Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Drifting to Calcutt

Moved just for a change of scenery. Met NB 'Snecklifter' as we turned a corner so stopped for a chat with Mike & Liz. Not seen them since this time two years ago. We knew they were near because we occasionally read their blog. Then continued on to Calcutt locks. A space for us among the other boats. Best to get here early due to its popularity. Not a place for peace and tranquillity but good for watching boats on the move.

On a sunny day we both walked down past the locks. Watching several boats going up and down one at a time through these double locks. Such is the independent attitude of summer boaters. Carried on walking along this recently cut tow path. There are several marinas here and two of them below the locks have expanded and are already filling with boats.

Then we saw NB 'Liberty Belle'. Angela was about to write her blog after being away for a while.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Moved back in and found a space vacated by a 'long term' moorer. Their notice inviting others to use the space till August. Thank you 'Calipso Rose'. Other boaters are not so welcoming. Several have been here occupying the 48 hour moorings for much longer than that. We know this because each time we come back in we see the same boats in the same place. Terry n Myra met us up at the Admiral Nelson for lunch. They had been able, earlier, to get their boat through the tunnel when it reopened after a land slide had closed it. We are drifting about slowly on the Oxford canal in and out of Braunston. An unexpected sunny weekend spent near Flecknoe on a grass covered towpath. So overgrown that we are not disturbed by passing walkers or cyclists. While sitting out we watch the boats go by and wave to those we know. We are staying south waiting for a family visit.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Flooding rivers

We are looking at reports on the TV news. The Thames through Oxford near Osney lock almost burst its banks. The water level is so high that boats cannot get under the low A420 bridge. That road became flooded in places. We came down this way in October 2006, describing the river as being restricted with a lot of water flowing over the weir. To the west of the 'navigation' the Thames and various other streams are expected to pass the built up areas of Botley and Osney. Further down, the river Cherwell joins the Thames having come down the east side of Oxford past the colleges. It is just like Tewkesbury with its two rivers either side.
The rivers Nene and Ouse in East Anglia are also in flood. The Environment Agency have 'reversed' many locks. This procedure opens the lock at both ends which allows the water to flow through. Obviously no 'navigation' by boat is possible under these conditions. These conditions are expected in the winter months so it is quite unusual to find so many flood restrictions now.
Some are blaming 'global warming' and a shift south of the 'gulf stream'. What ever the cause we are suffering from more extreme weather conditions. This is a wakeup call for our government to seriously consider the country's infrastructure. Water and electricity supplies have been compromised where flooding has occurred. Drainage systems must be improved and maintained. It is no good treating them as rubbish dumps and then wondering why the water level rises so quickly. We have seen shopping trolleys thrown into streams. These are very effective at building up a dam.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rain,Rain, Rain

These last few months have just been WET. Sadly many places near rivers have been flooded many times as the rivers burst over their banks. You may remember our protests, as boaters, over the swinging cuts in government finance to British Waterways. The same financial cuts have also affected the Environment Agency. Now they are responsible for the environment and flood defences! With the change of Prime Minister heads have rolled but it is too late to save those flooded houses. Why do they allow houses to be built on flood plains?
Canals are relatively safe with weirs and locks to control the water level. Some water comes from lakes and reservoirs but also from rivers fed directly into the canal. After a particularly very heavy down pour all day we found our ropes had got tight. The water level went up by 11 inches by the end of the afternoon. We had to slacken the ropes as the boat started leaning over! British Waterways have actually issued flood notices. They closed Braunston Tunnel. So much water rushed into the tunnel that it took in a lot of silt, rubble and debris with it. Some say that it may have to be dredged out and the tunnel inspected before opening it to navigation. Also the canal is closed going south from Napton to Oxford! But by the next day it was open down to Banbury but not beyond where the river Cherwell joins the canal.

Have just seen this picture of a lock at Stourport which is under water.
The Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal joins the river Severn here. It was back in 2003 that we came this way in our boat. I cannot imagine what it must be like going down that swollen river past Worcester and off at Tewkesbury where the lower Avon joins the Severn. Tewkesbury has been turned into an island!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Passing friends

Phil n Deborah from '4Miles On' have come up from the Kennet & Avon. Just got off the Thames as the red boards, indicating no boat movement due to high water flow, were put up. Phil and Deborah are friends made when we were boating on the K n A many years ago. Tis a very rare occasion to see them out and about on their boat. Pleased for them being able to have a few weeks up north.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Friends come and go

Laying the new floor using those oak planks from B & Q is a job well done. Now we have a couple of colourful mats. Bathroom and galley is work in progress using 'Floormaster' panels.
A very welcome break from those proceedings is meeting up with Terry & Myra. They had got through Braunston tunnel and found us up the north Oxford canal. We have known them since life began on the canals having shared ownership of our first narrowboat 'Nomad of Erehwon' on the Kennet & Avon canal.
While travelling with 'No Problem' we once again enjoyed a Sunday lunch at the Bistro, this time with Sue, Vic and John. If you are ever near or passing the Hillmorton Locks have lunch at the Bistro.
Continued on to Rugby and stopped at Brownsover where out of town shopping is nearby. Unfortunately we part company here with Sue n Vic. Dental appointments back at Daventry for us while our friends continue north.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Braunston Boats

Approached from the south past those old work boats near the 'Puddle banks'. Some looking like floating sheds and some burnt out and sunk. At that distinctive double bridge we turned right just as several other boats were negotiating this junction.

Mo and Vanessa on Balmaha had told us there was some space and were waiting to catch our ropes. No Problem arrived soon after and we all enjoyed a 'blogger' gathering. Not seen Mo & Vanessa since last year.

We celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary with Sue n Vic up at 'The Old Plough'. It was very popular and were pleased that Sue had booked a table for us. A good menu was slightly spoilt by some lack of food.

Many working boats, gathered the previous weekend, were still in Braunston. Over 70 according to Tim Coglan who organises the event every year. This time it was featured on Country File, BBC1 Sunday. So good to see them restored and actually transporting goods and providing services on the waterways.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Carp story

Back down at Cropredy Ann & Sue went fishing. The water was alive with big fish as pieces of bread was thrown in. Just fine lines, small barb less hooks and bread did the trick. Within minutes after some fish exercise caught with that hook n line in its mouth, it was netted. And what a huge mouth it was, big enough for several fingers !

First Sue got one

then it was Ann's turn.