Continuing on, rather cold and damp, we finally arrived at Apsley at the end of day 3. Jacob was collected by Claire and Grace a couple of locks back. He has been such a good crew member, working hard on the locks and doing a share of steering and generally taking an interest in the canal and the wildlife. Not bad for an eleven year old.
Pulling in at Apsley we realised that the boat moored in front of us was Gs Cargo, belonging to Glenda and Pete, official cratch cover makers to Herbie. We showed off our new box cover and they told us of their latest successful commission, a Morgan car tonneau. So nice to meet friends as you travel up the canal.
For the evening we treated ourselves to a visit to the Paper Mill. Now I kow full well that a lot of boaters scorn pubs like this. Built on the site of an old working paper mill, its a modern pub. No old working boatmen at the bar. Well all I can say is you traddies are missing out. At this pub you get a cracking pint of ESB, good service, a lively and friendly atmosphere and very very good food. Granted you pay nearly a tenner for a burger with mushroom and stilton and chips, but when you see it and taste it you'll know its worth it. We sat near the kitchen hatch where you can see the food being prepared and the dishes going out. We must have seen dozens of meals go out and everyone looked superb and quite different from normal pub fayre. Traditional it ain't but the best of the 21st century it is.
Day 4 dawned a lot warmer and sunnier, but at an angle! Herbie was heeling over a bit because the water level had dropped a bit and we were grounded on a lump in the canal bed. It felt very strange walking about in the boat. A quick push from the bank soon put us a float again, and Idid the housework while Kath went shopping for blinds for the galley windows.
Once on the move agin we had a very convivial time sharing locks all the way to Winkwell with a community boat being crewed by volunteer youth workers learning boatong before taking up duties on youth boat trips. I hope they improve soon. Seeing them enter locks was a bit scary - too fast and with dubious accuracy. Still, they were a nice bunch and it made the trip go very quickly.
Stopping at Winkwell for lunch, we decided to stay put for the night as it is a lovely spot. In the sfternoon Kath rubbed down the cratch seats in preparation for varnishing while I attended to an archipelago of tiny rust spots on the roof - nearly all done now, and I hope more permanently as I took care to rust proof with vactan before over painting.
The Three Horseshoes pub by the swing bridge here has a terrace full of gongoozlers, but we strolled up the road to the White Horse for a quick pint of McMullens - a rarity.
We're having a great time, really enjoying this part of the canal getting some jobs done at the same time.