Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Crick show

We arrived at our pre booked mooring on Friday while it was bright and sunny. There are many boats already here but not as yet in their correct places. We are quite close to the temporary foot bridge which provides access to the show site. There is no mooring warden to be seen so it was left to the boaters to organise themselves. There are at least our boat names on posts where we should be. We learnt later that British Waterways should have had a warden in charge. A boater’s community soon builds up and we get to know our neighbours. One boater who should have been on the outside of us was in fact in the wrong place further away so we got to our empty space. A different boat is now alongside. It is just as well because the one that should be had a noisy generator running and a naughty old dog, or was that the owner!
Got the flags up
The show opened on Saturday while it rained. We walked over the bridge and showed our tickets and security wrist straps. There was some confusion with the ticket man saying we should enter at the other gate. But when we told him we had a mooring he let us through. Much of the morning was spent exploring the site and finding interesting things to see. A very large Marquee soon filled up with people when it rained. Our ‘free’ show guide listed all the exhibitors but lacked a layout plan for the marquee so it was a case of walking round the whole lot.
Sunday was better with sunshine but windy. I watched Tony Brookes at the RCR tent describing diesel fuel systems. Several engines were there to get hands on. Having cleaned out the fuel filter and bled the system the engine was started. This resulted in clouds of black smoke inside the tent and many spectators retreated!
Meanwhile Ann was watching men making rope fenders and listening to their stories of traditional rope work found on working boats. It seems that the fancy rope work all had a purpose and not just decoration. For instance the ‘dolly’ hanging from the tiller pin is a safety device. When tying up at a mooring your head is below the tiller pin. You would feel the ‘dolly’ before hitting the pin with your head.
A number of old working boats were there including the steam boats President and Laplander.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sudden summer days

Enjoy it while it lasts, hot n sunny.  We had got to Braunston and stayed a day to organise some work on the boat for later and the girls stocked up with food.  That hot Friday we moved up the wide locks with several boats going up and down, mostly two by two.  We enjoyed the social atmosphere chatting with the owners as we went up with Terry, Myra and Ann working the locks.  One boat was new being delivered to Crick for sale.  Then we spotted many improvements on the approach to the tunnel.
Much dredging and at last a firm dry towpath.
Despite all the boats coming down the locks we did not see a single boat in the tunnel to pass.  There are several bends in this old tunnel built in 1794.  There is a need to move slowly through in order to get safely by the bends, some of which have sharp edges which can do some damage to the boat.  It is of course very dark inside and all you have is a front light to show the way.
A few miles on from the tunnel we turned left onto the Leicester branch of the Grand Union.  Very different with trees either side but shallow soft edges.  We eventually stopped just short of the Watford locks very near to the busy M1 service station.  “I wonder if those travellers know that a quiet waterway is so close.”  We soon got the white sheets hung outside the windows to help keep it cool inside.  What a change from only a week ago.
Got away early, almost before breakfast and approached the lock flight.  Terry went ahead to get permission from the lock keeper to proceed.
The locks are close together and called ‘staircase’, have red and white paddles and so long as you operate red before white you’ll be alright.  White before red and you’re ded.  There were no other boats waiting so we were at the top in less than half an hour.  “Is that a record I ask?”  We then stopped for a few days just short of Crick tunnel and put the sheets out again.
While Terry n Myra went off by bus to Long Buckby we intended to walk to the tunnel and back but had only gone through a bridge and round the bend when we spotted a familiar boat.  There was Del n Al on board Derwent 6, known to us due to the internet and blog writing.  They kindly invited us in for coffee and a chat about our adventures.  Next day they came to us for cool drinks.
When we went through the tunnel it proved to be cool and damp as usual despite the hot weather.  Got water at the other end found a mooring and went shopping in Crick.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two skippers and crew

A chance to travel up front at the bow when crew 2 are driving.  They have not been on the canals for a while and are spotting the changes.  Pubs have closed, residential buildings have appeared, some moorings have less boats and Nuneaton was a bit cleaner.  The Coventry canal seemed less busy.  Now we are on the Oxford canal and the grass has been cut!  A boat called Relane was seen at Ansty so a quick chat with Reg was possible as we passed slowly by.  The first 10 miles or so seem to take forever as it is less interesting.
We stopped at All Oaks Wood having noticed the super new towpath through there.  “Certainly needed doing because most of it had washed away.”  Our friends were amazed to see the developments at Brownsover near Rugby as we squeezed by.  There are boats moored on both sides here and just enough room to pass another boat.  As we approached the bottle neck several boats came out at the same time.  We got more water at Hillmorton before heading up past the busy Bistro serving tea n cake.  With 4 people on board it is surprising how quickly the water gets used.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fab four on the Coventry

It was way back in the previous century that the four of us had a fabulous time getting a narrowboat from Bugbrooke to Newbury.  Now Terry, Myra, Chas n Ann are travelling on the Coventry canal.  It is well served by towns and villages for supplies.  Property along the canal has well kept gardens to admire and there are plenty of quiet places to stop with a hard edge and cut grass.  The waterway meanders round the contours of the land and round the edges of towns.
Mooring near Pooley
When we had got to Polesworth we stopped for a while and did some shopping.  Just a walk across the playing fields and the river Anker to get there.  All very clean, tidy and freshly painted the shops were doing quite well.  Warm sunny days have changed to cold grey days and we now at least have an elected Prime Minister.
We continued up the hill to Atherstone with a boat in front and some coming down.  The boat in front stopped short of the top lock having picked up some barbed wire wrapped round the prop.  “What was that doing in the canal?”  Because it was an old boat with no weed hatch, a boat hook was needed to pull the wire off.  The lock keeper came down to help and one man was in the water with cutters.  Mean while we passed and went up to get water.
We spent a few hours walking round the Historic Town Trail with thirty features of interest.  The town is known for its hat making industry in the 1930’s but with the Roman Watling Street passing through it clearly has a longer history dating from Anglo Saxon times.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

A new routine

With four people on board boat we adopt a different way of life.  Skipper and crew take turns at the tiller and operate locks as we travel on the canals.  The navigator has worked out where to stop each day and so far we have kept to the schedule with time to spare to stop when it rains.  It was a grey cold wet day on Saturday so that was our first stopping day.  The girls made a roast lunch and the oven heat kept us warm.  Then we got out Ann’s birthday present, a jig saw puzzle, to pass the time together.  When we had done some of that we played a game of Mah Jongg.
The Sunday was a different day.  It was sunny with no wind and we enjoyed travelling the winding Coventry canal.  We had gone through Whittington and seen the well kept gardens and was approaching Hopwas when we recognised a boat coming round a bend.  How convenient to find the visitor moorings clear as we met Mo and Vanessa on Balmaha so both boats were able to stop by School Bridge.
A good meeting of friends and bloggers enjoying a chat and coffee on Balmaha’s deck.  We continued on our way to stop and watch the motor racing from Spain.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Travelling with friends on board

A few days later Ann was back on board.  Our friends Terry n Myra had hired a car and bought Ann with them to stay on board for a while.  It was quite late in the day when they arrived after such a long journey.  Once all the kit was thrown on board we all went off to the Clifford Arms for a welcome drink and meal that evening.

Next day we set off early heading down the locks to Rugeley where we all went to stock up with food for our journey.  Winter almost arrived again as we progressed south so we stopped at Handsacre.

Hanging around

Ann has gone off to see the grand kids Josh n Ben.  A taxi got her to Stafford because the busses were not running on the bank holiday.  Thankfully some trains were.  One warm sunny day was good for varnishing the boat hook pole.  It had been suffering from the long cold winter on the roof.  I got back into the habit of walking out with Molly twice a day.  Jim and Joy on a boat called Losgunna offered to take her one afternoon and she just went with them!  A fella on a boat called Just the Job told me that he read this blog and was pleased with his new AGM batteries, purchased after reading about ours.  He was heading for Penkridge.  Once again I remembered to cook for myself and feed the dog occasionally.