The Fix

Last night we realised we had let a very sunny day go by without running the washing machine. Surprisingly two sets of people have been in touch to suggest a visit in the near future and we had sheets to wash and don’t want laundry draped around the boat while visitors are here. Shane remembered that the machine does a timed delay so we could set it to be ready first thing in the morning. We hadn’t done it before so hoped that we had set it right. I came through from the shower this morning to find  the bag of damp laundry out of the machine. Success! There is a good loud beep on the machine when it is done, which we have in the past confused it with an error alert on the HybridMarine control panel, audible over the engine, even when we are outside and next to the engine.

It was a much fuller start to the day and much cooler. We were moored beside the lock at Cropredy and there seemed a fair bit of activity at it with a canal and river trust employee assisting someone through then one of their boats came past. It was an engine with another boat being pushed ahead of it. A butty in front in stead of behind. 

We decided as we were so close to the marina that we should try to get a pump out before guests arrived. We weren’t in desperate need and there was the possibility that their machine was broken again as they had not expected it to last long, but at the very least it was a place to turn around. We were in luck and it was working and we had several friendly chats with people while we were there and the machine worked perfectly. We went back the way we came and pulled in at almost exactly the same spot as we had left. The canal and river trust boat came back past the other way. They gave a jauntier wave this time as they recognised us. Their skip pushed ahead of them contained pilings. Shane thought he could hear a piling machine earlier, it certainly hadn’t gone far.

We went in to Cropredy to see if the cafe we had found closed twice before, might be open, passing a decorative thatch  fox we had missed before on the way. It isn’t the first thatch fox we have seen. The other was in Milton Keynes.


Cropredy thatch fox

We were pleased to find the cafe open and had very thick tasty pea and mint soup. It was decorated for Halloween and there was a bowl of sweets “for little monsters” on a shelf. We could see a glass case below the shelf that looked like it housed a hedgehog home to me and it it had a bowl of red brown dry food but I couldn’t see an animal at all. Shane couldn’t believe it was a hedgehog and suggested a snake. The case looked heated. The meaty morsels made it unlikely to be guinea pigs or hamsters. The lady serving was very friendly so we asked and she said it was a hedgehog, but one bred as a pet, not a wild one, African pigmy hedgehog and apparently very cute, but nocturnal. So not the first thatch fox, but the first pet African pigmy hedgehog – except I still haven’t seen it!

Coming back we went across the bridge that has workmen on it. It had last time we were here too and there is a temporary pedestrian crossing for it. The steps down to the towpath had a man sitting on them. He moved out of my way and as I thanked him, he embarked on an explanation of the bridge works. They were preparing to remove the metal foot bridge and a crane was coming tomorrow to take it away and a new one would placed in.

Careful under there, that bridge is about to come down

Shane wanted to do a bit of the locking today so I drove. We expected it to be set our way but it wasn’t. The tug and skip had been through. I don’t like calling it a tug when it is pushing but apparently they do both. Just as I waited the wind gusted and there was a weir, so I was glad that Shane signalled it was not far from ready. All went smoothly. He also enjoyed a good look at the bridgeworks on the way under. We passed the rug again, moored this time and later still we passed another moored butty and tug with the engine tug positioned to push , steel roped and with  a V shaped link to keep them together.



pushy tug and butty

I was itching to make progress on a knitting repair. Shane’s cycling buddy had been dismayed to see his woolly hat I had made for him was moth eaten and was hopeful of a repair. There was a large hole near the crown and I had started by cutting back (cutting knitting does not come naturally but it was proving very hard to unpick) and trying to get back and re knit with fresh wool. I can only work with it in good light so I let Shane take the helm and brought it out to work in the sunshine. Shane called “lock ho!” I was unpicking a tricky bit so carried on. Shane was muttering about a boat that didn’t seem to be behaving normally at the lock. He was hoping to get straight in but no joy. He tied the boat up and went to see what was happening. He came back saying they couldn’t get a paddle down and something was stuck. After a while I joined the throng at the lock. The gates were open and the boat in the lock was level and able to leave, but they were keen to try to sort the problem out rather than leave. A woman was phoning in the issue to CRT. The boat was still in the lock. Shane had seen them emerge once, but they had gone back in. She reported that CRT would get to it as soon as possible but this lock in particular was a pretty inaccessible. We had no idea how long that might be. With two other boats keen to use the lock and ready to try out working it and the abandoned lockkeeper’s cottage urging us the “Enjoy Every Moment” they were persuaded to leave and let us get in. I drove in. With one paddle shut and the other partially shut at one end and the other two open, it emptied relatively quickly and it didn’t seem to be a problem. Often a lock has a non functional paddle anyway or leaks badly. As they were opening the gates I heard a loud beeping. It was in our boat. Not the washing machine this time, nor the HybridMarine controller. Perhaps the smoke alarm? It usually has a voice as well. Perhaps diesel fumes caused it to go off as we rarely run the diesel in a lock and we were now at the bottom of a lock. As I set off it stopped so alert over, keeping going fixed it. I think it is a little sensitive.

Two boats were waiting to get into the lock. We met another boat wondering if the paddle was fixed yet…News travels by word of dog walkers it seems. The paddle wasn’t sorted but the problem seemed resolved, for us at least.

Once we had moored up I finished the crown of the hat. It was good to see it whole again but while repairing I could see there were a few other small holes and the matching hat (they were a wedding present) had also been given to me to work on – some moth wear and snagging from a hedge I am told. Still they look complete if you don’t look closely. Hopefully they can all be repaired more easily. I really can’t see them well enough in the evening, even late afternoon is already not quite good enough, so had to leave the other repairs for another day.

Hitched and restitched. His And His Hats – in need of TLC

It was almost sunset and we had a quick tour round the nearby reservoir. The nature reserve had flocks of ducks, gulls, jackdaws and geese. We got back just before it was dark. And the washing is pretty much dry now. All’s well that ends well.

Sunset on walk, by the reservoir