Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ansty to Ansty to Barton Mills

The pace on the canals (or in the cut) is different!

Yesterday we didn't write a blog. We were too tired and antsy - perhaps because of the change in pace. Our speed on Badger is really slow. If we get up 3.3 miles per hour (according to our sat nav - gps) we think we are going at breakneck speed. Whenever we pass moored boats or go under narrow bridges or pass boats going the opposite way we slow down to "tick over" speed which is less than 2 mph. I actually prefer puttering along to zooming down motorway at 70+ mph - but it does mean you can travel all day and not get anywhere. That is what happened yesterday. We motored from about 10 am to 4 pm - with one break for a short walk through muddy fields and tracks of stinging nettles - and ended up back where we had started - at Ansty. In other words we were feeling antsy at Ansty. What happened was that motored as far as Stretton - which is the closest winding hole to Ansty and when we got there, we wound around and went back the way we had come and tied up at the same spot that we had started - except pointing in the opposite direction.

Actually Ansty is a nice but very small village with just a dozen or son brick houses, a big manor house turned into a hotel, an old church and graveyard, and a busy pub. The pub has a big lawn stretching down to the canal and its main feature is a very nice children's playground and picnic tables. It welcomes families and advertises an extensive children's menu. We decided that making going to the pub a family affair is very sensible and wish we did that in Canada.

This morning we left Antsy and headed back to our first lock at Hawkesbury Junction. Being a weekday, there was no-one there except another boat also going through. All went smoothly and we turned back up the Ashby Canal at Marston Junction. We stopped at the busy village of Bedforth to buy some food at the Tesco. We are now supplied for the rest of our trip on Badger - with hopefully not too much left over. While we were in Bedford, we passes the doorway to a small museum called "Life in the Cut." The cut is another name for canal and it was about the history of life on the canals. The volunteers who welcomed us in we very friendly. They had a lot of photos of people on the canals back in the 1950s and a few drawings of the castles and roses that are used to decorate many of the narrow boats. They had met a lot of boats people, but they didn't seem to actually go on the canals themselves. The strange thing was that when we told them we were from Canada they were quite astounded as we were the second Canadians that that day. It turned out that the first Canadian was actually from a place on Vancouver Island beginning with "N" - Nanaimo! I think the other Canadian's name was Graham Judd and they were slightly shocked that we didn't know him. We putter along and are now tied to the shore near bridge 11.

Today I actually did some steering of the boat and even navigated under some narrow bridges so I am happy about being able to do that. Mike does most of the steering and engine maintenance - i.e. putting in some grease every morning and cleaning out any weeds that get caught on the propeller. My main task - apart from the cooking - is keeping the coal stove going. The first couple of days, we managed to get it started every morning with newspaper and big chunks of plywood, but we let it go out during the night. I eventually discovered that the fire could not burn because the stove was so full of ash. I discovered how to shake the little lever to knock the ashes into the pan and, having only plastic bucket, I stored the ashes in a big casserole until they were cool enough to put in the garbage. Now I clean out the ashes a couple of times a day and add coals every 2-3 hours - including if I wake up at night. It is a bit of a messy business, but we have now begun to notice little heaps of ashes along the tow path. Today we bought some cheap aluminum pans in Bedforth to store the ashes in until they cool down. Taking care of a coal stove is a lot like looking after a living thing - a plant, a pet or even a baby. You just cannot ignore it for too long and it needs feeding and changing. This is actually quite serious since it is getting colder these days and tonight they are predicitn the temperature to drop to 7 C.

Mike managed to get the TV to work tonight and we watched a couple of shows - with hardly any reception problems. The only thing was that I forgot all about the fire and it went out. However, with a lot of paper and one samll piece of plywood, we got it going again. so good night for today. Tomorrow we stop at Stoke Golding for pumpout and then we have two more days of cruising at this different pace.

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