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March 2017
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Three men in a boat

Three men and Caxton Stan, Dan & Derek

Three men and Caxton
Stan, Dan & Derek

No, nothing to do with George, Harris and J as chronicled by Jerome K Jerome but all about three gentlemen from the USA on vacation here on a narrowboat.

Sue knits – a lot. Socks, shawls, scarves, dishcloths, if it can be knitted, she will knit it. She frequents the Knitting Paradise website and over the years has made many friends, learned new techniques and made a lot of her own contributions which have helped other fellow knitters and crochet enthusiasts. A few months ago she was contacted by a fellow crafter, Fran, from America whose husband was planning to have a narrowboat holiday with two of his friends. Fran wondered if Sue could provide some information for her husband, Stan and his two compadres which would help them with their trip. As it turned out, they were hiring a boat from Valley Cruises in Coventry so we were able to email them with a fair amount of information relating to the Coventry, Ashby and North Oxford canals.

Stan called on Thursday and we arranged to meet up on Sunday (today) at the Lime Kilns on the Ashby canal. These things can be difficult at the best of times but with none of the three amigos having a mobile phone (cell phone for our American friends), we hoped that it would all work out.

I was in Winchester on Friday night attending a retirement dinner and didn’t get back to Hinckley until Saturday morning. I pulled Caxton out of the marina and moored in the usual place on the corner by the apartment before returning home. We delayed our departure until after the televised football match between Manchester United and Leicester City. A defeat for the blues brought into question our decision to watch the game!

We were on our way by three o’clock and heading for Marston junction, the problem with heading in this direction in a 68′ boat is that it can’t be turned before the junction. No matter, we wanted to have a run out and fancied a night in the wilderness. We had to contend with a fierce wind as we made our way in a south westerly direction but with very few boats on the move, we were presented with no problems at all. We moored just after bridge three, had dinner and settled in for the evening.

It rained overnight, heavily and therefore noisily but by the time we were ready to set off at eight o’clock, the weather was cheering up a little. We made the short hop to the junction, emerged on to the Coventry canal and quickly turned around before slipping back under the bridge and back on to the Ashby. Sue, the galley slave, soon produced a couple of bacon sandwiches which were much appreciated by the crew in the engine room. Fully fortified, I steered Caxton to a good mooring on the visitor moorings opposite the Lime Kilns.

I walked home, picked up the car and a few bits and pieces before going shopping. On returning to our mooring I could see that the intrepid travellers had arrived and found a mooring space behind us and they were on the towpath talking to Sue. I joined them and we all had a a good chinwag inside after the gents had had a tour of our vessel.

Stan, Dan and Derek have been friends since their schooldays and despite them now being scattered from the east coast the west, with Dan somewhere in the middle, they have maintained their camaraderie over the years. Stan captains a tour boat on the Hudson river, Dan lives in Michigan and restores automobiles, Derek lives in California where he designs and builds sail boats. Stan brought me a book that he co-authored with Derek’s brother about the Hudson river as well as some yarn (hand dyed in New York state) from Fran – for Sue of course! There was also some of Fran’s home made “Apple butter”, a delicious spicy apple purée concoction that is proving irresistible!

We chatted for a while and then headed to the Lime Kilns where we had lunch in the garden. The time flew by as we talked about canals and listened to the boys’ stories, one of those afternoons that you wish would never end. But end they must and so we returned to the other side of the cut where we said our goodbyes to our new found friends. We have stayed tied up here but Derek, Dan and Stan have moved on now, we wish them all the best on the rest of their trip, it really was a pleasure meeting these three interesting characters – the three men in a boat.

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