During the last week in March, we joined some friends from a cruising club for a cruise up towards Rugby, heading towards the Coventry Basin then up the Ashby Canal.
Along the way we would stop at Hillmorton boat services at Grantham Bridge (part of the Willow Wren Hire Company )situated just before the bottom lock @hillmortonlocks . This scheduled stop was made to ask Dave Bixter co-owner with his wife Deborah of The Russell Newbery Diesel Engine Co, at his boatyard, if he could help us out with the Lister engine, even though he preferred RN’s and possibly ask him to construct a boatmans’ cabin on The Beer Boat at some time in the future. To my surprise and relief he said to give him a call when we were able to collect the boat from Hudson's and he would make room for it in the dry dock on our return.
Anyone that knows Dave will tell you that he doesn’t panic and has a very calm approach; he puts you at ease straight away. I was also to find out we had a connection going back to Rolls Royce - the Beer Boat would be in good hands.
Prior to walking up from the locks, to Dave in the boatyard, our friends had cruised ahead to find moorings at Rugby. Whilst we had stopped, with a spring in my step, I hopped over the bow of the boat, landed awkwardly and twisted my ankle! I had a tendon problem in my foot already which I had neglected to have diagnosed properly and the pain was excruciating, I hobbled up to Daves’ yard regardless - I needed to get the next stage organised.
Walking back to the boat, the pain was worse, I could barely stand on it. Helen untied the boat, took the tiller and we headed for Rugby. Our friends had moored and reserved a space that we could just squeeze into, once they had moved fore & aft slightly.
With the pain worsening, we decided to call a taxi (they deserve a mention here www.a2btaxis247.com ) the following morning on the 30th March as my ankle was much worse. Our friends were cruising on to Coventry and had left early, we initially thought we might catch up with them a little later that day or possibly the following day.
The trusty taxi arrived at bridge 51, called me on the mobile and then took me to The St Cross hospital in Rugby.
Once there and after a short wait, the nurse checked my ankle and sent me on to the Xray dept, nothing broken, only sprained and swollen - they recommended painkillers and ice packs. The same taxi came back and returned me to the boat all in less than 2 hours, impressive! Hence the mention above - their service was outstanding, the driver could not have been more helpful, if you're near Rugby try them out.
We decided to stay on the mooring at Rugby. Newbold 14 day visitor moorings to be precise for another day or two to see if the ankle would improve, which thankfully it did.
Late evening on 31st March we went to bed for a good night's rest - for the next day we would head to Tamworth - we had received a phone call earlier in the day from the boatyard at Glascote Basin...The Beer Boat was finally ready for collection.
Both Helen and I had waited for this day for a long time, at times, it seemed as though it would never come. It wasn't how we had planned and it wasn't how we had wanted it - but now we were going to make a diversion for Tamworth to collect the boat at last.
Luckily for us, we had some other friends, Howard & Elaine on NB Riversong, along with their teenage crew: Leah, Tara & Josh, making their way north from Eynsham on the River Thames. They were heading up to join the cruise to Coventry and beyond, but on hearing our news, an injured skipper and a 67 foot boat needing a tow back to Hillmorton, they wanted to assure us that they were heading to Tamworth also, to help us tow the boat back. It was such a relief that after so much going wrong, that now, our friends, would come to the rescue and drop all their plans for us in doing so.