Market Harborough, 0 miles, 0 locks
I awoke with a start at 10am when my pill alarm went off, not believing that it was 10. I guess I'd slept pretty soundly after all that happened yesterday. I'd barely got some clothes on before the phone rang and it was Dave the engine man, giving me directions on where he'd like my boat. Turns out that I had moored at the water point, but that must not have mattered because all the other boats that were on the towpath had gone. After a lovely bit of reversing back into the basin, watched by some bemused walkers who were passing, I moored in berth number 13—just like at home. I tied up and Dave appeared with his little dog/assistant in tow. We chatted about how the journey had been the previous day and how the engine had behaved impeccably, and after the usual ritual of clearing stuff out of the engine room he set to work.
While he was doing that, I wandered over to see Debbie the site manager, to enquire about the possibility of a luxury berth with electrical hookup. Turns out I was now in one and they were £6 per night, plus 50p if you wanted electricity too. Bargain! I elected to stay until Monday morning so I could do a bit of laundry and said I'd pop over later with the money.
Back at berth 13, another boat—Timeless—was running trips for people to raise money for the local baptist church. Some of the passengers were quite elderly and it was better for them if they could get on and off straight onto the wharf, so I was shunted over to berth 12. After a bit of pushing and pulling with ropes, Oothoon was moved and Dave got back on with his business, while I made tea for us both. After enquiring how it was going as I gave Dave his tea, I wandered back over to see Debbie with ready money in my pocket. It's quite amazing the difference not being in London can make. I mean, the basin here doesn't have anything like the security that Ice Wharf Marina has, but it doesn't seem to need it either, and I could stay here for over 100 days for the money Ice Wharf costs for a month—and that would include electricity! There are a number of permanent moorings here and they go for the grand sum of £40 per month. Unbelievable!
Dave finished replacing the pipes, which was the last bit I needed to get done to pass the Boat Safety Certificate requirements, and we were chatting when there was a sudden splash: Dave's dog had been trying to jump onto another boat and had slipped and was in the canal. Quick as a flash we were both round there, with Dave almost diving into the canal to save her. She was fine, but a bit damp, so I got a towel so he could dry her. Once she was safely back in the van and I'd paid my bill (and offloaded my monster battery charger onto Dave—at his request), off he went and I decided to sort out my electrical hookup.
Normally hooking a boat up to the mains is as simple as running a wire from a socket on a utility post to a socket on the boat. Only problem is that Oothoon's socket is at the front and she was in the wrong way round. After telling Timeless what I was up to, I pulled forward into the basin, swivelled and came in prow-first. This was actually much better for me, since berth 12 has only a finger pontoon and it had been a bit of a nuisance trying to get in and out of the front door when it was dangling 60 feet out in the basin. One quick bit of plugging later and I was in business.
As I was rooting around to plug in the cables, an American gentleman came over and asked whether there was more to it than just plugging in the wires. I realised that there was a panel on the post and had a quick look inside. There were just some circuit breakers and all was switched on. I offered to check his switches and they were fine too, then we got chatting. It was when his son—a handsome but somewhat gaunt man—came out of the boat that I realised that I'd seen them before: they'd been at the top of the second flight of staircase locks at Foxton the day before, when the lock keeper had been telling me to watch out for my chimney as the water levels were quite high. They'd got the boat they were on as part of a timeshare and while they'd been out a couple of times, they were finding it more convenient as a kind of floating hotel room. We chatted for a bit longer, then they headed off into town; something I was intending to do myself.
As they wandered off, another chap came over to ask if I was the basin manager. I was flattered that he might think that, but explained that they'd all gone home for the weekend and what did he want to know? To my complete surprise, he turned out to be the captain of the boat that had been refuelling in Welford the day before. I hadn't recognised him because he'd been completely encased in waterproofs, but when I pointed to my boat, he realised who I was. After refuelling they'd stayed in Welford in the hope of better weather today and had managed to get to Market Harborough in excellent time (that's what having the weather on your side does). They decided to moor on the towpath and off he wandered.
The trip into town from the basin is relatively short and is downhill. On the way, next to someone's gate, was a large crate of apples with a 'please help yourself' notice on it. I'm normally wary of 'amateur' apples, but the one I had was nice. The town itself is a well preserved market town. Okay, there's a smattering of high street shops, including Starbucks and Costa only one door from each other, but at least they're tucked away around a corner and out of sight. Even the Tesco Metro is discreet. After waving at the Americans, who were on their way back, I ended up in Sainsbury's because I wanted tomatoes.
As I walked back, I saw a face I recognised and it turned out to be the Welford captain again. He was waiting outside a shop for his companion to complete her shopping journey and we struck up a conversation. This continued after his companion returned and we eventually wandered back up towards the boats together. As we got close, the rain started again and was pretty heavy by the time we reached the pub near the basin, so I suggested a quick pint while we waited for the rain to abate. This seemed agreeable all round and in we went. It was all a bit strange in there. Lots of people were wandering around in formal suits and it looked for all the world like everyone was going to a wedding. There was the bride, but she was lugging tables around and putting up balloons, and explained that we could sit where we were, but that we might get 'discofied' by the glitter, etc, that she'd be scattering around. Further enquiry revealed that she was indeed a bride but that a week before the wedding the reception venue had cancelled their booking in a change-of-ownership fiasco, so her local pub had kindly stepped in to help. They'd had the ceremony and she was now whizzing round decorating the pub ready for the reception that evening and we were welcome to join in and there was far too much buffet anyway. We stayed for another pint before retiring back to our respective boats, once the disco started at about 7:30.
Dinner was Tacos, using Discovery Foods' Taco Trays that are half price at Sainsbury's. Having said that you needed to fill them well else the portion control went a little wrong, I'm now not so sure, however the quantities probably do work out if you follow my earlier assertion that there are really only 12 trays with two spares. I'll find out tomorrow if I have any room left—I've booked to have Sunday Lunch with the people from the other boat in the pub at 1:30 (Debbie said that their sunday lunch is particularly good) so I might be a bit full. Need to remember to do the laundry beforehand and I wanted to visit the Foxton Inclined Plane museum too, so it's going to be a busy day tomorrow.