Sussing out your Christmas food shop takes a bit of doing whilst living on a boat. Our last four years we’ve known where we would be and been able to sort things out accordingly. 2014 we moored outside the Copper Box on the Lee and went to my brothers, easy. 2015 we were moored in Kings Marina, Newark. Mick and I were recovering from operations and managed between the two of us, one walking slowly the other one handed to do the shopping. 2016 saw us at Bugsworth Basin with a holiday cottage for my brother and family to stay in, so we arranged a food delivery and used the butcher in Whaley Bridge. 2017, Llangollen Basin and town served us very well. But this year knowing just where we would be couldn’t be guaranteed.
Not really wanting to be in Rugby or Leamington Spa, we originally opted for Braunston. We knew where we’d be getting our festive bird from, but would we actually manage to get there? With the lock being rebuilt at Napton there was always a chance that the work wouldn’t be finished in time. The weather may have done the opposite to the summer months and plunged us into a deep freeze, so we could have been stranded somewhere on the Oxford Canal. These things all had to be taken into consideration. We could have booked a supermarket delivery three weeks in advance, but where too? Instead we hoped we’d be able to reach at least Marston Doles and booked a hire car, so what ever happened we should be able to get to the shops. If everything was in our favour and the lock reopened early then we could make it to Braunston and get the car from there, the same Enterprise branch covering both areas.
Car hire was very expensive so we booked a small van instead and used up some of our loyalty points, getting one day free. Only snag was we’d get the car this morning and need to return it on Christmas Eve morning, we also had a flight of locks we wanted to get done, pick up post and parcels from two post offices along with doing the food shop and visit the butchers whilst it was open. What to do when?
Pick up this morning was sometime between 9 and 12. Of course it ended up being nearer 12, but as quite often happens we ended up with a car instead of a van, bonus. First we visited Napton Village Stores. The last of my shopping had been delivered here along with a few bits of Poste Restante. As I walked into the shop I said there were a couple of parcels to pick up and maybe some post and gave my name. No questions asked, just’ ‘you’ve got quite a few’. However I was expecting another parcel from my best friend in Australia, but there was nothing else for me. I had a thought and asked if they happened to have a parcel for Emma, ‘Oh yes we have!’ Last year this had happened and it took a while for me to be able to give adequate evidence to the chap in Llangollen sorting office to hand over the parcel, today none of that. The parcel was addressed to Emma at the Post Office and had been delivered by a courier that they shouldn’t have accepted. What stars they are. They also had a loaf of fresh bread, still warm early afternoon and we treated ourselves to a pot of Buffalo ice cream to go with birthday cake on Tuesday.
On our way back to Oleanna we decided to have a look at a place we might be able to park the van/car right beside lock 14. Driving in at Holt Farm, past the camp site, through the farm yard we got to a very pot holey lane. Those who ever visited Fenwicks Lane where I grew up will understand when I say that the undulations were deeper and wider than those in Fulford, we nearly needed armbands at one point. We reached a gate that led to the parking area, a combination bike lock looped around the gate. It wasn’t locked, but had the potential. So we decided that we’d not bother moving down the first two locks and do the flight all in one go.
Late afternoon we headed to Rugby and the big Sainsburys. We knew most people would be doing their shop today, it turned out not to be as bigger bun fight as it used to be in York! However there were no copies of our Saturday paper to be had, until we put a tenner in the car, phew! Five bags of shopping and only a few items missing from our list was a very good outcome. We can do those tomorrow, between picking up the bird, moving the boat, hopefully visiting Crick and cramming everything into the fridge. We could do with the temperature dropping just a little bit so that our overflow fridge can come into use under the pram cover.
0 locks, 0 miles, 1st boat up the locks, 0 van, 1 car, 3 parcels, 1 card, 1 loaf, 1 pot chocolate and orange, 1 tank, 15 baby cows, 3 bottles (yes bottles) of wine, 30p sprouts and carrots, 0 salmon, 0 foil,