Part I. The Trip South

It was an long day’s drive. Over 300 miles covered. Despite the miles it was worth it, as our Eileen, at last, began her journey south towards the South Oxford Canal and her new home mooring.

It’d been a 7 o’clock start from a chillier, greyer London, with spitting rain and gunmetal skies. Predictably the weather’s broken just as our holiday fortnight begins.

I collected Jim and Vi (and Patch) from Banbury and we made good time to Great Haywood. By 11.30 the kettle was on, the luggage stowed, gas on, water on, electrics on, engine fired – we’re off!

Vi and Patch on the counter
Jim inserts the tiller arm into the elum
Patch getting used to a new boat...
Jim and Patch as we leave the marina and turn towards Great Haywood Junction

We left the marina in fine style, just a swift clunk leaving the marina entrance, I like to see it not as a collision but as a peck-kiss goodbye!

Within 200 yards, with the exhaust smoking horribly, the temperature gauge rising, and a tell-tale lack of water emitting from the raw water exhaust – the first blockage in the water feed had been achieved – sigh.

With Jim’s expert help we were soon able to locate the locking bolt to gain access to the pipe to clear the water inlet of a lump of sodden rag – and we were off again, this time in fine style, the engine singing. And people waving. Eileen’s a well-known boat in these parts.

Away again after unblocking the 'raw water feed'
Patch keeping watch as we near the Junction
Our first lock

Over my boating ‘career’ I must have completed many hundreds of locks, but at Haywood Lock I was hugely nervous, suddenly and illogically thinking that perhaps the surveyor had got it all wrong and that Eileen’d spread wider than 7ft. and would get stuck in this very first lock. She sailed through, so grins all round!

Purposeful fore-end!
Descending Haywood Lock
Patch descending
Under way
At home on the top plank
The lady heads off, ultimately for Braunston...

It was with a heavy heart that I leapt off just after we’d passed Shugborough Hall. Boating’s addictive, once the engine fires all I want is to get ahead, to simply keep going…

But today this was where I had to let go, and trust Eileen to Jim and Vi who’d steer her down to Braunston over the next few days.

Doesn’t our Eileen look fine in the water? That’s our girl!

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  • We're just about ready to restart the Long Trip down the Water Road.
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