The village show

We’ve rounded the corner at Hillmorton and are relaxing around Rugby.  Saturday afternoon was the Clifton upon Dunsmore village fair, so instead of heading for the big shops we walked up the hill to see what was going on. Who’d have thought I’d ever get my workaholic husband to stand around in the sunshine enjoying the village dog show, but that’s what we did.

Perhaps it won’t be that long before we have a canine companion onboard Firecrest. (By that I mean another few years not another decade) or perhaps it was just the pull of the beer tent that persuaded him to accompany me.

Whatever the reasons we did have an enjoyable afternoon. There was a collection of vintage penny slot machines, so we handed over our pound coin for 20 old pennies and went off in search of the jackpot. Of course all our winnings had to be spent but as I managed to win more than I’ve ever managed on the national lottery, it was a pound well spent and much more fun than the noisy flash bang whizzy arcade games that devour more than they spew out.

No village show is complete without a police presence these days and we enjoyed a chat with these guys. One of whom was proudly sporting a tractor boys badge, yeah go Ipswich Town FC. on a more serious note they told us about a Warwickshire scheme called WaterwaysWatch where we can sign up for email alerts to be notified of any problems arising along the canals.



Bet you could hear us laughing, we love this word sent to us by our good friends John and Tina. Yes it is a recognised word and it means

“to travel in purposeful manner towards a vague direction”

If we had known this 2 years ago Firecrest might have  been known as the Coddiwompler and you’d be able to hear us singing merrily, “hi ho hi ho it’s a coddiwompling we go…..”

But don’t worry Firecrest , we do still love you, and as we returned to Suffolk for a few days we splashed out for a few nights of extra security by putting Firecrest into a marina. Just past the huge brand new Dunchurch pools is the smaller Barby Marina, which had a space for us and at £12 per night with electricity included was just right. But best of all, a beautifully maintained grassy island the home of three cheeky alpacas, Blade, Orisino and one more that I can’t remember the name of. I succumbed to buying a fleece to spin, it is beautifully soft.

Happy reunions

I was startled to hear a big “hello there” through our side hatch a few days ago, Chris, Les and Reuben the puppy on Eleventh Heaven sidling up beside us. They were able to moor right next to us and as drinks were shared, the next 24 hours has faded into a bit of a merry blur.

Eleventh Heaven was the Braidbar showboat in 2012 and the boat that confirmed we wanted Braidbar as our own builder. It is always reassuring to see an ‘older’ boat still looking so good although Chris has done a lot to sort out a few of the problems.

In the morning I walked with Les and Reuben while Chris gave Eric a lesson in splicing rope. A very useful skill as all our frayed fender ropes are neat and tidy again. Although Eric’s going to have to buy himself a set of tools cause he ain’t using my sharp kitchen knives…

More happy reunions happened over the weekend. Our good friend Richard was being baptised at the church we had worshiped at in Suffolk. We decided to  hire a car and make it a surprise visit back home. The look on their faces as we walked into the church was priceless. And it was good to catch up with our land based friends.

We’ve seen a few more Braidbar boats to tick off the list, 2- naid and 117-rocquette, (again apologies for mis spelling names)



Wild Willoughby

It was time to leave Braunston but we wanted a few low key days in the countryside before we got to Rugby. The weather was ‘British’ eg unpredictable so we only cruised a short way out of Braunston up the North Oxford.

Past the poor boat that burnt out. I don’t know any details but hope there weren’t any people hurt. And I hope that whoever is responsible can remove the debris before too long.

A lot of the canal is overgrown making mooring tricky but we found ourselves some piling and settled down to explore.

I found the essential hedgerows delicatessen to provide me with Hedgerow Jam, crab apples, plums (or damsons) rose hips, haws, sloes and blackberries.

I’m still not 100% sure if the sloes are ready, I was advised that if you can bite into one without the taste making your lips curl they were OK. Although every bit of previous knowledge says the sloes shouldn’t be ready yet. However I managed to make a few pots of jam that have gone down very well with scones and clotted cream.

Mashing and straining the pulp etc is a bit of a palava on a boat so I think I will be sticking to straight blackberry jam in future.

On my wandering walks through Willoughby I came across a herd of alpacas. They are the cute and curious. And if I could have one on the boat this is the one I’d choose

Although when I looked down at my feet and saw that my toes had turned orange, I got a bit worried, I’m still not sure what caused my new pigmentation but ignorance is bliss. If my toes fall off or I turn into an alpaca I’ll let you know.

Boaters cathedral

We first arrived in Braunston at the beginning of August, and it became a useful meeting point for our friends and family. We’ve been careful not to flout the 48 hour mooring rules always moving on to explore the surrounding areas. This weekend we wanted to visit the church, All Saints, also known as the Boaters Cathedral. And indeed we did meet several other boaters at the service.

We recieved a very warm welcome and it was a good service, followed by an invitation to stay for lunch at the summer garden party. Sadly the weather wasn’t as warm as the fellowship and we wished we’d put on a few more layers. But the rain held off and we did have a good time. It’s a church I’d like to return to.

But now we’re going to wave goodbye to Braunston for the time being and head back into Warwickshire on the North Oxford Canal.


Getting our fixes

Both of us happy this week. I got to go shopping by catching the bus into Daventry and found fresh vegetables. Local convenience stores are great and I wouldn’t be without them but unless you arrive on the right day the veg is invariably past its best. I’ve found a good website to help me find bus times so I really must get more familiar and confident going beyond walking distance from the boat. Daventry is a quirky little place, one or two interesting buildings that hint towards a past, but it’s mainly a dormitory town. It does however have a waitrose tesco and aldi all within spitting distance of the bus stop so I came home well stocked

Braunston’s shops are rather more ‘independant’ The Boat Shop at top lock is a gem and a pleasure to pop into, especially for icecream.

But I didn’t think I needed a new pair of boots

And while I was out getting my shopping ‘fix’ Eric stayed in Braunston whilst Wharf House’s plumber fixed Firecrest’s leaky radiator valves. The problem was easily sorted out, they didn’t appear to have had any jointing compound used when they were originally fitted. That was £85 well spent. Hopefully we can get the ugly stains in the woodwork sorted out when we return to Braidbar.

And we’ve ticked off another Braidbar boat from our list, 98- dreams fulfilled.

Back to Braunston

Goodbye summer, hello Jumpers and Raincoats. Actually it wasn’t as bad as the forecast predicted but on Tuesday we decided that we’d put the hours in to avoid the expected rain.

We had a good day sharing the Buckby flight with an Australian couple, Sandy and Steve who had only picked up their hire boat the day before and had not experienced a lock before. Having benefited from the helpful advice given so freely to us over the past 3 months it didn’t half feel strange to realise we were now the ‘experienced’ ones. I hope the advice we gave them was helpful, they didn’t disagree when we said it was crucial to include stopping to refuel at the pub at the top.

After fish chips and a pint, we waved them off in the direction of Foxton and we continued towards the Braunston tunnel.

We don’t particularly enjoy doing tunnels, especially the two way ones. It’s hard to judge the distances of  boats coming towards you and the longer you spend creeping close to the edge the more bumps and scrapes the boat suffers. This time we were lucky and didn’t meet a single oncoming boat.

There’s minimal mooring after the tunnel so it’s straight on down the Braunston flight. This time we hooked up with a guy on his own which kept me running back and forth dutifully opening both gates the whole way. Thankfully all the locks were set in our favour for a change.

The rain arrived on Wednesday as expected but not before I managed to see the sun rise through the bridge.

We’ve been able to say hello and tick off a few more Braidbar Boats from the list.

145 -Simply Messing, 19- Mnoysen (apologies if I’ve got this spelt wrong) 90 -Mary A