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Monday 23rd to Sunday 29th November 2009

This part of the woods isn’t known for its hills and high winds, in fact the only proper piece of high ground is the old airfield where Gartree Prison now stands and even I can walk up that.

The Gartree Tump, as I shall call it, appears to be suited to wind generators but some of the locals reckon the prison walls are high enough without adding monstrous wind turbines to the hill opposite their rather nice homes.

Several yellow “Stop” signs have appeared and adorn the water’s edge along what is otherwise a very picturesque approach to the canal’s terminus at Union Wharf

I think they are right, windmills do look out of place at Gartree, and in any case a coal fired power station would be far better in terms of electricity generation.

We’re still at bridge 14 but not sitting still, thanks to Mike from Sarah-Kate. It’s V’s time of year to visit the doctor’s surgery, not that you get to see one, nurses are far cheaper so they do the needle things. It’s Yellow Fever and Tsetse Fly jabs this time, I think.

Anyway while she’s in there spilling blood, Mike and I did our best to empty the larder in the café at the traffic lights in Blaby. I like times like this, there’s no hurry to eat and get out and there’s a hundred and one things to talk about, all to do with boats of course. Mike knows lots of people with all sorts of boats and reads the canal forum technical threads so we managed to sort out just about everything in a couple of hours.

Back at the boat for more coffee and who should drop in but Tezzer on his way between appointments. Bridge 14 certainly is a handy place.

Claire, bless her soul, popped in to ferry V to the shops which gave me time to tinker with wires and a clock.
This is my latest idea to take the guesswork out of declaring power/propulsion percentages when buying diesel. When the control lever engages the propeller a switch connects power to a Sainsbury’s £2.50 battery clock. Each day that we move I record the hours and minutes ‘in gear’ and compare that with the engine’s running hours counter. Easy-peezy and no guilty feelings when I claim 90:10. That’s 10% for power of course.

I told you bridge 14 was a handy place, Derek and Sheila found us for lunch. They’re famous in our eyes for pulling their boat out of Braunston last year when it became apparent that they could do a faster and better job of fitting it out than the so called boat builder. Nb.Clarence hasn’t a blog but Andy on nb.Khayamanzi kept us up to date on their adventures.
Had a great time catching up on news, swapping stories and sharing plans for next year.
Didn’t have the presence of mind to take a photo so here’s one from the archive.

Hadar’s arrival was timely because we’d found a space up forw’d for another bag of coal.

Something we’ve yet to do this winter is clear out the cratch for a couple of weeks’ supply of the black stuff. It’s really good having a coal boat on the Leicester Line but it wouldn’t do to be stuck a couple of miles apart in the ice and desperate for coal.

Time to leave and explore the other end of the Arm. We’re off to Debdale to collect Roger and Babs for a weekend sleep-over and then batten down somewhere around Foxton while the forecasted wind and rain pass over.
We filled the tank at Debbers at a not-too-bad-a-price of 59p/Ltr (self declare) and moored at the empty Foxton visitors moorings.

Not a bad day considering it’s supposed to be lousy weather. We did the locks tour because they’re closed for maintenance and it’s our chance to see what the side ponds look like without water.


Couldn’t miss the opportunity of a snap of the terrible three – Roger, Babs and V.

The afternoon was mostly given over to nattering. Having lost to the others at Rummikub last night I wasn’t fancying my chances today so Roger and I shared boat ideas and got told off by the girls for talking absolute nonsense. Some of it was, some of it wasn’t and some of it was just over their heads. Beats talking about babies and knitting.

Apart from our voices all was quiet until we heard strange noises out on the cut at about 5 o’clock. Grabbing the camera I was just in time to catch a party of ne’er do wells shining a powerful yellow torch into the reeds and popping away with an air rifle. I ask you, is that what we’ve come to, are we to get our sport by shooting ducks and moorhens and leaving them to die in the reeds?
I wasn’t sure what to expect until the flash went off on the camera and then I was shocked to see youngsters in the boat, What an example to set the children.
Needless to say I reported the incident.

Not wishing to dwell on the negatives we took up the offer of an evening meal at the Locks Inn. This was well received by me and my chief cook and all I can say is I went to bed stuffed that night.
Thanks you guys, scrummy.

The day turned out OK with a cruising window late morning. We dropped R&B at their car and wandered off to Saddington to give the batteries a charge and of course the brief spell of sunshine brought the boats out of Deb’s marina, which we mostly met on blind corners.

Back at Foxton we were met by Claire and Tezzer who whisked us away to see the twins. Great uncle and aunty I think we are. Here’s V with George.

Why is it that babies are always fast asleep until it’s your turn to hold them? George lasted ten minutes before turning red and straining to fill his nappy and then Evie wouldn’t settle and go to sleep but wriggled and whimpered until I handed her over.

The rain was doing its thing by the time we got back to the boat so we battened down, stoked the fire, ate and talked babies, again. I think I got that the right way round.

This weekend’s chatting has decided me to invest in a small generator. Something small enough to sit inside the bow locker, with electric start and running on gas. Something between one and two kilowatts should do for us because it’s only to charge batteries when we’re not cruising.
So watch this space, as they say. Knowing my speed we should have it done by the end of the winter, just when the solar panel comes into its own.