We travelled up to the boat on Wednesday 12 September arriving just before 7pm. There were already two boats moored just below the lock and one above. Narrowboat “Sawdust” was just coming up the flight and he told us that the mooring by the Folly were full so we decided to stay on our moorings overnight and set off Thursday morning. We were still uploading the car when a second boat moored above the lock. Magic has had bit of an iffy tummy for the past couple of days so we made sure he had plenty of chance to do what he needed to, but even this didn’t shop him making smells all night and he sleeps right under our bed. It got so bad that at about 3 am I got up and opened the engine room doors to let some fresh air in. Looking out the sky was dark blue with super bright stars.
Thursday 13 September
We were up at 7 30 am to let the smelly dog out, as we did a boat came sliding past going south. There wasn’t a breath of wind and everywhere was shrouded in mist with a clear sky. We quickly dressed and by quarter to eight we were on our way. We had a good run down the flight, not fast due to all the moored boats, but steady meeting a couple on route. At Napton bottom lock we were held up for half an hour as BW were fitting a water level gauge in the tail of the lock which would tell their control room how often the lock was turned. It was a good opportunity to have an egg and bacon sandwich for breakfast. We didn’t have much luck with the locks after that going down Calcutt and Stockton by our selves. Between Calcutt and Stockton we passed Minnehaha, Pilgrim, Laura and Nuggler all moored up and enjoying the mid day sun. On the Stockton Flight BW were carrying out a 3 monthly inspection, once they caught us up the kindly closed the bottom gate for us which speeded us on our way. Following Grahams advice we filled with water opposite the Blue Lias. The only problem being that there was a boat moored right on the water point, so I did what I always do in this situation, pulled alongside, and walked across there deck with hose and filled up as if they weren’t there.
Its getting very difficult to wind along this section now. Kate/Ownerships have a big “No Winding” sign in their marina and Warwick Fly boats have filled the mouth of the arm with working boats, that and the boat moored right opposite the arm would make it very difficult for a boat of any length to turn.
At the top of Bascote there was a Kate Boat moored on the lock moorings, but when we came along decided to go down with us after I set the locks, top full, bottom empty. I could see a single boat leaving the next lock so I opened the bottom gate fore them. This meant that we had to do a shuffle between the top and bottom pound which confused the hire boat a bit. We carried on with the hire boat until we reached Radford Semele where we winded and moored for the night opposite the church at 4 45 pm. It was a nice evening so we decided to have a BBQ, the only problem being the number and speed of the cyclists passing back and forth kicking up the dust. As dusk fell there were flocks of Canada geese dropping into the nature reserve on the river Leam.
Friday 14 September
We woke quite early to the sound of dozens of geese leaving their night time roost. The weather was cooler than yesterday and during the morning we even experienced a few spots of rain. We set off at quarter past nine and we soon started meeting a few boats coming down towards us. At Welsh Road lock the boat waiting to come down left his boat across the mouth of the lock between the towing path and the lock island. when they drew the top paddles this caused the boat to list at quite an angle with the water flow going underneath it. Just below Long Itchington Bottom lock the offside bank is again covered in plumbs and it didn’t take us long to pick a bowl full before working the lock. We arrived at the Blue Lias a little after twelve. Minnehaha, Nuggler, Laura and Pilgrim were all ready there and we moored bank side in front of the pub, a little later Prairie Crocus arrived and about three thirty DD on Aylestone phoned to say they were at the top of the Stockton Flight so a bunch of us walked up to work them down, not long after this Virgo came along side us to moor. We only had one person camping and that was Glen in his folding camper who was on the adjoining field.
In the evening all twenty of us went into the pub to eat, we had pre booked our meals and as the evening progressed the crew of NB Arun joined us, this was the first of the excellent service we were to receive from the Blue Lias over the weekend.
Saturday 15 September
It was another glorious day and it transpired that there was also a steam rally being held in the pub grounds this weekend. Apart from the steam boat Adamant all the others were models and included traction engines, lorries and even a stem launch. During the afternoon several of us went up the lock flight to assist the steam boat Laplander down to join us.
The evening was spent in the function room where over 30 of us first enjoyed a meal followed by a farce written by Bill on Minnehaha and performed my several of the attendees. All in all it was a very enjoyable day.
Sunday 16 September
The weather forecast for to day was poor and the day started very overcast, cool and windy but it did improve a bit as the day wore on. The only planned event for today was Sunday Lunch in the function room again for 20 of us, we had to eat quite early as the room had been let to another party at 3 pm but we were well clear by then. It was not long after this that boats started leaving including us at about 3 pm. we went up the flight in the company of Prairie Crocus. As we climbed the flight we were aware of a strong smell of burning polythene and the smoke seamed to cover a wide area which made us wonder who had a stinking bonfire on a Sunday afternoon. we stayed Prairie Crocus until we reached the top of Calcutt where we said our good-byes, they were heading to Braunston and we were off to Napton. We moored for the night on the visitor mooring by the Folly pub at 6 pm. After dinner we walked the dog up the flight and we then saw the cause of the smoke at Stockton, it was a large fire on the outskirts of Southam with the flames still reaching into the sky.
Monday 17 September
We set off in pleasant sunshine up the flight a little after 9 am, most of the locks were with us and it wasn’t until we were nearly at the top we started meeting boats coming down. Once back to our mooring a little after 10 the smoke from last nights fire was still belching into the sky .
It had been a good weekend, on the Saturday night several CIBC members joined us by car and the Blue Lias had served us with over 70 hot meals over the weekend without getting a single order wrong.