Sunday, 10 April 2016

Bushy Beards and Wandering Eyebrows

This week we've taken a luxury mooring on the Union Wharf in Market Harborough. The water point and services are close by and we have mains electricity hooked up to the boat. We have a splendid view over the mooring basin and there have been lots of boats coming and going to keep us entertained, especially now the winds got up! The 'Gin and Fizz' restaurant is just by our stern doors which means that Tricky has an audience every time we take her ashore for 'emptying'. Her normal exit is through the bows, but we have reversed onto the wharf here and tied up to a short 'finger' mooring - the bows are well away from the bank. The only way ashore is through the stern doors and off at the back deck - Tricky is far too much of a lady to want to use the tradesman's entrance, so she has to be carried ashore waving her paws to the customers in the window seats. Of course, this is only a temporary arrangement and we'll soon be back to 'roughing it' on the cut and to be honest, I much prefer the tranquility of a tow-path mooring.
On our first night here, I realised that there was a weird groaning noise overhead when we went to bed. I tried to ignore it, but it groaned intermittently throughout the night and woke me every hour until the dawn chorus took over about 4am. Those of you who are related to me, or have had the misfortune to share a breakfast table with me, will know that I'm not at my best in the mornings. If you add 'lack of sleep' into the equation then you might wonder how the Chandlers are managing to stay afloat! Carl, not wanting a grumpy wife, solved the problem by changing the whining centre line for another piece of rope, which was older and much more co-operative and hardly moaned at all. This is especially good news because the wind is blowing even harder this evening and is gusting so much that it almost blew the fire out. We had turned a bit chilly so Carl was trying to light the stove when a great puff of wind blew down the chimney and smoke poured out of the stove into the cabin and set off the smoke detector. I rushed around opening hatches and windows and tried to waft the smoke out of the back doors (more entertainment for the dining crowd in the Gin and Fizz) while Carl battled to get the battery out of the smoke alarm. By the time we'd cleared the smoke and the stubborn fire had got going, the cabin was at least ten degrees colder than it was before we started. Luckily for us, the wind has dropped, the stove is glowing nicely and peace reigns once more in the saloon of the 'Lady Aberlour'.

This week we have travelled from Norton Junction, up the pretty Watford flight and through the dripping wet Crick Tunnel, along the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal towards Market Harborough. We moored overnight at the top of the Foxton flight and were the first boat down on a chilly, grey morning. There are volunteers helping with the locks and, for once, they are friendly and chatty and help me with the gates. As I set off from the bottom lock to open the swing bridge on the Harborough Arm, I spotted a chap with a huge white beard sweeping up at the cafe. I was so fascinated by the hairiness of his beard that I wanted a closer look and, if he had been willing, I would probably have had a chat to him, he looked like an interesting sort of person. Unfortunately for me, he wasn't feeling very sociable and turned his back as I approached, leaving me no opportunity to wish him a 'Good Morning' and start a conversation. I glanced back over my shoulder and saw that Carl was out of the lock and halfway across the basin heading for the swing bridge and I wasn't even halfway round to open the gate. I hurried up the steep, slippery bridge and my feet flew out from under me and I came a right cropper. As I lay there, flat on my back, looking at the grey sky, all I could think was – 'how the heck am I going to get up'. I was OK folks – nothing damaged, but I cursed my new boots with their super grippy tread, which weren't up to the job.

As soon as we arrived in Market Harborough, I went off into town to have my hair cut and get my eyebrows tamed. I had a bit of a wait for an appointment and spent a good few hours wandering around the town, drinking coffee and resisting cakes in a delightful Italian Cafe and browsing through the vinyl 45's in the Oxfam shop. When I eventually staggered out of the hairdressers, face red and stinging, grey hair sheered and mauled into a quiff with some waxy stuff, I couldn't face the long walk up the hill and decided to catch the bus. 'Do my eyes deceive me' I thought as a little Yorkshire Terrier ,wearing a pink and white spotted coat, got on the bus, apparently by itself, and came running up the aisle. It jumped up onto a seat and stood looking out of the window until a little old lady got on, pushing a bright pink pushchair - it was all decked out with blankets and covers and had a matching bag hanging from the handle. She parked the little buggy and got a pink fleece blanket out and made her way down the bus to her doggie, which was dancing with delight to see her. She sat down, put the blanket on her knee and her little dog hopped on and snuggled up on her lap. It made me smile to see the pair of them and I'm still smiling now. It could only happen in England!

That's all for this week my friends. I hope you find something to smile about this week and don't forget to share it if you do.

Love as always

The Floating Chandlers