Sunday, 27 March 2016

Friend Ship

Braunston

Morning all
It's Easter Sunday and I was awoken this morning by the joyful bells of Braunston church ringing out over the village. What a very English start to the day and the warm sunshine is very welcome too after the wet, cold , windy day we had yesterday. In spite of the terrible weather, the determined holiday makers were collecting their hire boats from the village and setting off in the teeth of Hurricane Katie - the usual shorts and sandals well hidden under waterproof trousers and storm coats. As the wind gusted across the fields, it would catch the unwary helmsman and send their boat clattering along the length of our hull until Carl had the bright idea of putting the tyres down. He hung them out on the water side to cushion the worst of the scrapes and we're sitting snugly and smugly in our cosy cabin.
To pick up from last Sunday, you may remember that the jottings were produced by the light of the midnight oil and, I fear, not even spell-checked before I sent them off at about 2am. This was due to a very welcome interruption in the form of 'Visitors'! I've used capitals as having 'Visitors' aboard is the highlight of our boating routine - it's a major event and creates a hum of activity. Carl whips round with the hoover and I dust, polish and stow everything away in the wardrobe (or behind the shower curtain – hoping that nobody will find tomorrows washing lurking there). If there's time I make a batch of scones and put the kettle on the stove to get a brew going. We love it when you come and visit - after all, what's more important in this life than sharing good times with nice people.
After a busy week of entertaining and being entertained on the Ashby Canal, we're back to our normal routine – Carl's reading, Tricky's snoring and the wind is howling around the boat again making the covers flap and the water slap noisily against the hull. The rain clouds have chased the sun away again and the cabin feels chilly. We've been moored in this spot since Friday and it won't be long before cabin fever sets in if we don't get out for a walk soon. Carl and I are used to spending 24 hours, 7 days a week in close proximity and we're normally good shipmates but sometimes there are 'moods'. Generally, Carl retreats to the 'shed' on the stern deck and rearranges his mooring pins until I'm in a better frame of mind and only ventures back when he hears the kettle whistle like the 'all clear'. Tricky's always unsociable unless there's food involved; anyone coming aboard with a treat for Tricky will be made very welcome indeed.
This week we have travelled back along the Ashby Canal, rejoining the Coventry Canal and made our way south through Hawksbury Junction and Rugby arriving in Braunston before the wind got up. Most days this week, it's been chilly on the back deck and we've been pleased to moor up and get inside to the warmth of the stove. It was Friday before the sun finally came out and we chugged through Rugby and up the locks at Hillmorton, bathed in warmth and good humour. The locks were all set for us and we tootled along accompanied by birdsong and fluffy lambs skipping in the fields. I'm sure I have written about lambs before but I never tire of watching them running and jumping – it makes me laugh out loud. There have been lots of sights to make me smile this week. A quartet of black ducks – two sooty black and two with the iridescent sheen of mallard green – they were busy preening their unusual plumage as we chugged by. Further along, a pair of pond ducks splashed in the shallows, snow white except for a black top knot. I'm beginning to suspect that a rogue black duck has been along here, leaving his trademark on the local population. The coal boat was a welcome sight on Monday, he moored alongside and chucked the bags up on the roof for us which is no mean feat from the depths of his cargo hold up to the roof of our boat – its a hard life delivering coal around the canals from a working boat. It's hard to imagine how whole families lived in those tiny back cabins – those were hard times.
I walked the dog this evening and only just made it back before a heavy shower came on and the wind got up again. I sat in the bows, mopping the mud from Tricky's paws and unlacing my new boots which now look 2 sizes bigger due to the thick mud sticking to the big cleats in the sole. They are supposed to stop me from slipping over but I think they used the tyres from a JCB by mistake. I looked over towards the church and the evening sun shone through the downpour, creating the most beautiful double rainbow.
As usual, its getting late and my creative juices are running out – I think it may have had something to do with the cider I was drinking last night. That's the trouble with 'Visitors' – they do try and lead you astray!
Thats all for this week – Happy Easter everyone
Love as always
The Floating Chandlers