beautiful.
At about 3.00pm we arrived at our destination for the day – Hopwas. We have been here twice before, once on the way up to Yorkshire last September and once on the way down to Milton Keynes in December, when Gareth and Indy came to visit us – it was a bit chilly that time and there was ice on the canal when we woke up that morning! However today it is lovely. We were lucky enough to find a mooring right by the Tame Otter, a lovely pub. We are going to go and have dinner there this evening – I can’t wait!
We don’t have a particularly good TV signal here but we do have a 3G dongle signal and I managed to have a chat with my brother Nick via webcam – he’s in Switzerland at the moment. Isn’t it incredible that here we are on a boat, on a canal in the Midlands and yet I can see and talk to my brother at his chalet in Grindlewald, Switzerland on a laptop computer! I am still enthralled with this wonderful technology. In 1969 I was in Canada visiting my sister Thelma with my brother Nick. We went to see 2001 A Space Odyssey at a local cinema. At one point in the film the main character, Dr Dave Bowman, takes the shuttle up to the Space Station and when he arrives he phones his wife via videophone – a concept that was pure science fiction at the time yet now it is something that our younger generation just accept as the norm – I don’t, I think it is absolutely wonderful! Am I getting old?!
I must also mention that as we came out of the cinema that night after watching 2001 we looked up at the moon and Nick commented that we had just been watching science fiction in the cinema yet Neil Armstrong was actually walking on the moon right then - science fact!
Whilst I was sitting here typing this blog I caught a movement out of the window and was absolutely thrilled to see a Jay sitting on a branch of a large oak tree opposite the boat. I quickly grabbed my camera and managed to get a few shots before he flew off – I said in the last blog that one of these days I would manage to photograph a Jay but I was actually quite doubtful that I would manage it, so I am absolutely delighted with the shots that I got.
The elusive Jay
Tomorrow we will be leaving Hopwas but I am not sure how far we will get as Clive’s paramount concern is finding a mooring with a good TV signal so that he can watch the Grand Prix! Unless we find a good signal at the first attempt I can see us stopping and starting till he finds just the right spot! If we get a really spot we will most probably stay until Monday morning so that he can watch the qualifying tomorrowand the actual race on Sunday. We’ll see!