Lived onboard Hadar

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Cosgrove to Stoke Bruerne.

Thursday 4th December.

Cosgrove to below the Stoke Bruerne Flight of Locks, 5.2 miles.

We had a howler of a night as far as the weather was concerned, which continued into the morning, we were woken firstly by the chimney chain rattling on the chimney, so Keith got up and removed the chain, before climbing back into bed. The rain was then lashing down on the roof of the boat, and the wind was blowing strongly causing waves to lap up against the stern of the boat. What we did not get however was any of the forecast snow, not as much as a flake. Because the weather sounded a bit rough, we sat in bed drinking a cup of tea and decided that we would not bother moving today. After all there was no point in moving if we did not have to. We were on a 14 day mooring so there was no panic. Having got up and dressed in my waterproof clothing, Paddy was soon sat at the back doors waiting for his walk, so we climbed out of the back cabin and stepped onto a rain sodden towpath. Whilst I was out walking, Keith prepared breakfast for our return. Over the past couple of days Paddy has had a weepy eye, probably through playing with Marmite. She more than likely scratched his eye whilst they were playing rough and tumble, so I have been putting in eye drops to calm the eye down and this morning it looks to have worked, as it was not weeping half as much as it had been. Paddy had his eye drops put in and was then given his breakfast biscuits for being a good lad; Marmite got her breakfast as well, otherwise we would never have heard the end of it. With our breakfast done, it was time to rake out both fires and make them up to stay in for the day. I put the remainder of our two day stew into the back stove oven, so that we could have it for lunch as a soup. By 10.15am the weather was showing signs of improvement, the wind had dropped to a more acceptable level and the sun was trying to pop its head out between the grey clouds, so we reversed our decision to not move. By 10.45am we were on the move from Cosgrove and into the open countryside. With the spectacular views across the valley, came the smells of the countryside, as we approached the Navigation Inn at Thrupp Wharf, we were hit with the scent of silage from the farm near the Inn. It brought back memories of my childhood, as I was brought up on a farm, where the silage store backed onto our house. So it is an unforgettable smell and most definitely clears the nostrils.

I took over the tiller for a while, as you can see all wrapped up against the cold wind, whilst Keith went to the loo. N.B Padic passed us going the other way; we had met them a few weeks ago. After a while at the tiller, I let Keith take over once more whilst I did the loo run. This cold wind certainly does not help when it comes to the waterworks. We made our way to Yardley Gobian, where I caught sight of a boat in the dry dock at Baxter’s Boat fitting services; it was N.B The Maisibert owned by Andy Lawrence. Keith e-mailed Andy and was told she was in having some work carried out. We will hopefully meet up with them again. After Grafton Regis we caught sight of a Buzzard, which was being given a bit of grief by a Crow, so it decided to perch in a tree close enough for me to get a photograph of it. More often than not they either fly off before I can get a photograph or they are too far away.We arrived at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne Flight of 7 locks at 12.35 and were able to find a mooring on 48 hour moorings, which would be ideal for the night. The plan is to do the Stoke Bruerne flight tomorrow. The rest of our day was spent doing chores on the boat. Because we have two coal stoves, the dust from them tends to mount, so it needs keeping on top of. I also had the bed to remake having stripped it before we set off. With the day drawing to a close Keith took Paddy for his evening stroll and I dished up dinner. Our evening was spent watching TV. We were so pleased to see sense prevail on ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ with the exit of David Van Day (enough said about him). With Martina, George and Joe being the final three, we reckon anyone one of them could win, as they have all proved popular. Although I would love to see George win, we both feel that it may be Joe who is the favourite. He is so sweet and a breath of fresh air. He has most certainly made us laugh. The bush tucker trial was excellent, George Takai at 71 is such an inspiration to anyone in their mature years; he is such a fit gentleman and shows you’re never too old to try something new. After that we watched Lead Balloon with Jack Dee, I then made the fires up for the night, putting the ash bucket out on the back deck, whilst doing so I could not help but stand there and watch the stars in what was a very clear sky. The crescent moon looked so bright; it was almost as if someone had given it a wipe over with a cloth like a head lamp of a car. From the cabin door I could see Orion’s Belt in all its glory. The night was still, there was not even a ripple on the water, after that I closed the doors and we headed off to bed.

Friday 5th December.

Bottom of Stoke Bruerne Flight to the Top of Stoke Bruerne Flight, 1.1 miles and 7 locks.
Jack Frost had come calling again over night, he had left a blanket of frost on every surface open to the elements, which made things under foot a little slippery when I took Paddy for his morning walk. With the sun coming up and heating the surface of the canal, it was covered in a light mist lifting into the air, so very magical.
Having done the stoves, breakfast and preparations for the off, I went ahead and set the first of the 7 locks we would do today. As I emptied the lock which was almost empty anyway, I could see a boat coming down in the lock above, so was aware that we would leave the lock for them. They on the other hand despite seeing us, were going to shut the gate behind them, so I had to shout up to the gentleman closing the gate to “Please don’t shut the gate”. I wasn’t actually sure if he heard me, what with engine noise and the sound of the water gushing into the lock, but the steerer of the boat turned around and shouted the message on to him, and he did leave the gate open for us. We passed each other in the pound exchanging pleasantries, before going on our way. The pound above Lock 19 was very low and that was before I had even opened the paddles, so with Keith securely in the lock, I opened the paddles and then walked to locks 18 to 16 to let some water down. Keith managed to wriggle Hadar out of Lock 19 and into Lock 18. The pound above lock 16 is a long pound so it could handle being drained a little, in order for us to proceed up through the flight. We were going to moor above lock 16 but it was then a little shallow, and if other boats were going to come up having the same problems as us, they would drain the pound further, meaning we would then be on the bottom, so we proceeded up through locks 15 and 14. As I was working the paddles to the top lock, I noticed N.B Adrastea moored up alongside Working Boat Jubilee. John shouted across a good morning. Whilst I closed the lock gates behind Hadar, Keith moved her on to find a mooring above Stoke Bruerne Museum.
Having moored up, Keith delved into the weed hatch as he suspected that there was something around the propeller, because Hadar had been struggling to respond when coming up through the last couple of locks. This time of the year is not the best time to have you arms in the water, as it is very cold, but needs must. It turned out that we had a piece of a boat canopy tangled around the propeller blades. I decided to sweep out the engine room and brush the mats before making us some toasted muffins for lunch. The rest of the day was spent doing very little, until the evening when Keith once again took Paddy for his walk. We could hear a tawny owl hooting close by during the evening as we sat and watch the final of ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’. Congratulations to Joe Swash who won this years event.

Saturday 6th December.

At 3.15am a blood curdling screech woke me from my slumber. At first I was not aware of the perpetrator, but as I lay awake it became clear that it was a group of tawny owls close to the boat. From the sounds coming from the wood, I reckoned on at least four different owls from the difference in their calls. Two of the owls were shrieking rather than hooting and the other two sounded as if they were giving lessons on how to hoot properly, it rather tickled me as I lay there listening to this haunting sound in the darkness. Some 15 minutes later the hooting and shrieking stopped and all was silent, and I then drifted off back to sleep. When we both woke up at a more reasonable time, the sun was shining, although it was a little chilly.
Even though it was a Saturday we did not bother with a lay-in and got up at 8.30am, as Paddy needed walking. Once back onboard I did us smoked Mackerel for breakfast with toast, which made a nice change from cereal and also tops up the Omega 3 oils, we are told we should have in our diet. Over the past few weeks we have not bothered with the cleaning of the outside brass, because there seemed no point with all the bad weather we have had, but I could not look at it any longer, so got out the cloths and Brasso and set about cleaning the portholes, mushroom vents, chimney chains and trivet on the outside and the brass bed knobs, stove rails and door handles in the back cabin. It is always so satisfying when the brass is all shiny and clean, not that it will last for long. Whilst cleaning the outside brass, lots of people were walking past the boat, some spoke and others just walked past in their own little world. A group of guys stopped to ask me when the next trip was taking place. One of the men assumed that we were a trip boat, which made me giggle. I had to put the man right, explaining to him that Hadar was our home and not a trip boat, we do not carry passengers, but we do carry coal. He did apologise for his assumption before taking another photograph and then moving off along the towpath. Keith was now in the engine room cleaning the copper piping, brass bits and aluminium rocker cover on the engine, which looks fantastic when done. Our National DA2 is a rare beast and worth taking good care of. As far as we know there is only one other DA2 around, but of course if you know different, I am sure you will tell us. We do know of a DA3 in a boat called Lynda. One other job I wanted to do was to make a new sale board for the coal. I had found a piece of board at Fenny Stratford, but it had to be dried out before painting it in Blackboard paint. Today was the ideal day to do the painting as it would dry on the roof of the boat. With the boat jobs taken care of, we put on our jackets and took a stroll over Blisworth Tunnel. It was really quite pleasant in the late afternoon sunshine.A cheeky Robin was sat on a branch near the boat, they always evoke thoughts of Christmas. We got as far as the road where we saw one of the ventilation shaft outlets in a farmer’s field before walking back towards the museum, where we got chatting to Mike on working boat Jubilee, we discussed the idea that we may meet up in The Boat Inn later in the evening, which we did.But before Mike arrived Sixty Young Farmers from Towcester crowded into the two small bars at the front of The Boat Inn. The Young Farmers were holding their Christmas party in a function room at the Inn, so before moving into the function room they all wanted drinks at the bar. If you have ever been in The Boat Inn, you will know how small the two front bars are, it was a little like sardines in a tin. Keith and I had no option but to stay sitting at the table we had chosen, we could not hold a conversation because of the noise of people voices, which got louder and louder as everyone shouted to be heard, it was all a little crazy and we were both delighted when they disappeared into the function room for their party. Peace had been restored when Mile arrived, so we spent a pleasant evening chatting about coal sales, deliveries and the canals in general. After a splendid evening in the Inn we made our way back to Hadar under the starlit sky, which look so pretty along with all the Christmas lights lit up, in and around Stoke Bruerne Museum, it was all looking very festive.

Sunday 7th December.

The day began with another heavy frost on the boat and surrounding ground. It did not stop Paddy enjoying a run up through the woods. Today was the day that we would tackle the task of cleaning the saloon. I wanted to take up the mat for washing, I also wanted to sweep and wash the floor, but that meant Keith and I had to move furniture. Paddy was banished to the back cabin, whilst Marmite thought she could be the foreman, standing over us meowing instructions. She really only wanted to get in the way. With the saloon done and dusted, lunch time was upon us and the afternoon seemed to fly past. We were passed by the Indian Chief, the trip boat from The Boat Inn; they were doing two Santa trips during the day, with children onboard to meet Santa. Mike was also doing a trip on one of the Museum trip boats with his Santa. The worry in the pub last night was that they would meet along the canal and the children would see two Santa’s, which would completely confuse them. But it seemed that all went well and there some very happy kids. What was left of the day was spent watching the Sunday films, whilst Keith cut up more material for our rag rug, I sat writing Christmas cards. We are another week closer to Christmas, are you ready yet?

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