Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Friday, 31 May 2013

31st May '13

An interesting time....

Firstly a couple of days ago we said goodbye to Allison and Dave and here they are at Bradford Marina getting a pump out before going on down to Bath.

Now back to yesterday. We had a quiet day with Paddy and he's much better although not likely to do any serious long distance for a few days yet. Exhausted with a day of doing little we started to pack up at 10.30 for bed when we heard a boat engine - at THAT time of night - accompanied I have to say with a lot of shouting and dog barking, just what we needed. We then heard rumpus right in front of us and it was obvious that they were trying to moor - there wasn't a lot of room between us and the bridge but a short boat could manage it and we presumed this is what happened. A bit later Paddy makes going out noises, which is unusual once we've gone to bed but after the day he'd had, I felt kindly disposed and so put on dressing gown and took him out.

It looked as if there was a boat moored up across our bow as I could see a navigation light seemingly in the middle of the canal and sure enough when I got in I looked out of the window to see the stern of a boat. I slept badly after that!

This morning we investigated what was happening...

and thanks to a feeble connection after 25 minutes the photos won't upload! anyway, there was a small boat ahead of us (out of license for a year I might add) and one tied up to it with the back section next to us. We were not impressed, there were two small motorbikes alongside just to round it off nicely.

Anyway while we were having breakfast they moved the one overlapping us, by taking a rope over us and hauling it along, not asking us if we mind, remembering that we have a very expensive satellite seeker dome and a pram cover to negotiate. They moored behind us and we got off as soon as we could, glad to get away from them.

THEN after stopping to fill up with water we met a hire boat going up the lock in front so let them go in first and then I followed, Lock 19 near Seend by the way, if you're in the area, and we got stuck! The lock gate on my side didn't open properly and somehow we managed to get jammed. We tried everything we could think of but to no avail (photo available at a later date).

Eventually I rang CRT and they finally sent two men down and between them and John and me gunning the engine in reverse, they managed to haul us out. Their initial reaction was that oh yes that gate is a bit tricky. GRRRRR. It was one of those 'if' situations. If they'd gone in and moved over ahead of the open gate I'd have gone in OK. If I'd gone in first they could have fitted in without it being a problem. All very well in hindsight.

Anyway, now we are at Cells Green near the Three Magpies and waiting for Jess and Ju to arrive later. A pub meal (I have no supplies until we get to Devises) and an early start and hopefully the sunshine will last. It's been glorious today.

No blog tomorrow as we'll be flat out after the day but hopefully Sunday will give me a better signal and I'll put the missing photos on.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

30th May '13

Another quick entry as plans took a nosedive after taking Paddy for a walk yesterday. He developed a limp, that on further inspection looked as if he'd dislocated his toe, and it was bleeding. So some research done, I rang the vet after a disturbed night and got a taxi (£19 both ways) to Devises, where they sedated him and removed offending toenail. He's fine now but dozy, and they said to keep him quiet for the rest of the day, so we aren't moving on. It's a 24 hour mooring, but I'd be willing to fight it out with CRT if there was a complaint!

Just after we'd returned, who should moor up behind us but Shirley and Trev on Vark! It's now pouring with rain so I suspect their 20 minute stop for lunch will lengthen, it's already a couple of hours. Forecast is bright for the next 2 days, so fingers crossed that they are right.

I'll try and get some pictures tomorrow, and make it more interesting again! Mind you the weather and the delay are doing my knitting some good.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

29th May '13

Just a quick update on iPad today.

First, humble and heartfelt apologies to Dave for calling him Ian on the blog. Ian is friend on marina, Dave is friend met on boat, both have wives called Allison, but there the similarity ends. I will try VERY hard to get it right from now on Dave.

We said goodbye again to Allison and Dave today, as they continue their progress down to Bath and we head towards Caen and all things east.

We haven't got very far, Semington to be precise, as it looked like rain and started spitting. We moored up at the bottom of Semington locks and once we were settled, the sky dried up and now I have my washing out, drying!

We have just heard from Jess and Ju, and they are coming for the weekend to help us up the Caen locks, hooray for good friends! We are very lucky, Valerie had offered her services as well, but Graham is away, so this means we can spread the load around, and hopefully keep the friends!

I'm finally back to my knitting after a few days of abstinence, and I'm determined to complete the shawl that I started at the beginning of the trip, I've done other things in the meantime, but this project needs completing.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

28th May '13

It's raining, it's been raining since yesterday evening and hey... guess what? we're in Bradford on Avon and it's a Tuesday. A coincidence? I don't think so.

We have moved up onto the 48 hour moorings right next to Ian and Allison and went out into the town with them today. It was wet. I'm wet, my shoes and socks are wet, my feet are wet. Basically it's pretty wet out there.

Sights of Bradford on Avon, which is a really pretty little town, this is the Bridge Cafe which looks like it's about to fall down but has been there for hundreds of years so is probably OK.

This is the Three Gables Restaurant which is just around the corner from the Cafe - that is a road by the way, not a river.

THIS is the river, over the road from the previous pictures, not to be confused with the canal which is where we are.

For alternative views of any of my photos, please see NB Free Spirit's blog which contains pretty much the same content today! Here we are enjoying ourselves in the rain.

A gold post box signifies an Olympic Champion....

.....and here's the plaque on another bridge to give the details. We could maybe learn from him to help us down the Kennet when we get there!

This is the amazing Tithe Barn, we first came here years ago, but it still fills one with awe at the size of it and how solid it still is, just imagine when it was full of corn! THAT'S a harvest home for you.

Tonight we have planned a barbecue, good plan huh? it's going to be rather an indoor affair one feels unless a. it drys up pretty quickly and b. the temperature increases by lots!

Tomorrow we move further eastwards, and I really hope that the weather improves somewhat, I've got LOTS of washing to do and then need to dry it all so fingers are firmly crossed (it's difficult to type with crossed fingers!).

Monday, 27 May 2013

27th May '13

Sorry that there was nothing yesterday - lack of signal, although strangely enough we are in the same place today and all is well. I have no idea why but there you are.

We have had sunshine for the last 2 days and are now moored at Bradford on Avon (the return). Yesterday everyone within a 10 mile radius of the canal must have decided to come out and either walk, cycle or boat along it. It was manic. We had 2 boats at different times that were obvious 'Sunday drivers' going at less than 1mph (seriously). John had to go into reverse several times just to keep some control over the position. Whilst overtaking the second one (the first one just pulled in before we lost the will to live), with permission I might add, we were hailed from the bank by a cyclist who we realised was our mate Pam, with Steve and lots of her family in tow. Shouting across the slow boat, we arranged to meet in Bradford later.

Hearts were in our mouths as there were no moorings and we went up the lock wondering what was ahead of us when low and behold, a mooring appeared so here we are.

We stopped on the way at Claverton as there is a pumping station there. It was a bit of a non-event though as apparently the floods last year damaged the mechanism and so they have decided to keep it shut this year for repair. It wasn't even the most photogenic of places but here it is in any case, just to save anyone else from having to go down to see it!

Just some of the crowds on Dundas Aqueduct, this is what happens when we have sun on a Bank Holiday!

Here's another one for the unusual boat album. We weren't sure if it had originally been a trip boat when we went past it the first time, this time still left us with no answers!
Steve and Pam with her son Richard, his wife Louise and baby Isobel (have a feeling that they spell it a different way, sorry!) and Louise's parents, plus John of course. They had hoped for cream teas but they had just run out so just tea and cakes (apart from me who was being good).
Ikey doesn't like having her photo taken so here she is!
Dave, John, Ikey, Chris and Sarah at the Barge Inn enjoying what I have to say was a brilliant lunch. I'm getting a real taste for Pimms by the way.
After they had gone we took Paddy along the canal as we'd had a text from Ian and Allison saying they were on their way. Whilst looking for them we came across a group of people looking at the opposite bank and there, believe it or not was a kingfisher. It sat on the branch, with an occasional hop up and back for over 15 minutes whilst people who'd remembered their cameras were taking photos and boats were going past. It was amazing. John thought it was probably a young one who wasn't sure what to do and was waiting for a parent to come along for guidance.
All I had was my phone and you'll just have to believe me that on the branch in the middle of the picture is a kingfisher facing the camera, so it's the orange breast rather than the blue back that is (or isn't) visible. Hopefully Dave got a better shot as they came by at that point and maybe I can get a picture from him. They are now moored a bit ahead of us and we are looking forward to spending a bit of time together before we leave on Wednesday to get to Sells Green before going up the Caen flight on Thursday.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

25th May '13

A photo blog today (hopefully)

This morning we popped into Waitrose (get us, only because it was close, still baulk at their prices) and on the way back enjoyed a cup of coffee and a chocolate brownie at a little cafe, with this as the view. The sun was shining and it was a pretty good place to be.

We walked up through the locks as we'd had conflicting reports on the times they would be open today as there is some maintenance work being done, and on the basis of our research decided that we'd leave after an earlyish lunch so we would be there at the right time.

Pulteney bridge as not too many people see it, from the river just as we are about to turn - decided not to try to do a run up the weir - not in the mood!

As we turn, I wondered how many photos around the world are going to feature our boat! Paddy is a great draw and I know that he's been a popular model (no-one is close enough to find out his true character) but there were certainly lots of people, especially of an oriental persuasion who were snapping away merrily as we did our thing.

A final view of the Abbey as we are turned and on our way. Because of the flow of the river we had to then cruise past the lock entrance and landing jetty, so that we could turn again to come at it from downstream. John is really good at this now and it's all a bit of a non event.

We went into the first lock easily and then as we were coming out another boat appeared behind us. Knowing that the next lock was the deep one I offered to wait for them so we could go up together. Norman and Juliet on African Queen were the perfect partners and we got up the rest of the 5 locks in under an hour, with only one incident at the last lock. I'd been doing really well and felt very pleased with myself - pride comes before a fall as they say - and at the last lock I was almost at the gates when Norman calls out that the lock is full. He's held his boat back and as I'm bringing ours back alongside him, the paddles get opened on the lock and I completely lost control of the boat as the water hit us broadside. I went across his bow and had to wait for the water stream to settle before I was able to get back in line again. He was lovely and pointed out that it's difficult to get things right in a narrowboat and it's incidents like these that stop it getting boring. What a lovely guy!

This sundial is halfway up the locks and despite walking up and down them I don't know how many times, I'd never managed to have my camera with me. As it was I had to hand it over to John as I was on the boat. He said the time was spot on when he took it - impressive!

This is for Coralie Duckworth - if anyone reads this who knows her can they point it out to her please? She will understand!

We are now moored, once again, outside the George. It's still a thrill. We've had a drink and are going for a meal tonight, before we head further east.

Plans include seeing Johns sisters at Bradford on Avon and also Allison and Dave are now down the Caen flight so we are hoping to catch up with them there as well. Then it's onto Devises ourselves!

Friday, 24 May 2013

24th May '13

We're back in Bath after an eventful day, fighting the wind (the weather sort, nothing to do with the meal last night!)

We had a wonderful evening with Jane and Neil last night, it went far too quickly and it's hard to realise that we hadn't seen each other for many years - that's what shows a true friendship I guess.

On the journey today we were bombarded by a mass of swallows (not sure what the proper group description is) they were under a stand of trees that overhung the river. We presumed that it was rich in insect life as they were going crazy, dipping and diving around us. It was rather magical.

Here we are turning in the basin, ahead is the restaurant where we ate last night. It was amazing, 5 different cooking stations, all making a different type of food and you basically have up to an hour and 3/4 to eat as much as you can. It was really exciting, and meant that everyone got what they wanted and it wasn't too expensive either (for a city centre). Highly recommended.

The photos are taking ages to upload here, so I'll miss out some of the ones I'd been hoping to add. Suspect the connection is a bit poor here as we're in a bit of a dip.

Once we'd turned the boat we pulled in to get some water. It was shown at regular intervals around the harbour but as it turned out, not in accessible places. We had to come out of our mooring and pull in at the other end then moor up against the quayside, which had to be approached up a ladder set in the side. Anyway we filled up, but it really wasn't that easy.

Here they are clearing some tree stumps out of the water - the Bristol Harbour own the water up to the first lock on the Kennet and Avon so it was nice to see them doing some clearance. There's lots to be done along the Avon. We enjoyed it though, it was a nice gentle relaxing stretch of water and once we'd remembered how we negotiated the whole rope thing to go up locks, all went pretty smoothly.

We assumed that this was some sort of mill chimney, until looking at the map and discovering that it's the old Fry's chocolate factory, taken over by Cadbury's with the promise that it would continue to produce chocolate for the foreseeable future and then the production was moved to Poland shortly after. I remember going here as a child on a school trip. John and I were drooling as we remembered the old Fry's Chocolate Peppermint Cream bars. Mmmmmm.

Here we are finally in the centre of Bath with the Pulteney Bridge ahead of us.

It's taken almost an hour to get these 4 photos on here so I'm giving up at this point and going to cook some tea!

We managed to cruise past the scene of the lost watch without losing anything so that's a bonus. It should be an interesting evening as we have a music festival just over the river from us (been very good so far) and a beer festival on the rec. behind us! mmmm

Thursday, 23 May 2013

23rd. May '13

Just a quick note from the iPad. Bristol has been sunny, wet, windy with occasional hail, and very expensive moorings, but we've enjoyed it. Going to move back to Bath tomorrow, so hope it stays relatively dry.

Glen, if you're reading this, did the message and photos come through?

Off for a meal with mates tonight, always a good preparation for an early start.

....oh and by the way, apparently a body was pulled out of the quay about 100yds from us in the early hours, and we slept through it all!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

22nd May '13

We've been out 6 weeks today! Wow how time flies when you're enjoying yourself!

We got away this morning and had an uneventful cruise down to Bristol and are now moored in the floating harbour, right next to the Arnolfini building. We've never been anywhere so secure! There's a security door down to the pontoon and only 5 boats here. Believe it or not, one of the boats belongs to my ex work colleague Shirley, who we met on a lock last year. I heard John chatting to someone earlier and eventually came up to find it was Shirley, what a coincidence. Then her husband Trevor came up and said he thought he'd recognised John (from chatting on the lock) so voila!

Is it a conservatory or is it a boat? Will we ever know?

Bearing in mind that this part of the river is semi-tidal and this is one of the moorings, representative of most I might add, that we saw today, and yes there's a boat attached to it. Can you imagine coming home after a few jars and having to climb down this contraption.

....and in case you didn't believe me the first time, here's another example.

This rather attractive building is the home of the Bristol Ariel Rowing Club. The river is hardly on a par with the Thames or the Cam so maybe that's why there isn't a Bristol entry in the boating competition.

Here we are basking in the early evening sun, note the people sat on the side of the quay. 20 minutes later they are all gone as the sun has left the arena.

And in the other direction we look up towards Bristol and the top of the quay. I couldn't believe it, they charge nearly £25 a night here and electricity is extra. Some people stay here for a week or more. We are staying for 2 nights then heading back to Bath for Friday and Bathampton for Saturday, then head on back towards the Thames!

Tomorrow evening we are meeting another old friend of mine, Jane and her husband Neil and having a meal at one of the many eateries in the area. I have to say I'm really pleased we came this far as it feels really vibrant and interesting. I suspect we shall go to see the HMS Great Britain tomorrow, but since I spent the afternoon shopping (very successfully, I might add) I feel we ought to do something a bit interesting.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

21st May '13

Well we have survived the last couple of days - how, I'm not quite sure, what with John being suicidal and me wanting to kill him much of the time, but anyway here we are!

Yesterday he rang several diving type places, but to no avail, they had to have permission from the council to dive in the river and no one seemed keen to do it, despite the fact that one said that a good diver would charge upwards of £1,000 a day! He went to the police station to see if they had any contacts, they gave him some numbers but nothing came of any of it. He spent ages with a magnet trying to fish the watch out, having asked a jeweller if it was magnetic and being told probably. He went to a fishing shop and bought a landing net with a telescopic handle and spent ages scooping that around. Back into town to see the jeweller that sold Rolex' who said it wasn't magnetic, but suggested getting a company in who sent cameras down drains.

Today Glen turned up - a knight in shining armour if ever I saw one and, eventually they managed to not only locate the watch but also to retrieve it. I don't know who was more surprised when it emerged, still working, from the depths.

Alpha Rod, you are our saviours and deserve your name in lights! Anyone in Bath who needs to find anything they have dropped in the river - they are your men!

Eventually at 3.15 we left our moorings and Bath behind and have found a nice little jetty next to a picnic site the other side of Saltford. Glad to be on the move again.

Lovely old warehouses opposite the mooring, on the Avon.

The hunt begins....

The watch is now located (the quick part of the operation) and the retrieval starts.....

Things get serious, much discussion is taking place.....

Many, many lives later and the watch comes to the surface - much rejoicing is done by all concerned!

On the move again! a pretty bit of river between Bath and Saltford.
Another one to add to the strange craft collection! This one is for sale if you're interested....
This is the weir at Saltford - don't fancy mooring by the pub just above it, although these were the only moorings we saw until we found the one that we're now on.

We couldn't get over the amount of mistletoe in this tree. It was full of the stuff, totally inaccessible of course and it's a long time to Christmas in any case....
We met a boat returning to Bath because they simply could not get through this lock - it was filling faster than they could empty it. John fought hard with the bottom gate and eventually managed to open it a crack which is just enough to release the pressure and allow him to open them both, he was totally exhausted from it though and is going to contact CRT to let them know the problem.
Luckily we spotted a mooring just after this so stopped for the night, with only 4 - 5 hours to do tomorrow to get to Bristol. We're next to a picnic site by a bicycle trail (it used to be an old railway) and there's a proper jetty, which is a luxury we didn't expect on the river.
Anyway thanks once again to Glen, hope you read this!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

19th May '13

We have had a wonderful weekend up to about half an hour ago, when John lost his Rolex in the River Avon, he's obviously somewhat upset and trying to think of ways to recover it.

Up to then we have had Chloe and Sam visit and stay with us overnight, it was lovely. We had a wander around Bath then went to Wagamama's for a meal then back to the boat for a few bevvies and chat. Then today my brother Colin and his wife Nicky came up and we all went into Bath to the Royal Hotel for a lovely Sunday lunch.

After the rest had left, Chloe and Sam came down most of the locks with us, where we had company so they were really easy, boats had just come up so they were in our favour and even the deep one held no fears!

Wills, Jamie, Rachel, Matt, Sam, Chloe, Colin and Nicky in the Royal after lunch!

Sam helping out on the locks.

Father and daughter having a chat.

Going down the deep lock!

Water coming over the top gates.

Bottom gates starting to open to let us out into the world again!

Not sure what's going to happen now. John is understandably distraught - we really should have insured it, a lesson learnt.

Friday, 17 May 2013

17th May '13

Having spent only 24 hours on the 72 hour mooring, we're planning on spending 72 hours on the current 48 hour one. Hope that works out OK.

Bath is beautiful as ever. We did the tourist thing yesterday and went and had a cream tea in Sally Lunns' Tea Shoppe. It was wonderful!

Planning visitors in a city is a nightmare. We are expecting to see 2 daughters and my brother plus accompanying others, but do you think there's a mooring by a pub - or even a pub near the water? Not on your life there's not. Parking in the city is extortionate and the park and ride that they'd be wanting doesn't operate on Sunday. Hopefully all will work out OK, but it may mean that Chloe and Sam won't be able to stay over on Sat. night as planned as there's nowhere for them to leave the car.

John is tightening up security on the boat. He's fitted a hasp to the back door, so we can padlock it up when we're out and today he's fitted a padlock to the diesel cap. Apparently there have been thefts of diesel along this stretch and so he's sorted it out. Now he wants to do something to the side hatch. It will be like Fort Knox by the time he's finished with it.

The canal seems an odd place for a lifeboat but there it was! It's actually come past us today and is moored a few boats up, strange but true.

As a mode of transport this beats the lot - not a choice I'd make personally. He said he couldn't wave as well as balance and paddle - not trying hard enough I thought!

You certainly do see them all along here - this one had no windows, anywhere that we could see, in fact it didn't seem to have much of anything really - but was quite large.

Looking over Bath from the first mooring.

Looking down at the moorings on the river in the centre of Bath - they were full and still no-where for parking and again today they were full so we won't try to moor there, but may just go up and turn as Pulteney Bridge from the water is probably worth seeing.

Pulteney Bridge and weir from the roadside, very Jane Austin. Bought a Christmas present for both Halden and Nellie from a shop on the bridge, very cute!

There are some beautiful wrought iron bridges along the canal here and gardens to the right. We were surprised to discover that roads we had driven over for years actually went across the canal, and we never realised at the time.

We have walked down the locks today (we are moored at the top of them, only a few minutes walk into the city so very handy) and the deep lock is VERY deep. It's going to be quite an experience I fancy, the gates are huge to cope with the amount of water they have to control, quite intimidating. Luckily though the river looks very placid, but after the Kennet most things would!

Unlikely to add anything tomorrow because of visitors but will catch up at the end of the weekend.