Train strain.

The return to Somerset was pretty uncomfortable on an overcrowded train (is there any other kind in the UK these days?). No space for luggage, no space for passengers (or their long suffering dogs), and no buffet (unless you were prepared to trample over the people forced to sit on the floor); the heating however, was working. “Aha,” I hear my regular reader exclaim “result, given the current plunging temperatures outside”. “Not so,” say I “when the heating continues to blast out despite optimum temperature having been reached about ten degrees ago”. I texted an SOS to K to bring large amounts of water with her to the station for my arrival, severe dehydration was kicking in after three and a half hours in cattle class.

At some point in the journey several of us debated why, given the constant overcrowding of trains, extra coaches are not added to services and came to the conclusion that it is because the cost of additional rolling stock might adversely affect the annual profits and bonuses the train moguls’ so desperately need. Magnanimous plebeians that we are, we accept their need for additional millions each year (those tropical hideaways, nuclear/biological bunkers and global warming stockpiles don’t come cheap, you know) … and we sent our sincere thanks to the aforementioned moguls for a journey unusually delayed by mere minutes not hours.

 

The journey did sort of dull the shine from what otherwise had been an extremely pleasant few days with BB aboard the Blue Buzzard. We visited the Denby factory near Derby, shopped in Sutton Coldfield and tasted a few wines and gin at a local (to Fazely) vineyard/distillery. Unfortunately we visited the Denby factory the day after I’d bought a couple of bottles of the rather lovely vineyard product, and there I bought some of Denby’s rather lovely dinnerware products for R0X1 (well I have to make it up to her that I considered selling her). So I was unable to fit everything in my suitcase and be able to lift it.

I’m sure, dear regular reader, that you will be shocked to find out that it was the vineyard product that was left behind … not sure what came over me, I might have to find a vineyard round here …

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Midlands meander

R0X1 needed a bit of a push from BB this morning before she got a grip on the wet greasy grass and we were able to leave our home of the past five days. I wasn’t looking forward to the journey as the forecast threatened thunder, lightning, flash floods, in fact everything nasty except fog. I did briefly pass through a slight amount of drizzle but by the time I considered putting the wipers on the windscreen had dried. Daize and I arrived back in the car park in bright sunshine which continued all afternoon.

We’ve been lucky with the weather all week, with the exception of a downpour at Warwick Castle which we avoided with a timely lunch break; everywhere we’ve been it had either just stopped raining or it rained as we were leaving or just swilled it down all night.

Warwick

BB had moored Blue Buzzard in a marina off the Oxford canal that also had a small campsite so I wasn’t off grid but over the previous weekend whilst still in the car park the leisure battery had worked faultlessly and didn’t need any more testing so I was pleased to have the umbilical cord attached! It was a lovely place to stay, quiet, the campsite being above the marina gave a great view of the narrowboats and the comings and goings, with good dog walks available and a central location, so we went out and about a bit.

Now when you’re out and about with BB driving you have to be aware that he has a compulsion to get lost at least once a day, and of course being male he is incapable of asking directions from even the friendliest of natives and wouldn’t waste his money on a sat nag. (He does use maps to navigate the canal system.) I was stunned when, as we were leaving to go to Stratford for a few hours, he handed me the road map and suggested I navigate.  We got to the outskirts of Bardic Bill’s hometown without any problem – come on, I’ve driven across whole countries without problem – except there was a problem. Stratford-upon-Avon was closed for the day, huge stationary queues, we later found out that there was some big bike race on, so we turned round and went to Banbury instead (no cock-horse to ride on so we made do with the Focus).

A fine Lady

The Fine Lady at Banbury X

I’d taken BB his bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, it was opened in great anticipation… he smelled… he pulled a face… he tasted… he spat… bloody thing was corked and the contents ended up in the cut… Call me Victoria, I was most definitely not amused, don’t think BB was too happy either. Thank heavens for the Intermarché sauvignon blancs at €4 a bottle I also had with me.

🙂 🙂 🙂

On the move …

I’m hoping that the awful weather for the start of of the 2015/16 European tour is in no way indicative of weather for the whole Eurotour …

Week one has been spent doing some visiting. D&N in Glastonbury, P&S in Taunton, coming across some yarn bombing in a park, then up towards the Midlands. Having paid the entrance fee to get over the border into Wales, the overnight campsite provided superb views of the R Usk at Caerleon. For 200 years Isca (Caerleon) was the home of the 2nd Augustan Legion in one of only 3 permanently manned Roman fortresses in Britain. So what did the Romans do for Britain? Well, built the first leisure centres – hot, warm and cold baths, a gym and open air swimming pool – it only took us nearly 2 millennia to reinvent them!!

Ever onward, and an overnight stop at a Hideaway site in an orchard, off the grid, just north of Worcester arriving at Norbury Junction on the Shroppie (Shropshire Union Canal) to spend a couple of days with Big Bruv, Blue Buzzard moored on the cut and R0X1 parked in the pub car park.

Day 2 by the cut and I decided to ask in the chandlery the price of Calor gas as my emergency cylinder was empty – when it came to it I couldn’t tell by looking which size cylinder I have, so with much ribbing from the older brother we went back to the van to find out. After friend S fitted the gauge to the tank (Croeso y Cymru) we did’t actually switch it on and so when Geoff switched on we discovered it was still a third full. I was well pleased as it meant I didn’t have to get my purse out … Back to the boat we went and later that evening Geoff started cooking chilli con carne, he’d just put the rice on the hob when his gas cylinder ran out. “Ah” he says “I’ll show you how to change a cylinder” Eager for my lesson (I haven’t had to change the emergency cylinder yet) I followed him to the cratch and he proceeded to demonstrate and I now know what to do when my emergency cylinder is empty. There was however a slight problem – both his cylinders were empty and the chandlery had shut for the night!

We trudged over to R0X1, him carrying the pans with the half cooked meal, and finished off cooking it on my gas! I wouldn’t ever mention it again … but I’m just not that nice a sister …

🙂 🙂 🙂

The Anderton Lift

Monday we went down and up the Anderton lift. The 2 caisson hydraulically operated lift lock was originally built by Edwin Clark in 1875 to enable narrowboats carrying locally mined salt to transfer vertically down 50-feet from the Trent and Mersey canal to the River Weaver.

Anderton lift

It was closed due to corrosion in 1983. Following local fundraising and grants from various organisations a 2 year-long £7m restoration was completed in 2002. It features a modification of the original hydraulic system, a lift control centre and visitor centre. The huge, but now redundant, weights used to counterbalance the caissons following conversion to electric motors in 1908 have been used to build a maze. The scheduled monument is in daily use.

 

 

It’s an awesome experience to be in a narrow boat floating in water yet be going down and up in an open topped lift!

 

Speedy siblings

Joined BB on the BB at Stoke-on-Trent yesterday. 15 locks today – 6 more than planned; add that to the extra locks done yesterday and we have a day in hand to spend at Anderton.

 

We old fogey siblings are incredibly speedy 😀

 

(Usually handling the locks solo BB forgot to take into account my extra pair of hands when he did his lock miles calculations.)

And on that note – goodnight.

Lock 59