Boatwif Blog

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Day 14: Monday 28th June: “Creeping like snail unwillingly to…”

From Upwell, the Middle Level to Ely, the River Great Ouse   [First, apologies to the avid reader(s) awaiting yesterday’s submission: only as darkness fell, with  the dongle tied high on a pole and Ken sitting on the front locker, laptop on his knee, did the atmospheric conditions allow transmission.]   Last night we were moored in the village of Upwell, by the church, alongside the main street. We were in Norfolk, and as Noel Coward penned for Private Lives “ very...

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Day 13: Sunday 27th June: Lost down the Drain…

From Peterborough (the River Nene) to Upwell (Middle Level)   It has taken much research to ascertain the navigable route from Macclesfield to Bedford and the Stanground Lock at Peterborough has long been top of the list of anxieties.  It is a lock that was lengthened but the cill of the previous lock remains and can prove a significant hazard to deep boats. Hence talk of ballast, bricks and batteries dominated the winter preparations while closer to the lock itself calculating...

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Day 12: Saturday 26th June: From Shire to City

Ken tells me we drew away from the Fotheringhay mooring at 0640.  Each night he sets his alarm clock for whatever time decreed necessary to navigate safely from A to B and to secure a good mooring at B. Years of Search and Rescue discipline make him instantly vertical and alert at the sound of the alarm.  Me, I need longer, and a full mug of tea in bed before anything remotely alert begins to happen.  Thus it was that...

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Day 11, Friday 25th June: Beer and bikinis, a beatbox and a bloodbath…

Cruised today from Denford to Fotheringhay, a shorter day than usual, mooring up at about 1400.   The mooring last night was canine heaven, perfect for dog walking and dog swimming. Mid-evening, just about ten yards along the bank from us, a dog was plunging into the water time after time to retrieve large sticks (logs?) for its master; once he swam right across to the opposite bank, scrambled out, looked totally confused – and then plunged back into the water....

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Day 10: Thursday 24th June – Bottoms Up

From Cogenhoe Lock to Denford: some fifteen locks, involving a great deal of hard work, and various attacks from nettles, thistles and wet ropes…   Overnight an invasion had taken place: the meadow we were moored beside had become inhabited by calm cows and their young.  Ken thinks they were Herefords (sign of a closet Archers fan.)  What was fascinating though was watching at extremely close quarters (say, about ten feet) a calf feeding from its mother.  It kept banging his...

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Day 9: Wednesday 23rd June: Regulation and Calculation

Moored up late afternoon at Cogenhoe Lock, on the River Nene, east of Northampton.   The engine roared into life early (again) and we were in the Northampton Arm Top Lock by 0715.  Breakfast was permissible after the first 13 (albeit) narrow locks and the “Northampton Lighthouse” hove into view shortly after nine o’clock. It is such a weird landmark that many years ago, overcome by  curiosity, and Ken having flown over it many times when returning to RAF Wyton, we  diverted our...

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Six Locks before Breakfast … and the Mystery of the Missing Boat

0640 departure from Braunston Turn to maximise travelling in the cool of the day (that was the theory!)   It was fascinating passing through the stretch at the bottom of Braunston locks as so many work and traditional boats are tied up, presumably in readiness for the big Traditional Boats Rally this weekend. The locks were quiet, but the gates heavy; eventually we reached the top, cruising past a row of moored boats, the most wonderful smell of frying bacon...

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Day 7: Mad boaters and Welsh folk…

Yes, mad boaters and Welsh folk Go out in the midday sun…   We set off from Hawkesbury Junction (near Coventry) at 0735 this morning and moored up at Braunston at about 1545. En route we passed through several fine tunnels or underpasses: two in the Rugby area depict the history and famous players of that game (no camera in hand at the critical moments, unfortunately) but the one at Newbold-on-Avon is a positive delight, spot-lit in purple and green....

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Day 6, Sunday 20th June

Warwickshire: below Atherstone to Hawkesbury Junction, 5 miles from Coventry Basin   A busy morning followed by a chugging sort of afternoon: 11 locks in the Atherstone flight, generally arranged in blocks of two, but spread out over about a mile.    Today my mind has become aware of how one’s senses become more aware of new experiences when one is travelling slowly (absolutely not an original thought, I know).  Last night, I began to sense a strange noise: drum percussion? South...

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Day 5, Saturday 19th June

  Moored up mid-afternoon about two miles from Atherstone Bottom Lock (so we have the flight of 11 to look forward to tomorrow morning…). Atherstone is in Warwickshire but we didn’t notice any glaring county boundary signs here, or for Staffordshire either.   A day of structures and domestics: The Coventry Canal wends and weaves its way roughly south eastwards; it largely follows the contours, hence today there have been two locks only (at Glascote, Tamworth). For the first time since setting out...