Brinklow to Amington
Oxford Canal and Coventry Canal
A long day of glorious weather interrupted by a thunderstorm as we descended the flight of locks at Atherstone.
About half way down the flight we met a boater coming up who paid an unusual interest in our craft. Don't get me wrong, Wand'ring bark is a lovely boat and is very interesting to me but viewed objectively she is an unremarkable, modern, mid sized boat and why someone would pay her close attention was something of a mystery. All sorts of questions were asked including, as a finale, the question "how much did you pay for her?". I muttered a generalisation only to stand corrected by Jeff to the exact pound (he likes things exact) which elicited an "ah - that's interesting from the enquirer. He then looked at Wand'ring Bark which was lying front on above the lock and said - "that's Piccolo, isn't it?". I am not often lost for words but stood amazed with my mouth hanging open like he had performed a conjuring trick in front of me. "OK, that's amazing" I replied, "you can't see the side of the boat, only the front doors and you know the boats name. Yes, it is Piccolo but how do you know that?" He grinned and told me that they had sold Piccolo to Whilton Marina a couple of months previously and were making a return journey with their new longer (albeit older) craft which they had bought for £44k.
I never did enquire what they sold her for. There are some things that it are better left unknown. I am satisfied with the price we paid and don't need to have a nagging thought in my mind that I paid maybe £2k more than I needed to.
One interesting observation based on this encounter. When we were negotiating with Whilton Marina they held out that they were selling on behalf of the owner and at one stage left the room to "call the owner". That was a crass negotiating ploy which is best relegated to used car salesmen. Whilton Marina were the owners and they were just playing silly bu****s. Buyers beware....
His wife was equally excited at the sight of their old boat coming past them and, when we emerged from the lock, she went somewhat misty eyed reflecting on the three years they had owner her. Having exchanged information about known faults and recent service history, he commented that his big regret was leaving the unusual kettle on board - he had been unable to find a replacement like it. Oddly, Belle had been particularly taken with the kettle when we agreed to buy the boat and I have sometimes wondered if it was the kettle which sold the boat. We had previously ended up buying a tent instead of a camping kettle.... Hmm, something to muse on.
With the weekend over, Tilly and Jeff had school to get back to so we did a quick change of crew at bridge 50, outside Polesworth. Tilly and Jeff left and were replaced by Kevin M, with whom we had made tentative plans to but a narrowboat the year before. With a couple of hours of daylight remaining we continued down the Coventry Canal, finally mooring up at Alvecote Marina, previously home to the Samuel Barlow fleet. Whilst the pub wasn't serving food we downed a couple of very acceptable pints and watched two widebeam boats being craned into the water for RCD testing.
The restored working boat Samuel Barlow was being tested up and down the cut. The crew were taking her up to full speed and with her high torque engine and no load, wow did she shift.