17th to July – 7th August – meeting our new grandson and leaving Brinklow
Well that was an anxious, emotional, worrying but ultimately happy couple of weeks! The waiting continued until Tuesday 18th, when, late at night, Beth’s waters broke. The hospital told her to wait 24 hours before going to hospital. We drove down Wednesday evening, arriving at around 11pm, by which time they had left for hospital. It had been our first trip home from Brinklow and the route seemed to be a bit circuitous, but there are various options so we will find the best way after a few more trips.
There was not much point in us staying up, so we went to bed shortly after we had arrived. We were in contact with George and Jo, (Beth’s Mum) throughout the night – well I was, while someone else snored! The wait continued until around 4:20pm on Thursday when our Grandson was finally born. Tears of joy and happiness ensued, as we saw live video of him in Beth’s arms. They named him Chester Fairfax Sumpner and we absolutely love the name. And him. And them!
Sadly, our poor little Chester had an infection and had to be on a drip which meant he had to stay in hospital for at least 5 days. The care that the hospital (Queen Alexander, Cosham) gave to both Chester and Beth was exemplary and we are very grateful to them. They did everything to make this slightly shaky start for the new parents as positive as they could. And we were able to visit a couple of times to see them. We are utterly smitten!
We took the decision to drive home to Brinklow on the Sunday evening. They would be cared for by the hospital and we had an engineer calling to fit another part to our oven on Thursday. We planned to go back down, once Chester had been released from hospital. And please! Don’t ask about the engineer. He arrived on the agreed day, fitted the new part, only to find that the new part was faulty. He thus had to take it out again and reinstall our old (still faulty) part! And then order a new, new part. This is becoming a bit of a saga, isn’t it?
We drove down to Fareham again on Friday (28th) and the Friday traffic was pretty appalling, including an hour at near standstill on the M40, but we made it there by early evening. And thus began a few days of plentiful cuddles, and getting to know our little one. It was lovely, and a real wrench to leave them all. They are doing an amazing job and have taken to parenthood like ducks to water. So proud of them all.
While we were there, we had a call to say that the oven part had arrived and so we made an appointment for Thursday – then we got another call to say could they change that to Wednesday. We finally left Fareham after work on Tuesday and had a easy trip back. Fastest ever, in fact! On Wednesday, we waited for the engineer and, late morning got a call to say that, whilst the part had arrived at their depot, it hadn’t been received by the engineer, so he would not be coming. You could not make this up!
We were promised a call to let us know what was going on, but as this had not materialised by 5pm, I gave them a ring. The operator said that they had not been able to locate the missing part and – worse still – the required part was now on a 2-3 week back order. GAH! I left them with no room to doubt that i was a tad miffed! The only saving grace is that they serve the entire Birmingham and Coventry Postal areas, so we might just still be within range when the truant part turns up.
We were leaving Brinklow for Summer Cruise Pt 2 on Friday (4th Aug) and had some tidying up to do in preparation for the off. My brother Bruce was joining us for a long weekend and we eventually slipped our mooring at about 10:30 and were away. We are heading North, back up the North Oxford, the Coventry and joining the Trent & Mersey at Fradley. Basically retracing our steps, with a view to going on the Anderton Lift and spending some time on the River Weaver.
Did I say Summer Cruise? It was more like October! Grey and with a very chilly wind, which resulted in us all donning coats. In August! The summer started so well but seems to have run out of steam. Gulf Stream/Spanish Plume/El Nino? Whatever it is, Europe burns while we shiver. It must be another Brexit outcome, I reckon!
It turned a little warmer by late afternoon and we even managed to take our coats off, briefly. We negotiated the stop-lock which takes you from the Oxford canal onto the Coventry canal at Hawkesbury Junction. We were spotted by N/B Wobbly, who took a snap and complimented Paul on his helmsmanship. We’ll never hear the last of that! His photo is the featured image this week. Thank you Wobbly! We pulled over for the night not far after Hawkesbury Junction, where we spent a very peaceful night.
As forecast, Saturday was grim. More like flipping November! We took a straw poll which resulted in a unanimous decision to stay put and keep dry. Call us fair-weather boaters if you like, but I see no fun in getting cold and wet or having to dry a load of wet apparel. Bruce popped to the paper shop with Ted in one of the very short breaks in the rain and returned with Strawberry Laces. Yum. He knows how to spoil his sister.
At around 3:30pm we spotted a potentially longer break in the rain and decided to set off. It degraded into a very fine dampness in the breeze, but we got a few more kilometres under our belts. Certainly not the best weather for cruising and we threw in the towel when heavier rain looked imminent. We got indoors just in time, before the heavens just opened – again.
Sunday was a much better prospect weather wise, although we got sprinkled on and off all through the day. No heavy duty rain like the previous day and warm and sunny by the late afternoon. And it was a good job it was fine as we had 11 locks to do at Atherstone. Locks in the rain are no fun!
But first we had to get through Nuneaton, which is quite a pleasant town, from the canal, at least. We dropped Bruce off at one of the bridges in town. He was on a mission to get his Sunday paper. His mission accomplished, we then picked him up at the next bridge.
We arrived at Atherstone top lock, where we planned to make use of the services, at about 13:45: There was a boat coming up in the top lock and, as they were planning to take on water too, we would just swap places with them, once we had finished emptying and topping up.
The volunteers were on and doing a pretty brisk trade, with several boats coming up the locks through town but, seemingly, only us going down. We did eventually catch up with another boat locking down, at the penultimate lock, but they had broken down and were being towed to Bradley Green Wharf, where they would call River and Canal Rescue, the canal equivalent of Green Flag, for assistance.
We entered the top lock at 14:00 and left the bottom lock at 15:58. Not a bad time really, considering there had been a fair bit of waiting at the first half dozen locks. They are a nice flight – narrow, well maintained and take you out into the beautiful Warwickshire countryside, by the time you reach the bottom. Here’s a time-lapse video, taken by Bruce, of us going into lock 6 on the flight. Note the very quick glimpse of Paul as he steps the gates!
We stopped by the road bridge a little way past the bottom lock, (Spon Lane in Grendon) figuring it would be a good place for Bruce to get a cab back to Brinklow. It was actually the best part of the day after we had pulled over, with lovely warm sunshine and much less wind. Typical.
This coming week – a short one for Paul – we plan to get to Fazely, where we’ll turn onto the Birmingham and Fazeley canal and spend a day or so moored near the Middleton Lake Nature Reserve. We’ll then drop down to Fazeley Mill Marina where we will meet friends arriving next Sunday.
You may have seen in the press, that funding for our wonderful canal system has been reduced and there is a campaign to persuade the Government to cough up more cash. Click on the campaign logo below for more info.