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Up to Atherstone on a windy day.

Blue skies greeted us when we awoke at Alvecote on May 9th. Our research expedition to the Samuel Barlow pub the night before had been a good one. We didn’t eat there but the place was spotlessly clean and the staff were very pleasant and courteous.
The blue skies were accompanied by strong winds but we set off regardless with the intention of mooring at Atherstone for the day. We didn’t see many boats on the move, it was quiet except for the odd train or two on the West Coast main line. We eventually reached the bottom of the Atherstone flight but before we started our ascent, we pulled up and serviced the boat at the CRT facility. The first two locks were easy because we had boats coming down, the next two were alright too because the chambers were empty and although the final two of the day had to be emptied before we could use them, we had the help of a volunteer lock keeper on lock six. After we cleared that lock, we took up the last space on the visitor moorings below lock five. It was just before midday so we locked Caxton up and toddled off into town for some shopping and lunch at the Red Lion. We later ambled back down the towpath to just generally laze about on board Caxton for the rest of the afternoon.
At six o’clock we decided to take advantage of the evening sunshine and work our way up through the remaining five locks of the Atherstone flight. It only took us an hour, there being no other boats on the move and with space to moor above the top lock, we settled in for the rest of the day.
Whilst that concludes today’s post, there is a bit more because today is a little bit special.
My interest in boating came from a couple of family holidays when I was a teenager. My parents and my youngest sister had many more over the years but Alvecote always makes me laugh when we pass through now and I recall the start of one holiday. A boat had been hired from a company who used the small basin at Alvecote, we stowed our belongings and listened to the instructions given by the man from the hire company. After telling us all that he had to, the man then told us that he would take the boat out of the basin because the bridge that formed the entrance was low and there was a danger that we might struggle to get out. With all of the confidence of one who has made the manouver many times, he edged the boat under the bridge and smashed the top off the side hatch! A temporary replacement was cobbled together and we were then able to get underway, the only other damage being the large dent in the bloke’s pride! At the end of the holiday, I seem to remember that my Dad had no trouble slipping the boat through the self same bridge hole and into the basin. It’s fitting that we were at Alvecote on this day because the ninth of May is Dad’s birthday. So Happy Birthday, George Senior and thank you for being the inspiration for this life afloat, without you we probably wouldn’t be doing it.
Here is the challenging bridge, still standing after all of these years despite the best efforts of the hire boat company!


Here comes summer!

We know that summer is definitely on the way because the rain is here! You just have to imagine George Formby grinning and announcing in his distinctive Lancashire accent, “Ee, it’s turned out shite again!”
It wasn’t actually raining when I awoke at 6.30 so we got up and were on the move just before seven o’clock. We actually got a good hour in before the rain began but for the most part it was no more than a steady drizzle, nothing that the waterproofs couldn’t handle though.
We soon found ourselves running alongside the A38 and on the approach to Streethay Wharf and it was at that juncture that Sue produced a couple of bacon and black pudding banjos. It wasn’t many more minutes before we passed Sanity Again moored just outside King’s Orchard marina and as we passed, we were spotted by Sheila who greeted us with an enthusiastic wave. We knew that we would probably see them at some stage on our trip, maybe they’ll catch up with us later on.
The rain drizzled on until we reached the edge of Hopwas and it was there that we decided to moor for the day.
The rain stopped around midday so we decided to walk to the Red Lion for a bit of lunch. The Red Lion is a great place, spotlessly clean and great value food; two baguettes with potato wedges and salad for less than eight quid and the quality was excellent. The sky was brightening by the time we finished eating so we returned to Caxton, untied and set off again. As with our cruise in the morning, we didn’t see many boats on the move so it was an easy trip first of all to Fazeley and then on to Glascote. We were just clearing the top lock when the rain came again and it stayed with us until we reached Alvecote where we really have moored for the night!
We’re going to take a walk over to the Samuel Barlow pub this evening, apparently it is under new management but recent reviews on tripadvisor give it the thumbs down. Seems like a valid reason (for a change) to do some research. The rain has stopped and the sun has come out so I will try and drag Sue out of her favourite seat in the cratch.