Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Trees are falling down

We have seen many fallen trees along this canal. Most are small ones which have fallen into the canal reducing the width a bit. Can get by those with care. "Don't want to scratch the paint".

An Ivy tree?

Now that all the leaves have been blown off them it can be seen that many trees are still green with ivy! All the branches are so thickly covered that they bend with the weight. If only someone could stop the ivy growing up the trees.

A fallen tree

The tree pictured here near Pewsey has totally blocked the muddy tow path. Luckily it did not come down across the canal!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Muddy tow path at Pewsey

The state of the tow path by the official Visitor Moorings is wet soft and muddy. Some boats with winter mooring permits have moved their boats nearer the wharf where the path is in a much better condition. So unoccupied boats have a better path than those that are. This means that there is more foot traffic at the wet end. At least the mud will put off unwanted guests!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Life on the canal

We have spent the last week near Devizes and occasionally travel to Honey St. or Pewsey. It was on one of those trips that we followed an old 'cruiser'. The night before had been noisy with the owner running his engine most of the evening. British Waterways like us to switch off engines at 8. The boat kept a reasonable distance ahead till reaching All Cannings bridge where he stopped. We passed on by and continued through the next bridge. Looking back we saw that the boat was following us. Then we realised why. We were approaching a swing bridge where we have to stop to open it. When we did, the boater just accelerated and pushed on through without looking at us or thanking us. By the time we had shut the bridge the cruiser was well ahead of us. Two miles on there is another swing bridge and we wondered if he would open it for us. As it happened another narrow boat in front had opened the bridge and he did the same to them!

As we travel about we have noticed an abundance of old boats being used as 'accommodation' on this canal. I have referred to them as floating sheds in the past and this winter they are covered in plastic sheeting. So far it has been very mild, but later on they may be quite cold under their sheeting.

It is so depressing we are thinking about leaving this otherwise lovely canal. But we cannot do that yet because of the winter stoppages where B W are replacing lock gates. It has also been so wet that one large tree and many small ones have fallen across the towpath. Thankfully the navigation has not as yet been blocked by them! We have just filled our tank with diesel at 60p / litre. As yet our local diesel supplier has not been told of any change in procedure regarding the pink stuf.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Diesel IS going up in price

The European Union, which includes the United Kingdom, has insisted that the full fuel tax be applied to all diesel. Up to the end of this year 'private recreational boaters' were able to use 'pink' diesel with no tax applied. It would seem that the EU do not care much for our marine industry. The tax is expected to treble the price from about 60p to £1.80 a litre. Unfortunately the suppliers on the 'cut' will not be able to get discounted prices like road side suppliers can. Some boaters will be filling containers at the road side and transporting it to their boats. This could prove to be a potential environmental hazard.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Diesel heating

We have stopped at Devizes Marina to have a new boiler fitted. The initial examination of our system revealed that our 'Bubble' diesel fire, with 'back boiler', is not capable of heating the radiators and domestic hot water. The little central heating pump is noisy and if it fails we would not be able to have the fire on! The radiators are not very warm at the best of times. Our fire is however adequate for 'space' heating. The solution is to have a boiler fitted in the engine bay, disconnect the 'back boiler' and remove the noisy pump. The new boiler will heat the radiators and hot water. It is also automatic in that it has thermostatic control.

Diesel fires on boats suffer from one major problem which is a short chimney. No amount of adjustment will improve the way it burns diesel. If the chimney does not draw enough air through the fuel burns yellow and at worst is smoky. If we fitted a taller chimney we would be able to get under the bridges!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maintaining Navigation

With a reduced income perhaps British Waterways should consider where our money is spent. More on maintenance and safety, less on expansion. It's PRIME 'directive' is to keep the Navigation open.

* A smart public house by a derelict canal will not be profitable.

* Adding extra length to a canal is pointless if boats cannot get there. It seems silly to make the Caldon Canal longer with that low tunnel which stops many boats getting through. With the SSSI demanding limited access to the Montgomery Canal why make that longer?

* It would be great to get the Wilts & Berks Canal and the Cotswold Canal restored and open but not if the existing canals go in decline.

The canal system really needs continuous maintenance to keep the 200 year old system open. Dredging, tree trimming and cutting back vegetation will all help keep the Navigation open. Regular replacement of lock gates is also essential. Keeping lock keepers and length men to look after the system will help prevent future major disasters.

As seen on TV

As seen on TV. Ann putting up a poster at Pewsey Wharf.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Boaters protest day

We have joined a gathering of boaters Pewsey Wharf on the Kennet and Avon Canal.




Protest at Pewsey

Boaters are united in their cause despite the rain. We have been protesting against the swinging cuts in grant by the government which threatens the very existence of all our restored waterways.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Keeping going

There are a number of lock gates being replaced east of Crofton. A lock near Newbury, now closed till the 3rd. December, prevents us going back there for diesel. We have got on over the summit and down the west side heading for Honey Street where we can fill up with diesel again. The next will be at Devizes 14 miles and no locks away. Meanwhile we have had another Tesco delivery so are well stocked up for our winter cruising. Always plenty of water taps where we can fill the tank. We have travelled mainly during the dry mornings and have found many of the Visitor Moorings along the way are partly occupied with boats as 'winter moorings' so space for us is limited there. However it is possible to stop almost any where on the way but the tow paths are getting quite muddy with all the damp weather.

West end of Bruce tunnel

Bruce tunnel. 

Just done another update on our website.  More pictures on the K n A canal, east side, have a look.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Geo Cache ?

Would you believe it? Boxes of 'items' are hidden all over the countryside in the UK and in other countries. They are located by knowing the map grid reference number or GPS number. Having a GPS locator is almost essential but some clues are provided to find the hidden box. You have to log on to the internet to get the information. Go to www.geocaching.com and register as a user. Ann and Sue are registered as 'the narrow boaters'. When you find a box it will contain a log book into which you log the fact that you have found it. There are different size boxes. Some are just big enough for the log book and others are big enough to contain 'swops'. Usually small plastic toys and trinkets which you san exchange for something you have. If you are lucky the box will contain a 'Travel Bug' or 'Geo coin'. These items have a mission attached and if you take one you are obliged to follow its instructions. Some of these that we have found have come over from America and Iceland! Once you have registered your visit and done a swop you must hide the box exactly where you find it. Then log in to the web site to register your find.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Family at Kintbury

All facilities here for us boaters and a car park for visitors. Chris and the boys arrived after a calm short journey. The first thing Josh said to me was "I love you grand dad". Then he woke up Ben telling him "We have arrived". Our grandchildren were so good they were offered some sweets! Once on the boat we got the kettle on and made a refreshing drink for them all. Ann had made some vegetable soup which went down well. It was fine and sunny so we then all took a walk round the village. Past the church where Jane Austen had known the Reverend Thomas Fowle and his family. Then on by the allotments where the villagers were busy tending their crops. Telling our grand children about the carrot tops and other good food grown here. Back at the boat we set about moving up a few spaces as some boats had moved away. Just a short trip for the boys which then enabled the satellite dish to get a signal through a gap in the trees. So the TV kept them quiet for a while. Then the toys came out and we did puzzles and drew some pictures while Ann made some supper.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A reply from my MP

I had written to him about the cut in grant to BW from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). BW are considering reducing the amount of maintenance and their workforce due to this loss of revenue. We are very concerned because BW are even considering closing some canals. So here follows some of the content of the letter:-

I fully understand the concerns about this situation and, as a result of receiving previous similar letters to your own, I wrote to the relevant Minister at DEFRA, Barry Gardiner MP, and will ensure that his response is sent to you as soon as it has been received.

Also, the following are questions and answers between MP's in parliament for 6th November:-

The Parliamentary Under - Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs is Mr Ben Bradshaw MP

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……Public funding for Britain's inland waterways has increased substantially since Labour came to power.

Michael Fabricant: ……How can he reconcile that with cutting 180 staff from British Waterways?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……the Department is having to make difficult and painful decisions,…..

Mr. Bob Laxton:- Will my Hon. Friend assure me that any future savings in grant aid to BW next year will not use as a base line the 15% budget reduction undertaken halfway through this financial year?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: All decisions about next year will be made in due course.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: …..Will the Minister explain why BW's budget was cut this year?

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……for a number of reasons,….

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: …..It is the reasons that I am after, because it is bad enough that cuts of £200 million are being made, but it is even worse that Ministers do not seem to know why……

Mr. Ben Bradshaw: ……About £10 million of the money……preventing outbreaks of avian flu,…..The rest is needed for other reasons that have already been made plain in numerous answers to questions from Hon. Members.

The truth and nothing but the truth is what we expect from our MP's who are there to represent us.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Website Update

For those boaters intent on going to the I W A gathering next year at  St. Ives on the River Great Ouse.  I now have several pages of pictures showing you the way.  Down on to the Nene at Northampton and on to Peterborough.  Then on the Middle Level through March.  Finally onto the tidal Great Ouse to Denver and all the way to Bedford.

Go to www.moore2life.co.uk , click on Rivers, and select Nene, Middle Level then Great Ouse.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Locked in a lock

' A pair of continuous cruisers were stopped by BW in a lock '.

After a few days we moved on up and into Hamstead Lock. Then realised that the gates were padlocked shut so we could not leave. That was at midday so we waited for a BW man to let us out. It was locked to prevent boats going down to the next lock which is now closed for repair. There are several boats still down there between the locks unable or not wanting to move up. Meanwhile Ann made some soup for us all.

Hamstead Lock, K n A Canal

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kennet & Avon Canal

Have been moving early most days to get past Benham lock before it closes for repair. Passed by Reading Marine still busy with their old hire boats and after a few stops we got to Newbury. Got another gas bottle and filled up with diesel and water there. The chandlery is now full of boaters goodies and it was difficult not to spend some money there! This is the last 'staging post' this side of the summit and the tunnel. The next one is 27 miles and about 20 locks away. About 5 moving days but we are now desperate for a rest! If we are lucky a diesel / coal supply boat will come by.

Greenham lock

The K n A was one of those 'remainder' canals so British Waterways were only required to maintain the navigation. Back in 1997 the National Lottery fund handed over 25 million pounds to lift the status to a 'cruising' canal. A lot has been achieved but mainly at the western end. Many old lock gates at the eastern end were not replaced with that money. Now at last we see that several have now been replaced. Just in time before they collapse! Benham lock is about to have the gates replaced, now thankfully behind us.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Website Update

Go on have a look. 'Rivers' now include Nene and updated Thames. 'Boat Systems' Electric's updated. Some other subjects added. Been spending some time sorting and adding those pictures which is why I have not done a blog lately! So click now! www.moore2life.co.uk

We have got on to the Kennet & Avon canal for the winter months.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This is a copy of an email from GOBA.

I am sure you will have read in the press or are otherwise aware that the Government Department DEFRA is cutting grant-in-aid (money!) to both the Environment Agency and British Waterways. The reason behind this chaotic decision is the complete mess made of the single farm payment scheme (The new CAP regime to cut down on over production of food). While the rest of Europe used a payment of acreages based on local or OS maps, DEFRA with Mrs Beckett at the helm decided to remove the width of hedges and conducted vastly expensive surveys over the whole of England resulting in huge delays to the payment and a consequent fine from the EU for failing to meet the deadline. Scotland which has its own ministry paid on time and avoided a fine. Mrs Becket then of course departed with a ‘promotion’ leaving DEFRA to pass the buck on to organisations such as EA and BW who rely heavily on grant-in-aid and with subsequent major cuts to their income.

I have written to my MP but am still waiting for a response !

Monday, October 23, 2006

Abingdon Weir

We are safe at Abingdon but need to be off the Thames before the end of the month because the locks close for maintenance in November.

Yellow board

Some locks further down had the red boards up which means the navigation is closed ! A day later the levels had gone down but the flow over Abingdon weir was still considerable.

Weir 1

Weir 2

It is very noisy here and you can see the power of the water as it rushes through.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oxford Canal & River Thames

The final 7 miles or so of the Oxford is interesting, following the contours but still with a lock every few miles going down to Oxford. Some of the bridges are quite small so we removed the chimney to avoid bending it! Passed through Thrupp with mile upon mile of private and long term moorings. First being exclusive and well kept boats then becoming much less so with many showing old licenses or none at all.


The river Cherwell is not far away and can flood at any time after rain. At Kirtlington the canal is in a deep tree lined cutting while approaching Kidlington it actually joins the river. We were thankful that it had become calm after seeing it in flood back at Cropredy and for a short mile we enjoyed following its almost hair pin bends past open hilly countryside. Eventually stopped at Kidlington for a rest.


It had rained heavily all night before we set off before breakfast heading for Abingdon. A mile or so to Dukes Cut where we turned off to on to the Thames. The waters surface seemed to be rippling with energy as we crossed over to the landing for Kings Lock. The keeper appeared eventually and after letting a narrowboat up it was our turn. I don’t remember seeing the yellow 'strong stream' advice boards here but they were at Godstow.

Under the A34

Between these two locks the river gently swings left and right through its flood plain. Once past Godstow the river heads for Oxford and becomes very restricted. Seemed calm enough under that low Osney Bridge but then a very strong flow at the weir just before the lock pulled at our boats. It turned into a serious situation and we were all shaken up by the experience. It seems that the entire river Thames is going over this narrow weir. It was the lock keepers lunch time so we had to wait for him to arrive at 2 o'clock. Giving us time to calm down before getting safely in to the lock. Once past this narrow section restricted by Oxford itself the river opened up and became calm again. Three more locks and eight miles and we arrived at Abingdon. The river here drops over a very wide weir and as we passed down the lock on to the river it became very choppy. The lock keeper advised us to moor on the town side by the park.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cropredy to Aynho and beyond

We set off on Sunday and discovered that Bob n Jane on Hobo was below the next lock so we stopped for a chat. Apparently Ivor Batchelor has moved out of Braunston. He with his Motor, Butty and wife Mell have been supplying coal and diesel for many years. Braunston will not be the same and we have missed him already.

Not far to Banbury where we caught up with Sue n Vic at the Tesco mooring. The land owned by BW has become overgrown with nettles and brambles. Got my shears out and chopped away a clearing to get the pins in and discovered an old car battery hidden in the undergrowth! Next day moved on through town past several boats, Toolies and the swing bridge. A boat was coming up the lock so we both stopped for water and watched most of the boats in Banbury pass through. When we had done the business and the girls returned from the shops we moved on down to Morrison's.


Must get on to Aynho today in order to keep up with our schedule. So we press on finding Paul and Christine waiting to help us all through several locks. It was a fine day and we actually passed Aynho wharf, waving to Ian, and stopped at the swing bridge. Ian had helped make our first boat. Set off, almost first thing to continue down the Oxford Canal for a four hour trip to Kirtlington. Getting quite tired now and wishing we could stay a while.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What a difference

Those new batteries are working well for us. A day of rain meant that we did not move and while the TV was on all afternoon, the voltage stayed high. This seems to prove that our old batteries had lost their capacity because their voltage went low. It is always best to replace all old batteries in a 'bank' because one old battery, if faulty, could act as a load to the others. Like leaving a light on all the time. The good batteries will be feeding the bad one and will loose their charge. Generally when the batteries become persistently thirsty they need replacing. As the batteries slowly get old the effect is not noticed. You just find that they need charging for longer and more often using valuable diesel.

What a record for us

Thirty four lock miles in one day! After a very wet and stormy day at Napton we set off early, just after breakfast, intent on going as far as we could. Thankfully the sun came out so we made good progress. All the way up the flight of 9 locks in less than two miles. We lost count of the number of boats coming down. Often four of them queueing at each lock. This amount of traffic meant that we had plenty of help going up. Surprised to find plenty of water at the summit which is ten miles long to the next lock going down at Claydon. The entire length needs dredging because it is slow going and the water is just brown with silt. "Some fish were jumping out to see where they were". Stopped at Fenny Compton Marina to visit the chandlery before continuing down the eight locks to Cropredy.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Bloger meetings

While at Braunston we met Les on his boat Valerie. Been reading each others Blogs for a while now so it was good to see him at last. It is just a bit unnerving when someone you have not met yet calls out your name. So it was all aboard No Problem for an evening of chat, booze and nibbles.

Headline news

British Waterways are short of cash so have made 180 staff redundant. All because DEFRA was fined by the E. U. for mismanagement of funds. We understand that some canals may close if they are not properly maintained. Already the Caen hill flight on the Kennet & Avon is closed for 5 weeks because a gate got damaged by a boat. Thankfully BW are having a new gate made. It is now down to the boaters to respect and care for the canal system or we will loose our freedom.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bumping through the tunnel

We set off from Norton Junction after getting a delivery from good old Tesco. The very friendly driver stopped right outside the boat. Sue n Vic set off first, in a hurry to get through that Braunston tunnel. As we approached the junction another boat joined the 'convoy' in front of us going quite slowly. So by the time we reached the tunnel No Problem was well into the darkness. We backed off from the 'slow coach' to give a reasonable gap. In the tunnel it is difficult to see where the boat is in front so Ann went up front as look out. Passed the first of three boats on a strait bit of tunnel. Then found our boat on the wrong side at a bend. The bright tunnel light on the next boat was blinding as it approached in the darkness. The boat was almost stopped and was drifting off the edge as we glanced off each others bow. Once outside and waiting at the locks Sue told us that they had hit the same boat.

We paired off to go down the wide locks and as we went down each of the 6 locks had 2 boats coming up. John had walked up to help. With all the help on a sunny Saturday it was not long before we were in Braunston.

New batteries for M 2 L

As I said our batteries were showing signs of stress, often 'low', getting thirsty and needing more charge time. Technically the specific gravity readings showed that some cells were less charged than others. My grateful thanks to Vic and John for lifting those heavy weights while I carefully did the connections.


Only problem is that they are 1/4 inch higher and the cover needs a spacer !

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Three boats to Whilton

Moore 2 Life, No Problem and Balmaha all progressed northwards along the lock free Grand Union to Whilton. Stopping on the way at Bugbrooke for a rest and to collect post. Surprisingly mild for October making for an enjoyable trip. Bit of a culture shock being back on the narrow canals with its bridge holes to aim for. Sue in front warned me, by 'walkie talkie' that a boat was approaching the blind bridge so we waited for it. As it passed we moved on through only to find yet another boat following close behind the first. Some sharp bends proved difficult to get round, must go slower, specially past rows and rows of those moored boats. There is a definite lack of variety in wild bird life but we did see one Mandarin duck today.

2 boats

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back to the Grand Union

Got to Northampton OK and did some shopping. Then it was onwards and upwards on the Northampton Arm with its 17 locks. Just like at Foxton, this flight of narrow locks also links two wide navigation systems. The first obstacle was an abandoned boat moored on the lock landing. Being unable to secure by the lock our boat decided to swing round in the wind nearly hitting another abandoned boat on the other side! One boat at a time now so once No Problem had gone through it was our turn. Into the open lock, shut the gates behind and up we go. The top gates won't fully open because a car wheel with tyre had got in the way! A large digger is busy pulling out a lot of rubbish. The largest item so far removed was a lorry axel complete with both wheels. The next lock was opened by a crew busy dredging out dirty black mud. Having got through the lock we waited for a boat load of the black dirty mud to come by. Another digger further up was busy filling a boat with black mud and more of 'the unwanted'. The lower mile or so of this canal has not been dredged for many years, but at least they are trying to clean it up now.

We soon caught up with No Problem because they had picked up a huge carpet which jammed round the prop. 'Welcome to the ars* end of this canal. If only we could turn back now'. Much of the lower half of the canal was shallow and narrowed by reed growth. Been on the move for almost 8 hours today and done 20 locks so we rested at the top.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Fen Tigers

Perhaps it is only when you have left a place that you realise how special it was. The Fenlands is an area of lowlands with a town called March at its centre. It is vast, from the shores of the Wash roughly between Kings Lynn, Peterborough and Cambridge. 80 miles by 40 miles known generally as the washlands of East Anglia. The two main rivers Nene and Great Ouse either side take the water out to sea. Between the two is the 'Middle Levels'. Manmade drainage systems have dried out the majority of the wetlands which are about 2 meters below sea level. Just like in Holland, a Dutch man helped to design and create the weirs, dams, drains and sluces. The resulting land is rich and fertile.

Before it was drained it consisted of peat bog and marshes with a number of islands of dry land. One of these is Eel Island or Ely with its wonderful Cathedral. The local inhabitants lived lonely natural lives and were known as Fen Tigers because they defended their way of life ferociously. They ate birds, eels and fish and kept warm and dry by burning dried peat. Cromwell was a Fen Tiger and when King Charles I wanted to drain the Fens, Cromwell had his head off!

But the Romans came and the Danes came to invade our land and made us what we are today, Anglo Saxons. Now in modern times it is the Polish who have invaded here. But they come to work for us. Growing vegetables a plenty on the rich fertile land.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A bad day

Some one said to me "a bad day on your boat is better than a good day in the office! Our bad day started the day before when the batteries went 'low'. Most of them were very thirsty. 'Don’t work too well with pure acid in the cells'. As they are the original batteries they must be at least 3 years old and just like 'No Problem' are due for retirement. Should get a new set before the winter. A bad internet connection left me hanging in the bank. Some good news from Phill at Wharfhouse Narrowboats in Braunston. Batteries cost £50 and as one purchased earlier had failed prematurely it's a case of buy 4 and get one free ?

When the girls returned from the shops in Thrapston we set off. A bridge just before Islip Lock proved to be lower than the 2.4 m clearance due to the water being higher. It took our Sat dish off the roof and it dangled on its cable. Only an inch but that angle iron just bent it as I was in 'full astern'.

two by two

It was at least a dry mild day as we travelled with 'No Problem'. Through 6 locks to Rushden & Diamond moorings where 'Balmaha's, Mo and Vanessa greeted us. After a cup of tea the lads sorted out the dish so we could watch the news.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Middle Level

Now on the Middle Level in a 'shallow ditch' The surrounding landscape well below the high tide. As we progressed the 'link' became deeper but there are some very low bridges. So low that Ann had to keep an eye on the chimney, removing it when required. Then it rained all the way to March. Sue & Vic went on ahead. "See you in March" they said. 'That's odd. It's September now!'.

The Middle Level Link is a mixture of original river and man made channels so while in the river bit we were able to get a move on the next day in a sunny day. The Commissioners don't charge for the use of the link but a contribution to both lock keepers is appreciated.

Back on the Nene

We rushed through Peterborough on the very wide deep river Nene heading for Ferry Meadows. A Saturday and 'public' were out and about. As we approached Orton Lock I saw a boat and several fishermen on the lock landing which should be kept clear. 'No Problem' was waiting in the lock. A lot of water was rushing over the weir pushing Moore 2 Life sideways as I slowed on the approach. Missed that boat as the fishermen frantically pulled in their lines. 5 locks and several bends in the river later and we arrived at Elton. There waiting for us and helping with the mooring operations was Mo and Vanessa from 'Balmaha'. We all sat outside enjoying a late afternoon in September while consuming tea n cake kindly provided by Mo n Vanessa. Then Mark and Lorain arrived to join in the 'Blog Circle'.

A 'Blog Circle'

Waiting for the tide at Denver

We were up early and waiting for the high tide at 9 o'clock. Three boats to go through. The guillotine went up and the first boat went in and up on the tide and was away. One boat on the tide coming towards us went into the open lock. The water rushed out as the boat came down to our level.

Waiting at Denver

 Now it was our turn, in with 'No Problem'. I elected to go first as it was only one boat at a time in to Salters Lode Lock. A sharp bend round to the left across the tide stream, starting to go sideways as the tide was already going out. Banged the bow against the concrete side of the entrance channel. "Nearly right" said the watching lock keeper, "more wellie next time". There is only an hour of useful high water as the sand bank is now higher than the Middle Level waters.

Entrance to Salters Lode Lock

Into the lock and down into the muddy waters to wait for 'No Problem' to do the same. The lock is only able to take one maximum length 63ft boat as it is not now possible to open both gates to pass through on the tide. An average of 9 boats can pass through on each daily tide.

Getting away

Firstly we rang Josh to wish him a happy 4th. Birthday.

Mooring at Ely

Filled up with diesel and we were off with 'No Problem' following through Ely for the last time looking back at the magnificent cathedral. 15 miles of just wide deep river to Denver, getting more remote as we progressed. Not many trees now, the railway on one side and road on the other. It was a warm sunny day with not a cloud in the sky but a southerly wind made a choppy river.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Disposal / Recycling ?

Disposal of the 'unwanted' to proper recycling sites should be free to the disposer. In many cases it is not. A responsible disposer will transport the 'unwanted' to a recycling point. The main reason for not doing so is personal cost. It seems stupid for a local council to charge the disposer. Then end up clearing the countryside at considerable cost. It is extremely hazardous to the environment to dump unwanted cars, batteries, oil, electrical goods etc. There must be a lot of irresponsible people about because we do see so much unwanted in the countryside.

Staying in Ely

Our plan was to stay a weekend but now that has been extended to a full week. Sue n Vic have been nursing their engine and finally discovered that it needs a major repair. Unfortunately the head gasket has failed after only two years of the reconditioned engine's life. So without power we are providing support and keeping various batteries charged up. It also seems that some of their domestic boat batteries have failed. Luckily a local boat yard are able to do the work, all be it between looking after the 'Bridge Boatyard' hire fleet. The shops of Ely have been handy for getting in some Christmas presents for grand children and the local Tesco is providing us with food.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bloggers meet again

While at St. Ives Mo & Vanessa on NB 'Balmaha' arrived then Sue n Vic on NB 'No Problem'. It always amazes me how friendly we all are with the common interest in boating and inland waterways. Several other boaters, already here, were so helpful catching our ropes and helping to moor up. It is here at St. Ives that the IWA boat gathering will come next year. Plans are being made to improve the moorings on the field opposite. September is always more settled with less rain than August and we were able to enjoy another BBQ and eat outside. Then we were invited on board 'Balmaha'.

The next day we all headed for Ely. 'Balmaha' got there first while 'Moore 2 Life' and 'No Problem' stopped a night at Aldreth on the Old West River. Between Brownhill and Hermitage Locks the river is slightly tidal being fed from the New Bedford River which comes directly from Denver and the sea at Kings Lyn. As we go down, leaving the Bedford Ouse behind, the short stretch between the locks is very exposed on this windy day. There is a water point between the locks and while waiting for a boat to clear, we got spun round by the wind!

Hermitage Lock has a keeper who opened the lock as we approached. We went in and exchanged greetings as he took our name and number. "Thanks very much" says I, "No problem" says he, "That’s the boat before me" says I. A road actually goes over the lock and the keeper has to cross it to open the other end. Now we go down on to the Old West River. In Roman times this river was a meandering stream. Now it continues to the Ely Ouse at Pope's Corner where the River Cam joins, once more becoming a wide river. It was not long then before we got to Ely which is full of boats! Just past the first road bridge we squeezed in beside 'No Problem' as a fisherman left the bank.

Near Aldreth

Then a Blog reader came to say hello with a bag of 'Sugar Iced pastries'. Thanks Steve from us all. Then Mo &Vanessa found us!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Going down river

Sue n Vic went back to St. Neots so Lucy could have another operation, while we met our Grand children and parents at the campsite by Brampton Mill. They stayed for the weekend and enjoyed a trip up and down the river Great Ouse during a lovely sunny day. Sue suggested that we could meet again down river at St. Ives. This would give Lucy some quiet time to recover. Both Lucy and Molly get so excited when they meet. So for the first time we travelled on our own down river. Only one lock to be done on our own for we were joined by other boats at the next two.

Hemingford Lock

Took two days to get to St. Ives having stopped the night by Houghton Mill at the quiet EA Island mooring.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Support from Government

Once again it seems that government investment in our valuable rivers and canals is about to be reduced. Those of us who use the 'navigation' will be expected to pay even more. The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have apparently mismanaged our hard earned taxes which will cause a severe loss of subsidy to the Environment Agency and British Waterways.

Please do write to your MP to complain after you have confirmed this situation yourself.

BW and EA will be suffering yet more redundancies so be sympathetic to their workers as it was not their fault.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Two Items


We are keeping in touch through the internet with friends and family. Many other boaters use it to write 'Blogs'. A way of writing a diary for anybody to read. A hi tec 'tow path telegraph'. It is also a source of information, education and entertainment. The navigation authorities have their web sites which tell us about current problems and we can quickly report back any problems we encounter. There are 'News' pages which we often read about boating issues. Our boat was recently featured in a picture taken by Sue as we encountered a low bridge in Bedford. The owners of the narrowboat 'Ramys Home' write a 'Blog' and we have met them at St. Noets.

Environment ?

Have just found out that most of the 'plastic' cruisers on the river have 'sea toilets' ! That means it cannot be safe to swim in the river anywhere near them ! This is why there are so few facilities to dispose our 'Elsan' cassette contents ! We have only coped so far by carefully planning our trips between the facilities. Water is thankfully readily available. It is a quite 'medieval' attitude on the Environment Agency's part to even allow it to happen. After all, towns and cities have to make sure that only pure water is returned to the rivers. Next year the Inland Waterway Association are organising a large boat gathering at St. Ives next year and those boaters will be needing proper facilities. And we wonder how they will all get there knowing that access and facilities are very limited between Peterborough and Denver.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CD Recording

While at St. Noets I have created a CD with 22 tracks copied from my collection. I used Microsoft Media Player to create a 'Play List'. Then used a 'Screen Snatcher' to print the label for the CD. At first the CD would only play in the computer. The CD player rejected CD RW disk that I had used. Then I 'burnt' (recorded) a Write Once Read Many (WORM) CD which did play in the CD player.

Technical: The Audio files on a CD cannot be copied directly. WMP copies the data to a file on the computer then converts them back to record your selected tracks on the CD.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wind in the Willows

After that event we went back to Bedford marina to tidy up, use the facilities and stock up at Tesco.

Priory Marina

The summer has gone for a while. Our trip back to Great Barford was accompanied by strong winds and cloud. Many of the willows were bending over, reducing height, and some had fallen in the river. We made our way round them carefully as they had reduced the navigation to half its normal width. Easy going down that deep lock at Castle Mill then through another past 'R Island' and arrived to find several cruisers on the GOBA mooring. We took on water by the Anchor Inn and moved up to settle down in the shelter of the trees at the EA moorings. Wont be lighting up the Barby to night!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Return to explore

Having attempted to get to the end of navigation at Bedford on the river Ouse we turned round and stayed in the marina. We have enjoyed 'discovering' the rivers of East Anglia including the Nene. Now we return to 'explore'.

'R' Island

We had discovered this mooring on the way up river just south of Great Barford. We stopped again and set up camp with Sue & Vic's family. We got both boats in past the weed into a secluded spot surrounded by trees. Set up the tents and lit the B B Q just before it rained! So we packed up the tables and chairs and ate inside. It seems such a shame that the school holidays missed most of the hot weather last month.

Weed collecting

The weed cutting machines have been busy between Bedford and Great Barford and the operators kindly agreed to clear the weed from our mooring spot provided by the Environment Agency.

Tent city

The mid summer family gathering assembled at Great Barford. We arrived a day early as the weed cutters were clearing the weed down stream. Filled up with water and got a delivery from Tesco on board. Then moved over and set up camp. Over the weekend we had 3 tents set up and 17 people including 6 children and one great grand mother arrived. Plenty of activities for the children were supervised by adults and organised by the eldest child. The whole event was enjoyed in warm sunshine with B B Q's each day.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

End of navigation ?

Moved on to Bedford to try and get to the 'end of navigation' on the river.

Low bridge at lock

This stopped us getting to the 'official' end of navigation.

But after squeezing under several very low bridges we turned round at the last lock in Bedford and stayed a night in the Marina. Free for GOBA members. One day it is planed to 'cut' a new canal to link Bedford and Milton Keynes. Would have been useful to go that way to join the Grand Union canal. But we will have to turn here and 'explore', on our way back, the rivers Ouse and Nene.

Low bridge in Bedford

Had to remove items off the roof to get under this. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Evening cruise

There is about 2 miles of tidal waters where the New Bedford River comes in from King's Lynn. Many of the major rivers in this area no longer follow their natural path. In order to drain the land and maintain river levels many locks, weirs and 'drains' have been created over the centuries. We did not see the seals which are known to live this far from the sea. We passed through St. Ives to stop at the moorings and did some shopping in the town. After a refreshing drink at the local pub by the waterside we continued our journey up river. It had been hot again during the day so a cool evening trip was in order. Heading west towards the setting sun made for tricky navigation. Several people and small boats in the water were difficult to see. Passed through several locks wide enough for both boats and once joined by another small boat. Finally arriving at Godmanchester as the sun went down. A lovely mooring by a park with trees.

Apologies to our readers for the lack of 'postings'.  We have reached Great Barford.

Really is too HOT

Over 30 inside and out most of the day, often nearer 40 ! While moving we use an umbrella for shade. Apparently it had been this hot back in 1911 ! "I suppose these hot summers are due to become more frequent". The biggest problem has been keeping the inside cool. The best we can do is to hang white cloth outside the windows. Occasionally using a fan to keep the fridge cool. The mains inverter has been getting hot so have not been using the TV much or the computer. Much cooler in the evening so we are sitting outside. Tables, chairs, parasols, candles in buckets, an alcoholic beverage and an occasional BBQ make for enjoyable evenings.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Wicken Sedge Fen

To get there we travelled up the Great Ouse from Ely and turned left on to the River Cam. A few miles further, left again and through a lock at Upware. Another left turn and we were on the Wicken Lode. (Lode is a medieval word for waterway or canal).

No Problem

 This Lode is very narrow and just navigable. A deep narrow cutting lined with reed and lily pads with flowers in full bloom.


The National Trust look after these wetlands and trying to expand them.

NT Wicken Fen

The last surviving drainage wind mill is now used in reverse to maintain the wetlands here.


ELY (Eel Island)

Moved on to the Great Ouse to the next EA moorings where picnic tables and facilities were available for the travellers on the A10 road as well as for us boaters. As we approached the city we saw the cathedral on the hill. Wow what an impressive building. Luckily found a mooring near the Maltings. Boats were rather spread out by the park preventing us from stopping there on the way in. The mooring is very public but was quiet at night. Many ducks and geese sleep on the grass near by were chased off by a dog late one night creating a lot of noise.


Ely is a historic city with many old and beautiful buildings. At one time an island surrounded by sea and marsh lands. The main shopping centre is up the hill past the cathedral. Many useful shops are here but more like a town than a city.

Ely Cathedral

The cathedral was founded as a monastery and suffered much damage by Henry VIII during the Dissolution and by the hand of Oliver Cromwell who lived in Ely for 10 years. Most of the statues had their heads chiselled off and much of the ornate stone decoration has been severely damaged. The huge Lady Chapel had all the stain glass windows broken so it is now very bright with the plain glass. A modern statue of Mary dressed in bright blue stands above the alter.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Great Ouse & Little Ouse

After that long day we opted for a short trip to Hilgay Bridge on the Great Ouse where we found an excellent mooring provided by EA. Complete with water tap and a bench seat. After getting water we moved back and tied the bow to the end bollard with the stern in the bushes. This enabled No Problem to move away from the water point. That evening a 'plastic' cruiser arrived and stayed the night. Next day another Narrowboat turned up for water so NP came along side us to make room.

We both set off 2 miles up stream to turn off on to the Little Ouse by the 'Ship Inn'. Heading for Brandon up 'Brandon Creek' as the L. O. is otherwise known. Passed a few assorted boats along this waterway lined with trees. Became aware of the high flood banks either side which protect the low lying farm lands. Eventually found the GOBA mooring about half way along at 7 miles in. Another patch of mowed grass but not so deep at the edge so we used our long plank this time. Saw a single black swan on our way down.

Brandon 'Creek'

Went on up stream weaving past the weed to the moorings by the short lock at Brandon. Seems only little boats will be able to venture further. We went on foot to the busy town with plenty of useful shops. That evening a gathering of youngsters with plenty of drink made us think twice about staying the night. The cruise back to the quiet GOBA mooring was quite enjoyable as the sun went down. Next day we continued down stream to the 'Ship Inn' for a marvellous meal.

Ship Inn

The tidal trip

On a very hot Sunday we watched the tide come up and the locks were opened. No Problem went in first then us. But NP stopped on a sand bank and slid back into the lock. So we waited, with the lock gates closed behind, for the tide to rise some more, then we were off.

No Problem

 Out into the rising tide flow getting swung round up stream passing two boats coming down from the Denver Sluce. We travelled up on the right then cut across the tide to the lock on the left. Full power to avoid the sand bank as we slid sideways. Then suddenly we were in calm waters as we entered the lock alongside No Problem. The gate closed behind us and we rose up to the river level. The top gate opened and we moved out onto the River Great Ouse found moorings and relaxed over a sandwich lunch.

Great Ouse & Wissey

The Great River Ouse goes all the way to Bedford. There are four rivers which join the Ouse from the east. Like the Thames the rivers pass through private land so we have joined the Great Ouse Boating Association which rent land and mow it to provide moorings. The first of these is down the River Wissey. Turn left at the next junction pass under the rail bridge and soon found the first mooring. Long enough for both our boats and the two 'plastic' cruisers that were there. The owner of one of them came over and introduced himself as the mooring officer who had just mowed the grass. It was a very hot day and one small willow tree provided some welcome shade. We set up our table and chairs on top of the flood bank and enjoyed Ann's meal together with Sue n Vic.


Next day we travelled down to the facilities at Hilgay. Several boats were there and we were able to stop at the meadow. Used the facilities but were unable to get water. Many different varieties of water birds have been seen on the rivers so far like cormorants, grebe, swans and geese. At one time we even spotted a family of Pink Footed Geese. But then we passed through a swarm of 'orible flies which bit as we passed the smelly sugar beet factory. The river opened up into a lake before narrowing down to wards Whittington where we found a 'free for an hour' mooring'. As the GOBA mooring no longer existed we decided to return hoping to stop at Hilgay but even more boats were there and people were jumping off the bridge and swimming in the river. We slowed down and carefully passed them. After what seemed a long day we were pleased to stop again at the GOBA moorings near Wissey Bridge.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Crossing the tide

Salters Lode

We have got to the end of the Middle Level Route and stopped at the tide lock. It is here that we join the Great River Ouse but we have to wait for the tide to rise. Within a square mile there are four locks or sluces to control flooding from the river which goes out to sea at King's Lynn. A number of manmade relief channels make the area looks like 'spaghetti junction'. Denver Sluce is part of the finest flood defence and land drainage systems in the country.

Salters Lode mooring


While we waited a historic event occurred. A small boat was permitted to navigate down the Old Bedford River. The owners of the boat had been requesting permission for many years. The previous attempt was back in 2004. The Inland Waterways Association was there to witness the attempt. We had arrived just in time to see it ourselves. The boat was seen on the tidal river outside the access lock. When the tide level was right the lock was opened and the boat went through. But the Old Bedford River was so badly silted up the boat could go no further. In fact two little girls were seen walking ankle deep across the river! Luckily the boat was able to turn round and escape back into the Middle Level before the tide went back out. The Environment Agency will surely be asked to dredge that river.


The tidal trip

On a very hot Sunday we watched the tide come up and the locks were opened. No Problem went in first then us. But NP stopped on a sand bank and slid back into the lock. So we waited, with the lock gates closed behind, for the tide to rise some more, then we were off. Out into the rising tide flow getting swung round up stream passing two boats coming down from the Denver Sluce. We travelled up on the right then cut across the tide to the lock on the left. Full power to avoid the sand bank as we slid sideways. Then suddenly we were in calm waters as we entered the lock alongside No Problem. The gate closed behind us and we rose up to the river level. The top gate opened and we moved out onto the River Great Ouse found moorings and relaxed over a sandwich lunch.

Denver Sluce

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Four red roses

We were at March on our 40th wedding anniversary. Travelling through the Fenlands near Peterborough with our friends Sue & Vic. Found four red roses for Ann to represent 40 years of happiness together.  Presented them to her in the town and gave her a public kiss!

We then moved the boats on to Upwell along the Middle Level Route during a hot sunny day. Then in the evening our friends joined us for a celebration meal in the restaurant at the 'Five Bells'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alien wildlife

Ann watched as a Moorhen raised her 3 chicks. They ran on the lily pads and splashed around for a few days looking for food. Then Ann saw a Mink prowling in the reeds. Soon the chicks were no more. Could do nothing to prevent it. The natural balance of wild life will change with the environment and climate. But man's interference has changed the balance unnaturally. Many 'introduced' animals will take over like the Grey Squirrel, Mink and even rabbits have done. Exotic pets are finding their way into the countryside. Rules and regulation will not stop the 'invasion'. Many of our familiar animals and birds are disappearing.

Angry swan

Well this swan seems to be very angry about something!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ratty Island

Moved on to Elton after filling up with water. Desperately low this time after using the washing machine and several showers during that hot weekend. Only one lock and two miles so Sue & Vic can take Lucy to the vet at Peterborough on the bus. During the afternoon we all walked round the lovely village of Elton. Almost all thatched cottages with gardens to match. An unspoilt English village at its best.


Kenneth Graham (Wind in the Willows) stayed here during the summer months. One of the islands in the river is called Ratty Island.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We arrived here and moored at the castle mound. A local farmer owns the site and charged us to stay. The castle is no more than a hill with the remains of a moat round it. It was originally built in 1100 by the first Earl of Northampton. Richard 3rd. was born here in 1451, made himself king in 1483 but was killed in battle at Bosworth in 1485. When the Queen of Scots abdicated she was incarcerated here in 1567 and had planted Scottish Thistles which are still here! She was seen as the figurehead of the for English Catholics and executed here by Queen Elizabeth 1st in 1587.

Scottish Thistle

Keep Britain Tidy ?

We had enjoyed a very hot weekend when many boaters were out and about. There were BBQ's, children in small boats, and swimming in the river. The countryside and nature provide a place to relax and usually keeps itself clean. BUT after the 'invasion' we were upset to find so much left behind. Bags of rubbish and BBQ trays thrown into the bushes. A black burnt patch where the BBQ lay on the grass and uneaten crusts of bread left for the dogs to find. The Environment Agency don’t seem to provide any means of proper disposal.

Having picked up the rubbish we took it into town to 'loose' it in the street bins. Only to be told that the bins were not for 'household' rubbish!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Back to Oundle

Another sunny day to enjoy a picnic on the tables provided before moving on. Our boats were tied together back to front as we manoeuvred out round into the river Nene. Then separated to go through the narrow arch of the '9 arch bridge' and on to Islip Lock. "Enjoy the global warming while you can" I called to Skipper and Crew of a boat just exiting the lock. Many Damsel flies about looking for a mate.

Passed under those low bridges again and Titchmarsh Lock stopping short of Wadenhoe at a grassy edge as other boats were seen occupying moorings at Wadenhoe. Not much shade here so moved through another 4 locks to Ashton the next day. A wonderful mooring just round the corner from the lock on a byway where the river passes the lock and falls down a weir. Many different trees providing shade during several days of a heat wave. A light fresh breeze keeping us all cool inside and out of the boat. Very popular with seven or eight boats coming and going each day. Got our post at Oundle and stayed to enjoy the weekend with football and F1 racing to watch.

Cool dogs

Sweltering heat

Another day of wall to wall sunshine. Temperatures in the 30's. The willow trees have been producing a lot of seed which float down like fluffy snow and the boats are getting covered. A lot of spiders have been making their webs which have captured the seed as well as flies. Tables, chairs and sun brollies have been out on the grass for several days. Sitting out for an hour or so, especially in the afternoon or evening when the sun has gone behind the trees.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Return to Thrapston

For two reasons: Lucy needs a check up by the vet and we like the town and its mooring with water tap.

Lucy is doing well but her leg needs some exercise now. Short walks but not swimming yet. For ten days it has not been used much because Lucy has been confined to 'cage rest'. The hip joint should be ok now much to the relief of Sue & Vic who have both been very anxious. A pin and the stitches will stay in for now.

The trip up stream took about 5 hours going through several locks. A different procedure as they are always left open. So go into the safety of the lock first, lower the guillotine behind and wait for the overflowing river to fill the lock, move out and lift the guillotine. We passed at least eight boats going down stream. The Tesco order duly arrived on time this time by the friendly helpful lady Sue n Vic met last year. All this during a dry sunny day which turned cool in the evening.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Summer time

A Marina !

Left Wadenhoe continuing downstream through the lock. This one is hand operated but like several others is being electrified. A few boats seen on this trip to Oundle. On the way we called in to Oundle Marina, the first major marina seen since getting on this river. Both our boats need diesel and were charged 59p a litre for it. We also got a new starter battery as ours had failed a few days ago. Managed to start the engine using the domestic battery bank and Vic's jump lead. Then moved on to Ashton Lock where several other boats were already at the moorings, including Moore To Life. A Spotted Woodpecker, several Grebe, Greylag Geese with chicks, a few Heron and some Swans were seen while moving on this river Nene.

Mooring at Ashton


Walked into Oundel with Ann n Sue across the river along a path through fields and past well kept gardens. Most buildings are of the local Jurassic limestone which stretches from Dorset through the Cotswolds to Yorkshire. "They did remind me of Dorset which my parents loved".


Oundle is an old market town and now holds a 'farmers market' once a month. We found a café called 'Beans' and sat outside in the shade consuming tea and toasted tea cakes while watching the world go by. Then visited the butcher and Co-Op before returning to the boat.

It's officially summer with a 'high' and calm sunny hot days. Next day Ann Vic and I walked into Ashton. Across a field past the mill and into the village with its old thatched cottages built of stone. Looking for the Peacocks, originally introduced by the Rothschild's who owned the estate.