Sunday, 8 June 2014

Stoke Bruerne Miscellany

Retrospective post for Saturday 8th June
(Boats Chalice & Sickle - posted by Alan)

"Aquarius" & "Ilford" loaded with loose coal.
I have always just loved Stoke Bruerne - it is the first real destination I ever properly boated to, more years ago than I care to remember, and is still a special place on the canals for me.  However, for whatever reason, it seems to have lost its popularity with many boaters as an overnight stopping place in the last year or so, and it is very noticeable both at what should be busy times, and those you might expect to be quieter how many less boats there are.

Tina brings "Holland" up the Long Pound.
I'm not sure if CRT would put this down as a success story brought about by their South East Visitor Mooring pilot.  There is certainly more space to moor, but then it was always very unusual to find nowhere to moor, and the current hiatus just makes the whole place seem much deader.  Pubs and restaurants are often much less frequented.  In practice CRT have slowly eased the new mooring restrictions, (I would suggest as it became obvious they were unnecessarily restrictive), and they are now in terms of stay times more relaxed than before the scheme was introduced.  So it is hard to claim reduced boat numbers are still due to this initiative, but I do know many boaters who say they no longer feel welcome at a place where the fee for overstaying is displayed in a considerably larger font than how long you are allowed to stay before it kicks in.

"Holland" in wonderful sunshine.
Anyway the place is now riddled with apparently unnecessary signs, as volunteers beaver up and down with hand held devices recording the boats that are there, (even when there is more unoccupied space than full).  I can't believe there are not better uses that could be made of these volunteers, and they are not "free", as all this equipment has to be paid for, as do the back office systems and staff necessary to process any data gathered.  Anyway, rant over!

Whilst "Aquarius" and "Ilford" carry on South.
However Stoke Bruerne is even more special when some "real" boats turn up, so I thoroughly enjoyed having a chance to play on "Southern Cross" & "Stanton" yesterday.  Today was another day for just watching some very smartly turned out working boats.  "Aquarius" & "Ilford" had arrived yesterday well loaded with loose coal from an open cast mine near the Ashby canal.  These days although boats loaded with solid fuel for domestic and boater consumption are still fairly commonplace, that fuel is invariably bagged into 20Kg or 25Kg plastic sacks, and often quite gaudy ones.  A load of loose coal, some of it in enormous chunks is quite different.  Today this pair worked down the locks.

"Ilford", "Aquarius" & "Holland"
Also the resplendence Josher "Holland" worked up the locks from the South.  "Holland" is owned by one of "Sickle's" regular steerers from BW days, Ian Tyler, and his wife Tina.  "Holland" is painstakingly restored after years of neglect, and is "pure bling", so we always get a lot of good natured "flak" from Ian about our total failure to present "Sickle" in anything like such immaculate and highly polished condition - sorry Ian - "Sickle" was never as smart as she is now when you had her!

"OK to wind!"
All these boats are here for next weeks Festival, but for us, we have to return home, and will only rejoin our boats on the day before it all happens.

At Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 0.0 (Chalice), 0.0 (Sickle), Locks:0

Total Miles: 36.1, Locks: 10

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