Amy in a spin,

After our adventures at Warwick Castle, we needed a quiet day to recover. Not being one to sit idle, while Amy was dusting under the bed she discovered my spinning wheel and that was the last of the housework I got from her.

It didn’t take long for Amy to pick up the necessary skills to make a nice even yarn on the wheel. And if I’m honest I was very impressed. Spinning well, is as much about gauging how the process feels as it is about following a set of instructions. Amy watched how I spun then intuitively copied. It didn’t take long before she was confident to spin unsupervised.

I had seen a craft fair advertised in  Royal Leamington Spa so whilst Eric got on with doing some real work, Amy and I went exploring. Jephson gardens was awash with stalls selling all sorts of arts and crafts but the only one that caught our eye was the one selling fibre.  Amy’s icecream money got spent on a gorgeous batt of sparkly merino and silk fibre-she’s got good taste because it’s the one I’d have bought if I had room for any more stash on the boat.

Of course that meant we didn’t want to explore any more but straight back to the boat to spin.

Knowing that Amy wasn’t going to be able spin on a wheel at home, I taught her how to use a drop spindle as well and gave her one to take home with her.

Warwick castle

Warwick castle was supposed to have been a highlight of our trip but poor Amy had eaten too many blackberries and drunk too much elderberry potion, the birds of prey at the castle soon picked her bones clean.

We were a bit worried about what mum would say when she saw Amy in this state so we just had to ply her with icecream and hope that she hadn’t lost her giggles in the dungeon.

we made Amy climb the 500 steps that took us up and down the ramparts, the view was amazing but try as we might we couldn’t see the canal.

We also tried to loose Amy in the maze but I think it was Amy that led us to safety.

Overall we were impressed by the castle, yes it is run very commercially with princess costumes and foam armoury being touted at every corner, but the history of the castle hasn’t been neglected. Lots of side shows telling the tales of Warwick in snappy sound bites.

They put on a spectacular birds of prey show, where they were swooping low over the crowds, flying for bits of chopped up child, or so the demonstrator told us. I’m not sure if I was most impressed by the awsome size of the condor or the the WWI style dog fight with 8 red kites all diving for the same bit of meat thrown in the air.

And an acrobatic re enactment of the war of the roses with horses and knights jousting.  The giant trebuchet was spectacular. Another feat of engineering that seems unbelievable without the aid of our modern computing power.

A full and busy day as we were there from when the castle opened until it pulled up the draw bridge.

Blackberries, Elderberries and Plums.

Our galley slave Amy has been hard at work but to stop her going hungry during the week she needed to get out on the towpath and forage for her supper. Thankfully it’s berry season and it didn’t take long before Amy was starting to look like a blackberry she’d eaten so many.

Our most prolific haul came when an oncoming boater called out that he’d just passed a bush laden with ripe berries at the next bridge. As this was off towpath side they could only be reached by Eric hovering the boat and us leaning out of the bow.

Between us we made Blackberry and apple pie,

 coconut and blackberry traybake and  Blackberry jam for the croissants.

Then we started on the elderberries and and made Elderberry cordial.

When we researched our recipes online we discovered that elderberries their leaves and stems are toxic when raw and can cause sickness. So we simmered and stirred

then strained and cooled and diluted with sparkling water.  It frothed up into a real potion, but tasted delicious.

The tow path was scattered with squashed black stuff where we moored and as we looked up into the tree we realised it was a plum tree but they were just out of reach to pick. Amy had the bright idea of using the pole and hook to shake the branches whilst I grovelled around picking up any that looked like they’d survived gravity.

The mild concussion I suffered from the raining plums didn’t last long and We were all enjoying a ‘plum bakewell tart’

Eric thinks we should keep a galley slave permenantly cause he certainly doesn’t get cakes like this when I’m in charge….

Visitors on board

Oh ho, so I’ve come to realise that visitors and blogging don’t make good partners, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

Over the last week we have been joined by Amy.  Her mum and I used to be work colleagues and to ease my conscience for swanning it around when the rest of my friends are still slogging it out doing silly nurses shifts, we offered to have 11 year old Amy for the week. Of course it wasn’t simply an act of generosity,  we wanted someone younger and fitter to work the locks for us .

Amy, who’s never been on a narrow boat before proved her worth and became a full member of our crew. It puts me to shame how quickly and well she steered the boat.

Our cruising plan for the week was to pick up Amy at Norton junction, cruise back to Warwick, visit the castle and return as far as we could back towards Braunston.



I’m not usually tempted to leave my bed before 6am but seeing the sunrise makes it worthwhile as I looked back over Stockton locks. We had shared the flight with Lisa and Emily who let me practice manoeuvring without worrying about their boat being bumped.

We parted company as they had to return to the real world whilst we cruised on to Braunston.

Beloved Braunston, heart of the Narrowboating community. And while Stratford was full of tourists looking at the boats, Braunston is full of boats looking for a place to moor.  The village is a short amble up the hill where the church nurtures boaters long passed, for contrary to popular belief it’s Vikings that depart to Valhalla on their burning long boat, not narrowboaters.

One of the Braunston highlights is Gongozzlers Rest. A Narrowboating cafe, and despite it being nearly lunch time, we did enjoy the full cooked breakfast.

Afterwards I was seranaded by a lovely lady playing a Native American Indian pipe. It was a beautiful sound and I have to say something I would like to learn to play myself.

Perhaps somewhere over the rainbow.