Sunday, 30 July 2017

Put Your Pants On Romeo!

Morning All

Here I am again – did you miss me last week? I'm afraid I've turned into a gin-sodden old wrinkly since I discovered the joys of Bombay Sapphire and Fentimans Tonic. I've had some very generous donations to the grog cupboard this week(thanks Rob and Aud) and I'm only sorry that, as yet, I've not managed to find the ice cube tray.

Boating on the Witham is so peaceful and restful that I've forsaken the jottings for lazy afternoons of reading and watching the wildlife from the solitude of the isolated pontoon moorings along here. We've seen very few boats since leaving Lincoln and most of them have been little cruisers, out for a day trip. The unspoilt reaches of the river are wide and deep and the dreaded blanket weed has floated down to Boston where it lurks under the Sluice Bridge, waiting for the lock gates to open and the tide to carry it out to sea. Carl managed to slip in and out of the green soup without attracting any onto the prop, I'm still not sure how he managed that as it looked thick enough to walk over!

We've had some lovely sunny days on our journey here, right up until we turned off the Trent but since then we've been scooting between showers and wearing our coats when the brisk winds turned chilly. Carl is waiting for the weather to settle down so he can start painting, meanwhile we are keeping busy with visitors, which is much more fun. We do look forward to catching up with our friends and family while we are here - if you can spare an hour or two, please do come and find us.

We were in Farndon a week last Sunday, and the weather was forecasting thunderstorms and torrential rain for Wednesday so we decided to hurry down to Cromwell and get to the relative shelter of the Fosse Canal at Torksey before the rain set in. It was a lovely sunny morning for our trip into Newark, and it's a very attractive town, viewed from the back of a narrow-boat. The beautiful old bridge spanning the river lies in the shadow of the castle ruins and the park runs down to the river moorings. The gates of the town lock opened as we approached and, once though, we squeezed our 57 feet onto the end of the floating pontoon – the mooring fairy was with us again! It's not easy to get Tricky off the boat when we moor on the high wall by the park. Have you ever tried to climb a narrow, slippery ladder with a plump, wriggling dog tucked under your arm? It's not easy and Carl once got a nasty poke in the eye when Tricky panicked and started trying to escape. She's very good on the floating pontoons, she trots along and up the ramp until she gets to the grass and then scurries back in case we cast off and leave her behind - she's such a wimp!
Newark Town Bridge

From Newark we had a glorious sunny cruise down to Cromwell ready to catch the ebb tide to Torksey the next day. The huge weir at Cromwell sparkled in the sunshine and a pair of swans patrolled constantly up and down past our boat. The wildlife here is truly wild - the ducks and geese don't come tapping on the hatch to be fed and I think I prefer it that way. The Trent, from here to the Humber, isn't very pretty - you can't moor in the wild like you can on the Thames. There's nothing much to see, except for the occasional fisherman, but on a sunny day, it's a great place to spot cormorants and grebes, avocets and terns, dab chicks and coots and listen to the yellow hammer calling from the tree-lined banks. We had to wait until we reached Fiskerton Fen before we spotted a Kingfisher, but were rewarded by sighting one hovering over the water right in front of the boat. It hovered for an age while we watched with bated breath and then it plunged down and scooped a fish out of the water. Apparently, I do rather go on about Kingfishers but I defy anyone not to feel uplifted by the sight of that beautiful bird.
Kirkstead Bridge Mooring

We made good time down to Torksey and beat the tide coming up from Hull so had to wait outside the lock gates until the lock-keeper called us in. Entertainment was provided by the crew of a small cruiser, who flirted outrageously with me and told a sob story about running out of beer. I'm too long in the tooth to fall for any of that old patter so he transferred his affections to the boat in front and tried the same tactic with the crew of the 'Artic Skua', a sprightly, chatty lady who giggled and goggled at the shirtless Romeo but didn't fall for his charms either. He told us that he'd driven all the way from Cromwell with no pants on which probably frightened a few herons and gave the fishermen a good laugh. I think he might have regretted exposing his white bits on such a hot day unless he was very thorough with the sun cream!

The Fossdyke Navigation from Torksey to Lincoln was busy with boats so we didn't linger, preferring to get out onto the Witham and revisit a very lovely mooring at Fiskerton Fen. We arrived in the late afternoon sun and set off with Tricky down the footpath to the bird hide. We watched a Barn Owl circling around the fields, gliding silently across the reeds before perching in the bushes by the lake. He didn't stay long and neither did we, the rain clouds were rolling in and the sun set without the faintest hint of red in the sky and that was the end of the settled spell of weather. Every day since then it's been a lottery of showers and sunny spells; coats on, coats off; wet dog, dry dog; cratch covers rolled up to let the air in, but one eye on the sky for the first spot of rain.

Well, my hearties, that's all from the good ship Aberlour for another week (or two). I hope you're all happy that the gardens have had a good watering and all talk of a hose pipe ban has been forgotten. We're hoping that enough of the wet stuff has fallen to top up the canals ready for our Autumn cruise to Shropshire. Who knows, we may even make it to Llangollen again – it's been a busy year but I'm sure we can squeeze it in.

See you soon I hope

Lots of Love

The Floating Chandlers

ps I forgot to say we had a short break in Skegness this week. How very English it is to eat fish and chips in the rain and of course, we couldn't resist the slot machines. I'm not sure if the seaview has been improved by the collection of wind turbines marching across the horizon but the donkeys made up for that. Gibralter Point was at it's sunny best though and is just as charming as ever, although the tide was so high, we couldn't walk on the beach. I do love the seaside, don't you?