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Maiden voyage for 2010

At last! The winter weather has retreated and we can make our first trip of the year. Not only is it our first outing this year, it is almost four months since we were last out and that was when we were bringing the boat back from having its bottom blacked.
On Friday we loaded the boat with the bits and pieces that we thought that we would need for the trip, switched the heating on to warm everything through and then went home, leaving the start of the voyage until Saturday.
Grey skies and a bit of early morning drizzle greeted us as we left the house but with better weather forecast, we were full of optimism that we would have a good trip. We picked up a canister of gas on our way out of the marina and by half past nine we were heading towards Stoke Golding. Of course we have made this journey many times before so it is only when something unusual happens that we make a note of it. On this occasion nothing remarkable happened and at one o’clock we tied up at Market Bosworth. We lit the fire and then took a walk up to the town, calling in at the award winning chip shop for some award winning chips to stave off hunger and prevent fainting through lack of nourishment. After we had made short work of the chips and disposed of the containers we had a little wander round, did a bit of shopping and then retired to the bar of The Red Lion for a drink and a read of the papers.
We returned to the boat around four o’clock and then just relaxed in front of the fire. We mainly burn coal and wooden pallet blocks on our boatman stove but at the moment we have some peat imported from Ireland. When this is on the fire we leave the stove open and let the sweet smell of burning turf waft around the cabin. It’s difficult to explain the attraction, a bit like boating itself, you don’t really get it until you try it. Turf has been burned as a source of heat for thousands of years so perhaps the smell is actually evoking deep genetic memories? Anyway we watched a bit of rubbish on the telly, inhaled smoke from muck dug from an Irish bog and then went to bed.
Sunday morning was bright and clear, there was a hard frost and the canal was frozen over. We had a few cups of tea and coffee before we set off through the fragile patches of ice and we were underway around half past eleven. As cold as it was, the blue skies and bright sunshine made the journey home an enjoyable one. We passed the coal boat, saw a couple of our aquaintances, Mick onboard Tally Ho! and Steve on The Serendipity before we arrived back at the marina. The usual end of voyage chores were carried out in about ten minutes and that was it, our maiden voyage for 2010 was over. The boat still works despite being laid up for months and we still have the boating bug; excellent!