Friday, 29 February 2008

Old Rosie

Last night, Jonno, Helen and I indulged in the sumptous surroundings of the Knightley Arms once more. To our delight, they had acquired a new drink - Old Rosie scrumpy. This is some very, very nice cider. 2.5 pints later, I felt like I had drunk far more. Delicious, but rather potent.

This morning, I have discovered the PERFECT plan for the BBQ boat parties we will undoubtedly have in the summer - Old Rosie. I smell danger, kids!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Blame it on the weatherman!

Last weekend, I tried to move my boat, but failed dismally due to the gusty winds - after moving about 5 boat lengths I realised that trying to counter-steer in the wind when driving a 57ft sail is something best not attempted unless you really, really have to! I didn't NEED to move anywhere, and had underestimated how cold it was outside, so the decision to stay in Yelvertoft was a relatively easy one to make after the first couple of brushes with the bank. Frustrating, nonetheless - I can happily move my boat in the pouring rain, but strong winds aren't for me.

We had planned to move further North next weekend, but the long range weather forecast is predicting 20mph winds for Saturday. Fingers crossed that it improves as the week goes on, as I'm getting itchy feet now and looking forward to some new scenery again. Not that there's anything wrong with Yelvertoft, it has has lovely pub (the Knightley) and a nice stretch for mooring complete with bins and water point. I even caught myself a new piling hook here whilst fishing with the magnet over the weekend - bonus!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Photography - the mission

I have owned my digital camera for well over a year now, and so this summer I am going to actually learn to use it properly. As in manual mode.

A couple of evenings ago, I spotted what could have been a beautiful photo of a tree near my boat against the sunset, and am kicking myself now for snapping it on my phone instead of taking 2 minutes to go and get my "proper" camera out. This one could have turned out really nice too...

Monday, 18 February 2008

Stunning Photography

Besides cooking, the Opposite Lock house is home to many other talents...

Friday, 15 February 2008

A nice pair

Drinking in the Royal Oak in Crick on Wednesday night, Jonno came up with a blinder... he had spotted the couple who run the pub whilst out and about recently, and so announced to the pub "I thought to myself, 'I'm sure I've seen that pair somewhere before'". Unfortunately for him, the landlady did have a rather large pair and the entire pub collapsed in hysterics whilst Jonno turned a fantastic shade of red.

Time is flying...and I'm not keeping up - Sun 10 Feb

On Sunday, Opposite Lock crew and I rose early. We progressed slowly through Braunston, stopping for Water, Bins, Elsan disposal, and a cup of tea and chat with a lovely man on a tug-style boat named "Kyle".

The Braunston lock flight was very quiet, and a cheeky pre-lunchtime beer from the Admiral Nelson whilst the boats were in the lock gave Jonno the inspiration to breast the boats together! This meant that Jonno could steer both boats simultaneously, leaving Helen and I to work the locks. I got a work out, and Jonno earned some man-kudos by steering 2 boats at once!

After the locks, we stopped to devour a delicious beef and beer stew which Helen had been cooking all morning. One of the dogs jumped off the wrong side of the boat and had a little swim before we set off to brave Braunston tunnel.

This was my first attempt at a tunnel single-handed (except Newbold, which is so short it doesn't count...) and, whilst I made it through relatively unscathed, I have to say that I didn't enjoy it. It's dark, wet, cold, and you can't see the other end for the first few minutes. Also, in tunnels, as the light moves at exactly the same speed as you / your boat, there's a bizarre sensation of being still / moving backwards until you look at the wall and see the bricks whizzing past. Creepy.

After the tunnel, my friend Mark called and asked what I was up to as he fancied an afternoon in the fresh air and sunshine. I arranged to meet him at Watford Gap services, on the way to the Watford locks. Sadly, we arrived too late to make it to the Watford locks and so ended up mooring near the New Inn on the A5, in a lovely spot near a rope-swing on the towpath. Sunday evening was yet again spent in true boater fashion, eating and drinking in the New Inn. Good food, good weather, good company, beautiful countryside - this is what life's about!

On Monday, the sun was still shining so I took the afternoon off work and completed the Watford lock flight and Crick tunnel (where I bumped the wall and got covered in tunnel dirt, yuk, I still hate tunnels), mooring in a gorgeous spot which sadly has no mobile phone or internet signal. Hence the blog taking so long to post.

Time is flying...and I'm not keeping up - 8/9 Feb

So much has happened since my last blog entry, I barely know where to begin! Last Friday, Chez and Roz came to stay the night and "talk boats" over a couple of drinks, followed by a cruise from Long Itchington to Braunston on the Saturday. The weather was stunning for February, and, after a brief delay setting off due to alternator troubles on Opposite Lock (rather than my hangover), we spent the day travelling through the countryside. Words cannot describe what a fantastic time we had. Helen taught Chez to work the locks, Roz managed to somehow sleep whilst I bumped the wall repeatedly going up the Stockton lock flight, and we even passed a flock of runaway sheep.
We stopped to fill the water and get some lunch at Calcutt boats, and even found the time for a spot of magnet-fishing and chilling on the roof whilst we were there. The solar panel helped to top up the batteries ready for the tunnel light too!
Saturday evening was spent enjoying some long-awaited home made food in The Plough in the centre of Braunston, before Rox and Chez had to head back to London. The rest of us were tired out - I was sleeping like a baby by around 9:30pm.

Friday, 8 February 2008

More Gourmet cuisine from the Opposite Lock kitchen

Wednesday night, I arrived home from work to be greeted by yet another gourmet creation - chilli mackerel pasta goodness! Those guys are good to me.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Monday, 4 February 2008

Daaadddd....can I borrow your garage?

Seriously, if I ever have the time, I want to build this! Umm...I am quickly turning into a boat-geek.

Epic mission mk2

Yesterday I was going to move the boat to Stockton with Opposite Lock, however it was far too windy to be moving anywhere and so we had to stay put and catch up on some much-needed sleep (on my part) instead.

The new plan, now, is to undertake an Epic Mission next weekend involving a couple of carefully-timed stops near to good drinking spots en-route to either Crick or Yelvertoft. I'm quite excited, as Epic Mission mk2 includes Braunston tunnel and will be my first attempt at a tunnel single-handedly!

Just had a look at the long-range weather forecast for next weekend...fingers crossed it will change between now and then or it could make for another weekend of soggy boating.. at least it's not going to be too cold though.

Back to the good old days

Mental note to self: Hiking along the towpath with 2 full toilet cassettes (and then emptying them) is not a task to be completed after a night-long party on 2 hours' sleep.

Xav, captain of BBG and party king extraordinaire, returned to the country this weekend to remind himself of the fine life that he used to live on the UK canals. And to remind us how much fun we had when he was here. During his 3-day whistle-stop tour of our fine land he managed to take in a few good traditions including cruising his boat on the Oxford canal in the falling snow, Wetherspoons curry night, Le Merchant and it's fine guest ales, canalside country pubs, hog roast, and getting intoxicated with his friends, singing, dancing, and having a good time into the wee small hours. All that was missing was a nightclub, really!

Photographic reminder of the good times: