Day 72, Monday 6th August 2018…. Rain rain and more rain…. and only 13 deg C this morning….

Rain hammered down on Poli Poli all night…. and then on and off throughout the day…. sometimes a shower and sometimes a heavy burst. Looking at the fields on the lower slopes near Banavie, looking at the neatly tended gardens here in the village, looking at the oh so green lawns of the houses along the canal banks…. very very difficult to believe there has been a drought in Scotland! Well not here anyway.

South of Benavie, we were informed that there had been no rain since May… and further more, a less than plentiful supply of rain over the winter period. Considering what gardens and farmer’s fields must look like in the south and east of England…. well difficult to comprehend.

One garden we walked past today… the grass was the most verdant green you could imagine…and was cut in beautiful stripes. Lush would be the only word to describe the lawns of this small, unobtrusive canal side house. A drought???

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So where are we? In the small village of Banavie shown on the map above… just north of Fort William. We entered the Caledonian Canal at Corpach and if all goes well, we should be on the move again on Friday ( 10th August )…. going north east towards Gairlochy.

In an interesting e-mail from brother John in Devon today, he picked out all the local landmarks as he had been located in this area for his Royal Marine Commando training. You will see on the map above the Commando Memorial near Spean Bridge which we shall endeavour to visit. This memorial is dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised here during World War Two. It overlooks the training areas established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.

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We did wonder why we saw this Royal Marines Beret and badge in the museum during our prolonged recent visit to Oban…. of all the Scottish regiments who took part in World War Two. I am sure brother John will enlighten me.

So today Monday was another wet day…. and lo and behold for Scotland… it was August Bank Holiday. Typical. So we have watched all the hill walkers, hikers and semi Nordic mountaineers…. many with their special walking sticks… go past….striding along the canal footpath…. dressed in tarpaulins, wet weather gear of all descriptions, anoraks from camouflage to flourescent high vis yellows and orange…. even a large party of what looked like the University of the Third Age… led by a guy dressed like a traffic warden!

Nearly the half way mark on the Circumnavigation… so time for a deep clean of the insides of Poli Poli. Out came the boat hoover, the dusters…. fluffy and cloth, the dettol surface wipes and all manner of cleaning substances. We cleaned for over three hours and despite face time from Hilary and Lorna in Tenterden, plus lots of texts and messages flowing in and out of Poli Poli during the deep clean, managed to keep M on task!

IMG_6529.JPG T on the job….. hoovering!

After a face time session with two Swabbetts celebrating their birthdays in sweltering temperatures of 30 deg C in Kent, we adjourned to the local hotel for a snack lunch.

6C8ABAB4-CC88-460C-8C02-20B0A21B56D4Photo above …our view at lunchtime and the Beef sandwiches.

The Moorings Hotel sits on the western side of the canal overlooking Neptune’s Staircase of eight locks. The Beef sandwiches were tasty and good value. And a nice view of the Staircase. Back to work ….. more cleaning…

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Yachts entering the first lock at the bottom of Neptune’s Staircase this afternoon.

Readers will recall that we had to move Poli Poli from the wharf berth by Monday as one of the few remaining Scottish “Puffer” boats was arriving up the staircase in the afternoon. The Puffer known as Vic 32 duly arrived and took up station on the berth Poli Poli had previously occupied. We have since discovered that Vic 32 is the last working steam puffer in all of Scotland.

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Vic 32 is a coal fired, steam driven, single masted small cargo ship built in Thorne, Yorkshire during World War Two on the banks of the River Don and Stainforth and Keadby canal.. She was built in 1943 …. as at the time the Admiralty needed 100 of these “puffers” as victualling boats to service the British naval vessels on the west coast of Scotland.

Before the war the “puffers” had connected the remote communities of north west Scotland carrying all manner of commodities between the mainland and the islands. They were seen regularly in both the Caledonian and Crinnan canals. There was even a television series made.

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Vic 32 is now puffing out black smoke not 100 yards from Poli Poli. And as we are downwind of her mighty funnel… we can smell her! We have discovered that Vic 32 takes guests on 5 day working holidays up and down the Caledonian…. starting here in Banavie! Fancy that…. a holiday where you shovel coal into a raging furnace deep in the bowels of Vic 32.

We ended Bank Holiday Monday…. with a nice supper of chicken and lots of fresh greens… plus of course we end where we started…. more and more rain.

Late update on Chris…. just come in….

“Hello both, feeling woooosy after my operation this afternoon. surgeon said all went well, but need to be aware of the metal detectors at airports! They had to put screws in the kneecap to fix the sutures to.”

Sadly Chris has had to cancel his late August holiday to Canada… he will need physio and a lengthy recuperation period. We wish him well.

 

 

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