We decided to go back to Bridgport by bus which we had seen briefly on the Severn Valley railway trip. A town built on two levels with a cute rail carriage linking the two. Then decided to go to the Black Country Museum which was rather like Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. A whole town built brick by brick from old cottages, shops and factories in the area.
Retracing some of last year's canals, we went along the Staff & Worcester, the Trent & Mersey then south along the pretty River Soar to a marina near Leicester where we left the boat to get its bottom blacked (which should be done every two years).
Hired a car and drove up to Farndon Marina to catch up with some of the people who helped us so much last year when we were 'newies'.
Then it was on to Skegness, a huge carnival town where hoards of English people spend their holidays. Blocks and blocks of amusement arcades, dodgem cars and scary rides, cinemas and food outlets with the beach filled with donkey rides and kite flying. There is also a Butlins Holiday Camp which repeats all of the above and hundreds of holiday cottages stretching for miles and miles along the coast. We thought it was quite busy but were told "you should be here during the holidays - you can't move!!" Just off shore there were about 150 wind turbines to add to the sea view.
Motored on til we came to the mighty Humber Bridge (a bit like the Westgate Bridge but bigger).
Went to a Fishing Museum at one end of the bridge which showed life on a fishing boat in the 1950s. Very well done, with scenes showing life on deck, in the hold cleaning the catch, the bridge with the captain's view of the ocean at night (couldn't see a thing!) and the galley and the crew's very cramped quarters in the bow of the ship - tiny bunks along the wall which were often covered in ice. Many ships were lost in the icy North Sea and most voyages lost crew members as well. Worst part was that if the catch was poor the crew didn't get paid and often ended up owing the company (which meant they had to keep coming back each voyage). Spent a couple of nights exploring the area (and getting completely lost a few times). Much easier on our boat even if it takes a bit longer to get around.
Went down to London by train last Saturday to meet Andrew who had just arrived from Hong Kong. Unfortunately Thana wasn't able to make the trip with him.
On Monday it was Olive's first day at school. She looked so tiny in her Goose Green school uniform but has apparently settled in well.
Back to the boat with Andrew, we called in at Market Harborough for a night then it was back to the Foxton Staircase where we introduced him to the joys of working the locks. After doing two he looked up the rest in amazement and said "do we have to do all of them!" Went down the Welford Arm and moored up at Welford where we hadn't been before but the weather was closing in with rain and cold winds. Made it to Crick where Andrew left to go back to London (and the warmer weather in Bangkok and Hong Kong).
Took the short trip back to Welton Hythe - our 'winter' marina where we spent a couple of days getting things back in shipshape order then back on the train from Rugby to London to spend a night with Sooz, Ten and the girls before flying out Tuesday 19.
Back at Welton Hythe Marina near Daventry
So the 2013 narrowboat adventure comes to a close. We've travelled on lots of different canals, gone through more than 300 locks, many swing/lift bridges, manoeuvred numerous other tight bridges and gaps, got stuck in the mud a couple of times and on one occasion almost managed to flood the boat when we were jammed in a lock but. .....neither of us have fallen in the canals, the boat is looking good and the best part -we're still talking to each other!
For those that haven't heard, we've sold the farm and have removalists coming on Thursday 26th to move us from Ruffy to our new home at Broadford (no pressure!!)