Mmmm – Pink Gin! I can recommend this as a good way of forgetting your cares and woes especially when taken with ice and a slice! Luckily, I have copious supplies of gin aboard, thanks to the generosity of friends and family who seem to think I need alcoholic assistance to survive the rigours of my boating life. A large gin would have been very welcome as we chugged from Welford to Foxton on Monday morning – the lashing rain drove us to moor up well before Foxton and Tricky had to make do with a soggy saunter along the length of the boat instead of our usual leisurely ramble along the tow-path. The rain didn't put off the holiday boaters though and we met several boats coming through Market Bosworth tunnel. Tricky and I were in our usual spot, sitting on the deck by Carl's feet, with the bat torch for company. Carl slowed down as we met the first boat and cosied up to the tunnel wall to let them pass by. There was a bit of bumping and then an almighty screeching noise then we were off again, flying through the darkness towards the tiny spot of light in the distance. 'What was that noise?' I called up to Carl. 'I think it might have been the chimney' came the reply. Our stainless steel chimney has been an excellent investment – we bought it from a canal trader called 'The Little Chimney Company'. It has a cute little coolie hat to stop the rain getting into the chimney – at least, it did have! Once we got to the end of the tunnel, Carl almost sprinted along the gunwales to check the damage and found the poor thing had lost a leg and was hanging off at a crazy angle. He has tidied it up and made it usable with the help of two pairs of pliers and a magic spell (well, I think that's what he was muttering under his breath) and it was soon back on duty, guarding the chimney against the endless monsoon that continued to beat down on us.
Shall I just skip over the rest of the wet week and fast forward to a gloriously sunny Saturday? I think I will, because otherwise I'll be in danger of becoming a stick-in-the-mud (groan – eye roll emoji). Saturday was the kind of day we had been dreaming about, a perfect day for chugging along under a clear blue sky with the sun reflecting off the shining brass-work. Two things are wrong with that statement. Firstly, the brass polishing is traditionally done on the first day of the year that it's warm enough to sit outside. That's not an old boating tradition, it's one that I invented so that I don't have to sit inside polishing brass on a rainy day. It's a dirty job and one I don't I relish so I need the sun to make it bearable – from that statement you may have worked out that the brass on this boat has yet to be polished! Secondly, we booked the boat into a berth on the Union Wharf in Market Harborough for the weekend, so we could safely leave both boat and dog while we went off gallivanting to a musical extravaganza in a nearby town. Instead of chugging along in the sun we were tied up in the basin with several other unlucky boaters who had, like us, paid their £12.50 for the luxury of a mooring without any mud and our very own water tap and electric hook up. It was such a lovely day that everyone came out of their boats to scrub off the winter grime and hose down their paintwork. We made full use of the facilities by flinging our washing into the machine and ourselves into a long luxurious shower and then opened the doors and hatches to catch the warmth of the sun. We strolled into town and Tricky tried to catch the pigeons in the precinct – a fruitless task but its about the only thing that turns her into a real dog. It was so warm that we stopped for coffee and sat outside the Italian cafe with our cappuccinos, watching the locals practising their parallel parking. Very entertaining! I'm not so relaxed when it's me on the steering wheel trying to squeeze my Bmax into a tight spot but driving a car is just a distant memory for me until I hang up my windlass in the autumn and I sip my coffee and smirk as another driver attempts to pour his quart into a pint pot.
As we set off for the musical treat later that evening, with our friends Richard and Mel, I enquired about the band and it sounded just my thing – a sixties covers band, the music from my youth. I thought I probably wouldn't need the earplugs that I'd slipped into my handbag in case the amps were turned up to 11 but, as Julia Roberts is fond of saying, 'Big Mistake'. I was really glad of them and a couple of gins, they really helped to get me through a most unusual gig. The band were playing all my favourite songs and the crowd were dancing and clapping and everyone else seemed totally oblivious to the fact that (to quote Eric Morecambe) they were playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order! It didn't prevent the crowd from dancing the night away and raising a great deal of money for a good cause so hats off to the band who played their hearts out and were very entertaining.
Today we're back to grey murky clouds and showery rain, the stove is lit again and we stare moodily out of the window hoping for a miracle. We're expecting visitors later and I baked a a batch of scones to welcome Ed and Emma aboard. They're interested in knowing more about 'this boating lark' and anyone who's been unlucky enough to get us started on that subject will know that it's hard to shut us up! They were good listeners and if they were bored with boaty talk then they didn't let it show and they loved cruising along even though it rained on the way back. Come back soon you two – there's so much more to tell you!
I've been assured that this week it will be warmer and the temperatures will climb into the high teens. I'm not getting my shorts out just yet!
On that note, I'll be off to my freshly laundered sheets and hope for more boating and less mooring next week.
The Floating Chandlers
PS Sorry, no photos this week, its been too wet.
PPS Met a group of men walking along the tow-path with two black labradors. 'Have you seen a dog that looks like a fox?' they shouted to us. We replied that we hadn't but would keep a look out. The last 3 men walking a little way behind said 'Don't worry about the dog, we found it' I wonder why they didn't share that crucial piece of news with their friends!