Monday, November 26, 2007

Problems on the ‘cut’

We are members of the National Association of Boat Owners which has just had its AGM. Sadly membership is not growing despite there being so much going wrong with our lovely waterways. They are there to represent us in this time of need. The chairman has been to a lot of meetings with BW and the new Waterways Minister. BW have been ‘going through the motions’ of consulting but are insulting. Their consultations over mooring fees and licence fees are really ‘Take it or leave it’ situations. We have written to our MP about the sad state of our waterway system which is falling apart due to lack of investment. BW, in their wisdom, have issued a ‘Customer Service Standards’ document. IF all that it contains is achieved we may be happier boaters but who is going to pay for it all? Not just us poor boaters. Do click on our link to NABO to see what is going on.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Events between Braunston & Rugby

We are now limited by winter stoppages. British Waterways planned maintenance. Down at Braunston we got the bus to Daventry. Nearly missed it because Geof Amos had changed the time table. Just happened to be market day so we got some fresh veg. Tried to get our flu jabs at the medical centre but they could not give us an appointment yet. Did some Christmas shopping though.

Then family came up to see us. Wonderful to see our grand children and their parents on the boat again. Felt the need to get out of Braunston but the only way was north with the nearest turning point proving to be a long 5 miles distant. Stopped a mile out for an enjoyable meal together. Then on a few miles more till it was getting cold. Josh & Ben are growing up fast as expected. We played football outside for a while then with their toys inside. They both drew some pictures for us before we put them to bed. Next day we had to travel up to the turn and back to a few miles out of Braunston for lunch. It was a horrible cold damp day. With the benefit of hindsight it would have been better to stay in Braunston. Never mind, it was an enjoyable visit and ‘family’ enjoyed the trip on board.

For us now, a return to Rugby next day. Stopped at Hillmorton to see Reg and Elaine on Relain who provided tea and chat. Got gas for £18 and diesel for 60p a litre at Clifton before stopping at the almost empty Brownsover moorings. Yobs were seen chucking a shopping trolley into the canal. A fellow boater and Ann managed to return it to Tesco. Felt happier to move over to the other side for the night but still got a tap on the roof as people passed by. Perhaps a reason for the lack of boats here this winter. Another is the closure of damaged facilities.

Next day Tim and Lisa came to fit our new folding ‘biminy’ cover. That is what Tim called it. The frame had been fitted a few weeks earlier. It was quite a challenge for them but the result was fine. Unusual to be on a ‘traditional’ stern. Now we can travel about in the winter without getting cold and wet.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bus, train, bloger, shop and friends

And so we progress slowly south now on the Oxford canal. We stopped at Ansty where Ann got a bus, train, bus all the way back to Gnosall. She got there and back in one day with time to enjoy the visit. It took us all of 12 days to do the same by boat on the canals! Just had to go back to see No Problem’s latest crew member namely a puppy called Meg. Also of course to say hello to Sue, Vic and Lucy. Sue’s homemade soup was consumed on board.

Next day we moved on down to Clifton. When passing through All Oaks Wood we recognised the name painted on the bow of ‘Khayamanzi’ and exchanged greetings with Andy as the blogers passed. Stopped at Brownsover near Rugby where only one other boat was moored. Usually many boats occupy both sides of the canal here. Went to Tesco to stock up. A very busy store on a Saturday afternoon. Bit of a culture shock with so many people about.

Continuing south we noticed that T. F. Yates was closed. Just hope it was because it was the weekend. Clifton Cruisers was open for business but on enquiry not Sundays over the winter months. Our navigation is limited now that Hawkesbury Lock is closed in the north and the canal is drained down at Lower Shuckburgh. We got filled up with diesel from Gosty Hill, a supply boat operating on the Ashby, Coventry and Oxford canals. Iain and Alison have been operating for a few years and have now painted their boat. They loaded up at Hawkesbury with the diesel and coal and found it slow going in the shallow canal. So we were pleased to see them as our tank was getting quite low. Always try to use the supply boats if we can. They won’t be back for three weeks so expect to fill up from one of the boat yards, marinas or hire fleet operators. The diesel price is going up due to extra duty.

Down at Barby we met up with Terry & Myra on Juno. Spent a few days in their company and walked up to Barby and back on a warm sunny morning.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New pictures of the Llangollen Canal

I have up loaded a new set of pictures. Please see our web site by clicking the link and go to the Canals page.

Atherstone Locks

After our visit we moved up two locks of the Atherstone flight of locks and stopped for the weekend, not normally recommended because the water level goes up and down as boats go through the locks. In the evening a boat came up in the dark. Next day the lock keeper found that the gates and paddles had all been left open. All the water had drained out over night. Luckily we were OK being near the bottom lock. In the morning the lock keeper reset the paddles and shut the gates so it was not long before the entire flight was navigable again. We eventually got to the top ourselves where the keeper lives in the lock cottage.
He is a real asset to the system making sure that the flight of eleven locks are kept in working order. He also cuts the grass and keeps the flight neat and tidy. The top lock is treated as an extension to his garden with flower beds and boxes making a pleasant sight even at this time of year. He has a sense of humour as there is a well head in the corner with what appears to be people looking in and climbing out!

It must be said that the canal system would benefit greatly if there were more lock keepers and length men employed. They would be able to spot potential problems before becoming dangerous and threaten the navigation.