Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nobody wanted to share

Saturday 16th July

With Buckby and Braunston flights to do Graham was very happy. As we leftIMG_2608 Weedon we spotted this unusual craft, a home made hull housing a full shipping container. Not a lot of ventilation or windows fitted yet but it appeared to be work in progress. I bet it’s fun at some of the bridge-holes.

We arrived at Buckby bottom lock just as a pair of boats was entering. Another couple then came down and as weIMG_2610 prepared to enter the empty lock a boat appeared in the distance so we sat and waited. Another couple of boats were waiting to come down so we asked them to wait a while. Then the approaching boat tied onto the lock landing and announced they only wanted the chandlery. We set of up the flight on our own. Luckily there were plenty of boats coming down the flight and so we didn’t need to turn many locks.

After Scotland, seeing this number of boats on the move is novel. We even met six coming the other way through Braunston tunnel fortunately without hitting any of them. There were a couple of on-coming boats who made that very difficult; their headlights were obviously a trillion candle power and aimed straight ahead so all vision in the gloom was lost for a few minutes once they had passed. Quote of the day from G – “ when you are eating custard whilst steering through a dark tunnel it’s best to use the right side of the spoon”

Braunston flight was not just busy – it was busy with hirers getting used to their new craft. It was also windy and a couple of pounds were lacking in water. As we were leaving the Admirable Nelson lock, we came across much bobbing about in theIMG_2612 breeze with one in-experienced skipper hard aground on the offside and all his crew waiting at the lockside for him to arrive. Everything he tried seemed to make matters worse. We said we would take a rope and try and pull him backwards off the mud but the stern just dug in deeper. Another hire boater then came up offered to take a bow rope and pull him off the mud right into the lock. It looked to have been a success as we rounded the bend.

We went through Braunston three times. Firstly, down to the turn where we reversed back onto the mainline and headed south again to the sani-station. A pump-out, water fill and dumping the emergency ‘bucket and chuckit’ contents were required. Once all that was done it was down to the marina entrance to turn again. As we passed a couple of moored boats for the third time in an hour they wondered if we were watching them.

After a quick visit to Midland Chandlers for some self adhesive foam rubber strip, for the bottom of the cratch, it was then out into the countryside of the North Oxford canal to find a peaceful mooring for the night. Happily, once tied up, dinner was served as a beef curry had been in the slow-cooker all day.


Getting our boat back

Friday 15th July

Back aboard Jannock and culture shock! Whilst we were moving all our stuff back aboard more boats have passed us than we saw for an entire fortnight on the Scottish lowland canals. We can recommend the Scottish canals for many reasons, but if you want a two city break with a degree of solitude, peace and quiet, go for edinburgh – Glasgow, Forth and Clyde plus Union canal. Just use a cab, bus or shank’s pony to visit the Kelpies as the locking experience was not good on that little run.

Once everything that we needed was in and positioneIMG_2604d in the right place again, Brenda set of northwards in Jannock whilst Graham did a mini car shuffle to be picked up a couple of bridges on – the car parking is slightly better at Banbury Lane bridge. We cruised to Weedon, choosing this as a sensible overnight stop before tackilng the first self service locks we’ve done in a month or so. As we passed Rugby boats they had just lifted a boat out for survey – damn, always wanted to watch that happen (as long as it’s not your own boat) Our early stop meant we had time for a perambulate around Weedon and weedon Bec. A closed road meant a perambulation around a housing estate was necessary.

Opposite the Ordinance Factory we found our first Mirabelle plums of the year. It is IMG_2607good to see industry at the Ordinance factory again. Those historic buildings are lovely and being used should keep them and their history alive & well. It’s facinating – look it up.

A camping boat passed us, not seen one of them for a fair few years. We heard it coming, a rhythmic hot bulb diesel of some sort – blowing lovely smoke rings as well. Who’d have thought that camping boats would be back in fashion.

Graham & Brenda

Friday, July 15, 2016

Anglo-American Canal Crews (Cruise)

1st to 10th July 2016

Simon and Alyssa arrived on 1st July to prepare Jannock for a week onboard with Alyssa’s family – Ashley, John and Jack – arriving from Boston on the 2nd July. However, due to storms in the USA, the arrival of the American contingent was delayed by 24 hours.

After a whistle stop tour of London, during the journey from Heathrow, the boat wasPicture 036 prepped and the crew trained ready for the off. During the lock ‘training’ Simon managed to take chunks out of his fingers before they had even cast off. Then northwards towards Berkamstead where a visit was made to Waitrose to finalise the vitteling and beer stocks.

The crew rapidly learnt how to work locks before reaching the Tring Summit pound where they passed a number of moored working boats at Cowroast. Then down the first six locks of the Marsworth flight before mooring up for a July 4th BBQ with the Keens family joining them by car for the evening. Dinner was something of a disaster with the chicken breasts taking on the chemical taste of the BBQ lighting fluid and a sudden drop in temperature due to the wind increasing but in the end it was all forgotten because  SIMON PROPOSED TO ALYSSA and so Jannock hosted an improptu and epic engagement party!

Picture 004Somewhen during the after party preparation for sleeping Jannock’s toilet packed up. We collected another crew member, Jessica, the morning after the party and then continued on to Linslade where Simon’s Dad had arranged to meet us that evening to sort the toilet out. Simon heroicly spent his first morning as someones fiance by bailing out poo-water from the blocked loo. In Linslade the crew had shore leave at a pub whilst the toilet was being unblocked, sampling local British beers.

The next morning, after a full English breakfast, cruising continued towardsPicture 078 Bletchley. Having thoroughly enjoyed lockwheeling the previous days, John was disappointed to find that todays most significant locking challenge was the three locks at Soulbury. Here, distrustful of the repaired toilet, the crew decided to visit the Three Locks public house to use their Picture 094facilities and – coincidentally – sample more local beers for a couple of hours. Later they completed the cruise to Bletchley to moor for the night.

The next morning we went to Bletchley Park to learn about the Code-Breakers, visited the spectacular exhibits, the huts and some film sets. We also sampled the beer specially brewed for Bletchley Park. Ashley had a run-in with a piece of playground equipment. After a pub lunch at the Eight Bells, a pub near Bletchley Park that was there when the town was still tiny, we continued on to moor for the night just outside Milton Keynes where we had a cheese dinner onPicture 109 the boat.

Friday morning we dropped Jess off at Wolverton Station and continued on, via a couple of aquaducts, through Cosgrove to Thrupp Wharf where we moored for the night near the Navigation Inn. We had Friday Fun Night (it’s the best night) dinner there which was so good that we went back the following morning for breakfast as well. Once the yummy breakfast was over we continued North and met Alan (another friend) at Grafton Regis. This is where a former King of England (Edward VI?) was married.

We then continued on to Stoke Bruerne where we climbed five locks and then met Picture 144Nat (Alan’s wife). We took a table at the Boat Inn (it was cooler inside than out) and played historic skittles with a pint or two and a meal. We then all crewed Jannock up the last two locks, under the watchful eyes of loads of gongoozlers, and realised that the American tourists had actually become part of the British canal tourist attraction! Ironic!

Blisworth tunnel then presented a challenge to novice steerers and those a little nervous about cruising under a hill for the best part of an hour. We then passed through Blisworth and said Hi to Alan’s mum aboard her boat before continuing onPicture 260 and mooring for the final time near Gayton. We had a lovely steak dinner on the boat with Nat and Alan before they ordered a taxi to collect them from a canal bridge to return them to their cars.

The next morning, July 10th, the American contingent said their goodbyes before heading to Heathrow leaving Simon behind to clean up and lock the boat. Overall, we had a delightful week of cruising and have converted a group of Americans to the joys of English canal cruising (and we also got engaged!)

Simon and Alyssa

P.S. The boat garden drinking game is a good one! When you see a garden on top of a boat – drink! It increased our ‘social’ interaction with such owner enormously.

Monday, July 04, 2016

An engaging event on Jannock

Monday 4th July

Jannock is being used by No. 1 son Simon, his partner Alyssa and her American family Ashley, John and their son Jack. We were invited to join them at Marsworth IMG_2598reservoir for a July 4th ‘Independance Day’ BBQ.

We picked up Matt, Alice and Felicity from Aylesbury en-route to Marsworth and found Jannock moored just above the car park between locks 39 and 40.

Although it was cold and windy, we all braved theIMG_2600 outside and had an enjoyable evening sat on the grassy area with a BBQ provided by the American crew. As it got dark Simon surprised us all by going down on one knee and proposing to Alyssa who accepted to every-ones relief.

Then the party moved inside Jannock’s lounge and the champagne flowed for all except the duty driver. All in all an excellent evening, thanks folks.


P.S. That night Jannock’s loo blocked and so I had to visit them again at Linslade on Tuesday evening in order to restore it back to a working state – what a sh1t job ;^)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

un-McBoating on Sonya-day #15

Saturday 2nd July 2016

We were up and the boat emptied to hand back by 09:00. The deisel tank was refilled and we had used £68 worth during our 14 days cruising. Before I took them to Glasgow airport, the Australians were charged £148 for their ten day use – that’s the difference leaving the central heating on all day makes.

We drove home via the Northumbria coastline as I had booked an overnight hotel inIMG_2568 Hartlepool. Brenda wanted to see the coast near Bamburgh castle. After a couple of hours driving we decided that a stretch of legs was required so I turned left and we headed for Eyemouth – signposted off of the A1 as a historic harbour.

What a lovely place for a stop over. In the harbour, alongside the fleet of fishing boats, there were a collection of seals hanging IMG_20160702_111856around. One big bull seal was very close into the harbour wall adjacent to a trailer selling fish to feed him with. A child was bought some chunks of Mackeral and she fed the seal using a pole with a line and clip on the end. This is a beautiful location with a museum and other tourist attractions. We then took a walk around and bought some lunch items from the Co-op before continuing our journey south.

The next thing we did was to visit the end of the CausewayIMG_2577 to Lindisfarne. The tide was well in so there was no possibility of going to visit, but we went as close as we could before turning around and heading back onto the A1. Next we passed Bamburgh castle but it was not this Brenda wanted to visit. Having seen some pictures of the IMG_2580beautiful beaches along this coastline she just wanted to sit in the sun with her feet in the sand. Even though it was quite windy, we spent about half an hour just watchingIMG_2583 beach users and enjoying the sunshine whilst sitting in a sheltered spot.

Then on to Hartlepool viat the Tyne tunnel for our overnight stop in the Grand Hotel. Once checked in and showered, we decided to go for a wander around the Marina. Our route took us past the Station where we happened IMG_2586across ‘The Rat Race’. This is a micro-pub housed in the old taxi office. It’s so small that it doesn’t have a bar. You take a seat and are served by the owner from a cupboard in the corner that housed 4 handpumps, lots of cider boxes and bottles of Belgian Ale. What a lovely place. The picture shows a selection of the pumpclips that have been saved for display on the walls and ceiling. We left in search of food, vowing to return but time was against us and they were closed by the time we had finally managed to eat.

Sunday 3rd July 2016

After breakfast, we went to the car park to find our car was covered in seagull droppings. Thanks Hartlepool. I cleared off the windows as best I could and we setIMG_2596 off towards home. A nice easy run found us on the A38 about lunchtime so we stopped at Branston waterpark and enjoyed our lunch sat in the sunshine watching the ducks, geese and occaisional narrowboat passing down the Trent and Mersey canal on the otherside of the lake. Back home before 3pm and Brenda had two batches of washing out drying on the line before 6pm.


Friday, July 01, 2016

McBoating on Sonya-Day #14

Friday 1st july 2016

Phew! Man and the elements tried to drown us today. Too much water from the sky meant too much water in the canal as we travelled back up from the Kelpies having explored Helix park in the morning. Most top gates were weiring such that you’d fill a lock quite quickly without opening the paddles, and some of the locks were deep! You couldn’t see the top of most gates as they were inches under water. And then there were the squally showers, straight out of the shipping forecast, it felt very Dogger, Fisher and german Bight. I can attest to the canal water temperature being warmer than the air temperature as I was three times under a waterfall as I held the bow rope. At one point, I was standing in water about three inches deep in the front well deck. The first time was my own fault as I failed to throw the rope up to the lockside volunteer. They were wet and getting heavier and I had the sun in my eyes. The other two times were when one of the trainees opened a gate paddle far too soon when the bows of the boat was directly in front of it. He then closed it but re-opened it almost immediately after because he mis-understood the instructions given by the instructor  . . . .  but an appology was offered and accepted. A hard passage up the lock flight and graham had it no easier at the back end - just slightly drier.

DSCF2297A little sailing cruiser joined up for the passage. They had booked the morning run up the flight but then their engine broke down after one lock so they tied up to repair it and joined us for the afternoon transit instead. Beware of boats permanently fitted with fairy lights. We know that ropes are traditionally called strings, but all they had at first were strings, actual strings, and in the deep locks they had neither the weight to allow them to be thrown up to the lockside or the length to reach up to the hooks and back. A couple of lengths or rope, albeit very thin rope, were tied onto the ends to make them long enough.

Having watched the lady on the cruiser fail to hurl her lengthened string up to theDSCF2283 lockside several times, G asked their skipper if he possessed a short boathook on board. Yes he did so G suggested the lady used it to pass the string up rather than trying to hurl it. This worked well and speeded up our lock passage times.

It was obvious, compared to all the other lock flights we’ve passed through this trip, that today’s crew were relatively inexperienced. They were opening the paddles evenly on both sides or opening them too far when the lock was empty which both made the boat very difficult to hold steady in the lock.

Once out of the top lock, we moored on the visitor pontoon above lock 16 to dry ourselves off as well as get a beer from one of the two pubs there. Not impressed with either and ended up drinking bottled beer as the best option.

DSCF2278We then walked a little way down the road by the chipshop and found an excellent Chinese buffet restaurant. After 6pm it’s £11.95 per head for all you want to eat. We had an enjoyable meal and then went back to Sonya, moved the half mile along the canal, back to base and started un-loading all our stuff into the car ready for a quick getaway Saturday morning.

As the run through the locks was too busy for both of us I’ve just added some photo’s G. took of the lit up Kelpies in the rain last night.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

McBoating on Sonya-Day #13

30th June 2016

An early rise this morning as we had to be at lock 16 at 9am to meet todays locking DSCF2271crew. As I was making our early morning tea I spotted a kingfisher had perched on the bow rope of the boat moored in front of us. It watched the water and then dived down to take a fish and bring it back onto the rope perch to eat. It then started scanning the water again. I awoke Brenda and we both took as many pictures as we could beofre it flew off. Pity we couldn’t get any shots that were not through the front windows.

IMG_2541We set off and arrived at lock 16 to find that we were in the capable hands of four Re-Union volunteers for our journey down the thirteen locks to visit the Kelpies. As we passed down the flight it is obvious what work was undertaken to make this canal re-navigable. You come to a new lock, identifyable by concrete walls and stainless steel fittings, rather than the usual cast iron, which takes you under a road bridge. You then pass through the gate-less original lock the other side of the bridge.

Partly due to the changes in lock contruction and also not being able to see whereIMG_2539 the cill is because of the amount of water cascading over the top gates, today I did a first and ‘cilled’ the rudder. This dislodged the bottom of the rudder post out of the lower bearing before we slid off of the cill. I thought I had managed to refit it OK whilst still in the lock because the rudder moved correctly again and I was able to steer down the rest of the flight. But on arrival at our Kelpie mooring the water was so clear that I could see it was still not seated properly so I had to refit it again. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are it is still easy to get caught out.

IMG_2552When our volunteers tried to access the Re-Union boat in the basin to have their break, they found that they had been given the wrong set of keys so we hosted them for a cuppa on Sonya. Once they hadIMGP4774 finished and set off up the flight with another boat, we lunched and showered before going for a walk to explore the Kelpies and the new Helix link to the River Carron.

IMG_2551We are now awaiting it getting dark so that we can see the Kelpies lit up at night time. It’s going to be a late night tonight as it doesn’t get dark up here until about 11pm (and now it’s started raining again at 9:50pm :).


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

un-McBoating on Sonya-Day #12

Wednesday 29th June 2016

Today we had a holiday from our holiday. We left Sonya on her moorings and went out in the car to explore the Golf Coast.

First stop was Portobello a seaside location three miles from Edinburgh, which hasIMG_2518 been on Brenda’s wish list since we started planning this trip. It was here that she finally managed to find the sea and the beach together at the same location. What a super place, the beach was lovely and full of children playing and dogs digging holes and fetching balls. A municiple snadcastle make was being held. A lady with her ID card around her neck and a tablet to take name, rank and number was busy rounding up any child under seven and herding them to sandcastle central. As we left Icecreams were being doled out as their reward. Lovely to see.

IMG_2520Just off the beach we saw two lovely kilns, a surfeit of clay led to pottery and bricks being industries way-back in the area. Time for a cuppa, we went into a very yummy-mummy-organic- free from- homemade and natural tea shop and restaurant. There was so much fuss and bother going on with no service obvious that after a few minutes waiting we gave up and went to the “Espy” (or Esplanade Bar and Restaurant) nearby. Much cheaper tea, nothing was too much hastle, the lunches smelt good and what a fun interior. Try it!

I’d love to own a flat on the front at Portobello – I know just the one ;^)

In the rain we set off towards Musselbrough – to see the fishing port. The tide wasIMGP4737 out but we sat in the car, watching the beach and eating our pre-packed lunch whilst avoiding the rain – just like pensioners. Good to get some practice in before we need it. We then drove towards North Berwick along the Golf Coast Road. We then turned about and stopped at the Scottish Industrial Museum at Prestongrange. Over the centuries there was coal mining, salt making, glass, IMGP4742pottery and brick making on this site. It was a pleasant walk around the site where nature is slowly encroaching   upon the few bits and pieces, but worth a visit. A more child friendly museum we have never come across, just go there to use the space hoppers, play swingball or do colouring whilst mum and dad have a cuppa.

As we drove through Prestonpans we saw some of the murals painted on exterior walls. They are mostly historic, all interesting and skilled. Another visit to Musselbrough on the way home to buy some fresIMGP4748h fish for tea. Both the staff who served us and prepped the fish were Thai. So it seemed a good idea to get some Thai style filo prawns & crab fishcakes for our starter plus the freshest ever trout for our mains. Yum.

Back at Sonya and after dinner the rain finally stopped so we went off in search of the Antonine wall and Rough Castle Roman fort. A very pleasant, if slightly soggy underfoot, walk through deciduous woods took us to the edge of the Roman empire, where they gave up and went home to Belgium from here it seems. More Asterix than Caeser.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

McBoating on Sonya-Day #11

Tuesday 28th June 2016

I am fed up with being cold! I packed the usual {canaling} selection of clothes, a bit of everything to layer up as needed. It’s been so chill thatIMG_2511 the light clothes all stay in the cupboard, the warm clothes are all worn – at once! I just wish that I had brought winter tights for under my trousers.  brrrrr!

We slipped our really peaceful, remote, overnight IMG_2512mooring just as the Aussies we’ve been travelling with approached. The sorry sight of a fire damaged lockside premises even shows how the UPVC window frames were badly distorted by the heat of the fire. We ran on downIMG_2514 through the locks and bridges which saw us back at the Falkirk wheel basin just as the rain began.

Graham had volunteered to take the Aussies to their hotel at Glasgow airport ready for their onward journey to their Baltic Cruise Ship – what a change that’ll be after a wet ten days on a canal boat. Having already been to Aberdeen I suspect the organisation of that trip would be beyond us.

On his return to the boat we had a quick lunch before setting out in the car to explore. We’s seen a small advert on a free map for a pub with a micro brewery. Off to Corbiehall at Bo’ness. We found the pub and asked about the brewery. We were told that it must be open for visitors as the brewers van was still parked in the carpark. It turned out that the pub and microbrewery were separate businesses.

IMGP4716Stuart the brewer and John, his assistant, were happy to show G the brewhouse and talk tips and techniques. Stuart told us of his brewing journey. Like G is has been inventive in making his own bits and pieces to solve brewing problems. We all reckoned that brewers need to be engineers as well as chemists. Having brought some ‘samples’ we headed off.

One of the volunteers, working in the dry dock next to our mooring at Falkirk, had recommended a supper stop so it was off to the Canada Wood kitchen and bar. It isIMGP4720 in Lochgreen Road, Falkirk. I say Falkirk but it’s above the town and set in a very pretty wooded area. There’s a cycle hire shack there and walkers were limbering up for a pole assisted yomp in the raqin as we left.

We enjoyed a good meal in lovely surroundings, we went without dessert, just had cake instead. We’d also planned to walk up to the Antonine wall this evening, but rain stopped our history walk.


Monday, June 27, 2016

McBoating on Sonya-Day #10

Monday 27th june 2016

We had a lazy start this morning as we were booked for the 11:30 bridge lifting.IMG_2503 Obviously the Police Scotland Marine Search rib can get in and out without the bridges being lifted as they paid us a visit just after breakfast.

Once released from Spiers Wharf we made our way to Stockingfield Junction, avoiding the Partick Thistle lagoon (no fisherment today so no fun) before turning right back towards Falkirk. The Aussies on nb Gosling were in front but Sonya naturally cruises at a slightly higher speed than them so Brenda overtook them on the straight just after Lambhill bridge.

I was then despatched to prepare lunch to I prepared the non-traditional meal IMG_2507of scotch pies and salad followed by a medley of fruit cake and fig rolls. We stopped at Kirkintilloch for a re-provisioning visit to Sainsburys. We then moved on to Hillhead Bridge where we were joined by Gosling and a Marine Cruises hireboat to wait for the Scottish Canals staff to open the bridge for our 3pm booking. Even though all three boats were there waiting in full view, they sat in their van until 3pm before they opened the bridge to let us pass through.

At Twechar bridge we all waited again for a few minutes until they arrived to open that one as well. The requirement to pre-book lock and bridge passages 24hours in advance is the biggest problem with cruising the lowland canals as it restricts your ability to linger in one place or not bother stopping at another. I understand the requirement as it allows manning levels to be predicted and makes arranging the necessary staffing manageable but the need to be able predict when you are likely to be where must be very difficult for newcomers to these canals. I am sure that if we visited here again our cruising plan would be very different.

Once through Twechar bridge we moved on to Auchinstarry marina where we pulled over to empty our rubbish bin. The other two boats were stopping here for the night but we continued on for another half hour before stopping on a lone pontoon that I had spotted out in the middle of nowhere last Thursday.


The pictures below show the views to port, starboard and full ahead from Sonya’s front well deck. Wonderful – and located in an SSSi as well.





Dinner had been cooking for most of the day whilst we travelled, The £2.52p Brisket of BeefIMGP4706 from Tesco, cooked with carrots and barley. This local delicacy was accompanied by a fine Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere provided by my work mate John when he visited us last Saturday.

Quote of the evening was made by Brenda adopting a silly Dr Findlay-ish Janet voice “at the end of a good meal you can always store your left over barley in aIMG_2509 buttter-dish” - not a lot you can add to that. It must have been the wine talking. Whilst dining we spotted a rainbow out of the window, the picture of which has a reflection of the opposite window in it – enjoy.

Good telly signal here so that’ll keep Brenda happy – sewing bee is on tonight.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

McBoating on Sonya-Day #9

Sunday 26th June 2016

We left our mooring in Bowling, a one horse village if ever there was one, at 8:45 this morning in order to meet the Scottish Canals team at the Bascule bridge at 9DSCF2255 o’clock. We can only imagine the noise, smell and industry that parented this little place when ships were born alongside this part of the Clyde, and moved goods and people across the world. Graham fell in love with this ‘mini’ Puffer moored there. The Aussies on nb Gosling a little way behind us so we sat on the landing and chatted to today’s duty crew until they arrived. Eddie was there, he was with us yesterday but we only have two guys today, not four like yesterday. As we passed through Farm Road bridge the guys were hinting about a hot drink, and knowing that the drop lock was likely to take 40 minutes Brenda put the kettle on whilst I took their orders.

DSCF2259On into Clydebank shopping centre and it’s two lift bridges. Once these were negotiated we had to stop at the ‘sail through’ chip shop to obtain our lunch, a bucket list item if you have a bucket list. A large portion of chips was not cheap and then Brenda put them into the oven to keep warm. unfortunately it was a long time till we stopped and so our chip butties were not as good as we hoped they’d be.

When we passed some flats yesterday we’d observed a swan bashing the patio doorDSCF2256 glass with his beak. We thought he might be fighting his shadow but he was doing it again today. Having had no response he then moved on to the next set of patio doors. Obviously he does this for food.

By now the rain had set in, and it remained with us until we cleared Maryhill top lock. In one of the Clobberhill locks I found a football floating near the bottom gate so I rescued it and sat it in the life ring on the rear hatch. We stopped above Temple locks so that the Canals guys could have a cup of tea in their Bothy, we were still finishing our lunch when they were ready to go again so it was back into the wet garments and back to the locks.

IMG_2497Maryhill bottom lock is the deepest in these parts and it was also where many prisoners took leave of land in the British isles. Maryhill was a military and prison area. Prisoners were put into boats to travel to the Clyde and their waiting prison ships from here. They would hope that they were the last to board and that the weather was set fair or they could spend months waiting for the ship to fill or weather to improve before sailing for …. Australia.

We were ably assisted up the Maryhill flight by the addition of two more Canals staff and four volunteer lockies, all cheerful even though the weather was far fromDSCF2260 pleasant. Out of the top lock and we bade farewell to the volunteers. Our Canals guys would open the two bridges in order for us to moor for the night in Spiers Wharf. On the way there Graham took us on a little detour through the lagoon outside Partick Thistle football stadium. We had checked that it was navigable, indeed there are even mooring pontoons there. There were also some very surprised fishermen who flapped a bit. To our surprise, they were not rude to us for interupting their fishing spot, they just said that boats were never seen in there.

Just past last Friday night's mooring spot, two little ‘erberts were walking along the towpath full of whys and hows. They asked whose football we had, the second set of kids to do so since I fished it out of the lock, very strange. Brenda offered the football to them and they were very pleased to accept, just wondering where we’d got it from.

IMGP4703As we entered Spiers wharf, we were following another hireboat which ran aground. I suggested they use reverse to get some water under the hull but that was ignored. I also asked if they would like me to take a rope as we passed to pull them off the mud but that was refused as well so we continued on past them, winded and moored up. By the time nb Gosling was passing them they had decided that maybe a tow would be beneficial and once they were free one of the Canals guys assisted them to clear a whole load of black muddy weed from around their prop. When all three of us were happily tied up at the wharf the rain started again. Haggis Pakoras for starter this evening – they are really nice, shame Tescos don’t sell them darn sarf.

Graham & Brenda