Saturday, October 9, 2010

Coventry

We decided that today (Saturday) we would go out of the Ashby Canal and into the Coventry Canal and go all the way to Coventry. The route was somewhat similar to yesterday - through many fields with cows and horses, some ploughed fields, areas with large factories and the backyards of some very attractive homes. We went under quite a few stone bridges and passed lots of other narrow boats.

However, the closer we got to Coventry, the fewer boats we saw. Our well-worn guide book said that most people don't bother going to the town and that this is a shame. We were overtaken by one boat - which isn't really supposed to happen and they didn't even wave. The Coventry Canal Basin is at the end of the canal and it is supposed to be very nice - and the town sounds very interesting too. Coventry is one of the parts of England that was most bombed during WWII. As I remember, the British had broken the German code by then and knew Coventry would be bombed - but decided to keep the fact they knew the code secret - so didn't do anything to stop the attack. This means that there aren't many ancient parts of Coventry but there is a beautiful "new" cathedral. Anyway, as we got closer to Coventry we stopped seeing any other boats and there was one stretch of the canal where I'm sure people were dealing drugs under a bridge. However, we kept going and when we got to the canal basin, we found only 3 other boats tied up. One was the boat that had passed us. We went over to talk to them and discovered that they were renters like ourselves from somewhere near Sevenoaks. They were very concerned about staying the night. The husband said Coventry reminded him of Beirut and the wife was very apologetic about all the grafiitti on the historic bridges we had passed. However, it was really too late to go back to where there were other boats - so we all agreed to stay. They brought us over some cake that they had made to celebrate their canal trip - which was a very nice gesture.

It was quite windy and there was traffic noise in the canal basin so we decided to move to the other side of the U shaped canal basin to get away from the noise. This was easier said than done - mainly because the canal is not that wide and the wind was blowing the boat off the shore. Some fellows on bicycles came by and helped us pull in the boat. It turned out that two of them from Lithania. They didn't speak much English. Later when we went into the the town itself to buy some groceries, we hardly heard any English. What a mixture of people there were! It was even more diverse than Vancouver.

We had just got the dinner ready, when another boat arrived. By then it was quite dark and the boat was a huge long party boat called the Coventarian with people aboard celebrating someone's 21st birthday - there were lots of balloons saying 21! The partiers got off the boat and then the owners departed. They managed to turn around in the narrow channel and still blowing windy by nudging the bow of their boat against the bow of our new friends boat and then pivoting around - their propeller sloshing waves of water on the dockside. They came within inches of us - but thankfully didn't bump. Then they were gone into the dark - dropping the party balloons into the canal (where they will probably get caught in people's propellers!)

Our other challenge with this boat is the small coal stove. I finally got it going again this morning and it has been lovely and warm all day - but coal is very messy - what with the soot and all getting all over you and under your fingernails. We have two huge bags of coal in the bough storage locker. This is probably appropriate since these canals were originally used for transporting coal. Today we bought a pair of kitchen tongs to pick up the new pieces coal and put them into the stove. (We do have a proper poker for dealing with the hot coals - but have no idea what to do with the ashes. We'll figure that out eventually I guess.

We have now had our dinner (only one small mishap with the salad dressing - and Mike has had a shower. We have to keep the engine running while showering to keep the water hot and the shower is very small. So, I'm signing off for tonight. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be sunny for a bit and we've decided to visit the cathedral before we leave in the morning. We will probably head down the Oxford Canal toward Rugby.

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