Monday 22nd to Sunday 28th November 2010

Man-flu has reached the sticky stage and a cough is developing nicely.
Our David returned to the south coast with his strain of my germs but V hasn’t shown any signs of it, just goes to show who the carrier is around here.

V caught the bus to town while I coughed up a helicopter.
In no particular hurry it worked its way along the railway line, circling as it went.

Last boat into the wharf at Kilby Bridge was Callisto strapped to a butty. We may take a bag of coal from her tomorrow to see us through to Foxton.

A lovely evening was spent in the company of Mike and Alison from Canny Chanter. Alison does a smashing elderflower cordial that goes everso well with G&T.

It’s bright but cold, a perfect window for up-sticking and wenting, so we did.
Jo brought Mike who had offered to crew for us today. Our aim is to pass Wistow, our usual mid-way stop, to reach Fleckney before the temperatures really drop and ice affects travel plans.

As it happens we did so well that we carried on through the tunnel to Foxton and arrived before dark. A nourishing hot meal with ‘thanks’ heaped on Mike, and on Jo for lending him, before they returned home. Though not the hardest locks on the system they are made so much easier and enjoyable in the right company. What a brilliant couple.

Jack Frost is here, minus two overnight, and they say it will get worse. Another night of this and we shall have ice.
We walked around Foxton boat basin, popping into Mary’s shop for a hot sausage roll and other stuff, the sausage roll being the most important thing.
On the way home we stopped at Hadar for coffee and a catch-up. Haven’t seen Keith and Jo for many months so it was lovely to hear their news and see Keith in good health again.

Minus four and we have ice. The ducks have all gone, probably down to the shop where they paddle to keep the water from freezing or entertain the visitors and cadge bread.

Late morning came a knock on the roof as several pairs of legs gathered at the porthole.

Poking my head out the stern doors started a camera rolling with its microphone boom dangling overhead. There stood Keith and Jo with a trolley load of coal and three guys filming the proceedings.

It’s all part of Jo’s new found fame and, if it doesn’t all end up on the cutting room floor, you’ll see her on the tele’ next summer.
It wasn’t all about cameras on the towpath either, after Keith cleared the swing bridge the crew climbed on Hadar’s roof and they sailed off towards Harbro with the camera studying Keith’s every move.

That wasn’t the only excitement for us, we heard that new boat batteries were on their way so we scampered off to Black Horse Bridge, following Hadar’s trail through the ice, just in time to meet Mark with four lovely new batteries.
Batteries safely onboard we reversed the half-mile or so back through the ice to the boat basin and fixed ourselves to the rings around the corner for a couple of days.

Only minus 2 this morning but we have snow, half an inch over everything including the canal. It’s funny watching the moorhens slithering about as they scramble for the bread or the swan waddling awkwardly on his massive feet.

Taking advantage of a sunny spell I swapped over the batteries and finished just as the snow began again.
Batteries are funny things, they start out as your best friends but over the months they disappoint you and when they fail to deliver what you think they should you despise them and threaten them with over-charging or over-boarding. It makes no difference to batteries, they laugh in your face and show you the small print which tells you a different story to the one the salesman gave you.

But we are happy, these do the job really well but the problem doesn’t end there, what do you do with the old ones? They’re far too good to scrap but how do you find the hobbyist or caravan owner who could make use of them?

It’s quiet, not a soul disturbs the peace. Then crunch, crunch, crunch and the boat shakes and we wonder what could be happening.
It’s a boat on the move and we heard it long before it appeared.
We’re not bothered, our blacking has gone, but I watch Vagabond, the wooden trip boat, to see if it rides the storm.

A couple of hours later the water is frozen again. It was minus eight last night and with clear skies today we may be looking at something worse tonight.

Oh goody, winter is here and I can’t wait for real snow.