One canal boat, seven friends, six bell towers and several bottles of gin!

I had a little holiday recently. I was hoping to keep you posted on where we were during my week away, but the wifi on the canal boat was a little hit and miss….well more miss than hit. Sometimes it’s great that way because you can really get away from it all.

What more could you want than to spend 7 days on a canal boat with 7 other people, all of us bell ringers. I know to some people that would seem like a nightmare, but for us 8 it was heaven. This was the second time I’ve been on a canal boat, the first time was last year.

Our boat was called “Josephine” and what a fine boat she was to at 70 foot long. We had 2 bathrooms, so a “Boys” and a “girls”. Places for us all to sleep, a lovely little kitchen and lounge/dining area.

Josephine our home for the week.

You all have to get on well with each other, and muck in when it comes to opening and closing the lock gates. What you have to do came flooding back to me immediately, although to start with I forgot a few little things, but nothing major. There were those who wanted to steer (I wasn’t bothered as I did that last year), Jane did most of the cooking and what a fabulous job she did, especially with the oven on board that if you opened or closed the oven door too quickly it got scared and went out. Jane cooked us meat pies, casseroles, pasta, all sorts of tasty dinners. The kettle was always on the boil and tea was a constant. Paul did a couple of wonderful fried breakfasts which you needed to keep you going with all the walking we did from one lock to another. I’m sure I came back fitter, but slightly fatter.

Because we are all bell ringers Jane and Len worked out the route and also 6 towers that were all in walking distance from the canal.

All Saints, Braunston. Our second tower of the week.

During the evenings, and sometimes during the day the deck of cards came out and I learnt all sorts of different games…..still can’t understand Cribbage though. We never played with money, but played with matchsticks. I know that sounds slightly wrong, but you know what I mean. Usually before any game there was a chorus of “Oh I need my glasses!” We also played Bingo and Beetle Drive. Bizarrely Beetle Drive is made by Gibson Games and the lovely man who taught me how to bell ring back in 1986, his wife is related to its founder. Us ladies (there were 3 ladies and 5 men on the boat) also had an afternoon of crafting, we tried the get the men involved but they wouldn’t. I made a mermaid.

I covered up her special bits with a couple of seashells.

When it got to about 4pm, sometimes a little sooner, it was time for nibbles and a gin. We had several different flavours and it was very enjoyable.

We started off from the boat yard was in Napton and we travelled about 45 miles before we had to turn round and come back. So 90 miles in total for 7 days. We went through a couple of long tunnels. One tunnel took us just over 20 minutes to get out of, the other took us 42 minutes. “Could have rung a quarter peal in that time” was said. Coming out of a long tunnel was beautiful.

Coming out a rather long tunnel.

On our little trip we rang at the following towers: Napton on the Hill, Braunston, Weedon Bec, Cosgrove, Blisworth, Priors Marston. The first 5 towers were beautiful and easy to ring, the last one had character……that’s a nice way of saying they were a little awkward. But they all sounded beautiful.

There were loads of blackberries ready, and not wanting to waste any we picked some to go in our pear crumble one evening and a load more so I could make some jam. I didn’t have a recipe, but it’s not difficult, just add enough sugar until it tastes right.

Made just over 2 jars of jam, we ate some but the rest will keep for next year.

The last evening we had dinner at the local pub which was wonderful and then after our final sleep on the boat we packed up the cars Friday morning and all made our way home. The little group of our car (Jane who was driving, tall Paul and myself) stopped off at IKEA to get a few bits and of course you can’t go into IKEA without buying some Swedish meatballs, packets of sauce and lingonberry jam.

Home to a lovely wide, double bed. It’s difficult when you tend to lie on your front in bed and you have to sleep in a skinny bed. I don’t think anyone fell out of their beds, I nearly did but not quite.

Thank you all for such an amazing time. We expected it to rain for most of the holiday but we only got two heavy downpours that were very short and some light drizzle, and that didn’t spoil our time.

Back home to see if the garden behaved itself while I was away…….Anyone for a quiz?

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3 Responses to One canal boat, seven friends, six bell towers and several bottles of gin!

  1. Jim Norlem says:

    I can hardly wait to see the movie !

  2. Paul Greenwood says:

    What a lovely, different holiday. Also, one to remember Claire.

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