Yesterday we were all pretty tired after all the locking. Today we had to get up early (for us), ready for Rob to visit. He had brought Ian who was straight into the engine room. Shane had put the cover up so the overnight rain did not affect the engine space. Ian was careful not to dip his toes in the water gathering at the base of the engine space. It was below the level that activates the automatic bilge pump. Rob brought some rags to do some mopping up and recommended I get some nappies!
They were fitting the new belt so we could use electric again but the rain on the roof meant they were not wanting to try to fit the new panels. While they were working Heather, Benny and I went for walk. A walk was a good use of time anyway but some shopping needed to be done and top of Benny’s list was aubergine for baba ganoush. We were not sure if the small shop in Long Itchington 2 miles away would have it and there was quite a further hike if not. It had been very wet but was not longer raining and the birds were very loud. A black bird, a song thrush and a robin flashed up on Merlin immediately and were joined by jackdaws.
Yesterday it had been so warm that Benny, walking ahead of the boat, was casting off all his jumpers and Heather and I had sat out the front of the boat kingfisher spotting. In the end he decided to get back on as he was too warm walking.
The forecast claimed no more rain for the day but we had brought raincoats anyway. It was pretty damp underfoot. We investigated a field of pumpkins that was visible through the hedge. We also revisited the unseasonal and unusual sight of a little Santa figure atop the paddle markers way above our heads.
I got a message from Shane to say Rob and Ian had left and we agreed with his suggestion that there may be more shops in Leamington Spa and it would not take us very long to get there. We met a boat coming along, as we headed back along the canal, that we had met before and passed moored up earlier in the walk. He was working the double locks alone and asked if any other boats were around going his way but we had not see any. I said we would probably see him later.
Back at the boat, we decided we should carry on but it would be nice to wait for the lone boater. We sprang into action when he appeared and took the cover down. He was very pleased to share the locks with us. He urged me not to worry about running when I was working a lock ahead. Wide locks are particularly hard work alone and these were quite leaky so even when one looked in your favour it might need winding, as I found when I was working ahead.
We were all ready for lunch by the time the locking was done. We finished off most of the cheeses and last night’s curry. All the more reason to get to the shops. We enjoyed using electric again, especially Shane driving in the locks, but did need some diesel after a while, to charge us up again as Shane likes to end the day on 100%.
We found some rings and moored near the centre of Leamington Spa. Heather and I went off to find the shops. Heather had a list and Benny had checked that, apart from aubergines, we had all the ingredients he needed already on the boat. Getting aubergines was not key to our evening meal, but to when they catch their train tomorrow as Benny needs it to bring to a Middle Eastern themed meal tomorrow in Sheffield and needs time to make it.
Several supermarkets were marked but the first one had no aubergines. We looked into a couple more before finding a slightly larger one that had a good range of exotic vegetables, including two kinds of aubergine. Excellent! Heather got some plantain and other ingredients for tea. I bought some sumac which I have never used yet and I failed to buy ras el hanout. We went to another shop to buy bread.
On the way back we saw that there was some Christmas lights were already up, though not lit. It is not even Halloween yet. What is going on. I saw a shop the other day with both Halloween and Christmas items in the same aisle. We were happy we had enough for tea but still tried another two shops for bread and cheese.
Back at the boat we decided to move on. Benny got cracking with preparing the aubergines and had the oven on its hottest setting. We found a lovely spot next to an aquaduct over the River Avon, just as the sun was dipping down.
The boat became a hive of chopping activity, fruit and veg for Pimm’s first of all, then Benny preparing his roasted aubergines and whizzing it up with all the other flavours. We got to lick the utensils. It was definitely the best I have ever had. My disappointment at not getting more of the dip to eat was eased by the smell of Heather’s cooking. We have eaten very well this week and most nights didn’t need to cook and now the baba ganoush is successfully completed, we have their company a little longer tomorrow. I have a spare aubergine for future nights.