Caen Hill Again and Devizes (again)

  We were randomly and inexplicably woken at 5.13 on Sunday morning (14th July) by our horn blaring out! Tony shot out of bed and said “WTF is that?” (The horn is right above our heads). He dashed to the back of the boat, hurdling Sal on his way, and ripped the horn wiring out of the switch. The strange thing is that the horn hadn’t been working so he had been fiddling with it the day before and, according to the voltmeter, it had no power going to it. It certainly had power at 5.13 on that morning! Ho hum.

We stayed in our lovely spot in Hilperton for three nights. A young homeless guy walked past and asked us if we minded him pitching his tent on the corner about 100m away as he was currently sleeping in the woods and he didn’t like it – we told him to go ahead! Tony got chatting to him (Tony gets chatting to a lot of people!!!) and he was a nice young chap, just had a rough start in life and his life hadn’t got much easier since. Although he had a tent, he had no cooking facilities so we fed and watered him for a couple of days. He was so grateful and was quite teary eyed when we moved on – I bet he’s not used to people being nice to him!

We moved to Semington on Tuesday 16th, stopping at the chandlery on the way to get the bits and bobs for the engine service and spares.  The chandlery is really good – they were very helpful with lots of good advice!

We had an appointment booked on Friday 19th at Sells Green with a lady to give us a quote for a pram hood for the back – I’m not a fan of how they look but it will be a definite benefit in the winter. Wet dog can be sorted and wet coats left out there to dry. So, although it’s only a short stretch of three miles between Semington and Sells Green (for the appointment), it has 7 locks and three swing bridges, so quite hard work. Consequently we decided to break it into two and we set off on Wednesday 17th in the afternoon, arriving quite late in the day at Seend. We moved to Sells Green on Thursday. We had fish and chips in the Three Magpies pub which was very nice – huge portion so Sal did well with a few sneaky chips! I was a bit miffed, though, as I had come down with a cold! What with my knee, then the couple of weeks of being dizzy and sick, then Sal pulling me over, a cold was a bit beyond a joke, I felt!! It was nicely helped by Day Nurse, though – that stuff is wonderful!

Sarah from Sails of Merit arrived on Friday 19th as arranged and we managed to dodge the rain as she surveyed the boat for the back cover. She was a lovely lady, really knew what she was doing, so we arranged a date for her to come and start fitting.

We moved on Saturday 20th, doing the 7 locks of the bottom of the Caen Hill flight, mooring at the bottom of the main flight. There have been problems with one of the pumps so there has been restricted hours of transit and a lot of the hire boats have been avoiding it so it’s not been as busy as normal. We arrived to find good moorings and then we were first in the queue to go up on Sunday 21st. This was where Sal had been unsettled at night before, but she was fine. We’d found a strip of solar powered lights in Lidl (gotta love a Lidl!) which just gives a nice low light so we leave that on for her – bless her, she doesn’t like the dark!!

We set off at 9.45 on Sunday to do the flight, pairing up with another boat – NB Relativity. They had wording signwriten below the name “Traveling at the Speed of Life” – great! I steered  as Tony had steered coming down the flight and the other boat was also steered by the lady – so we were flying the flag for the girls! We stopped at the top of the main flight leaving the last 6 locks to do.

We managed to stay for an extra day at the top of the flight -it was so quiet due to the restricted hours so we asked the CRT (Canal and River Trust) man if he thought it would be OK for us to stay for another day – he was lovely and said he’d put it down to “engine trouble”! Tony polished the boat and I did some sanding down of some woodwork that was starting to become a bit water stained near the back doors. We had a lovely walk in the Diamond Jubilee Wood on the other side of the flight (I’m happily tentatively back in action again after the fall) – Sal went in a stream right up to her shoulders and enjoyed it, then got completely covered in those sticky green burrs – she looked like she had green measles! Fortunately, she loves being groomed and brushed – just as well – I reckon she must have had about a hundred of them stuck to her!

We moved to Devizes on Tuesday 23rd, doing the last 6 locks of the flight and topping up with water on the way. It was SO hot! I’m really not good in the heat and the locks are hard work! I managed to find shade for Sal on the way, but Tony and I were in full sun all the way up. I did resolve to never willingly or knowingly put any part of my anatomy into the canal but needs must – we sat on the side and dangled our tootsies once we’d moored – bliss!

We did suffer a thunderstorm on the strength of the hot weather on Wednesday night- another unsettled night as Sal wasn’t over keen!! Apparently it was quite spectacular, but I’m not keen either so was happy to miss out on that!

Sarah was booked to come back on Thursday 25th to fit the frame for the back cover so we needed to hang around in Devizes for a few days but as the forecast was for seriously hot weather she elected not to come after all – couldn’t face fitting a frame to the boat in that heat – good call! She made it up in her workshop and came on Friday to fit it and make the pattern for the fabric.

As it turned out, Thursday was hot! 29° in the boat at 9.00 am and rose to 32°as the day went on! Sal was resting in the shade under a lovely big tree. We bought a cool coat and a cool mat for her and they both proved to be well worth it, especially the cool coat! 

We had to move into Devizes Marina yesterday (Friday 26th) so that Sarah could do the frame for the back cover, as we weren’t able to get on the car park side of the wharf. The frame went up really well and the pattern for the cover is done. Sarah will be returning in a couple of weeks to fit the cover to the frame. It’s going to be fabulous and a great asset! Because our boat has a traditional stern (i.e small) and there is no metalwork to which the cover can be attached, a whole frame had to be made. It will take a bit of getting used to as regards folding it but I’m sure we’ll work out the best way.

We moved back round onto the wharf after Sarah had finished as the mooring in the marina was a bit tight and not very good for Sal. There is a small theatre right on the wharf – Legally Blonde the Musical was showing and they had one ticket available for last night so I decided to go along. It was a seat reserved for wheelchairs, right in the front row, which they released on the last day. What I hadn’t spotted was that it was Legally Blonde the Musical “JR” – it was a youth production! I think I was probably one of the few paying customers – most of the other audience members were friends or family of the participants. Whilst one or two of them were quite good actors and singers, one or two weren’t so good, but they were all very enthusiastic! It made a change…..

Tony did the first engine service today which went very well. Nothing got terribly oily or dirty and there were no apparent leaks on running the engine afterwards, so all good.
We did a supermarket shop in readiness for Rhys and Ash’s visit – they are coming tomorrow to pick us up for the Hiscock family day at Mike and Emma’s in Blandford, then they’re coming back to stay with us for a couple of days. Will be interesting to see how four of us get on on the boat!