Cut Across Shorty

We both were amused by being moored opposite a field of Belties. They have a hardy look to them with thick fluffy coats and short legs and did a lot of trotting and looked at me with suspicion when I tried to get a closer look at them having a drink.

Belties by the water

While Shane had made a start on some odd jobs, I had made a start on a new knitting project. I had started at the neckline and with a new and unusual shaping I was making a few mistakes. I had begun to get a feel for how it should be but when I was about to start the back, I popped it over my head and decided it was too small. I checked the expected measurements and it was not at all right. Now I’m not unaccustomed to being called a shortarse and was attempting the smallest size but this would never work, so reluctantly I ripped it out and using larger needles started doing swatch squares of both kinds of yarn I planned to use to test how they came out. The pattern said to check the tension with a blocked and relaxed square. I had them pinned out very hard, drying over night. In the morning I unpinned them and left them to ‘relax’ and they both measured too short in both dimensions.

I needed larger needles but I didn’t have them so that project will have to wait until I reach a suitable shop. I had no luck in Rugby. Both possible shops had now closed. Next possible option is Northampton. Before there, Shane had some other specialist shopping in mind.

From the Belties we made a short relatively uneventful but pleasant cruise. Not many boats are out but we came round a corner to see a bridge with a boat approaching, typical! We had had a conversation recently about how it can be hard to judge who is closest to the bridge. With foreshortening, it can seem like the boat on the other side is much closer than it is. I was about to apply this assumption and go for it being “my bridge” but quickly decided they seemed quite close and lined up and showing no signs of changing speed or course so I gave a clear steer to the side and slowed virtually to a stop and waiting for them to come through. Getting moving again was a bit slow and Shane remarked that the edges were quite shallow. Much of the sides have sloping stonework which make mooring unlikely. He suggested we moor up at the first set of pilings we saw. There a few short sections of easy mooring scattered along the way.

Shortly after we saw some pilings ahead and pulled in. This was the spot he had been hoping for and he had remembered complimenting another boater on finding a fine mooring right here when going the other way last November, an open aspect, a fine example of ridge and furrow and as a Spring bonus some sheep and lambs in the field beyond. I steered in and Shane got off the front, happy with his choice, as usual.

A choice mooring

Shane had brought the porch cover over the bow so as to make a work space to explore his curtain hanging ideas. He left it up as he had plans to do a bit more work later. It is a bit of an additional obstacle, making it harder to get on and off to moor and tie off the ropes, so Shane offered to take the bow end if I didn’t fancy it. The advantage of being a shortarse though is that, surely, it should be easier for me to duck under the rail of the cratch cover than it would be for him. He had managed this evening anyway.

This morning the lambs had moved closer into the nearer field. We wanted to get to Braunston for shopping though so we couldn’t hang around. The chandlery would be shut tomorrow. We didn’t have a long way to go and this area had a particularly good array of ridge and furrow on a regular basis which led to an exchange of suggestions about why that method was used, Shane thinking it was a huge effort to go to to shift that much earth. The internet confirmed that the patterns developed over hundreds of years with the use of ploughs that could not reverse and turned in the same places each time. Centuries after the strip cultivation stopped the patterns still show when that land has been turned over to grazing so not flattened by modern methods of ploughing

More ridge and furrow with grazing sheep and geese

We stopped at an awkwardly spaced set of rings and “my” ring at the front was embedded in mud. Having got tied suboptimally, Shane decided to look ahead and returned saying there was brighter empty mooring space ahead and could we move forward please. He also brought the good news that the Gongoozlers Rest was open and unlike previously, it had indoor seating. By the time we had remoored I was ready to take up the offer of lunch in a different boat, a very short walk away and appreciated their menu, and the newly fitted interior, when intermittent rain was a feature of the day.

After our tasty lunch we went into Braunston marina and visited a little niche shop called “Tradline Rope And Fenders”. On a previous visit we had watched a man handmaking a fender in traditional rope knotting. Our back rope had acquired a nick in it and we didn’t want it to give unexpectedly so we went to see their range. The shop was empty and the lady asked if she could help. They had plenty of rope for sale by the metre, but she offered another service, we’d not expected. Did we want the rope cut and respliced? Shane had been thinking some short ropes with ready made loops could be handy for quick short term use and had seen them in the shop, called strops. So rather than buying them ready made we nipped back and swapped over our thin mooring rope for an older thicker one stored in the locker. We went back and she set about cutting, splicing, and making newloops there and then, producing a short strop and a medium strop from our rope. I have several meaning for the word strop now and I learned a new word as she told me the tool she used when making the loop was a Swedish fid.

We then selected some new long ropes in blue and again had unexpected extra choices of floatable or non floatable ropes and she cut them to size and created loops and finished off the plain end. She changed us for the new blue rope but gave us the respliced short strops for free as we had provided the rope. What a great service plus entertainment and education as we watched.

We dropped the ropes off on the boat on our way to the chandlery and had a successful, if less entertaining and more expensive, shopping experience there. It was a surprise to find the very small ‘clinch plates’ for the back of the fixings for the pram cover, four of which had disappeared over the winter, while we were in Edinburgh.

Next we headed into the village of Braunston. There is a short cut of a footpath beside a field and it brings you out beside a very pretty garden, picture postcard perfect as it turned out as it did in fact feature in a post card in the shop.

Back aboard Shane made short work of securing the new clinch plates and replacing the turn buckles on the cover. There’s no shortage of new vocabulary to be learnt as well as new skills and experiences…and new beers.