Saturday, December 18, 2010

We can only look forward

The forecasted snow and ice has returned with a vengeance so we are pleased that our friends made it here when they did. Now all we hope is that we can get home for Christmas having to rely on road and rail transport so many people on the move during uncertainty at this time. It is a white Christmas that we dream about but do not really need.
We can only make plans for next year and hope. Moving about and exploring is at the heart of it. Staying in one place for so long has proved that. We have achieved much of what we set out to do but wish that we could have gone to all those places we like in one year which is of course impossible.
So have an enjoyable holiday on or off your boats with family or friends.
Snowmen and their dogs

This is Gaylord

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moving events

For the third time we have been able to move the boat back up through the lock for services at Gayton. Both taps and the Elsan in working condition while the warmth lasts. The boat yard has been breaking the ice every day so they can move their boats about for servicing. They provided our diesel, oil and filters for a service later. We know of other boaters elsewhere coping with their lot under different circumstances. Last we heard at Braunston, the canal crossroads, is not so well served because both Elsans were blocked!
Despite eight days of positive temperatures there is still plenty of thick ice about on the canals. But Geoff on Seyella felt confident to make a run for Gailey.

It was a determined effort helped by us opening and closing 4 locks on the way. Boaters at Otherton were thankful for broken ice as now they could move to their services. The local Heron would also be pleased to be able to go fishing again!
The threat of further low temperatures, snow and ice prompted the move.

A thought: Would we all pay a bit more to avoid the cuts? A cut in services may well be harder to cope with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beyond the call.....

George hired a car for the weekend and drove us all to Market Drayton to visit No Problem and our friends Sue n Vic. Despite the slightly warmer temperatures it was still very slippery under foot. In the boot of the car, two large water containers which George used to transport water from tap to boat several times to fill the No Problem tank.
It was great to see Sue n Vic again after spending the summer months apart. We all enjoyed bread rolls and homemade soup while discussing future plans, listening to Georges jokes and swapping Christmas cards. Ann had baked a cake so we all had some of that as well. It was an enjoyable meeting of friends separated by many more canal miles than road miles! We came away with a homemade pot of jam. Thanks S n V, was good to see you both during this bleak mid winter. And thanks to George n Carol for driving us there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Things to do and plans to make

Gailey Lock
There is just a promise that by the weekend it may get warmer if the wind changes. We have decided to do some washing and dry the clothes by the fire. “Anybody short of water can lick it off our windows!” By the end of the day it was all dry. Perhaps later we can back up that lock again for water and diesel. Done the Christmas cards and posted some when Ann and Carol took the bus to Stafford. More to go next time we get out.

Meanwhile the canal remains frozen and the British Waterways men doing this dredging told us there is no chance of moving any time soon. So we stay put and make other plans to go home. The marina we were going is frozen with 4 inches of ice. A taxi can take us to Stafford for the train while George and Carol kindly look after the boat.

Ice paveing

An ice block

Friday, December 03, 2010

Staying put

Just like most of us boaters on the frozen canals the boat is not moving. We did walk down past a few locks and found British Waterways operatives working hard dredging the canal. Somehow they had managed to break up the ice around their boats using the grab bucket. We just had to complement them both on their efforts.
A small stream was still clear of ice and flowing into the canal where it eventually froze. Also where the water is flowing past Gailey lock there is a large stretch of clear water almost getting past our boats.
The cold weather has not stopped us getting out and we walked up the A5 Watling Street to the roundabout where we found ‘Dobbies’. It is one of those Garden Centres with much more. It is a virtual Santa’s Grotto for adults at this time of year. Everything is there to satisfy those of us who want a material Christmas rather than a spiritual one. We have been keeping in touch with our friends not just by reading their blogs but also writing emails an making phone calls.
Carol, George, Ann and I plus two dogs called Molly all walked up the A5 to catch a bus to Penkridge. The market was open but several stalls were missing. Not surprising due to the conditions being sunny but icy under foot. Stafford Gramar School music department were there playing Christmas Carols.
We had arranged to meet Geoff and Margaret on Seyella and they provided homemade soup, mince pies and warming drinks. It was a wonderful gathering of friends during this cold winter. We then elected to walk the 3 miles back to Gailey because we realised we had just missed the bus. It took about an hour boat to boat. Thankfully it was not snowing or too windy. Most of the canal was frozen but with a few clear ponds where all the ducks have gathered.
Next day Tesco managed to find us bringing our orders. The driver and helper were travelling together in the bad conditions as support for each other. Then we packed it all away. Meanwhile George had opened the lock gates and flushed out the slab of ice. It had warmed up during the day so the canal was clear behind us. Both Rock n Roll and Moore 2 Life backed up one by one to get diesel and water. One tap had frozen due to its lack of insulation. Thankfully there is another available for use. We left it dripping slowly so it would not freeze.
Back down at our mooring, just below the lock, the ice reformed as the temperature dropped again. “More porridge for breakfast please.” It cooks well on top of the stove while we get up. Batteries are not so efficient when cold so are not giving up as much energy as normal. We find it best to charge them up twice a day while it remains cold.
Geoff turned up as arranged, George n Carol came and we all had a drink and a natter on M2L in the morning. Then George got the Barbe out. The snow under it quickly melted! When Geoff returned we were soon round on R n R for a lovely meal.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome company

Rock n Roll has stopped by. We exchanged stories of our travels since we saw them last. The ice has arrived and we not to go any further. Just up and down the lock to fill up with diesel. Gailey Marine let us have it at the zero rate as we were ‘residential’ and not planning to move for a while. Otherwise it would have been at their ‘commercial’ rate with the added duty.
It got misty in the evening then in the morning we woke to see a thin layer of snow and the canal water had turned to slush. Water passing through the lock is keeping the thick ice away from our mooring. The sun cheers us up while the sky is clear and does its best to melt the ice while staying low in the sky.
Bird feeders are hung on the hedge so several birdies are getting their breakfast.
Despite the threatening conditions we do seem to be able to make the best of it while living on our boat. Keeping in touch with other boaters by phone, email and blogging helps to pass the time and enables us to keep track of each other.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cooking for Christmas

Ann has made a rich fruit cake baked in a square tin. Got the marzipan and icing to do. Homemade puddings are the other tradition in the family circle although not many get to stir the ingredients and make a wish these days. Made enough for three bowels wrapped up with grease proof paper and cloth and steamed overnight on the stove. The pudding is consumed at Christmas having been steamed, decorated with holly and burnt with hot flaming brandy. Brandy butter was the preferred topping.

For various reasons we find ourselves a long way from the family at a time when we feel we should be much closer. Meanwhile we will decorate the boat and enjoy meeting other boaters on our travels. It is getting colder in the evenings and there is a threat of icy conditions coming early this winter. We have stocked up while at Penkridge and moved on a bit to be near a diesel supply. Now is the time for porridge in the mornings and stew in the evening. Stew is slowly cooking on the stove.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The chimney

Geoff on Seyella had found some useful advice on the net suggesting that a tall chimney would help our diesel fire draw better. The recommended length of flue should be 10 feet from the flame which would mean 4 feet above the roof! We only have about 1 foot 6 inches so we can get under bridges. Many years ago I had made our chimney out of rolled up ‘liners’ with Vic’s help. The great advantage was a double skin to keep the gasses warm. That worked a treat most of the time. The ‘down draft preventer’ as supplied with the boat was simply not enough and was not much good in strong winds.
Our chimney fitting is only 3 ½ inches diameter so readymade chimneys were hard to find. When at Crick we had asked to have one made but the maker was reluctant to help because it was an oil fire. Midland Chandlers had a 28 inch chimney but although the inner liner measured 3 ½ inches it would not fit. So I have got a 28 inch liner which drops over the existing chimney. For use when we stop of course. Will let you know if it is better after a windy day!

A need to move on

If we stay in one place too long we get itchy feet. We have done what we needed to do here and if we stay much longer the roots will grow. We have about a month to go somewhere and back before leaving at Christmas.
Kingfisher at Great Haywood
It was one of those magic moments, a chance meeting of boaters at the watering hole. We had just backed up to the facility when Derwent 6 arrived. We both filled our tanks and gathered round cups of tea at the bow of M 2 L. Then the owners of Sanity Again stopped to say hello. So there we were Chas, Ann, Del, Al, Bruce and Sheila all in one place a moment before moving off in different directions.
We turned across the bow of Derwent 6 to get under the junction bridge and there was Geoff with his bag of shopping and Meg about to walk back to their mooring at Tixall.
Balloon at Tixall
We stopped there as the best of the day had passed and we were eating lunch at 2 pm! We got away next day and did 12 lock miles to arrive at Park Gate for the weekend. It was a bit misty as we left but calm dry and warm during the trip.
Boat at Tixall Lock

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hanging around

The red diesel fuel we are obliged to use in our boat tanks is usually ‘gas oil’ with a red dye so we can pay less duty than that for road use. New EU regulations will require a change to ‘road diesel’ with the red dye. Road diesel has less sulphur in it and it also has some ‘bio’ content. Many boaters are concerned about the effects on their engines. Ours is a Beta 38 and this is what Beta told me:-

As far as the engine is concerned, they have been developed for ultra low sulphur fuels, so that they comply with the stringent emission controls, both in Europe and America. The bio content has also been taken into account, as all the emission restrictions have been mapped out for the future in a timetable based on the fuel specification. So the engine is fully capable of running with this fuel.
The storage could be a problem as the bio content can lead to higher bacterial growth, and higher water absorption. I have been talking to a filter manufacturer who has developed a large capacity high water absorption filter system, and should have details shortly. I don't think that it is all doom and gloom, as the lower sulphur content reduces the need to use low quality non detergent oils we recommend now.
High quality oils that contain detergent tend to wash down the bores, thus picking up the fuel residue that builds up the sulphur content in the oil, this can produce a weak sulphuric acid that attacks the bearings.
Don't forget that the fuel change is being done to lower harmful emissions. Kindest Regards, John Lusty, After sales, Beta

So it would seem we should consider changing the type of lubricating oil we use in our engines.

We managed to back up to the water point the next day. Got more diesel and moved out to Tixel wide for a while. It is getting cooler now so we have the fire on longer. Our tank will soon need topping up every 2 weeks. One very windy night the fire went out and issued forth its smelly fumes. We woke up and turned off the supply. Several attempts to relight it next morning failed due to the windy conditions. Put the radiators on to get warm. Smoky oil is not at all pleasant and at least set off the smoke alarm. We wonder if oil fires are worth the hassle because they also produce a lot of flaky carbon deposits that need scraping out. If the truth were known a much taller chimney is required. But then we would not get under those bridges! We moved into Great Haywood after breakfast to get some shelter from the trees. The wind reduced a bit and we were able to light the fire again.
We have been on several bus trips into Stafford to do some ‘Christmas’ shopping. Street decorations are now appearing to brighten the place up. Our friends Geof and Mags offered to look after Molly while we were away.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Move away for a while

With limited time on the moorings and the prospect of local fireworks at Shugborough Hall we moved away. Molly does get so upset with the bangs and whizzes that we have administered some calming herbal remedy which seems to work for her. We got all the way to Acton Trussel, turned and found a mooring before Deptmore Lock.
The lock keepers house now belongs to the farmer and is being renovated to be lived in again. British Waterways have been selling off some of their property and their attempt to make money by running public houses near canals has in fact made a substantial loss.
We are in open countryside for the weekend where we put out the bird feeders but only a few birds found it. Despite the remoteness we did hear and see some fireworks in the distance. We celebrate the fact that an attempt to blow up the houses of parliament was prevented. It was quite cold n damp that weekend so we had the fire going most of the time.
On Sunday we once again enjoyed our roast lunch with minted lamb and watched the racing on TV.
Monday was awful with wind and rain but we had to get back to Great Haywood for dental appointments, tesco orders and post due on Tuesday. A few hours driving the boat dressed up in waterproofs proved to be purgatory by the time we arrived. Thank goodness for the mooring space found near the lock. Due to several low bridges we are not able to put up our biminy which would have protected us from the weather.

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not

It was a bit windy when we needed to move backwards to the water point where we pick up our tesco order. We did not get all the way there. Luckily another space was available and a kind boater moved his boat forward to let us in. It then took two journeys to get all the bags over the junction bridge and on to the boat. Then it rained. We have had so much rain lately that the river Trent is well up and flowing fast here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Been away on another planet

Taxi’s, trains, cars and busses got us off the boat and away down south. We packed some bags and took the dog. Have we got all we need? Can we carry it all? We had moved to Great Haywood Marina and filled the diesel tank. The fridge had to be emptied, turned off and defrosted before we left.
There were several good reasons for going. Ann had a hospital appointment, more house clearing and sitting in for our grand children. Their parents could then get a night out with friends. We also paid visits to friends and family, walked in the forest and saw ‘Despicable Me’ in 3D. Many items from the home were distributed among the family. That is a very hard thing to do with so much to consider.
While we were away our cooker was sold. Amazingly we had met the buyer when at Dudley. We returned the hire car having done over 300 miles on a full tank of petrol. ‘Enterprise’ took us to the station and on the way we saw that several cruise liners had arrived in port. The train was packed with many people standing in the isles with all their luggage. Made me wonder why the luggage could not be put into a dedicated coach like they would have done many years ago. We were lucky to find our reserved seats were still available for our journey, but even we had our bags on our laps!
Once back at Stafford we got a taxi to take us back to Great Haywood Marina with a bit more luggage than we had left with! Just could not face moving the boat out so we paid for another night. Even then it took several days to get back into our boating routine.
Great Haywood is a wonderful little village where we have now booked appointments at the medical centre and the dentist. Restocked the fridge and enjoyed a few quiet meals together. It is late autumn of course so we enjoyed a walk along the river with the sun shining through the golden leaves.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Black Country

A sharp left turn and a mile gets us to Dudley and the Black Country Museum with really secure moorings, boater facilities and the tunnel. The black country is a huge area of geological significance containing all the raw materials to set off the industrial revolution. Coal mining, iron and steel making, lime stone mines and lime kilns.
It was a very hard life for those who lived and worked during the 17 th. and 18 th. centuries.
Women were employed making chains all day long often using their children to help. They went on strike because they could not even afford to feed themselves. They were the white slaves of England.
We walked down into an 1850’s coal mine to experience the blackness and low ceilings. We were given hard hats and torches. A young boy was employed to open and shut ventilation doors but he was working in the dark because he was not worth a light. Ponies at this time were considered more valuable than children. If they were to fall into the canal it was the pony that got rescued first. When we were in that mine we thought about the trapped miners in Chilly. Thankfully they are now all rescued safely.
There was plenty to see in the completely reconstructed village with many shops and even a 1920’s cinema showing silent movies.
Then there was that tunnel with more than expected. It was the entrance to what was a huge underground mining industry digging out coal and lime.
There are caverns and tunnels in many directions. Many more unseen below are now flooded. We went in with our hard hats by boat on a round trip. It was an education by commentary and audio visual show seen and heard deep in the hillside. It was so good that we went in again the next day!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Going through Birmingham

At the end of the Stratford we turned right onto the Worcester and Birmingham canal.  This was a bit wider, lined with factories instead of trees and quite shallow in places.  A railway follows the canal all the way into Birmingham.  A mile further on we stopped at Bournville.
The ‘secure’ visitor mooring on the off side provide space for 2 boats and was already occupied.  So we were obliged to moor outside the security fence.  That night we felt quite vulnerable as youths gathered nearby at 2 am, talking loudly with the ‘f’ word in every sentence.
Even the train station is painted purple, for it is here that Cadburys chocolate is made.
We walked into Bournville in the morning to see some of the huge new factories and original buildings from the 1900’s.  All the fences and street lamps were painted purple.  We had the feeling that something was about to happen in the streets.  The evening news reported that the new owners are to keep the Bournville production going.  Good news indeed.
Back on the boat we set off for Birmingham and beyond.  We are not city people and regard them as ‘concrete jungles’ even though in reality there is more brick, steel and glass than concrete.
We took the direct route along the main line and were happy to find trees and grass once through the centre.
After 12 flat miles we arrived at Factory locks which climb up to the Wolverhampton level.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A short evening stroll then move the boat

It was sunny and calm so we took a stroll to get fish n chips at Hockley Heath.
We were soon sitting on a street bench watching the traffic while consuming the food from its paper wrapping.  Our plan is to move on through Birmingham but we wait for the political conference to finish.  The police are searching passing boats with dogs.
We set off on Thursday after using the facilities at the boat yard.  Ten miles of the northern Stratford canal seemed to take an age to Kings Norton.  Most of the canal is lined with trees on both sides and the prop kept getting clogged with the falling autumn leaves.
We had been told that we were heading into ‘bandit country’ so we did not stop on the way except with another boat at the water point.  Then we saw policemen patrolling the tow path!  After passing through the short Brandwood tunnel we found the curious guillotine lock which is now permanently open.
It was a ‘stop lock’ where private canal companies would charge working boaters for moving cargo.  Just like a road toll.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Family concerns

We have been off the boat while some changes are made to our galley.  We got a lift to Leamington Spa station and a train south.  Mother has moved to a Nursing Home and we have been helping her settle in.  Some furniture, pictures, TV and clothes transported from the house to the home.  We are much happier now knowing that she is being well looked after by the caring staff.
Now it is a case of facing up to ‘house clearance’ without loosing too much family stuff.  Luckily my brother is able to help with this endeavour.  The house has been valued and some furniture sorted for sale.  Various visits from other family members have been arranged so stuff will be redistributed.  The more we look the more we see and the task seems endless at this time.  It is unlikely that we will ever stop over at that family home again so now we stay with our grand children and their parents.  A very different lifestyle to that we are used to on the boat.
It was Josh’s birthday during our stay and we watched as he opened presents.  Our youngest grandson Ben had not been feeling well and was taken to hospital so we had a few late nights of anxiety.  Having stayed an extra day we were happy to return to the boat knowing that there was nothing seriously wrong.
 Our favourite boat fitter has done it again for us.  A separate hob and high level oven has been installed, replacing that cooker for sale.  The main gain is much better access to the oven and what was a corner cupboard.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A voyage of discovery

But first.  Oh dear another breach, a loss of water on the Mon and Brec in Wales.  Only a few years ago it was closed for the same reason and repaired at great cost.  So many boats and holidaymakers are disrupted in their travels.  The government have slashed support for the waterways again.  BW’s men in suits are being blamed for paying themselves loads of money.  It seems that they do not deserve so much for losing money on property which may well be sold off now.
We moved up to Kingswood Junction where the Grand Union ‘kisses’ the Stratford.  We are obliged to wait here as the footbridge is being protected by steel barriers.
The brick built bridge has suffered some severe damage by boats turning into the link.  The work men watched as a boat slowly bounced off the barrier.  “Still not enough” one said as the barrier moved!
It was worth exploring the junction with its lock cottages and a triangle of waterways.
Several locks on the Stratford bring that canal up to and above the Grand Union level as it heads northwest to Birmingham.  When we were there the Elsan facility was being unblocked.  I remember seeing it blocked seven years ago!  “Oh why can’t BW fix the cause rather than the symptom.”  The flushing water supply was just a trickle.
The local maps led us astray when we tried to find shops in Lapworth.  We found they had moved down the road past the railway.  At least the Post Office still exists in the wine shop but the other little shop did not have much more than bread n milk.  If you are coming up this way on the Grand Union there is a much better shop and Post Office above the northern end of Shrewley tunnel.
We started late to go up the 15 narrow locks of the Lapworth flight on the Stratford canal.  Mostly thickly lined with trees and having short pounds between the locks.  A few boats were coming down and at one pound on a bend it was tricky manoeuvring past the other boat.
It remained tree lined at the top and we began to wonder if we would be able to ‘see’ the sky sat.  However a gap was found albeit with the boat sitting on the mud.  Four more locks were tackled next day.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rediscovery after 7 years

The last time we were on the Western Grand Union we were going east from Kingswood Junction.  Now we head west from Napton Junction.  It was there that we met Rose and Ray on Maddy Rose.  We shared tea and sandwiches over two days then went our separate ways, setting off down the Calcutt and Stockton flights.  We were joined by Misty Lady to go down all those double locks.
The skippers and crews were working well together as a team.  There were several boats coming up leaving the locks for us to go down.  It was sunny while we moved that morning but when we stopped at Long Itchington it rained.  Despite the wetness we walked to the village shop for provisions.  On our return to the boat we lit the fire to dry out.  August is a wet month.
Next day we set off and did another 9 locks with Misty Lady.  It was a damp grey day as we travelled down towards Leamington Spa and found a mooring just past bridge 33 in open countryside and bid farewell to our travelling companions.
It was sunny and warm as we continued our journey through the Spa town the next day.  We noted on the way that the concrete tow path prevented the use of pins for mooring.  There were however several bollards to tie to on the offside by Tesco where we stopped to shop.  Eventually spent the night by Budbrooke Junction and saw Ernie on 10 Bob Note pass us by.
We were not far from the start of the climb up the Hatton flight of 21 locks and were joined by another boat.  Double width locks need two boats to make the going easy and it does save the water.  It was at least dry n warm when we started off at 10.
3 hours later we had reached the top, an average of 10 minutes a lock!  It would have been good to find visitor moorings at the top.  There were plenty of car parks and gongooslers but the moorings were for permit holders.  We were obliged to move on just when we needed a rest.  Eventually found deep water and a low hedge so that we could ‘see’ the satellite signal.  Then it rained.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Procedures and actions

There are good intentions but actions may be less than intended.  What am I waffling about?  BW have been busy down in Banbury fixing up firm edges.  At the ‘Tramway’ it is finished.  Boaters are there already but BW had spread fresh earth about and put grass seed down without rolling it flat!  Now we have got deep foot prints and muddy boots.  Just when the grass is sprouting along come the cutters and squashed it all flat!
BW working!
I have got back from looking after mum again and trying to resolve care issues.  It is quite a stressful and emotional time for both mum and me.  It had become more difficult to care for mum even with people coming in each day.  Thankfully Hampshire Adult Services are on the case and have found a Residential Care home for mum.  My brother is on hand to help and has taken mum to see the place which has a room available.
We passed Paul Balmer on Waterway Routes on our way to the water point.  Just as we queued for the lock down came Mortimer Bones in her grey boat.  A few days later we had reached the summit pound, got diesel at Fenny and stopped short of Marston Doles.  We do not normally move on a Sunday and wonder why we did.  We simply lost count of so many boats heading south.  We took on water slowly just before heading down the locks towards Napton.  Boats coming up the locks and following behind all seemed to want water!  Even hire boaters just setting off from Wigrams Marina had already run out of water.  We have stopped after the second lock down after being told of an event at Napton and loads of boats trying to get up the locks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One more problem

We got past Aynho, across the river Cherwell which joins the canal, entered Nell Bridge Lock and stayed there for a while!  The bottom gate would not shut properly and the lock would not fill.  So much water was gushing past that gate.  We shut all the paddles and slowly descended.  An attempt to flush out the obstruction was made before Ann went round to the British Waterways yard which just happened to be nearby.  By now many boats had joined a queue at both ends of the lock.
Two men turned up with a very long handled rake and after several attempts managed to dislodge the obstruction.  It was probably a loose brick below the gate.  We were then able to carry on to Banbury.  After the weekend at least ten boats were assembling below Banbury lock, waiting to get through the lock or use the facilities.  It is now the busy season and it was sad to see so many plastic bottles floating alongside the boats in the canal.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A bit out of touch and a few problems

We moved on down to Lower Heyford and found that there was absolutely no phone signal here.  Just 3 miles north we had a very strong and fast connection through Orange and T Mobile.  Here we got a space, TV and radio so not all bad.  Then Del and Al on Derwent 6 went by going north waving their arms and taking pictures!  We had intended to catch a train back to Banbury but they are infrequent and we did not see one stop.  We would need to be sure to get back the same day.  Apparently the driver would stop if you were on the station at the right time so we were told later.
Found some expensive bread n milk, oil and filter at the boat yard.  Oxford Narrowboats were very busy on their turn round day with lots of boats waiting for families to take them away for their holiday on the waterways.  They are looking for an engineer so just hope that they all get back later with no problems.
We walked into the village but it was very exclusive and quiet.  “I wonder where they get their bread n milk from.”  No shop or Post Office here, just a pub.
It was a noisy night with that railway just over the hedge so we turned round next day and got water before heading north.  A boat called No Problem arrived just as we had finished.  They had met Sue n Vic on the Kennet and Avon canal.  Two No Problem’s on the same canal!  Pity that there are really so many problems on that canal with many boaters reporting that the canal is ‘falling apart’ with lack of maintenance and consequently lack of water due to leakage.  Lack of rain does not help either.  The latest problem is the actual closure of the Leeds and Liverpool canal due to lack of water we are told.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Through and south of Banbury

We passed through Banbury and after getting water progressed to the Tramway moorings.  These are much improved with a hard edge, more popular now with more boats and still a 14 day mooring which is good for shopping at the local supermarket.  We plan to stay a bit longer than usual here.  In the past we hired cars to go home and now we get on a train because they are safer and less stressful.  The station is only 10 minutes walk from here and an hourly service gets us south.
My dear 91 year old mother had spent 3 weeks in a care home and quote:-“..did not like it one bit.”  While Ann stayed on the boat with Molly I went off on the train and with my brother’s help got mum back in her own house.  We arranged for care help to call every day.  I stayed several days trying to rearrange mums way of life for a better future.
Back together on the boat we moved slowly south.  There is a small holding by Nell Bridge lock where we found Bob n Jane on Hobo.  We have known them since our early days on the Kennet and Avon canal.  The little farm has pigs, sheep and hens.  They sell free range sausages, eggs, pork chops, legs of lamb etc so is well worth a visit.  They also sell pots of the Buffalow Ice cream from Napton!
Another day we drifted on down to Aynho and beyond.  It was at Aynho that we found a boat called ‘Bones’ and met Mortimer who writes for our boating magazine Canal Boat.  We swapped places at the water point as she continued her journey north.
When other commitments require more attention our activity on the canals and internet are affected.  It is nice to know that there are people, friends and 'followers' out there that we have got to know through this blog and also some that we just meet on the cut.  Phones, emails and blogging are all means of communicating equally well but there is nothing quite like real people when you see them.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

On the move

It must be a year ago since we have been down the Oxford heading for Banbury.  We went up all the locks at Napton with many boats coming down and helping us with open gates.  It is a testament to the over 200 year old system design that it still works despite a certain lack of maintenance.  At least one lock gate had a broken balance beam and several locks had displaced cill beams.  Despite the recent lack of rain there is enough water at the summit to get through to Clayton.  We had stopped at the top for one night before going down the other side.  Then it rained!
I have been sorting loads of pictures of historic boats.  Many were taken at Braunston this year and last during the boat gatherings.  Thanks to the Historic Narrowboat Owners Club and their list which helped me sort our pictures.  The pictures can now be seen on our website  .

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Improvements and two runs

The old Perspex windows in the front cratch had gone cloudy over the years.  Much better now that Dave Bassett has replaced it with clear toughened glass.
Ann has gone ‘home’ to run for life round Southampton Common.  She walked the 5 km in 55 minutes with a crowd of likeminded people and collected money for charity.  (Why 5km in this country?)
The other run was by seven Star Class historic boats from London to Atherstone.  They removed 100 tons of gravel which had been dumped in Paddington basin in order to support the canal edge while a new building was constructed.  The gravel and all building material came in by lorry through London.  The building then cut off access by road so the boats were used.  It was an exercise to prove that it is still possible to move cargo by boat thus greatly reducing the ‘carbon foot print’.  The loaded boats are at least 3 feet deep in the water and often ran aground in the un dredged waterway.  They had left London on Monday and passed through Braunston on Saturday.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Fourty 4 years and counting

We got to the top of Hillmorton locks and walked down to find Gypsy Rover and saw Derek n Dot who offered a cool drink at the end of a hot day.  We had a good long chat about their future.  When we returned to our boat we found Reg and Elane on Relane.  It was our anniversary next day and they offered to look after Molly while we had lunch at the Bistro.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Getting away from Braunston

We were soon back in the water and heading for the marina.  A bus ride all the way to Banbury and a train to Winchester / Southampton to see family was our first get away.  Quite a lot was achieved and several days later we were back on board.  Ann popped up to the shops while I filled the water tank and emptied our travel bags.  Ann has almost completely recovered from those strained muscles and thanks all those who contacted her.
Braunston Historic Boat Gathering was gaining pace and we were lucky to get out before events really got going.  As we left the marina another boat arrived to fill the space.  All moorings in and north of Braunston were occupied by boats nearly to Willoughby where we stopped at a shady spot for the weekend.
A full boat called Roach passing by our mooring
I find it quite sad to read the ‘stoppage’ reports.  The Caen Hill lock flight is still closed due to a ‘boat strike’ which destroyed a lock gate.  Canals do need more Respect and Support from boaters, public and government.  The summer months bring out all sorts to enjoy the waterways but they seem to lack respect for the system and other boaters for that matter.  Some are just petty criminals when the ‘tow path telegraph’ report items missing off boat roofs.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blacking at Braunston

Once a year we arrange to have the boat pulled out of the water at Braunston Boats Ltd.  “You know, the yard at the bottom lock.”  This is an opportunity to inspect the bits normally below the water line.  While being pulled up the slope on a trolley the stern dips down in the water.  As a precaution the exhaust pipe from the engine and diesel heater have a bung inserted to prevent water getting in.
We are about a month later this year and a lot of weed had grown on the sides.  It is good food for ducks and swans that had been waking us up in the morning with their pecking.
By the end of the day the sides had been pressure washed and the first coat of black pitch had been applied.  It had been quite cold in the mornings and we were in the habit of switching on the radiators.  But we forgot the bung and the boiler turned itself off automatically.  Thankfully we were able to restart it a few minutes later after taking the bung out.  All was well after clouds of white smoke had blown out!
New anodes were welded on this time after 5 years.  Then a second coat of blacking was applied.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


After several days over the weekend of worry, pain and loss of sleep we managed to get Ann to see a Chiropractor.  Several options had been considered but the best one was to go to Banbury where we had been before.  A phone call secured an appointment the same day and we got on the bus from Braunston.  It was a long bumpy trip taking well over the hour exploring the countryside on the way!  By the time we had walked up to the Cross and beyond we had had enough of it and resolved to get a taxi back.
Marc remembered us when we met again and soon got to work with his healing hands.  Apparently several muscles linking shoulder with backbone and ribs had gone into spasm.  Half an hour later Ann was relieved of pain, only a dull ache remained.  Now it is a case of more rest and ice pack treatment to complete the recovery.  The taxi got us back to the boat comfortably in less than an hour so it was worth all that expense.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Visitors and flowers

It was breakfast in bed for Ann after a bad night.  A cold ‘chiropractic’ pad helps to reduce the pain of a torn muscle.
Way back when we started boating at Newbury Phil and Deborah kept their boat in the same marina.  They have two weeks off work, managed to get all the way to Braunston and are now on their way back.  Good to see them both again when they stopped for tea and a chat.
Summer has returned again and our ‘garden’ of flowers is looking good on the roof.  The weekenders are out and about again and more often than not two boats are passing our mooring in either direction quite frequently.  Every now and then we have a sort out of boat contents.  In the navy it was called ‘Captains rounds’.  If we have not used it for a year it must be disposed of.  An attempt to sell some of it at the Crick show was not very successful so it will be in the bin soon where boaters can take their pick.