Friday, 7 April 2017

Gibraltar Bridge

Today's Canal -  Grand Union

Before setting off today, Mike walked up the hill into Radford Semele, a place we have passed quite a few times in the past but never explored. Mike understood that there were two small shops in the village and he also wanted to take a closer look at the church.

It turned out to be a good 25 minute walk to the convenience store - along the way Mike saw people carrying newspapers but was then surprised to find that the main shop did not stock them! He had to go just a little further along the road to the Post Office who had just one copy left!

It looks as if the village is a place of two distinct halves. On one side, around the church and Radford Hall is the earlier settlement and the more up market housing whilst on the other side is a quite large estate - perhaps 30 years old of smaller, semis and terraced housing.

Reading the Parish Council's minutes and web site it seems that there is only one significant employer for the village - Ricardo, part of General Dynamics (develop transmission components for Formula 1 cars) - otherwise most people drive into Leamington or Southam for work. Certainly the main road that divides the village was very busy at first, although less so after 9 am.

On the way back Mike called at the parish church, down a shirt lane from the main road. It is clearly historically linked with the hall which is right next door. In 2008 the church suffered a major fire - possibly arson - but a major fund raising effort has seen it restored and considerably extended. Alas, the church is now kept locked so Mike had to be satisfied with standing on a bench to look through a window!

Back at the boat it was soon time to cast off and we were soon at the first of our many, locks of the day: Radford Bottom Lock. (It is the only Radford Lock not just the bottom one!) Along that stretch a swan was starting to nest very closer to the towpath with her mate looking menacing on guard - a small group of walkers were rather wary of passing them.

We were urgently in search of an elsan disposal point but we knew that there is one at Fosse Way. A boat was just finishing watering as we arrived - it looked as if he had lost his windlass beside his boat as he was fishing - successfully - with a large magnet! The couple aboard said that they would wait for us at the next lock and indeed we shared the locks for the rest of the morning.

They are continuous cruisers, on their way to Cambridge for part of the summer, where their daughter lives. Apparently they anticipate the changes that have been made by the Cam Conservators will make it easier for them.

Christine decided that it is time that you were treated to some photos of the inside of the boat, the main cabin and the galley - no tidying up was done for these shots! You can see in the galley that on this boat we have not only a washing machine but also a microwave. Christine has now admitted that she thought that Mike was being a bit unnecessary when he included this in our original specification but already she has made extensive use! In particular she really does like to have her milk warmed for coffee. Also, ghis afternoon, she was able to retrieve some hot cross buns from the freezer and defrost them quickly for tea time!

Having done our morning allocation of 10 locks we decided to take on water at Bascote Bridge - and have lunch at the same time. Just after we were full (and trying to look as if we were about to pack up) another boat came wanting the water point so we had to really pack up but fortunately by then we had just about finished lunch!

On again and it was not far to Itchington Locks (two) closely followed by the eight Stockton flight. These we had to do on our own but there was a steady flow of boats coming down, almost all of them having just set off from the Kate Boats hire base a short distance above the locks.

We had started the afternoon's locks just after 2 o'clock and finished at the top by 10 minutes to four, just an hour and forty minutes for ten locks.

Since we need to pick up more fuel tomorrow at Calcutt we did not attempt the start the three locks today but called a halt just after Gibraltar Bridge. Although the day had started very overcast and a bit chilly (you will see from the photos just how dark it was), by the afternoon, and especially when we moored, the blue sky had returned and the temperature was pretty warm.

7.3 miles - 20 locks

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